Saturday, May 1, 2010

Letter of the day, May 1

Sometimes these letters are surreal; we don't know the context or they seem like stream-of-consciousness ramblings. I had to read this one several times to realize he was talking about different topics when I thought he referred to the same topic all the way through, because he didn't believe in paragraphs.

This letter and the one posted on April 22 refer to the Gibson Collection in our Anatomical Collections: 229 pathological skeletal specimens. A collection of pathological skeletal specimens from the cabinet of Philadelphia physician William Gibson (1788-1868) purchased by the Army Medical Museum in 1868 from the widow of his son, Dr. Charles Bell Gibson of Richmond, VA. Documentation is poor. Contains a cranium with a gunshot wound collected from the Battle of Waterloo.

Richmond Va
May 1st 1868

Dear Doctor

Enclosed please find Packers List of 5 boxes – being the last of the Gibson Cabinet. I am glad that it is done. I superintended the whole packing & did a good deal of packing myself. I think that when the bill goes in you will be surprised at the small amt. it cost here to do it. I got a young M.D. very poor to help me & would like to know about how much I should give him[,] he working faithfully 3 1/2 days. The wax was packed by an adept[?] – so called. I am fearful that the number called for on the catalogue will not hold out. 1 leather preparation is also missing the bones moreover & so [illegible] pictures. I will send you tomorrow a box containing a splendid specimen of Encephaloid of the lower jaw – I thought that it would be best to send the entire head & part of the neck as it would show better in that way the size &c & if you think well of it, have it mounted entire in a large jar – Dr Brower kindly let me have it – he is in charge of the Ft. Hospital & will furnish me with a history of the case tomorrow. In regard to those calculi I don’t think that I can get any history of them – if I recollect aright that one with a needle is described in Gibsons Surgery[.] MaGuire [sic] received his calculi &c all safe this morning – I went out with him yesterday to Howard Grove Hospital where he ligated the abdominal aorta. Upon cutting down he found that the aneurism embraced the whole of the [illegible] Illiac & impinged upon the aorta whilst trying to find out the whole extent it suddenly burst & cooly compressing the aorta above he succeeded in throwing a ligature around it about 1 [1/2?] inches above the bifurcation. The man lived nearly 11 hours. This morning we went out & made a P.M. [post-mortem] The sack was very large & the aorta much diseased where tied & above also. I wanted to get the specimen & send it on at once but DeLamater the chief of the Ft[?] bureau here gave Dr Brower positive orders this morning that no specimen should be sent to Washington unless it went through his office. For which I thank him very much as I have watched the case for three weeks in order to get it. I know exactly what will be the result he will probably send 2 or 3 things on & then that will be the end of it.

Get me a positive order to get these pathological specimens & I can [allude?] to them.

I am afraid that you will get very tired of my numerous notes

Yours truly

[John] Janeway

Dr Simmons wished me to say that business of a private nature prevented his returning to Washington, but that he will call on you when he goes there again

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