Thursday, September 30, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 30

Wash. D.C. Sept 30 80

Hon. Alexander Ramsey

Sec of War


Dear Sir


I have the honor herewith most respectfully to request that I may be transferred from my present position in the Record and Pension Division of the Surgeon General’s Office to some other employment under the War Department for the reason that I am afflicted with a very serious trouble in my eyes; which has now become so aggravated by the gas light under which I have to work as to threaten blindness.


Dr. Loring the occulist who has for some time been treating my eyes assures me that this work by gas light will eventually cause the loss of sight.


I forward with this his statement of the matter, and therefore request that you will have the kindness to cause my transfer to someplace where I will not have the difficulty of the gas light, or if possible to some position as messenger or the like. I was appointed upon the recommendation of the Maryland delegation + also f Mr. Pachico of Cal. Being gazette I believe to that state.


Very Respectfully,

Your Obt. Servant

Alfred de Ronceray

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 29

[There were so many bird collectors in the Army that there’s a book about them – Ornithologists of the United States Army Medical Corps by Hume]


Madisonville, Hamilton Co. Ohio

Sept. 29th 1879


Dear Sir


I send you today, per Express (M+C. care of Adams) as directed, a box containing the following species of birds in the flesh, for the Army Medical Museum; (for skeletons).



Deudioeca castanea

Deudoieca blackburniae

Turdus swainsoni

Pyranga aestiva

Passerella iliaca

Aegialitis vociferous


Hoping that they may reach you in good order, I have the honor to be

Very respectfully yours

Frank W. Langdon


C.H. Crane

Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.



Received at A.M.M. Oct. 2, 1879, + turned over to Dr. Woodward, in charge of the Sec. of Comparative Anatomy.  Copy of this letter furnished Dr. Schafhirt Oct. 7 1879, by order of Mr. Myers.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Rules of the Library of the Surgeon General's Office

Rules of the Library of the Surgeon General's Office , printed on May 16, 1872 from OHA 323.

SGO Centennial 1876 calendar

Party like it’s 1876!

SGO Circular 2 (1867)

The Army Medical Museum begins collecting animal specimens, Indian culture and remains, and poisonous insects and reptiles, two years after the Civil War ends, and five years after the Museum’s founding.


Letter of the Day: September 28

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 193


Schering & Glatz,

Importers of

Drugs & Chemicals

No. 55 Maiden Lane.

New York, September 28, 1894


Dr. Walter Reed,

Major & Surgeon U.S. Army

Curator U.S. Army Medical Museum,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Doctor:-


We beg to own receipt of your valued favor of the 26th. Inst., contents of which are noted with thanks.-


We now enclose invoice for 2 x 5 Gramme Vials DIPTHERIA ANTITOXINE SOLUTION for Immunization, which we forwarded by mail today and trust the same will reach you in good condition. We regret to say that we will probably not be able to furnish the Concentrated Solution until next November, while our stock of the Immunization Fluid is almost exhausted and we will likely be out of stock for a month or two.


We presume your article “The Germicidal Value of Trikresol” has not yet been published in the fourth volume of the Transactions of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, as we have not yet received the separate copy which you were kind enough to promise us in your letter of July 23d.


Very truly yours,


Schering & Glatz


Enclosure: Invoice.


Monday, September 27, 2010

"Save the Date: Museum Program on Wounded Warrior Care at the MATC, 9/30, noon!"

SAVE THE DATE---Wounded Warrior Care at Walter Reed


What: Join physical therapists from Walter Reed’s Military Advanced Training Center for a panel discussion about their experiences with Wounded Warrior care and amputee rehabilitation. This program is being held in conjunction with “Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements,” presented by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.


When: Thursday, September 30, 2010, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (Bring your lunch!)


Where: Russell Auditorium, NMHM in Bldg. 54, WRAMC


Questions? Call (202) 782-2673






Letter of the Day: September 27

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 180


War Department,

Surgeon General’s Office,

U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,

Corner 7th and B Streets S.W.,

Washington, D.C., September 27, 1894


To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

Washington, D.C.




I have the honor to state that the following articles are required for immediate use at the Army Medical Museum, and would request authority to buy them as emergency purchases to be paid for from the Museum appropriation:


6 lbs. Acid, carbolic, pure, crystals, Estimated cost, 6.00

8 Oz. Celloidin, Schering’s,                        “              “       8.00

3 Small Files, for glass,                                “              “         .60

½ Ream Filtering Paper, imported        “              “      10.00

1 Gas Stove, 10”, with ring burner,      “               “        5.50

30 Yards Black Rubber Tubing,               “               “      18.00

2 lbs. Metallic Zinc, in sticks,                   “               “        1.50

1 Dozen Pencils, blue, for writing on glass,       “         2.00

1 Dozen Pinchcocks, for rubber tubing,              “         3.00

                                                                    Total             “       54.60


Very respectfully,

Walter Reed,

Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Curator Army Medical Museum.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 26

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 932

Geo. G. Rambaud,
New York Biological and Vaccinal Institute.
Laboratory of Bovine Vaccine and of Biological Products.
(Pasteur Institute Building.)
New York, September 26, 1895

Dr. Walter Reed,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Doctor:

Dr. Gibier has transmitted to us your favor of the 25th in which you ask for information as to the use of our Tetanus Antitoxin.

