Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saipan and Pacific Islands fighting in WW2 on Flickr

Kathleen just loaded a bunch of pictures from the Island campaigns in the Pacific in World War 2. These photos are pretty gruesome and their caption reflect the heated attitude of the time - this is what the photographer wrote and sent back, and not what someone would use to caption a photograph today.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Malaria Moe cartoons on Flickr

Kathleen put up a bunch of scans of World War 2 Malaria Moe propaganda cartoons on Flickr today. The artist, Frank Mack, later went on to work for Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another item on the Internet Archive

We uploaded the August 1918 edition of the Carry On, a Red Cross publication about reconstruction and rehabilitation of World War 1 soldiers and sailors to the Internet Archive. See it here.

For some weird reason it's there twice although I uploaded it only once.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

National Gallery of Art puts Eakins' Brinton painting back on display

Our registrar just heard from the head of American paintings at the National Gallery of Art who says, "She tells me that it is hung next to Eakins’ portrait of Dr. Thompson, which was his last painting of a medical professional, and that is where it will stay." Our registrar also says the colors of the painting look fantastic and the details can be seen much better. I'm looking forward to seeing it. It's been on loan to the NGA since 1946.

Dr. Thomson actually worked alongside Brinton when the Museum was being established. Along with Dr. Norris, Thomson did studies for the Army's Surgeon General about the utility of microscopes in medicine:

OHA 330

* Thomson Photomicrographs, 1876
* .3 cubic foot.
* No finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Two copies of an album of photomicrographs made by Dr. William Thomson in 1864 during the Civil War at Douglas Hospital in Washington, DC. The photographs were made "to demnostrate the value of photomicography and its possibility with the compound microscope then issued by the Surgen General's Office to the general hospitals." (from the introductory note.) These albums were compiled for and exhibited at the U.S Centennial International Exhibition (1876). A Union doctor during the Civil War, Thomson contributed to writing the Museum's Catalogue and pioneered in photomicrography and ophthalmic surgery. One album is the Surgeon General's Library copy (SGL #72845) and has an introductory handwritten note by Dr. J. J. Woodward; the second album (MM8615-2) was Assistant Surgeon General Crane's personal copy.

Two museum reports online now

Here's a couple of reports that are almost a decade old, but should still be of interest.

Responses to a Human Remains Collection: Findings from Interviews and Focus Groups. (July 1999).

This report presents the findings from a study conducted by Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A), for the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), Washington, DC. The study was designed to investigate how visitors respond to the Museumâs human remains collection.

National Museum of Health and Medicine Visitor Survey (April 2000).

This report presents the findings from a study conducted by Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A), for the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), Washington, DC. The findings were generated from a total of 1,063 surveys collected between May and November 1999.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Library of Congress likes Flickr and YouTube and iTunes...

EWS from the Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20540
Phone: (202) 707-2905
Fax: (202) 707-9199

March 25, 2009

Library of Congress Makes More Assets and Information Available Through New-Media Initiatives
YouTube and iTunes Launches Will Follow Groundbreaking Flickr Pact to Bring More Treasures to the Public

The Library of Congress will begin sharing content from its vast video and audio collections on the YouTube and Apple iTunes web services as part of a continuing initiative to make its incomparable treasures more widely accessible to a broad audience. The new Library of Congress channels on each of the popular services will launch within the next few weeks.
New channels on the video and podcasting services will be devoted to Library content, including 100-year-old films from the Thomas Edison studio, book talks with contemporary authors, early industrial films from Westinghouse factories, first-person audio accounts of life in slavery, and inside looks into the Library's fascinating holdings, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and the contents of Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination.

“The Library of Congress launched the first U.S. agency-wide blog two years ago and continued its pioneering social-media role with initiatives such as the immensely successful Flickr pilot project,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We have long seen the value of such interaction with the public to help achieve our missions, and these agreements remove many of the impediments to making our unparalleled content more useful to many more people.”

The General Services Administration today also announced agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and that will allow other federal agencies to participate in new media while meeting legal requirements and the unique needs of government. GSA plans to negotiate agreements with other providers, and the Library will explore these new media services when they are appropriate to its mission and as resources permit.

The Library began a groundbreaking pilot project with the popular Flickr photo-sharing service last year, loading 3,100 historic photos to start and an additional 50 photos each week. The overwhelmingly positive response from the Flickr user community not only brought broad public awareness to the Library's existing online collection of more than 1 million prints and photos at, but also sparked creative interaction with them, as users helped provide Library curators with new information on photos with limited descriptions through public review and tagging. Library of Congress photos on Flickr currently have received more than 15 million views.

