GeyG, George O. Gey Collection in the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions


Collection Overview

Call number:GeyG
Repository:Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions
Title:George O. Gey Collection
Date:1918-1974 - inclusive
Extent:15 linear feet
Creator:Gey, George O.
Gey, Margaret K.

Administrative/Biographical History:

George O. Gey

6 Jul 1899-8 Nov 1970

George Otto Gey was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 6, 1899. He received his B.S. in 1921 from the University of Pittsburgh. He enrolled in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1922, but due to financial constraints deferred completing his medical degree. Between 1923 and 1929 Gey was a Cancer Research Fellow at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. While at Columbia Hospital he met Margaret Finney Koudelka, who was Head Surgical Supervisor of Nursing Staff. George and Margaret married in 1926. The Geys returned to the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1929, where George Gey was appointed Director of the Tissue Culture Laboratory in the Department of Surgery. George Gey received his M.D. in 1933. He served on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and School of Hygiene and Public Health and was the director of the Finney-Howell Cancer Research Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. George and Margaret Gey developed techniques for filming and photographing cell growth within test tubes. Their research produced new developments in organ and cell culture, intracellular and membrane cytology, and in vitro investigations in endocrinology, oncology, and virology. Particular innovations included in vitro maintenance of organ and hormonal tissue, the "roller-tube" technique of cell cultivation, and nutrition of cells in tissue extracts and body fluids. George Gey is best known for cultivating the first continuous strain of human cell lines from HeLa cells. In 1951, the Geys cultured cells acquired from a cervical biopsy performed on Henrietta Lacks, a 31 year old African-American gynecological patient at the Johns Hopkins Hospital. HeLa cells have since contributed to thousands of scientific studies, including the development of the polio vaccine in the 1950s and to current research on the human genome. George Gey was the founder and first president of the Tissue Culture Association. He devoted the later years of his career to advocating for tissue research. George and Margaret Gey helped found the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid, NY. George Gey died in 1970, one year before the Cell Science Center was completed.

Margaret Finney Koudelka Gey was born on April 16, 1900 in Antigo, Wisconsin. She received her nursing diploma from the Wesley Memorial Hospital School of Nursing at Northwestern University in 1923. From 1923 to 1926 she was Head Surgical Supervisor of the Nursing Staff at Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee. During this period she met George Gey, and they married in 1926. Margaret Gey received further training in bacteriology at the University of Wisconsin and in laboratory and X-ray techniques at Columbia Hospital. Margaret Gey was certified as a registered technician from the American Society of Pathology in 1929. She worked with George Gey at the Johns Hopkins Hospital as his chief collaborator and laboratory supervisor. George and Margaret Gey developed techniques for filming and photographing cell growth within test tubes. Their research produced new developments in organ and cell culture, intracellular and membrane cytology, and in vitro investigations in endocrinology, oncology, and virology. Particular innovations included in vitro maintenance of organ and hormonal tissue, the "roller-tube" technique of cell cultivation, nutrition of cells in tissue extracts and body fluids, and the cultivation of HeLa cells (the first continuous strain of human cell lines). George and Margaret Gey helped found the W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center in Lake Placid, NY. After George Gey’s death in 1970, Margaret Gey continued working at the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health until her retirement in 1979. She died in 1989.

Chronology:
1933-1970 - Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
1947-1970 - Johns Hopkins Hospital
1954-1970 - Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health

Scope and Content:
The George O. Gey Collection spans his entire career, with the bulk of the material from his tenure as Director of the Finney-Howell Cancer Research Laboratory. Included are correspondence with individuals, industries, granting agencies, foundations, and other organizations; grant records (including proposals, applications, budgets, and reports); laboratory progress reports; and reprints. Other professional materials include records of the Tissue Culture Association and Gey's notes and reprints.Photographic materials include images of HeLa cells and early examples of George Gey's roller tube experiments. The collection also contains a selection of personal materials, such as photographs, family correspondence, items from World War I, picture postcards, certificates, and memorabilia. In addition there are reels of motion picture film, books, surgical instruments, and laboratory equipment.

Restrictions on Access: This collection may contain some restricted records. Materials pertaining to patients, students, employees, and human research subjects, as well as unprocessed collections and recent administrative records, carry restrictions on access. For more information about the policies and procedures for access, see the Archives Policy on Access and Use.
Restrictions on Use: When citing material from this collection, credit The Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. For permission to reproduce images, contact the holder of the copyright.
Language: English