In reply we beg to say that we are at present out of the directions for which you ask, but we will have some in a short time, and will be pleased to send you same.

Hoping this delay will not inconvenience you, we remain,

Yours respectfully,
New York Biological and Vaccinal Institute.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 25

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 932

September 25, 1895

Dr. Paul Gibier,
Director Pasteur Institute,
1—7 W. 97th St.,
New York.

Dear Sir:

Will you favor me with your circular describing the dose necessary for administration on and the method of administration of your tetanus antitoxine. I have recently received a small quantity from the Post Surgeon at Plattsburg Barracks, which was left over in a case of lockjaw at that Post, and desire to have some definite information as to its dose, etc., should I be called upon to forward the antitoxine to another military post.

Please favor me with a prompt reply.

Very truly yours,
Walter Reed
Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Friday, September 24, 2010

Last day for the Museum's scanning contract

Today is the last day for the scanning contract that we were able to be on as part of the AFIP. As the dissolution of AFIP accelerates, the contract has also shrunken, and the possible last year of it is being used to scan as many accession record microfilms as possible. We didn’t quite finish all the parts of our projects, but we did a lot of work.


The work was done by a company that moved along from being Information Management Corporation, to National Interest Security Company, to currently being a division of IBM. Scores of people worked on this project, at AFIP and the Museum, in scanning labs in West Virginia, and in our warehouses in Maryland. I won’t try to list them because over almost a decade, I know I’d leave some important ones out. The project was complex and all of the images had to be catalogued before being scanned, because you need a computer record of the original to hook the scan up to. You can see some of the products on this blog, and thousands of them on the Flickr site. The Walter Reed history book used images catalogued and scanned for this, and the upcoming AFIP history will too.


This contract really did a lot for us over the years. Over 1.25 million scans of museum documents are now available electronically. It’s going to be a great resource.


Letter of the Day: September 24

Post Hospital,

Morris Island S.C.

Sept. 24, 1863


Dear Doctor:


I arrived here safely a week after I left W-.  Have a nice time of it here, between bomb shells + sea shells – the latter having the greater attraction.


I have the honor performing the duties of Medical Inspector of the Camp on the Island + have nothing more to do, except prescribe for the sick in Genl. Gilmore’s Band; so you see I have very little hard labor to perform. I am present, however, to assist Dr. Gross in his amputations.


Now about specimens – what am I to do for you? I can furnish any number of recent ones, both flesh and bone wounds, but will they be of any value to you? This is a God-forsaken place to get anything to put up preparations, and unless they are attended to at once, they become so offensive that we have to dispose of them. The wounds are all produced by Shell that we have to care for now + are therefore terrible. We had six cases last night from Ft. Gregg wounded by Moultrie guns. Three of them died. We average almost five cases of shell wounds daily from our men at work on the Forts + entrenchments.


We can give you no pathological specimens, for we ship all the cases that are likely to recover either to Beaufort or to Hilton Head Hospitals. I have a very fine specimen of a shell wound of the Cranium, which I have ready for you with the full history thereof.


Please let me know your desires and I shall do all for you I can. I have plenty of time and will be glad to do anything to further the object you have undertaken to accomplish. I am suffering from the cold this morning – it is quite chilly.


My pious regards to Dr. Dunston – say to him I have the Crab – a Side Wheeled” one – Tom Turtle I have not caught yet.


I will be glad to hear from you soon.


Truly yours [illegible]

H.K. Neff



Surgeon J. H. Brinton



Direct to Post Hospital Morris Island S.C.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 23

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 199


324 Montgomery St.

Syracuse, N.Y.

Sept. 23. 1894


John S. Billings M.D.

Surgeon, U.S.A.


Dear Doctor:


Incidentally I learned while in London recently that the famous historical collections of microscopes collected by Mr. Crisp at a cost of about L20000, had been offered for sale for L10000. I at once through of the Army Medical Museum. For a short time this collection can be had whole. Presently, I understand, if not sold as a whole, it will be broken up for sale in parts to suit small purchasers. I have been informed, perhaps somewhat privately, that Mr. Crisp intended to present this collection to the Royal Microscopical Society, had the Government given that society permanent rooms in Burlington House. The society would have had no rent to pay and the collection would have belonged essentially to the Government. I am told Mr. Crisp has been so disappointed in the Government, in its want of hospitality – not giving the society rooms – that he probably would take delight in writing a stinging letter to the Authorities pointing to the collection in the hands of a foreign government as the result of Burlington House not being offered as a home to the R.M. Society.


