Monday, January 31, 2011

The Medical Heritage Library, an online resource

Here's almost 8500 historic medical texts available online for free:

The Medical Heritage Library (MHL) is a digital curation collaborative among some of the world's leading medical libraries. The MHL promotes free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine. Our goal is to provide the means by which readers and scholars across a multitude of disciplines can examine the interrelated nature of medicine and society, both to inform contemporary medicine and strengthen understanding of the world in which we live.

The Museum's got ~175 items at the Internet Archive (search for otishistoricalarchives) and when we figure out how to link them, we'll add them to this digital resource. Some of ours are unique, like the Pleasants Photograph Album, which is full of pictures of wounded soldiers who made the album as a 'thank you' for being tutored in reading.

Thai medical museum article

Letter of the Day: January 31

Fort Abercrombie D.T. [Dakota Territory]
January 31st, 1868


Your letter of January 14th concerning Specimens for the Army Medical Museum, is recieved [sic]; in reply I would respectfully state, that I have a Bow and Arrow of the Sioux and one of the Chippewas which I will shortly forward to the Museum. These I consider typical weapons of the respective tribes. I would also have procured Knives and Tomahawks but those which I have seen here have been of such various materials and patterns, that they would be almost valueless as specimen weapons.

I have made arrangements to procure for the Anatomical section of the museum, the skeletons of such of the smaller feral animals as can be obtained in this section of country, and hope when the trappers return from their winter's hunt, to be able to report my success, and forward the specimens procured.

Specimens of Indian Crania can not be obtained here. During the past two years but one death has occurred in the vicinity among the aboriginal inhabitants which has come to my knowledge- That of a Chippewa "half-breed" who was killed by the Sioux Indians on Elm River about 50 miles from here- his body was removed to Pembina and buried in the Catholic Cemetery there. Crania of "half breeds" Sioux and Chippewa I should imagine would present some interesting features for study and I will use every legitimate endeavor to procure specimens of these, for the museum.

In conclusion Doctor I assure you, of my interest in the museum; and of my hearty cooperation in carrying out its purposes, to any extent in my power.

Very Respectfully
You Obedient Servant
W.H. Gardner
Asst. Surgeon and Bvt. Major USA

Bvt Sr Col George A Otis
Asst Surgeon U.S. Army

Medical Director
Department of Dakota

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 30

Chicago, Jany. 30/[1869]

To the Chief of the Medical Department, U.S.A.

Dear Sir,

Believing that you take a deep interest in the advancement of Science in the Medical Branch, I take the liberty to address a few lines to you, with the expectation that through your kindness you will give me all the assistance to succeed in carrying out my object. I am requested by one of the most eminent Professors of Anatomy of Europe. Professor Dr. Hyrdel of Vienna, an old acquaintance of mine and whose name may be familiar to you, to procure for him a complete skull of an Indian with the name of the tribe attached to it. Said Professor has a Collection of some five thousand skulls, but none of an Indian. Either a prepared one or unprepared would be acceptable , and I am willing to pay the expense. If you should have a chance to get a prepared skull and should not cause you to much trouble, you may send one directly to Dr. Hyrdel at Vienna (Austria) and if not an unprepared one I suppose might be got from the Plains through your solicitations and in that case have it addressed to me and send to Chicago. Hoping that you will excuse me for causing you so much trouble, and awaiting your kind answer to this, I remain

most respectfully yours
J. Ulrich, M.D.
No 467 North Wells Sre.[?]

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Florida medical museum newspaper article

Lee County's first certified general surgeon now curates medical museum

Letter of the Day: January 29 (Jackson collection)

A.Q.M. Office
Knoxville Jany 29 /64

Respectfully returned with the statement that I have no direct knowledge respecting the affair alluded to in the accompanying communication.

I have seen an order from Maj Genl Foster authorizing Dr Jackson the Medical Director to take possession of any house outside the city limits he pleased for smallpox hospitals, and the Rev Mr Hayden Post Chaplain informed me that he had, under direction of Dr Jackson so appropriated a house which I presume to be the one indicated, indeed the occupant and professed owner so represented to me.

As the business was not in any way transacted through the Quartermasters Department, I do not consider that Dept. as at all responsible for the injury done to the citizen, and should not recommend the payment of any money on account of it except under the express order of Maj Genl Foster himself, who ordered the property to be taken.

Very Respectfully
E.B. Whitman
Capt. U.S.A.