A Flickr initiative called The Commons was introduced with the Library’s project launch and a growing number of libraries, museums and archives have since started their own accounts within the Commons framework. The Library has been followed by 22 additional institutions from the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands that are sharing selections from their photo archives and inviting the public to contribute information.

The Flickr pilot placed the Library in a leadership role for other cultural and government communities exploring Web 2.0 possibilities. Information on Library news and events is now available through Twitter, more than 30 RSS and e-mail news alert services, and one of the first blogs from a federal agency.
Library staff worked with service providers to adjust technological and legal standards to permit participation in social-networking services by other federal agencies and non-profit organizations. All content made available on third-party sites will also be available on the Library’s own website at

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at

# # #

PR 09-055
ISSN 0731-3527

Light 'em up

Thanks to our friends at Boing Boing, a pair of lungs that will light your cigarette, and they got it from Street Anatomy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prof. Jas. Mundie's photos of Museum on Flickr

Prof. James G Mundie left a comment on a different post, along with a link to his Cabinet of Curiosities Flickr set of pictures of exhibits in the Museum. Cool, hey?

1917 Clinico Motion Pictures catalogue online

Kathleen scanned a 1917 (we think) Clinico Motion Pictures catalogue for Medical, Surgical and Dental films today and put a pdf online.

1876 Human Anatomy checklist online

Brian of Anatomical Collections told me that the catalogue, Check List of Preparations and Objects in the Section of Human Anatomy of the Army Medical Museum, prepared for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia for the Anatomical Section has been scanned and is online. Note that another book or two is squished in with it and our catalogue ends around page 137. I'm not sure if Harvard bound their copy with other things or if something went wrong in the scanning and saving process.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Museum catalogue getting closer to fruition

We've got 5 collecting departments in the Museum. Archives and Anatomical's data conversion is finished and Historical is just about done. Currently if you stick in a keyword like "malaria," at least for the Archives data you get over 200 hits of photographs, books and letters. This is how it's supposed to work for the whole museum and we're getting closer. It'll be months before we clean the data and get it online, but the goal is in site. Just in time for BRAC to throw us off Walter Reed and close us for a while, but still...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Anatomical Collections adds photos to Flickr

transverse section of head plastination
Brian of our Anatomical Collections department is putting some cool photos up on Flickr too.

Since we passed 500,000 viewers late last night, we've gone up to 628,026 now. You like us, you really like us (that's a quote of sorts). If you've found us from somewhere besides Wired, Boing Boing, NPR or Austria's public television, chime in and let us know, please.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Symposium on Lincoln's Health

Just a reminder--on April 18-19, the Museum will host a 2-day lecture series about Lincoln's health. The event is free to the public, but reservations are required due to limited seating. Topics will include discussions about Lincoln's mental health and his medical care during his last hours, amongst other many topics. For an agenda, visit this link on the Museum's website:

Call 202-782-2673 to make a reservation or email There's limited seating left, so contact the Museum soon!

We're stunningly popular?

Ok, people are suddenly reading this blog from all over the world. Can you tell us in the comments how you found us and why you're checking it out? We went from about 100 views a day to 290 views an hour today.


Mike the archivist

500 Big Ones

We hit the 500,000 mark sometime early this morning. Oh, I'm talking about our Flickr account that wrote about last week. As of 5 seconds ago, 503,160 views on 872 photos. We couldn't be happier. Thanks, everyone!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Civil War opthalmology

Michael Hughes called in the other day and mentioned an article he wrote on Civil War ophthalmology that he used some of the museum's pictures in - Eye Injuries and Prosthetic Restoration in the American Civil War Years
Michael O. Hughes
Journal of Ophthalmic Prosthetics
Fall 2008; pg 18-28

Brain Awareness Week podcast

Pentagon Web Radio interviewed Tim and did a podcast. The site is, of course, blocked at work because it's both a blog and streaming media, so I haven't listened to it yet.