Further information can be had from Mr. C. Lees Curties with Chas. Baker, optician, 244 High Holborn, London, S.W. England.


Sincerely Yours,

A. Clifford Mercer, Dr.


P.S. The writer was much interested in the photomicroscopic work of Dr. Woodward had has been a worker in the same line for 18 years, has visited the Army Museum, has met you personally (in Washington, 1885, at meeting of Am. Public Health Association)


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Boosts Personality

the ad says
"do your child a favor and start them on a strict regimen of sodas and other sugary carbonated beverages right now for a lifetime of guaranteed happiness"

More Weirdness

We probably, have one of these too. At least I thought I saw one at the storage facility.
It was expected "to cure illnesses of the head" though, it probably gave more than it cured.

Weirdness from the Turn of the Century

We have some earlier examples of this in our Historical Collection, I'll post some photos from the collection.
not only did it remove all dandruff, it took your hair and scalp too. If  I had one
of these I would wear it everyday. Until of course I got tased or arrested for being 
a crackpot.

Letter of the Day: September 22

Fort Hamilton N.Y.H.

Sept. 22. 1882


The Surgeon General U.S. Army,

Washington D.C.




I have the honor to inform you that I have this day sent, by mail, to the Army Medical Museum, one half doz microscopic specimens, prepared by myself. I desire that they be examined and that I may be notified whether they are properly mounted. If they are found worthy of a place in the microscopic section of the Museum I would be glad to have them placed there.


I am Sir,

Very respectfully

Your obedient Servt.

H.G. Burton

Asst. Surgon

U.S. Army.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two articles that raise interesting medical questions

Is it time to bring back 'old age' as a cause of death?

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 17, 2010; 2:59 PM



Sickle cell testing of athletes stirs discrimination fears

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 20, 2010; 12:19 AM

Musings on military medical photography and the War Surgery in Iraq & Afghanistan book

Picturing War’s Wounded and Dead


New York Times At War blog September 21, 2010






By CJ Chivers

The Gun blog (September 21 2010)


Museum Program Today! "Paws for Purple Hearts" -- service dogs assisting wounded warriors, 12p-1p



When: Tuesday, September 21, 2010, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. (and, again, Thu., 9/23, 12pm-1pm)


What: Paws for Purple Hearts, a program of Bergin University of Canine Studies, in collaboration with the Warrior Transition Brigade at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, has developed an innovative initiative that combines both therapeutic and vocational elements to address Wounded Warriors with PTSD symptoms. Drop by the Museum to see a demonstration of Wounded Warriors training service dogs for their comrades with physical disabilities.


Where: In the Museum, in conjunction with the continuing exhibition “Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements”


Questions? Call (202) 782-2673.




Letter of the Day: September 21

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 6995




Department of Natural Science,


Telephone Call, 6314 18th


New York, Sept. 21, 1903.


Col. C.L. Heizmann,

Col. Asst. Surgeon General,

U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,

7th and B Sts. SW.,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Sir:-


Complying with your request of Sept. 18th, and referring to our letter of Sept. 19th, we take pleasure in handing you enclosed a list of the 48 models of the diseases of the human teeth, also a special list of 15 models of abnormities and diseased conditions of the human skin.


The models are greatly enlarged, but we are sorry to say that we cannot give you the exact size, as we do not carry the same in New York stock.


We shall be pleased to be favored with your order, and remain,


Very respectfully yours,



Dept. of Nat. Science.


Dict. Dr. L.




Monday, September 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 20 (2 of 2)

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 925


September 20, 1895


Dr. Williams Donnally

#1022 Fourteenth St., N.W.,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Sir:


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication of September 16th, inviting attention to the action of the American Dental Association in relation to the Army Medical Museum, as reported in the “Dental Cosmos,” and in reply will say that we shall be most happy to cooperate with your Committee with a view to the formation of a collection thoroughly illustrative of all matters pertaining to the subject of dentistry.


Our Museum already contains quite an extensive list of casts of maxillae illustrating physiological and pathological dentition, presented b Dr. Samuel Sexton, of New York City; also a number of miscellaneous specimens, casts, etc., from various sources, as  well as quite a complete anatomical exhibit of the normal development of the teeth.


With regard to the contributions considered desirable., I would suggest casts, photographs and specimens of anomalous dentition, diseases of the maxillae and oral cavity; photographs or casts of surgical operations, showing, if possible the condition of the parts before and after operation; photographs of prosthetic apparatus, and all miscellaneous exhibits which may lend an interest to the subject of dentistry. All specimens, casts, etc., should be accurately labeled, and a concise description or history given when possible.