Jan. 29. 1864

Respectfully referred to Capt. J. H. Dickinson Chief Q.M. Dept. of the Ohio for his instructions.
J. M. Huntington
Capt A.Q.M.
Office of Chief QuarterMaster
Knoxville Tn. [illegible]
Capt E. B. Hillman A.Q.M. will [illegible] fully the written case, + by [illegible illegible] the private dwelling of Geo. Th. Fagan was taken [illegible] for a hospital.
J.M. Huntington
Acting Chief Q.M.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 28 [Interlude on early psychology]

Surgeon General's Office
Jan. 28, 1885

Stone, F.W.

Leipzig, Jan 30, 1885.

Dr James McKeen Cattell
Humboldtstr 19. Leipzig

Letter to Dr. J.S. Billings U.S.A, acknowledges receipt of this of Dec. 4th.

Explains his method of measuring the reaction time etc. the Electric Chronoscope made by M. Hipp, Neuchatel*. Wundt's "Philosophische Studien"* will give way to use the chronoscope-. Cost of the inst. Offers to obtain me for Museum, and when in U.S. will set-up the apparatus.

S.G.O. Jan 28, 1885

Dr Billings: Acknowledges receipt of this Jan 30. Would be glad to expend for Museum not to exceed $250-. for insts. to measure reaction time, if he is willing to select, order and set-up the apparatus. Apparatus to be sent to Dr. Feinpl[?], Leipsic [sic], who will pay for same, as directed., also for Wundt's 'Phie Studien'

Mr Myers-

Explanatory Notes
"Philosophische Studien" (Philosophical Studies) was the first journal of experimental psychology, founded by Wilhelm Wundt in 1883. In 1879, he founded one of the first formal laboratories for psychological research at the University of Leipzig. Cattell, a student of Wundt's, was the first professor of psychology in the United States at the University of Pennsylvania and long-time editor and publisher of scientific journals and publications. Cattell references Hipp's Electric Chronoscope in his 1886 article The Time Taken Up By Cerebral Operations.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 27

No. 160 7 Vere St
Philada Jany. 27, 1868.

Bvt Lieut. Col. George A. Otis.
U. S. Army

My Dear Sir.

It is now been several years since I have had the pleasure of seeing you, although graduating at the Medical Department of the University of Pennsylvania on the same day, spring of 1857- And also being associated with you at Princeton College, I in the class of '47 you were in the class of '49.

Many very many changes have taken place since those memorable days at old Nassau. The rebellion has made sad havoc among the Alumni of Princeton as the records prove.

Dr. Boher of your class (1622 Chestnut Rd) is now practicing, and the same kind hearted fellow as in days of yore, still a bachelor. Ian Robb, recently married is at the Philadelphia Bar and is ranked among the best of his contemporaries in the legal profession. Johnny Vanderkamp still resides in Paris, [illegible] often as about every two years, as allowed by little. Rudolph[?] + Louis Paul both educated as physicians, neither of whom are practicing nor never have. They have a competence, hence are not compelled to work at slavish professions like many others of us, with but poor remunerations for services rendered. These are all of your class whom at present , I can recall as residing in our city save Juglean[?], your first union man who has left the Bar and is President of a Coal Company . Will you oblige me, if it is within your province without inconvenience at the department, by sending to the enclosed address a copy of the very useful Catalog of the Army Medical Museum recently published under your supervision. I have copies of Circular No 5, 6, +7 sent me on application to Sug Generl Office. The catalogue I was of [illegible] would not be so liberally distributed hence my appeal to you. During the rebellion I was an attending surgeon at the Satterlee U S Hospital for a short time. Whenever you visit our city I would be happy to have a visit from you. Dr. Boher and myself contemplate visiting Washington as delegates to Nat Med Ass in May next - Hoping you may be [illegible] to grant my request

Very Respectfully yours,
A.H. Irish

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

January 26: Museum closing at 3:30 today

Due to the Federal Government closing two hours early today, the Museum will be closing at 3:30.

Letter of the Day: January 26 (RMS Jackson Collection)

Off. P. MG of E. Tenn

Knoxville Tenn.

Jan. 26/64


Respectfully referred to Dr. Jackson Medical Director of E. Tenn.

By order of Brig Genl Carter






Med. Dir. D. E. Tenn.

Knoxville Jan’y 26th 1864


Respectfully referred to Capt. Huntington A.G.M. Act. Chief Q.M. Dept. of the Ohio.