Original Air Date: 3/18/2009 2:00 PM
Episode #7: National Brain Awareness Week

Tim Clarke, Jr., deputy director of communications for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, will discuss the 10th anniversary of National Brain Awareness Week, which was established by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives in 1996, linking scientists, clinicians, journalists, and other educators in an effort to raise awareness about the brain and brain science. Brain Awareness Week promotes an understanding of current research and its translation into clinical practice for a younger audience. More than 1000 middle-school students from across the entire Washington, D.C., area are expected to attend the 10th anniversary activities at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The appearance of advertising on this Web site does not constitute endorsement by the DOD, of the products or services advertised on this site.

Brain Awareness Week Launched at Museum of Health and Medicine

Brain Awareness Week Launched at Museum of Health and Medicine
By John Ohab
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2009 – Hundreds of middle school students have passed through the halls of the National Museum of Health and Medicine here this week to learn about brain anatomy and pathology, as well as military medical history, as part of National Brain Awareness Week.

The students got to hold a human brain, view the bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln, and learn about the role the museum has had in military and civilian medicine since its Civil War beginnings, Tim Clarke Jr., the museum’s director of communications, said during a March 18 “Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military” audio Webcast on Pentagon Web Radio. The museum is an element of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and is located on the campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.

“The idea is … to have young people really inspired about neuroscience and to understand a little more about the brain in a context that they might not be able to get in the classroom today,” Clarke said.

Established in 1996 by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a private philanthropic foundation, Brain Awareness Week connects government agencies, universities, scientific societies and other partners to bring neuroscience-based education to young audiences. This year’s Brain Awareness Week is March 16 to 22.

Since 1999, the Dana Alliance has worked with the museum and other partners including the National Institutes of Health, George Washington University, Howard University, the Society for Neuroscience, the Tug McGraw Foundation, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and the Army Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“We want to find a way through Brain Awareness Week to connect many of the various disciplines that are involved in neurosciences,” Clarke said. “And work with those groups to put together very compelling, persuasive, hands-on demonstrations for young people.”

The museum maintains the world’s largest and most comprehensive neuroanatomical collection, which offers Brain Awareness Week participants a unique, first-hand opportunity to learn about brain anatomy and pathology. Students, chaperones and parents all have a chance to handle actual human brains.

“The look of awe and wonder on a young person’s face when they are holding an actual human brain is something you really have to see to believe,” Clarke said. “Nothing they had ever done compares to being able to hold a brain with the spinal cord still attached.”

This year’s Brain Awareness Week includes a new partnership with The Tug McGraw Foundation, which was created by professional baseball player Tug McGraw in 2003 to facilitate research that will improve the lives of those suffering from brain tumors. The foundation taught kids how to start their mornings with brain exercises designed to increase blood flow.

Clarke noted that Brain Awareness Week also highlights the variety of federal agencies conducting important basic and clinical neuroscience research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stages an obstacle course that students traverse while wearing “fatal vision goggles,” which distort eye-muscle coordination and simulate the loss of balance induced by alcohol intoxication. In addition, the Army Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center informs students about how the center works with soldiers, veterans and their families to treat communication disorders.

“We try to find ways to engage the students on their level,” Clarke said. “They are starting and ending the day with a lot of very interesting and compelling scientific information.”

Students who participated in Brain Awareness Week also had the opportunity to view the museum’s newest exhibition, “Abraham Lincoln: The Final Casualty of War,” which features several of its most popular artifacts. The exhibit honors the nation’s 16th president with various items associated with his last hours and the Army doctors who cared for him. On display is the actual bullet that took Lincoln’s life and fragments of hair and skull that were gathered during his autopsy in the White House.

“We are able to tell a really interesting story that people know about, but we tell a different side of the story than you might get in the history textbooks,” Clarke said.

The museum was founded in 1862 during the Civil War to collect anatomical specimens that could be used to develop new treatments for injuries sustained during battle. The museum, once led by Walter Reed, also played a role in shaping modern germ theory and an understanding of infections, as well as helping to found the Army Medical School and various clinical libraries focused on treating soldiers.

“It was Army Medical Museum staff, curators and scientists over the latter half of the 19th century that worked with partners all over the world to indoctrinate those types of practices into Army medicine,” Clarke said.

(John Ohab holds a doctorate in neuroscience and works for the Defense Media Activity’s New Media directorate.)

46,000 views for one picture?!