In any matter of detail on this subject we shall be ready at any time to give you advice or suggestion.


Very respectfully,

D.L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

In charge of Army Medical Museum and Library.


Letter of the Day: September 20 (1 of 2)

War Department,

Surgeon General’s Office,

Washington, Sept 20, 1883.


Surg. D.L. Huntington USA


Dear Sir:


Have you decided anything in regard to Mrs Mullan’s offer to sell picture of Siamese Twins.


Some 15 or 16 years ago, shortly after the war, when they were here on exhibition, Otis tried to get them to come to the Museum, for the purpose of having a photograph taken; they were willing to come but either their agent or Mr Barnum objected and the project fell through.


Very truly yours

C.J. Myers




I don’t know anything of the merits of the picture, perhaps it wd be well to have it sent to the museum for inspection, unless the price is too great but I don’t want to hold out any inducements to the vendor. Yrs +c DLH

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 19

464 Louisiana Avenue
Health Department, District of Columbia
Washington, September 19th, 1895.

Dr. J.S. Billings,
Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
Army Medical Museum, City.

Dear Sir:-

I am desirous of conducting upon as scientific a basis as possible the present investigation into the causes of the recent increase in typhoid fever in this District. To do this it will, of course, be necessary in some cases to have bacteriological analyses made of water and possibly of milk. This department is, as you are doubtless aware, without the means to make such examinations. Would it be possible to have some of them made at the Army Medical Museum without interfering with the current work? Due credit for such work would of course be given in any report that may be issued.

Very respectfully,
Wm. C. Woodward M.D.
Health Officer.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A book recommendation

As an archivist, I don't read as much history as a medical historian has to, especially when taken with my other career (Google me if you really care), but I must note that I really enjoyed this book:

The Anatomist: A True Story of Gray's Anatomy
Hayes, Bill
New York: Ballantine, 2008

It's Hayes' attempt to track down Henry Gray, the creator of the famed textbook, and his parallel tale of his own studies in anatomy, done in an attempt to understand why and how one would create such a book. The idea of medical museums and the preservation of specimens in glanced at within as well. I got my copy from Daedalus Books.

Letter of the Day: September 18

Department of the Interior,
Washington, September 18, 1886.

Dr. John S. Billings,
Surgeon General’s Office.


In conversation with the Public Printer this morning, I learned that he does not purpose [sic, propose] reopening the question of the rejection of the Bell photo-lithographs which were intended to accompany Part 2 of the Census report on Mortality and Vital Statistics. I therefore desire to have an expression of your views as to whether it would be better to issue Volume 12 at once, without illustrations, or to ask the Public Printer to call for proposals in accordance with your original recommendation. In the latter case, the illustrations, 21 in number, might accompany the diagrams belonging to the report, and in either event, the report may be put upon the press at once and made ready for immediate distribution.

I shall be glad if you will address any recommendation you see fit to make, to the Secretary of the Interior.

Very respectfully,

J.H. Wardle
Chief of Census Division

Answered Sept 18th/ 86

Friday, September 17, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 17 (2 of 2)



17 September 1959


Colonel Robert S Henry

2210 Russell Road

Alexandria, Virginia


Dear Colonel Henry:


The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology was born because of the Civil War, was a part of it, and is now a living symbol of the benefits that do occur in spite of the violence and misfortunes of war. The Institute will celebrate its hundredth anniversary during and concurrently with the Civil War Centennial.


Among our plans for the hundredth anniversary of the Institute is a history of its activities since its beginning in 1862. We have two vacancies which we would like to fill with the very best qualified persons available. Once vacancy is for a person qualified to do the actual writing. This person would be in the grade of a GS-14 and would be on par with a Doctor of Philosophy in History. The other vacancy is in the grade of GS-7 and is authorized for a person qualified as a research historian for screening the material on hand and furnishing it as needed to the writer.


Both of these jobs are permanent Civil Service positions but this would not prevent a person taking either of them for the duration of the job only.


The historian would be given full credit for authoring the publication. No advancement in grade is promised. The research historian would have every possibility of building that job into one of much higher grade as he or she becomes more familiar with the work.


Either job would offer the holder great possibilities for freelance writing and it is felt that sufficient and varied material is available to suggest the writing of more than one historical novel if a person were so inclined.


If you are at all interested or if you know of anyone, you would be doing me a very great favor if you would write me as soon as possible with full particulars.


Albert E Minns Jr

Colonel, MSC

Curator, Medical Museum


Letter of the Day: September 17 (1 of 2)

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 922


September 17 1895


To the Health Officer,

Washington, D.C.