RMS Jackson

Surgeon USA.

Med. Director

E. Tenn.


Knoxville. Jany. 25th 64

Brig. Genl. Carter,




The following is the cost of my house that the U. States government has taken possession of on last Saturday, for an hospital


Via original cost      $ 750.00

My improvements 1650.00



Dr. Genl.

My family is large + now houseless consisting of 6 persons. I am anxious for the Government to purchase it, and am willing to sell it for the above Amt. as my family will not live in it hereafter, when once occupied as a  Small Pox hospital.


I think I have been handled very roughly, for a true union man. I was ordered out, with short notice, without making any provision for my family, whatever.


My loyalty, I have and can prove by Messrs A. G. Jackson Col., Jno. Williams, S. Morrow, J. Baxter, +c. +c.


Genl. I appeal to you , to do something for me, as my self + family will have to suffer, unless there is something done for me very soon.




Geo. W. Fagan.


Brig. Genl. S.P. Carter


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 25

Lea Brothers & Co.,
Established 1785

706, 708 & 710 Sansom Street,
Philadelphia, Jan. 25, 1895

Dr. John S. Billings
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir: Yours of the 23rd at hand. The list of figures as furnished by Dr. Keen was taken from the 2d or 1889 Edition of the International Encyclopedia of Surgery, Vol. IV.

The corresponding figures in the edition of 1884. Vol. IV as cited by you are, with a single exception, correct, i.e.,

Fig 852, p. 269, of 1889 Ed. = fig 765, p. 675, Spec. 1160, 1884 Ed.
" 865, " 368, " " " = " 778, p. 774, " 5738, "
" 866, " 369, " " " = " 779, " 775, " 2532, "
" 870, " 371, " " " = " 783, " 777, " 3984, "
" 876, " 376, " " " = " 789, " 782, " 611, "

The exception is: fig. 867, p 369, of our list which is President Garfield's case, not the one showing a section of the vertebrae. If you will kindly have electrotypes made of the figures and forwarded to us, you will greatly oblige

Yours truly
Lea Brothers & Co. H

Monday, January 24, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 24

No. 14
S.G.O. Washington D.C.
January 24th 1863


In examining the very interesting history of the Hospital in Baltimore formerly under your charge; I see that you allude to some future Surgical report which will include notes of cases +c.

I am exceedingly desirous of collecting for the “Surgical History of the War,” as many such memoirs & monographs as possible. Would it be possible for you to furnish a resume of the Surgical facts connected with the Hospital during the time you were in charge? Of course such a paper would appear in print, in the form in which it was written, and as your report. I should especially wish your experience as to Resection in continuity; & as to Teales’ amputation, & Symes. If you have any drawings of interest they could readily be cut in wood or stone.

Very Truly Yours
J.H.B. [John Hill Brinton]
Surgeon U.S. Vols.

Asst. Surgeon Bartholow, U.S.A.

Dr. Hasson’s consolidated Report for the months of September-December, 1862, is in the office., He reports 9 cases of Symes. You mention 2. Yours were I suppose done first, and were not included in his enumerations.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 23

No. 13

S.G.O. Jany 23d 1863


The S.G. directs that accurate notes be taken of the progress of the cases when names are returned on the Enclosed list. All of these patients were until recently under the care of Surg. Squire, at the Locust Spring Hospl. Md. The date of transfer to your hospital, is marked opposite to the name of each patient. As Surg. Squire has already furnished most valuable records of these patients up to the period of transfer, it is exceedingly desirable that the observations subsequent to that date should in each instance be accurate and minute.

Very resply your. Obt servt
By order of the S.G.
JHB [John Hill Brinton]
Surg USA

To Surg. Van der Kieft
Smoketown Genl. Hospl. U.S.A.
Near Sharpsburg Md

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 22

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 461

January 22, 1895

Mr. Michael H. Curlin,
538 Congress St.,
Portland, Me.

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 18th inst. in regard to the excised portion of the tibia has been received.

The specimen has been described in the Catalogue of this Museum published in 1866, and a detailed history of the case, with a woodcut of the specimen has been given on page 453 of the Third Surgical Volume of the History of the Rebellion. As all these records would be vitiated by allowing the specimen to go out of the Museum, it is deemed impracticable to grant your request.

Very respectfully,

John S. Billings.
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
In charge of Army Medical Museum and Library.

