Aphrodite J. Hofsommer, M.D. and her medical illustrations, 1929-1939

Today we are highlighting twenty-three medical illustrations dating from 1929-39. These beautiful black and white and full-color illustrations are by Aphrodite J. Hofsommer, MD, one of the first female graduates of Washington University School of Medicine. The drawings were donated by her son-in-law, Robert Glaser, and are now part of the Robert J. Glaser Photographs and Drawings.

Hofsommer created medical illustrations from 1929-39 while she and her husband and fellow doctor, Armin C. Hofsommer, raised two children. From 1931-56 she also served as school physician to the Webster Groves High School, but although she wrote studies about the types of conditions she encountered there, her medical illustrations are what she is remembered for. Her illustrations appeared in the books  The Diagnosis and treatment of brain tumors by Ernest Sachs and Surgery of the Eye by Meyer Wiener and Bennett Y. Alvis, all of whom were on the teaching faculty of Washington University when Hofsummer was a medical student in the class of 1922, as well as Ellis Fischel’s article “Unilateral block resection of the lymph nodes of the neck for carcinoma,” which appeared in the October 1935 issue of “American Journal of Surgery, October 1935.”  Fischel was also on the faculty of St. Louis University School of Medicine and served as an assistant in surgery while Hofsommer was a medical student.

Other medical illustrations by Hofsommer can be found in twelve issues of a St. Louis medical journal, The Doctor and OD Quarterly, published 1934-38. While Hofsommer sketched many of the illustrations in these issues, Artemis Pesmazoglou, her first cousin, drew others.


Fischel, Ellis, M.D., F.A.C.S. (Associate Professor of Surgery). 1935,. “Unilateral block resection of the lymph nodes of the neck for carcinoma.” The American Journal of Surgery 30, (1): 27-35.

Hofsommer, A.J.,. 1936. ” Lip Reading and the Intelligence Quotient of the Hard of Hearing Child.” Journal of the American Medical Association 107 (9): 648-650.

Hofsommer, Aphrodite J. & Robert J. Glaser. 1929-1939? “Robert J. Glaser Photographs and Drawings, VC050.” Bernard Becker Medical Library Archives, Washington University in St. Louis. Accessed November 30, 2020. https://beckerarchives.wustl.edu/VC050.0

“Robert J. Glaser Papers, Note on Unprocessed Accession 2013-011: 12 issues of “The Doctor and OD Quarterly” 1934-1938.” Becker Archives Database. Accessed November 30, 2020. https://beckerarchives.wustl.edu/FC089

“The Hatchet, 1923” Washington University Publications. Bernard Becker Medical Library      Archives. Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis, Missouri. . Accessed November 2020. https://digitalcommons.wustl.edu/hatchet/20/.

“Webster Groves High School Yearbooks (The Echo), 1955-1956.” Webster Groves Public Library. Published annually by the students of the Webster Groves High School. Accessed November 27, 2020. https://www.wgpl.org/reference/webster-groves-high-school-yearbooks-the-echo/