I have the honor to inform you that the inoculation of two rabbits from the spinal cord of a suspected rabid dog – received on the 23d ultimo – has resulted negatively. At this date both animals are entirely free from any symptoms of rabies.


Very respectfully,

James Carroll

In the absence of Dr. Walter Reed

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 16



16 September 1959




Miss Mabel E. Winslow


Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine

1776 D Street, N.W.

Washington 6, D.C.


Dear Miss Winslow:


During the Civil War, General William A. Hammond, Surgeon General of the Army, because of his great concern over what he believed was an excessive loss of life and limb from the type of wound encountered, directed all of his medical officers to forward the amputated bones to a central collecting agency for study. This central collecting point was to be known as the Army Medical Museum. Here was one of the first organized research programs of the military services and from this humble beginning, continuing to this day, has grown the now world renowned Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.


The Institute will celebrate its hundredth anniversary during and concurrently with the Civil War Centennial. During its lifetime, in addition to the pathological and anatomical collections, many instruments and other items of great historical significance have come into the possession of  the Institute. Every effort is made that these be preserved and used to encourage youth to follow the footsteps of those great medical men who once used them.


While the Institute itself is located on the grounds of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Medical Museum, one of its four major departments, is located in the downtown area of Washington where it can better carry out its mission of service and interest to the public. It is here that the military services portray the developments in the field of medicine and the resultant benefits to all mankind. More than 300,000 visitors will pass through the Museum this year.


The Museum is now planning its exhibits for the hundredth anniversary of the Institute. Consequently, we are seeking items which will enable us to have the finest, most complete exhibits possible.


Enclosed is an article which would help us considerably in locating desired material. We would be most grateful if you were able to make space for its insertion in your Magazine.


Whatever you are able to do for us in this matter will be greatly appreciated.


Sincerely yours,


Frank M. Townsend

Colonel, USAF, MC

The Director


1 Encl





Roger H Fuller

Captain, MC, USN

Deputy Director


Albert E Minns Jr

Colonel, MSC

Curator, Medical Museum





The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology is seeking military medical material to expand the many famous collections of historical items in its Medical Museum.


The Medical Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation and display of such material. It is one of the four major departments of the Institute, a national Institution jointly sponsored by the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. More than 300,000 visitors will pass through its halls this year.


The Museum has one of the finest collections of microscopes in the world. These instruments are displayed so as to show the evolution of the microscope from its origins through the most recent developments in electron microscopy. Few microscopes have been added to this collection in recent years, and efforts are now being made to fill the gaps, particularly the years from 1920 to the present.


The Institute will celebrate its hundredth anniversary during and concurrently with the Civil War Centennial. Museum personnel are now planning the exhibits for this occasion. Through the long history of the Institute a great number of historical instruments have been assembled, but among this material is very little of Confederate Army origin. Such items particularly are being sought.


Although budgetary limitations preclude the purchase of such items it is believed that there are a great number of instruments or other items which the owners might wish to place in the Museum where they will be carefully preserved for future generations. Any such donation would be greatly appreciated and due credit given.


It is requested that persons having items they might wish to contribute write The Director, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington 25, D.C., relative to their acceptability and shipping instructions.



Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 15

Medical Purveyor’s Office, Military Division of the Pacific,

San Francisco, Cal., Sept 15, 1869




I have the honor to state that I have shipped for steamer via Isthmus 6 Cases off specimens for the Army Med’l Museum care of Genl. R.S. Satterlee Chief Med. Purveyor new York, mkd 2 to 6, Five (5) cases from Bvt. Col. J. T. Ghiselin U.S.A. Portland Oregon, + Case No. 1, a box of skulls of the aborigines of the Island of Hawaii obtained for me by Dr. Hutchinson Minister of the Interior for the Hawaiian Govt. I enclose herewith his letter relating to these specimens of skulls.


Very respy

Your Obt Servt

R. Murray

Med Purveyor


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Museum docent Sol Barr remembers Sol Pargament

I first met Sol Pargament in the 1960's when I was new in practice.

He was selling medical supplies. For a short period his wife substituted as a secretary in my office when my regular help were away.

He had a small medical supply firm and I occasionally bought from him.

One day he showed up at my office then on Randolph Road in Rockville. I had had a shower built into the lavatory so that I could jog in from my home in Bethesda, shower and change before seeing patients. He suggested that I use this shower as a storage area for charts.

In the 1990's my wife and I visited the medical museum. He had a very distinctive gravely voice and while we were stepping into the exhibit area I knew it had to be him giving a tour even before I saw him.

Because of him and Dr. Ed Beeman I heard about being a docent at this museum. So when I retired I volunteered to be a docent here.

About two years ago I saw him at one of the docent meetings. He told me that his wife had died. He was very proud of his family. Two of his grandchildren had become doctors. This was a little surprising to me because I thought we were about the same age and my grandchildren were still in elementary, middle, and high school. He talked about coming back as a docent.

