Skip to Main Content

In doctor’s black bag, decades of family history

Yale Medicine Magazine, 1998 - Fall


In choosing a medical career, many budding physicians receive friendly bits of advice and the occasional keepsake from established physicians hoping to encourage them in their pursuits. When Alison Days received just such encouragement as a second-year medical student in the form of a battered old medical bag last year, she also got a piece of her own family’s past. How she came to receive the bag involved a remarkable series of coincidences.

When Ms. Days’ grandfather John Langdon, M.D., a Providence pediatrician, died more than 40 years ago, his wife gave his black medical bag bearing the initials JL to Providence ophthalmologist Frank Dimmit, M.D. In 1954, Dr. Dimmitt passed the bag on to a young family friend who then was beginning medical school at Yale. The student, Gerard N. Burrow, eventually would become dean of the School of Medicine from 1992 to 1997.

When Dr. Burrow’s daughter, Sarah, entered medical school, he handed the bag down to her. She later returned it to the Dimmitt family in Providence, entrusting the bag to her father’s childhood friend, Sterling Dimmitt, the son of Frank Dimmit.

Mr. Dimmit, not a doctor himself, recalled that the granddaughter of the original JL was herself an aspiring pediatrician. He decided that Alison Days should have the bag. So, the historic, much traveled medical bag returned to its original family and Ms. Days now guards the family treasure.

Previous Article
Student awards
Next Article
Faculty awards