Muriel McLatchie Miller, 1900 – 1965

From Edith Tagrin and Bob Demarest, The History of the Association of Medical Illustrators:

Muriel McLatchie was born in Toronto in 1900. From 1927 to 1928 she studied with Max Brödel at Johns Hopkins. After moving to Boston to illustrate a book for a surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital, she was appointed staff illustrator there, where she remained until her retirement. In 1941 she established the MGH School of Medical Illustration, developing the curriculum and hiring instructors, all the while maintaining her busy illustration schedule. While at MGH Muriel illustrated over 18 books and innumerable drawings for journals, exhibits and slides.

Medical artists at the time were quite isolated. Muriel felt acutely the need for a professional society for medical artists, where members could create an arena for the exchange of ideas and information. In the early 1940’s she began writing to a few medical artists about organizing a professional society. Recognizing that she needed the support of the Chicago group to create such a society, she contacted Tom Jones, who headed the group. Fortunately, his reaction was enthusiastic and supportive.

Late in 1944, Muriel invited a few medical artists, including Tom Jones, to meet in Boston. A set of organizational decisions was made; the ‘Nucleus Five’ (a group of leaders from different regions of the country and Canada*) were appointed, and Muriel would continue as Secretary. She began sending letters and questionnaires to medical artists all over the country, describing the nascent organization, and seeking input. Response was enthusiastic, and it was a mammoth task for Muriel to field and collate all the ideas that flooded in. Many people wanted to be delegates and decision makers in the budding organization, and diplomacy was required to avoid hurt feelings as the details were sorted out. At last, Tom Jones was named the chairman of the Nucleus Five, and the date of July 16, 1945 was chosen for the Chicago meeting that would launch the association.  At that meeting thirty delegates from across the country met in Chicago to organize a professional society, and the Association of Medical Illustrators was born.

Muriel served as AMI president in 1953-54.

As a teacher, Miss Mac (as she was called) was demanding yet encouraging toward her students, and brought out the best in each one. She chose her students partly on grades and merit, but also with an innate intuition about each candidate and their suitability for the role. She kept touch will all her graduates, and they with her, and she always tracked the accomplishments of her students.

Muriel died in 1965 in Calgary, where she had moved after her retirement. Despite her many accomplishments, she remained modest, never realizing how very much she had contributed to her profession. In 1981 the AMI established the “Muriel McLatchie Miller Award for Fine Art” in her name.

Muriel McLatchie Miller

With permission of Massachusetts General Hospital Archives and Special Collections

The Fetus at 20 Weeks: Face and Palate

The Fetus at 20 Weeks: Face and Palate

From the Collection of the Lloyd Library and Museum

Watercolor on Ross board

Muscle Mechanism

Muscle Mechanism

From the Collection of the Lloyd Library and Museum

Ink on scratchboard

 

Muriel McLatchie Miller

Muriel McLatchie Miller

With permission of Massachusetts General Hospital Archives and Special Collections