He never did return and in retrospect it may have been because of illness.

He is another person I knew from earlier days who is now gone and more and more I feel like a survivor.

Dr. Barr

Letter of the Day: September 14

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 6989


Surgeon General’s Office,

U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,

Corner 7th and B Streets SW.,

Washington, September 14, 1903.


To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army.




I have the honor to request authority to purchase for deposit in the Army Medical Museum:


1 head of viper greatly enlarged showing the fangs, poison glands and muscles, and demonstrating the mechanism of this apparatus. Cost ……..$24.00 to be paid for from the Museum appropriation.


Very respectfully,


C.L. Heizmann

Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S. A.

In charge of Museum & Library Division.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Sol Pargament, a long-time Museum volunteer, has died

For about a decade, Sol helped out in historical collections, identifying objects due to his long career as a medical and surgical equipment salesman. As a former salesman, Sol had an inexhaustible fund of corny jokes and stories too. He was a good man, a good friend and a real asset to the Museum. We hadn’t seen much of him since his health started failing, but he’ll be missed. – Mike Rhode


Sol Pargament on the far left, with other volunteers on a trip to the National Library of Medicine

Sol Pargament

  |   Visit Guest Book

PARGAMENT SOL PARGAMENT On Thursday, September 9, 2010, SOL PARGAMENT, native Washingtonian, of Silver Spring, MD. Beloved husband of the late Florence B. Pargament; loving father of Jeffrey (Jacqueline) Pargament, Kenneth (Aileen) Pargament and Marcia (Glen) Goldmark; devoted brother of Miriam Terlitzky, and the late Albert Pargament, Robert Pargament and Florence Blank; cherished grandfather of Robert (Liz), Sherri (Robert), Ellen, Jonathan (Jessica), Matthew, and Benjamin; dear great-grandfather of Reid, Claire and Emma. Also survived by his companion, Jeanette Diamond; nieces, nephews and many friends. Funeral services will be held Sunday, September 12, 3 p.m. at Danzansky-Goldberg Memorial Chapels, Inc., 1170 Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD 20852, 301-340-1400. Interment to immediately follow at King David Memorial Gardens, Falls Church, VA. Family will be observing Shiva following interment through Tuesday evening at the residence of Marcia and Glen Goldmark. In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy in Sol''s memory may be made to Hadassah.

Published in The Washington Post from September 11 to September 12, 2010


Burns Archive post-mortem photos on display in NYC

Friend of the Medical Museum Dr. Stanley Burns has an exhibit of post-mortem photographs from his collection on display in New York City. Here’s the Times on it:


Now Showing | The Graceful Dead


September 9, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 13

Post Hospital

Fort Clark Texas

Sept. 13. 1883



Col. J.S. Billings

Surgeon US Army

Curator Army Medical Museum

Washington D.C.




In reply to your communication of the 5th Inst. I regret to say that no specimen was preserved in the case of Pvt. George W. Trump. Co. K 19 Infantry who died June 15th 1885 of embolism of Right Middle Cerebral Artery.


The specimen removed in this case became, under examination, much broken down and torn (through softening of the brain structure), and was through to be of too little value to forward to the Army Medical Museum.


Very Respectfully,

Your Obt. Servt.

F.L. Town

Major and Surgeon US Army

Post Surgeon

Walter Reed born today

The Mutter Museum calendar, always an interesting item, notes that Walter Reed was born today in 1851.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 12

Camp Letterman Hospital
Gettysburgh (sic) Pa, Sept. 12th 1863


Yours of the 11th is just received. As a general rule Medical Descriptive Lists have not been forwarded with patients sent to Baltimore and Philadelphia because, except those transferred by special order, nearly all those recently sent have been well or so nearly well that their Surgical histories could be completed. When cases terminate the histories are classified and compiled in a book ruled like the enclosed form. I was intending to forward the lists to you as soon as this was done; but you will save yourself a great deal of labor if you will wait until the compilation is done. You have no idea how difficult it has been to get even such poor histories as those I send to day. I have approved Dr. McArthur to attend to the compilation and have directed him to send the lists back unless they were tolerably satisfactory, in many cases this has been done several times before any thing of the least use could be obtained. Many of the Medical officers who have been relieved have left no records behind or records so imperfect as to be useless.

At the time your keg of whiskey was received there was no whiskey at the dispensary to I exchanged it for alcohol. We are now saving a considerable quantity of postmortem specimens, mostly injured bones and joins. Some cheap spirits for their preservation would be acceptable.

Except in very rare instances no capital operations are now performed.