Friday, January 21, 2011

AFIP note for the record

Today the department of radiologic pathology shut down with doctors who had been assigned from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) returning there, and other staff being hired by the American College of Radiology which will continue the courses formerly done at AFIP.

AFIP cornerstone items

This is a list of what’s in AFIP’s cornerstone, which is now buried under the steps installed in the 1971 addition.



'Terminal Ballistics of Antique and Modern Firearms' online now

Terminal Effects of Projectiles from Antique and Modern Firearms in Ordnance Gelatin / Bone Targets (A1908-83-0010)

Ballistics experiments conducted by shooting bones embedded in gelatin blocks, done at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology by Dr. Bruce D. Ragsdale, M.D., Orthopedic Pathology Department, AFIP & Arnold R. Josselson, LTC, USAF, MC, Forensic Sciences Department, AFIP. Circa 1970.

Viewable at

Letter of the Day: January 21

Tazewell, Tenn.
Jan. 21st, 1874.

Mr. A.L. Snow

Dear Friend,

Your letter from Coleraino Mass. was received some two weeks ago, and would have been answered immediately, but I thought it best to wait until I should make another trip to Lee, hoping that I would be able to give you more definite information in regard to the bones then I could then do. I preached up in Lee last Sunday, but Mr./ Fulkerson being sick, I failed to see him, and saw Mr. Bales, who is also interested in the matter, only at church. I called at his house on Monday morning, but he was absent from home. I left a message on the subject for him and Mr. F, and I have no doubt they will exert themselves to procure as nearly a complete skeleton as possible. I do not, however, feel very sanguine as to their success, for after Mr. Fulkerson received your letter, he and I visited several caves where from reports we confidently expected to find more valuable bones than the ones you took with you, but were disappointed, in consequence of so many of these having been carried off of late years as mere objects of curiosity.

I have so far ascertained the location of about twenty-one or twenty-two caves known to have bones in them, and a few others that have no bones, so far as is known. I feel confident that if these were all thoroughly explored that whole skeletons could be found. I believe that they contain a rich treasure for the antiquary and ethnologist, but it may be lost by delay. I cannot doubt that these bones have been very abundant within a few years past. The testimony on this point is abundant and from men whose veracity cannot be doubted. I wish you would urge Prof. Henry to get an appropriation for the exploration of the caves and mounds without waiting for a complete skeleton, for the very difficulty of obtaining one is an urgent reason against delay. If the testimony of the most prominent citizens of Lee county as to the abundance of these bones in past years, will answer the place of the skeleton in securing an appropriation, it can easily be had. If an appropriation is secured, it should be for Lee and the immediately adjoining county, for a few of the caves and perhaps one or two of the mounds are in the edge of Tenn. and probably there are some mounds at least in Harlan Co. Ky. I have no doubt that there are a good many of those "bone caves" in Lee that I have not yet heard of, for I hear of one or two additional ones nearly every time I visit the county.

Dr. Ewing received a letter from Prof. Henry in reference to the stone you spoke to me about. I saw it when in Lee the other day. It is neither conical nor hollow. It's exact shape is somewhat difficult to describe. It is about 18 inches long, the main body of it cylindrical or nearly so, tapering a little towards the ends and the ends themselves rounding. It is perhaps 2 1/2 inches in diameter. It is a black stone, of fine grit and smoothly polished. I am not mineralogist enough to say certainly what kind of stone it is. The doctor is unwilling to part with it, but has some others that will probably prove valuable additions to the cabinet of the Smithsonian Institute that he will part with, and thinks he can still procure others.

Your family are all well and mine tolerably well. I suppose Mrs. Snow keeps you posted in regard to all the news of Tazewell. There is nothing of any special interest in regard to church matters. Money is scarcer and the business of the community is a more prostrated condition than I have ever known it.

If I learn anything of importance in regard to the bones I will write again. I hope we shall see you home again before long.

Your Friend,
S.B. Campbell

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 20



20 January 1956


Dr. William H. Feldman

Mayo Foundation

University of Minnesota Graduate School

Rochester, Minnesota


Dear Doctor Feldman:


Dr. Messimy sent us a photograph of Professor Cornil and also one of the base of a monument to Cornil. He states that the statues which was on the base was destroyed during the war. This monument was near Vichy. We are enclosing copies of these two photographs, if you wish additional copies to add to your report, please let us know.