It's here if you'd like to add your clicks to it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Plastic surgery exhibit in NYC

This rolled in over the e-transom today. I'm not sure yet how I feel about it the idea, but I think it would be an interesting show. - Mike


I am Art - An Expression of the Visual & Artistic Process of Plastic Surgery
Curated by Dr. Anthony Berlet

March 28 - May 9, 2009

Opening reception:
Saturday, March 28, 6-8pm

Presenting work by Anthony Berlet, M.D., Antonino Cassisi, M.D., Michael Cohen, M.D., Scott Spiro, M.D.

Leon Dufourmentel, a pioneer in plastic surgery, said in 1948, “...If I went to Picasso for my portrait, he would probably make me a monster and I should be pleased because it would be worth a million francs. But if Picasso came to me with a facial injury and I made him into a monster, aha, he might not be so pleased.”

This quotation expresses our view, which we hope to share with you in this exhibition, that plastic surgery is a most challenging art form—perhaps the most challenging art form, for our materials are not canvas or clay. Yes, we embrace the great obsession of artists throughout the ages: the human body. But our material is the human body.

We are asked, on a daily basis, to do the impossible, to make the real ideal, to bridge the gap between reality and fantasy. Plastic surgery is the constant struggle between beauty and blood supply

There is art in everything we do. The initial evaluation requires a keen eye. The surgery plan requires artful preparation. The execution can best be described as a well-choreographed ballet of many different steps. Through this dance of medicine and art, science and aspiration, we seek an outcome as beautiful as any painting or sculpture. Every day, we strive to outdo Pygmalion.

Is perfection possible? We know it is not, and yet, that is our calling. We work with terrible constraints, not the least of which is the subjective nature of art itself. Nowhere are human feelings more various and more complex than in perceptions of the body and of the self. We are, all of us, acutely aware of how others see us.

Our field is sometimes associated with excess. We hope to convince you otherwise. For each individual committed to our charge, the stakes could not be higher. In this exhibition, we intend to convey the great care with which we diagnose, counsel, prepare, execute and maintain our artistic creation, with vision, clarity, passion, ingenuity, compassion and, yes, art.

This exhibition will show the many ways in which we express ourselves as artists, borrowing and shaping perceptions. Take a moment to step into the experience of others, whose lives have been transformed at our hands, we trust for the better.

We hope you will come away from our exhibition with a fuller sense of our aesthetic, reconstructive and post-traumatic disciplines. In the gallery space, we want to give you a glimpse into our world, which is never our world alone. Ours is truly the most intimate, the most personal of arts. When we are finished, the product of our labors can turn to us and say, "I am art." That, at least, is what we strive for.

Please join us.
All events are free and open to the public.

291 Church Street, NYC, 10013
t. 212 431 5270

Directions: A, C, E, N, R, W, Q, J, M, Z, 6 to Canal or 1 to Franklin.

apexart's exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Edith C. Blum Foundation, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., The William Talbott Hillman Foundation, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Patten Collection of embryology

In one of the more un-glamerous jobs in a museum, just boxed 1000 histo slides yesterday.  Only ~10,000 more to go.  The goal  is to ge the collection in better shape to use and ultimately ship, if/when the museum moves.

NPR blog mentions Flickr site and old interview

See "National Museum of Health and Medicine Shares Collection Via Flickr," By Jo Ella Straley. There's a link to an interview that I did and had forgotten about, but the reporter, Joe Shapiro, does good work on medicine and health.

New books from the Borden Institute

Our friends at the Borden Institute have two new books out, and the first has quite a few photos from our collection:

A History of Dentistry in the US Army to World War II (2008) - a detailed history of the development of military dentistry in the United States, from beginnings in the early 17th century, through the professionalization of dentistry in the 19th century, dental care on both sides of the Civil War, the establishment of the US Army Dental Corps in 1909, and the expansion of the Corps through World War I and afterward, to the verge of the Second World War.

Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare (2008) - a comprehensive source of the information available on chemical agents, this book will increase the level of preparedness and response capability of military and civilian practitioners responsible for chemical casualty care. Includes detailed explanations of chemical detectors and protection equipment, diagnosis, decontamination techniques, established and emerging countermeasures, and therapy techniques, as well as the history of chemical warfare and casualty management.

Photomicrographs exhibit

You know what we have a lot of? Photomicrographs. 19th century photomicrographs. We even have microdaguerreotypes.

Here's an older Wired story about an exhibit of other people's photomicrographs that I stumbled across - "Rare Microphotographs Resurface After 150 Years," By Alexis Madrigal, November 19, 2008.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wired article drives visitors to Flickr site

Last night around 10:20 we had 65,070 views. This morning at 4:45: 82,395. At 2pm: 173,792 views. At 7:15 pm: 246,540 views. At 7:36: 252,951 views. At 11:10: 310,089. And that's for 816 pictures.