It will be impossible for me to make a report and tabular statement of all the gunshot wounds for the month of July. On the 27th of May Dr. Letterman ordered that the monthly reports of the different corps hospitals should be made through the Medical Directors of the Corps to him. I suppose the reports for July were forwarded accordingly. At that time I had not sufficient clerical assistance to do my ordinary every day business, much less to consolidate the tabular statements.

The Corps registers have been copied and the names arranged alphabetically; except the registers of the 6th and 12th corps, none were complete, and that of the 1st Corps containing, according to Dr. Ward the Surg. in charge, 2200 names was taken to the [illegible], contrary to my orders, before it was copied.

As soon as the men are sufficiently recovered to need no further surgical treatment we send them off; the Union men to Philadelphia and the Confederates to Baltimore; very few, if any, will be able to serve in the field again.

Your obt. servt.
Henry James
Surg. U.S.A.

Surg J. H. Brinton U.S.A.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 11

Certified list of articles contained in one package, turned over to the Post Quartermaster for shipment to the Surgeon General U.S.A.

No of packages and how marked
One package.
Surgeon General U.S.A.
Washington, DC.
For Army Medical Museum

One kidney (human)
One bladder (“)

How packed
Air tight tin box enclosed in a wooden box

I certify that the above list is correct.

Henry S. Haskins
Actg Asst Surg. U.S.A.
Post Surgeon
Camp Halleck Nevada
September 11, 78

Friday, September 10, 2010

New World War 1 scrapbook donated to Archives

Here’s information on one of our latest acquisitions – a really interesting scrapbook from the Great War.



Guide # OHA 213.5 Leach Scrapbook


Album of photographs of World War I facial case reconstructions and other surgical injuries. Dr. Charles Leach Sr. was born July 2 1884, and got a BA in Chemistry and an MD from Stanford University. He interned at San Francisco General Hospital in 1910. He joined the Commission for Relief in Belgium in 1916, then the US Army Medical Corps in 1917. From 1919-1920, he worked for the American Relief Administration. In 1920-1921 he earned a MPH from Johns Hopkins and after that joined the Rockefeller Foundation. For the rest of his career, he worked in public health. Dr. Leach died in 1971.





Letter of the Day: September 10


U.S. Army General Hospital,

Late Steuart’s Mansion,

Baltimore, Md., Sept. 10th, 1863




I have the honor to enclose herewith the histories of six specimens, which have this day been sent by Adams + Cos Express Co. to the Surgeon Generals Office.


I am Sir,

Very Respy

Yr Obdt Servt

DeWitt Peters

Asst Surgn USA


Sugn J.K. Barnes

Surgeon Genl USA

Washington DC

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 9

United States National Museum

Under Direction of

The Smithsonian Institution

Washington Sept. 9. 1886


Dear Sir:


I venture to request that you will lend me, for a few days, the mounted skeleton of Logenorhynchus acutus [aka Atlantic white-sided dolphin] in the Army Medical Museum. I have a paper on the genus Logenorhynchus in preparation and am desirous of comparing an authentic European specimen of the species referred to with others from our own Atlantic coast in this museum.


If you find it possible to grant my request, I will arrange to send a wagon for the specimen.


Very respectfully


Frederick W. True.

Curator of Mammals


Dr. J.S. Billings, U.S.A. +c

Director, U.S. Army Med. Museum.



Answered by Dr. Billings in person Sept 11. 86.


Prof True sent for No 2489. Sect. Comp Anatomy Sept 11, 1886, + the specimen was delivered to the messenger.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 8

The Hague, Holland

Sept. 8th 1886


Dr. John S. Billings,

Surgeon US Army

Washington, D.C.


Dear Sir,


Your letter of June 19th was duly received by me, but not sooner answered on account of your absence mentioned in it.


After due consideration, I think it better to renounce my possible appointment as a clerk of the Army Medical Museum, employed for special duty.


I am sorry the great uncertainty as to the time of my appointment, and the terms relating to it oblige me to take this decision.


Very respectfully


Dr. H. ten Kate

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Smithsonian's physical anthropology staff in newspaper


Natural History Museum's Origins of Western Culture hall will close for a 3-year renovation

By Jacqueline Trescott
Friday, September 3, 2010; C01


Letter of the Day: September 7

Indianapolis General,

Sep. 7th 1868.

Brvt Maj Genl. J.K. Barnes, U.S.A.

Surgeon General.




I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of a  circular, headed, “Memorandum for the information of Medical Officers.”


I have in my possession the skull of a New Mexico Indian, which I know nothing of the history of, except that it was brought direct from there by Mr James B. Dunlap – deceased - + given to me.


The skull is at your service. Please inform me how I shall send it, if you wish to have it in your collectin.


Your Obt Servt,

F.S. Newcomer,

A.A. Surg, U.S.A.

Monday, September 6, 2010

President McKinley's nurses

According to the NY Times, President McKinley was shot today by anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, N.Y. in 1901. Here's a related picture from our collection.

