Long Mulberry Gavel

WLMD ID: akvq

On March 30, 1842, Dr. Crawford W. Long (1815-1878) used ether to provide surgical anesthesia in his private practice in Jefferson, Georgia. This was the first known modern surgical use of ether, and the date is now commemorated as Doctors' Day. Four years later, unaware of Long’s achievement, Dr. William Morton gave the first public demonstration of ether anesthesia.

In 1948, the Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists (GSA) was founded. GSA was the seventh state component society to be chartered by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Ten years later, the Georgia Society presented this gavel to its parent organization. The gavel is made from the wood of the mulberry tree that had stood outside Dr. Long’s office during his historic surgery. The Crawford W. Long Museum now occupies that site.

Catalog Record: Long Mulberry Gavel

Access Key: akvq
Accession No.: 1958-11-19-1

Title: [Long Mulberry Gavel].

Publisher: [Jefferson, Georgia?] : [Producer not identified], [between 1912 and 1958].

Physical Descript: 1 gavel : wood, metal ; 10 x 5.5 x 26 cm.

Subject: Long, Crawford Williamson, 1815-1878.
Subject: Ether Controversy.
Subject: Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists – history.
Subject: American Society of Anesthesiologists – history.

Note Type: General
Notes: The date range is based on the year that the mulberry tree, that was outside
of Dr. Long’s office in Jefferson, Georgia, was cut down (approximately 1912)
and the year engraved on the gavel’s plaque (or plate).

Note Type: General
Notes: The title is based on WLM’s common name for the object.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Berry AJ. 60th GSA anniversary: a time to celebrate. Georgia Society of
Anesthesiologists website. https://www.gsahq.
org/assets/docs/a-time-to-celebrate.pdf. Published in 2007. Accessed July 24,

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Boland FK. The First Anesthetic: The Story of Crawford Long. Athens:
University of Georgia Press; 2009:36-39 (including unnumbered plates between
pages 36-39), 51-57. https://dlg.galileo.usg.
edu/ugapressbks/pdfs/ugp9780820334363.pdf. Accessed July 24, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Hammonds WD1, Steinhaus JE. Crawford W. Long: pioneer physician in anesthesia
J Clin Anesth. 1993;5(2):163-167.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: History of the GSA. Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists website. https://gesa
memberclicks.net/our-historymission. Accessed July 24, 2004.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Knight LL. Historic county seats, chief towns and noted localities: Dr.
Crawford W. Long: The Discoverer of Anaesthesia. Georgia’s Landmarks,
Memorials and Legends. Vol 2.Atlanta, Georgia: Byrd Pringing Company; 1914:
803-805. https://books.google.
com/books?id=B0oUAAAAYAAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed
July 24, 2014.

Note Type: Citation
Notes: Ortega RA1, Lewis KP, Hansen CJ. Other monuments to inhalation anesthesia.
Anesthesiology. 2008t;109(4):578-587. https://journals.lww.
a.4.aspx. Accessed July 24, 2014.

Note Type: Physical Description
Notes: One wooden gavel with a curved metal plate affixed around the barrel; The
measurements in the physical description field were taken from the
perspective of reading the text on the plate; The text engraved on the plate
LONG, M.D. [new line] ETHER-1842 [new line] PRESENTED BY THE [new line]
SOCIETY OF ANESTHESIOLOGISTS [new line] October-1958”.

Note Type: Reproduction
Notes: Photographed by Mr. Steve Donisch, September, 2013.

Note Type: Acquisition
Notes: Donated to the ASA from the Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists; Donated to
the WLM by the ASA.

Note Type: Historical
Notes: This gavel was made from the wood of a mulberry tree which stood just outside
of Dr. Crawford W. Long’s office in Jefferson, Georgia on the day that Dr.
Long became the first physician known to use ether as a surgical anesthetic.

Crawford W. Long (1815-1878) was a rural surgeon who had witnessed popular
“ether frolics,” in which some attendees of the event would inhale ether for
entertainment. He noticed that participants who injured themselves often
seemed not to notice until the effects of the drug wore off. This observation
led Dr. Long to administer ether to Mr. James Venable before removing a tumor
on Mr. Venable’s neck on March 30, 1842.

This momentous event occurred without a published report. The lack of fanfare
contributed to what later became known as “The Ether Controversy”: the events
surrounding four men who claimed to be the first to discover a reliable and
safe anesthetic for surgery. Many of the documents related to the Ether
Controversy can be viewed via the Wood Library-Museum’s online digitized rare
book collection see https://woodlibrarymuseum.

Around 1912, the mulberry tree was cut down and at least some of the wood was
saved to make commemorative items, including gavels. The educational store
associated with the Crawford W. Long Medical Museum in Jefferson, Georgia is
aptly named The Mulberry Tree.

This gavel was given to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) by
the Georgia Society of Anesthesiologists (GSA) in 1958. The GSA was founded
on January 29, 1948. Since that time, three GSA members have served as ASA’s
president: Drs. Perry Volpitto (1937-1972) in 1965, John Steinhaus in 1970,
and John Neeld in 1999. Four GSA members have received ASA’s highest
recognition, The Distinguished Service Award: Perry P. Volpitto (1905-1988)
in 1974, John E. Steinhaus (1917-2012) in 1982, Carl Hug in 2006, and John
Neeld in 2013.

Note Type: Publication
Notes: Shapiro SL. The great ether controversy: a strange interlude in the history
of American medicine. Eye Ear Nose Throat Mon. 1969;48(11):626-631.

Note Type: Exhibition
Notes: Selected for the WLM website.

Note Type: Actions
Notes: A crack on the head of the gavel was repaired by Graig Deller on June 1999.