Some people have been asking about HIPAA, which provides for privacy of medical records. These photographs were taken for medical education by various sources including the Army Medical Museum's Museum & Medical Arts Service (MAMAS) photographers which had no role in treating patients (or an electronic billing relationship with them which is the main criteria for applying HIPAA), but was sent out to theaters of war to take pictures. Additionally, when we created the scanning database, we did not capture the name of the patient. We have tried to be very careful about selecting images that are anonymous UNLESS the photograph was previously published with the names included (as all the Civil War and Signal Corps pictures were). The whole secure scanning database of over 500,000 images, which is not available to the general public, has many restricted images that only administrators can see. We'll continue to make a subset of them available somehow, but keep in mind that with over 2500 boxes of photographs - it's going to take a long time and there's a lot of junk.

These photographs have been available to the public as part of the AFIP's Medical Illustration Service Library since the 1940s - this is just the first time that they have been easily viewable without visiting Washington, DC. The other half of the old Army Medical Museum & Library's collection was put online years ago by the National Library of Medicine (which has a far larger budget than we do) -

Another excellent source is the Wellcome's photo library, which like ours, includes clinical images of diseases (which the Library of Medicine does not).

Finally about that 'permission' thing in the Wired article - what we're waiting on is permission to join Flickr Commons, which asked us last year and has certain legal requirements, not permission to post public domain photographs online. We can ask our web manager to post them on our own website - Flickr just has far more viewers and we could do it ourself in seconds once upon a time.

Anyone interested in the history of the medical museum and photographs may want to read this article.

Another letter from WW1

I've transcribed another letter from the American Expeditionary Forces surgeon whose letters I'm scanning.

I hope it goes without saying that the disparaging comments made in this letter are not our views, collectively or individually, and from reading Captain Otken's letters as I have over the past couple of weeks, I would also say that he would not speak this way today.

"Bordeaux Sat Oct 5th

My dearest Lois:

Received Mama’s and Frances letters of Aug. 20th & Sister’s of Sept 8th this week – needless to say was glad to get so much news from home & to know that all are getting along as well as they are.

We are awfully busy, have nearly three thousand patients and eighteen ward surgeons to take care of them, so you can see what we have to do. Have lots of the Spanish Flu – with its chief complication – Pneumonia – consequently we are losing quite a number. I lost count of the number of hospital trains we got this week – four I believe – seems like I have been up nearly all night every night this week. So far I have had nothing but surgical cases – they sent me the one with the most severe wounds – have sixty severe patients now – some have as high as eight big wounds – every man has to be dressed every day & I do all my own operating – I didn’t get out of the op. room until six o’clock tonight – so you see how much idle time I have.

I got some fine pictures of some of the big wounds in my ward – will have others made when I close them up. My face case I wrote you about has healed up now, both operations were successful & he has a fairly presentable face. Am going to have a picture made of him. We got in a lot of sick & wounded officers this week but none that I knew – one from Brownsville Texas lives just a few doors from Effie Pornell Feuder. It has been real cold here the past week especially at night, have had several heavy frosts.

You folks mustn’t expect a letter every week – I write you at least once a week but a mail boat doesn’t leave every week & remember the millions of letter that go from the A.E.F. – and then you can see the reason why they come in bunches, if one could only see one of these mail boats unload in New York, you would cease wondering at the delay.

I hope Spencer improves at Ft. McPherson which I think he will – those cases generally get better in course of time – I don’t know of any treatment that will do them any good except massage & exercise. His sciatic nerve – the big nerve to the leg is probably involved [?] – neurasthenia is where a person imagines they have something that they haven’t. We see lots of them in the army – it is a racial characteristic of Jews and Dago’s.

The war news is certainly encouraging – with Bulgaria’s surrender – Turkey is cut off from Germany & Austria so it is only a question of time before she falls & every thing points to internal dissension & revolution in Germany – there are all kinds of peace rumors rife these days. Meanwhile the Allies keep on hammering on the Germans on all fronts – something is going to break ere long. Am getting some fine experience but I’ll be glad when it is all over with & we can come back to our own country once more.

As to Gidiere I spoke to George Wolhecht about him when I was home last – he & Frank will attend to that all right. Will start once more – the lights went out all over the camp – so I went down to the ward to see how my operative cases were doing.