CP 2459
The Hospital Corps Men who served as the male nurses of President McKinley until his death. Private Ernest Vollmeyer, Acting Hospital Steward Palmer A. Eliot, and Private John Hodgins. Photographed at the Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, NY, 1901. CP 2459

Letter of the Day: September 6

Dear Doctor:

I have been called upon to give testimony in a criminal case - in which there is a bullet wound of the head with extensive fracture of the skull – and no external marks of violence.

Would I be asking or troubling you too much in requesting you to send me such photographs as will have a bearing upon the case, such as will illustrate the average amount of fracture of the skull from bullets, + especially pistol shots.

Also such as will illustrate well authenticated cases of fracture from “Contre Coup.”

With great respect
I have the honor to be-
Very Sincerely,
Your Obdt Servant
A. Van Deveer


Respectfully submitted to the Surgeon General, U.S.A. for instructions. A certain number of the illustrations contained in the Army Medical Museum on the subjects referred to have been photographed and prints have been furnished to two medical men of Albany, engaged in a medico-legal inquiry – possibly the same to which Dr. Van Derveer refers.

George A. Otis
Ass’t Surg. USA

Sept. 13. 69.


Let him have them if in hand --

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 5

U.S.A. Post Hospital,
Fort Niagara, N.Y., September 5, 1879.

Asst. Surg. G.A. Otis, U.S.A.
Washington, D.C.


In looking through one of the old volumes of the Medical History of the Post, I found this memorandum. These old relics are now in the Hospital Dead House. If you would like to have them sent on for the Army Medical Museum I will have them packed and turned over to the Post Quartermaster for transportation to you.

Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
William Wilson
Asst. Surgeon, U.S.A.
Post Surgeon


Shot and Shell!

Relics of the Siege of Fort Niagara, N.Y., in 1759, -- fired by the forces of General Prideaux, and Sir William Johnson, --the Fort being held by the French.

These missiles were picked out of the old walls of the Fort when those walls were taken down, preparitory (sic) to the building of the present ones in 1843 and immediate subsequent years. The walls were of logs, set upright and with pointed logs or timbers projecting over the top.

These articles, several hundred points in weight in all, were in the keeping of the Engineer, Brevet Colonel Wilson, and Asst. Engineer, Mr. J. Lawrance, until sold at auction with other engineer property in the spring of 1874:

I procured these pieces of the purchaser at the time of sale.

John H. Bartholf,
Captain & Asst Surgeon, U.S.A.

Fort Niagara, N.Y.
September 1, 1874

The pieces alluded to above are pieced selected by Dr. Bartholf from those sold at auction + will weigh say about 40 to 50 lbs.
W. Wilson.


The specimens were assigned number 1001, Sect 4, but then “These specimens were turned over to the Ordnance Department, October 3, 1879.”

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 4

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 906

Sept. 4, 1895.

Mr. Nathan Joseph,
641 Clay Street,
San Francisco, Cal.

Dear Sir:-

Your letter of August 28th, addressed to Dr. J.S. Billings is received.

In reply I would say that the offer therein contained is respectfully declined, as the Army Medical Museum contains a certain number of the skulls described by you,-- sufficient for its purposes, and is not now in a position to enlarge in this line.

Very respectfully,

D. L. Huntington
Depty. Surg. Genl., U.S. Army,
In Charge of Museum and Library.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 3

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 905

Health Department, District of Columbia
Washington, September 3rd, 1895

Dr. Walter Reed,
Curator, Army Medical Museum,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:-

I send you herewith a dog killed on the 1st. instant and alleged to have had hydrophobia. If you can kindly arrange to make the necessary tests, I shall be greatly obliged.

Very respectfully,
Wm. C. Woodward M.D.
Health Officer.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 2

War Department,

Surgeon General’s Office,

Washington, DC, Septbr. 2nd, 1870




I have the honor to report that in obedience to instructions from the Adjutant General’s Office, dated September 1st, 1870, I have this day re-enlisted Hospital Steward Geo. A. Jones, to date from August 31st, 1870, and have ordered the steward to report in person, fro duty, to the Surg Genl.


I herewith resp. transmit a copy of his enlistment papers.


E. E. Townsend

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 1

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1627


Fort Reno, Okla. Ter.

Sept. 1, 1896.


Dear Doctor:-


The photographs of the malarial parasite were duly received. If I do not hear from you to the contrary, I shall consider that you meant to have me keep them.


There were no cases of malarial fever during August at this post. But if I am again unable to find the parasite in a case which I feel certain from other evidence is malarial, I shall certainly take advantage of your very kind offer and send on some dried specimens.


With many thanks, I am,


Very truly yours,


Sam Q Robinson


Major Walter Reed,

Surgeon, U.S.A.

Army Med. Museum.