Behind the Scenes with NIH Photographer Jerry Hecht

Friday, February 5, 2016

NIH Blood Bank nurse Peggy Wirtzek guides Clinical Center engineers carrying supplies from an emergency blood cart up 10 floors to the operating room during a power outage in March 1960—the following photo was taken by Gerald “Jerry” Hecht, an NIH photographer for almost three decades (1959-1987). Many of his photos appeared in Time, Life, and other prominent publications.

A photographer like Hecht is allowed into places that most other people are not, including operations such as shown below. Hecht documented many kinds of heart surgeries performed at NIH during the 1960s-70s, providing images from events that otherwise would be lost. Read more about Hecht (page 10 of online PDF).

While working at NIH, Hecht took photos in auditoriums, laboratories, prisons, and the White House. Here, Wilbur J. Cohen and his wife Eloise are seen arriving at the White House to take the oath of office as Secretary of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare on May 16, 1968. A collection of Hecht’s prints can be found online at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the NIH History Office website.

Check in next week for photos featuring work by Bill and Ernie Branson, brothers who are the current NIH photographers.

Category: Careers