Hope Charlie can get a change before long, the kind of work he is doing is bound to grow very monotonous.

A new ruling forbids putting the name of your organization on your letter in the upper left hand corner – hence the change but address me the same as usual – it does not apply to mail addressed to us – I can’t see the idea of the rule myself but it is so.

Be careful & don’t any of you take any risks and get sick.

Love to all at home – a kiss for each of you.


Capt. LB Otken M.C.

US Base Hosp. 22

B.S. #2 A.P.O. 705"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wired discovers the Museum's online photographs

See "Rare Trove of Army Medical Photos Heads to Flickr," By Alexis Madrigal,'s Science blog March 17, 2009 and "Bringing Hidden World War II Photos to the Masses," By Betsy Mason, 03.17.09.

I think I come off as a bit strident there, but we are creating a massive new resource and need to make it available in new ways. Most of these photographs were never described in any database (although there is a set of index cards that fills a wall) and we're discovering and seeing them for the first time too. There are so many pictures that no one of us is seeing all of them - the contractor's scanning team working on this has 7 people just getting the pictures catalogued to be scanned. And there's at least 2000 boxes left to go.

Remember that these photos are in the public domain so you can repurpose them for your own use - let us know if you come up with something particularly interesting.

By the way, at 10 pm, we're at 64,787 views for the Flickr account (formerly Otis Archives1) that Kathleen paid for and then collapsed all 4 pre-existing accounts into (and the old Otis Archives 2 has 32,778; 3 has 23,897; and 4 half-full with only 104 pictures has 2,206). That's 123,668 views since we started on September 22 2006.
(By 10:23, we're up to 65,505 views on the main account - enjoy!)

Duncan Winter artwork

Those wild young men in Anatomical Collections were looking for illustrations for their annual course, and I recalled that AFIP artist Duncan Winter had done some nice illustrations of bones that we had. Kathleen scanned and mounted some on Flickr.

Dry Storerooms? We got Wet too

I just finished reading Dry Storeroom No. 1 by Richard Fortey, about the British Natural History Museum. It’s an admittedly idiosyncratic account of one man’s time there in the 2nd half of the 20th century and his colleagues and the collections they care for. He gives a good idea of what it’s like to work in a museum, especially one like the medical museum with one foot in a the natural history field and one foot in the history field.

Prosthetics of a Different Color

This one's thanks to Susan Lomuto at Daily Art Muse, who writes, "Aimee Mullins is an accomplished athlete, a motivational speaker, an actress and a model. Aimee Mullins is also a double amputee who wears prosthetic legs the way some women wear a new pair of expensive shoes, a drop-dead piece of jewelry or the latest pair of body-hugging designer jeans: with attitude; exuding confidence and leaving you wanting more. This is a TED talk you should not miss. Watch and listen as Mullins talks the talk AND walks the walk (in 4 inch heels!) regarding the myth of being dis-abled, the truth of being super-abled, why individual shifts in consciousness work and a new definition for wearable art. Sheer, pure inspiration.

More about Aimee Mullins here and here."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My friend Joe Levin has died

For many years, Jeanne Levin was the tour and volunteer coordinator of the Museum, shepherding various groups around for various reasons. I met Jeanne when I was a callow student intern, long before I became the wizened archivist. I used to see her husband Joe at events and functions, and eventually became friends with him despite our age difference. We'd meet for lunch once in a while and I did an oral history with him in late 2005 about his World War II service. After earning a law degree and being drafted, Joe was with the 17th Bomber Group in North Africa, Italy and France. He was the adjutant of the 34th Bomb Squadron of that Group and ran the Group's newspaper. Here's a couple of photographs from him, one of him at the beginning of the war and one he took at the end as France is being liberated. Joe and I kept planning on getting the oral history down to the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, but never got around to it. I'll make sure that the recording and copies of his photographs do get down there though. The family's death notice from the Post follows. Requiescat in pace, Joe, January 24, 1919-March 9, 2009.

On Monday, March 9, 2009, JOSEPH LEVIN of Bethesda, MD. Beloved husband of Jeanne Levin; devoted father of Michael (Christine Ims) Levin and Cynthia Levin; dear brother of Samuel Levin and the late Sara Zash. Also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and friends. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 10:30 a.m. at Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County, 8215 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, MD. Interment following at King David Memorial Garden, Falls Church, VA. Shiva will be observed at the late residence on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Memorial contributions may be made to Hadassah, 1220 East-West Highway, Suite 120, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or to the Jewish Social Service Agency Hospice, 6123 Montrose Rd., Rockville, MD 20852. Arrangements entrusted to TORCHINSKY HEBREW FUNERAL HOME, 202-541-1001 (endorsed by the Rabbinical Council of Washington).

Published in The Washington Post on 3/11/2009

Letters Home from the Front

A few weeks ago we received a small collection of letters from the descendants of a World War 1 American Expeditionary Forces surgeon. I've been scanning them so we can give digital and printed copies back to the family. Today I came across one that I've transcribed to post here. The surgeon is Luther B. Otken. He served in France and in the US. I realize this isn't as good as the handwritten letter, but it was multiple pages. I will post a scan of a page here and there so you can get a feel for the real thing, but in the meantime, here's one letter home.

"Bordeaux Sunday Sept 22 1918
Dearest Mother,

I didn’t get my letter from home this week –however I got a bundle of papers from Sister.

Everything running along in its usual manner now. Work going very smoothly. We got in a lot of new patients this week, among them a lot of wounded German prisoners – all came from the St. Mihiel fight a rather stolid ignorant looking lot, some old, some mere boys, one a Lieut, looks to be about nineteen years old. About half of them came in on litters, badly wounded, our boys had certainly worked on them with hand grenades. All my boys are getting along nicely – all getting well. One of the nurses in BH114, the unit next to us, died Friday from pneumonia – don’t know what part of the States she came from.

Our boys won a great victory at St. Mihiel + today we got word that Metz is just about to fall – I think the morale of the German army is fast weakening.

I operated a second time on my face case this week and completed the job, think I am going to get a fine result.

On some of the field cards that came in on the wounded in this last convoy, I noticed where Maj. Ney was the operator in Evacuation Hospital #4 so guess he is over here now.

We have been having a quite a lot of rain and it has turned much cooler – the nights are cold. The days feel like our fall days. Makes me want to be back there again out in the pine hills once more.

We have been in France three months now – the 19th , in one way it seems a long time in another it seems that we got here but yesterday.

I don’t hardly think we will win this war before Xmas but I don’t think it will even last another year, the Allies are hitting them at all points and are giving them no rest so that the German reserves are just about used up.

Hope I get some mail from you next week, we are about due some more mail from the States.

Hope all at home keep in their usual good health. Give my best to Dr’s. Inirs[?] + Reahew.

Love to all at home

Capt LB Otken M.C.
US Base Hospital 22"

Museum on Wired's Science blog?

Tim and I talked to them recently about scanning our historical medical photographs, so perhaps we'll be online today? I think we got bumped by the space station's problem with satellite debris, which thankfully didn't turn into a bigger story.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh, the things you miss when you stay home

Who went to WonderCon, the comics convention in San Francisco last week? Nobody? Then you missed your chance to buy your very own plush stomach, intestine, or spleen, or gall bladder. You could have had your own uterus too, but would have had to give it back; they've been the victim of an "impromptu hysterectomy:" the ovaries can be pulled off and are of chokable size, I guess.
All courtesy of "I Heart Guts! The Happiest Internal Organs on Earth." (And thanks to Wired for the story.)

The Wonders of Flickr

A Flickr user by the name of Endless Forms Most Beautiful included some of my photographs as his/her favorites so of course I had to go check out this person to see how nefarious their intentions are. Endless Forms says on their profile that "I'm using this as a place to collect interesting things for inspiration and teaching" and what a wonderful collection of images they have! This set, called Kunstformen, is from a series of 100 lithographs entitled "Kunstformen der Natur," German for "Artforms of Nature", created by Ernst Haeckel in 1899-1904. Here's just one example, that reminded me of something seen through an electron microscope. It's a fascinating set of images.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"A Village Hospital 1928 Through 1953"

Another of our researchers has just had her book published. Beverly Moore emailed me late last week that her book, A Village Hospital 1928 through 1958, is now available online. It was a lot of fun working with Beverly, finding pictures of hospitals and nursing activities of a time long gone. Best of luck, Beverly!

The Ball Collection. The End.

The final step has been taken on the James Moores Ball ophthalmology collection that I worked on for lo those many months. It is now online. You may enjoy the finding aid at your leisure.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Post recommends "ancient museum of veterinary science, complete with flayed human cadavers"

See "A Brush With The Paris Art Scene: Out-of-the-Way Sites Show Off The Avant-Garde Side of the City," By Blake Gopnik, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, March 8, 2009; Page F01 for his recommendation of the 250-year-old National Veterinary School's museum. Here's the details on visiting from the Post -

WHAT TO DO: National Veterinary School/Fragonard Museum (7 Avenue du General de Gaulle, Alfort, 011-33-(0)1-43-96-71-72, Admission about $8.75, younger than 18 free.

Any of our readers ever been there?

New book based on NMHM collection available

Paul E. Sluby Sr. tracked our St. Elizabeths Hospital Collection down a few years ago and says his book "Burial Ledger of St. Elizabeths Hospital is a straight transcription of the ledger you copied for me. In 1982, I published "Civil War Cemeteries of the D.C. Metropolitan Area." In this I covered the St. Elizabeths Civil War cemetery on the west campus and the continuation of those burials on the east campus." While the original ledger is available to anyone who'd like to see it in our Archives, this transcription will be much easier for genealogists or historians to use.

MOMA updates website, can NMHM be far behind?


But this article "To Ramp Up Its Web Site, MoMA Loosens Up," By RANDY KENNEDY, NY Times March 5, 2009 is pretty interesting. Although given our parent agency (the US Army), you'd never know "The era is one in which blogs, photo sharing, social networking, bookmarking and many other ways of creating art-loving online communities have become a much more important part of museum Web sites..."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Photo contest entered by Archives staff

Kathleen, who takes a lot of photographs for us in the Museum, entered a Your-Dream-Photography-Assignment contest and would appreciate it if you would take a minute to vote for her and her idea of photographing religious architecture across America. You do that by clicking on the little box on the leftish side of the screen that has the word “Pics” in it. Here is the link: You can see her photos on Flickr.

Of course if she wins, she'll be asking for a year off...

Osler and the study of death lecture online

John Erlen of the University of Pittsburgh sent in this video lecture link today, which I'm watching now.

February 26, 2009
Paul Mueller
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
“Foundations of Palliative Care: William Osler’s Study of the Act of Dying.”

Mueller found Osler's original statistical card study at McGill University and goes through it - very good! I do think that deleting the names of people from 1900 is over-'protecting' privacy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

History of Medicine videos from UVA on YouTube

Well, this is neat:

The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library and the University of Virginia School of Medicine are pleased to announce a new service: Medical Center Hours are now available for viewing on YouTube at Subscriptions to the channel are offered as a convenient feature for the new service. We encourage you to subscribe! The Medical Center Hour (MCH) is the School of Medicine's weekly forum on medicine and society. Produced by the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, The Medical Center Hour is an hour-long program held on Wednesdays from mid-September through March. Many Medical Center Hours are History of the Health Sciences Lectures, co-sponsored by the Library’s Historical Collections. The first MCH available on YouTube is Robert Martensen, M.D., Ph.D., presenting “A Doctor’s Reflections on Illness in a High Tech Era,” on 18 February 2009. Dr. Martensen’s talk is a History of Health Sciences Lectures, all available from this point forward at

Monday, March 2, 2009

'Brought to Life' Exhibit Features Battlefield Surgery Web Exercise

More than a few blogs are pointing out the opening of the new 'Brought to Life' exhibit at the Science Museum in London. This is from the Wellcome Library's blog:

Today has seen the launch of 'Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine', a new online resource from the Science Museum.

The website showcases more than 2,500 objects, the majority of which were originally collected by or on behalf of Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936). Mostly populated by items now held in the Science Museum’s stores, the website also draws on items from the Wellcome Library.

'Brought to Life' places these items in their historical contexts, giving information on practitioners, their techniques, the medical objects they used and the patients they aimed to heal, all wrapped up in a timeline stretching from Ancient Egypt to the present day. There are also ten multimedia games, including a trip to a plague-ridden town in the Middle Ages and an immersive account of battlefield surgery through the ages.

Considering our own interests in battlefield surgery, I thought it was worth re-posting the Wellcome note here. I checked out the battlefield surgery exercise, pretty cool stuff.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Medical Museums

I've been planted in front of my computer all day, editing photos. I came across this one from the History of Medicine museum in Paris

which reminded me a lot of the old Army Medical Museum in Washington with the similarities of the upper gallery, the rows of cases, the light flooding in....