We also enclose the other photographs which you need for extra copies of the report.


A copy of the letter sent Dr. Delarue is enclosed. I hope the slides reach us safely.


With best regards

Sincerely yours,


Hugh R. Gilmore, Jr.

Colonel, MC, USA


Medical Museum, AFIP


Encl: Photographs

Cc letter to Dr. Delarue


Overall this probably refers to OHA 140 Cornil Sketchbooks - Two volumes of pencil and watercolor sketches of syphilitic lesions and pathological histology by Dr. Victor Cornil (1837-1908), a Paris pathologist who participated in the autopsy of John Paul Jones in 1905. In the 1950s the AFIP obtained some of the materials from the autopsy. The collection also includes a report of this recovery effort. Related material in Historical Collections (acc. #517,588).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

For the record...

At least 2 Museum pictures appeared in Health in America 2011 Calendar by CUNY / New York Times in College, copies of which arrived today. Reeve 63082  and SC 178198, but I’m still looking.


Letter of the Day: January 19 (2 of 2)

And speaking of moving problems…


Medical Purveying Depot U.S. Army.

No. 126 Wooster Street

P.O. Box 108.

Station A

New York, January 19th 1881


Surgeon George A. Otis, U.S. Army.

Army Medical Museum

Washington D.C.




I have the honor to inform you, in reply to your letter of the 18th inst., that the 40 gallons of Benzine invoiced to you December 29th 1880, were shipped by steamer which sailed from this Port for Georgetown January 1st. The Quartermaster informs me that he was compelled to ship the benzene by water, as the Rail Road company declined to transport it.


Very respectfully

Your ob’t servant

F. O’Donnaghue

Captain + Med Storekeeper U.S. Army.

A Year of Letters of the Day

Today marks the beginning of a new year of ‘Letters of the Day’ – we started on January 19, 2010 and only missed July 4th when we couldn’t find a letter for it. Would you like to see us continue, although service will grow spottier due to the impending move of the Museum? Let us know.


Letter of the Day: January 19 (1 of 2)

Microsoft continually corrected the spelling in this letter, and it was easier to go along with it.

Washington D.C. Jan 19th 1887


Dr Yarrow assistant Surgeon U.S.A.




This is the list of things I can furnish for the lunch room in case no cooking is allowed in the Building


Cold ham

Bread & Butter


Pies & cakes


Puddings & milk

Corned Beef



If I am allowed to have a gas stove I will have hot tea coffee & chocolate and hot soup and oysters.


And if I am allowed to cook in the Building I can furnish Beef steak, mutton chops, hot bread & cakes & omelets and vegetables if needed. And I wish to say that all the heaviest cooking will be done at my residence such as soup & pies, or other things that would be offensive. I can have a variety of other thins if I find that I can sell them.


Yours respct.

C.W. Procter

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 18 (2 of 2)

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 461


Portland Jan 18th /95


Surgeon General .U.S


Dear Sir


if it is possible I would like to have the Bones that was taken out of my leg. I was wounded at the Battle of White Hall North Carolina in 1862 and had 6 ½ inches of the fibular bone taken out, and the surgeon told me he was going to send them to Washington. I would like to have them. I was in Co H. 23rd regiment Mass vols.


Address Michael .H. Curlin

538 Congress St Portland



1326 Path Sect.

Letter of the Day: January 18 (1 of 2)


January 18, 1896, Dr. G. N. Acker, Washington, D.C. contributes a specimen from a case of gangrene of lung in a child.

Ask for history.

Specimens Nos. 11013 & 11014 Path. Sect.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 17

Curatorial Records: Smithsonian Correspondence

Smithsonian Institution. January 17, 1871

Dear Sir:

We have just received a communication from Prof. H.H. [?] Giglioli of Florence, announcing the establishment at that city of a National Museum of Ethnology for the Kingdom of Italy, and expressing the earnest desire to secure crania belonging to the Indian races of America. For these in return he offers ancient Roman and Latin skulls in considerable variety - and we therefore present the subject to your consideration hoping that you may be able to meet his wishes.

In this cinnection [sic] we beg leave to say that it will give us much pleasure to be the medium of transmission of any specimens you may desire to send to the Museum at Florence, especially as we shall have occasion, ourselves, to forward duplicates of other objects to this address.

I am
Yours very truly,
Joseph Henry
Sect'y S. Inst.

[To] Dr. George A. Otis
Army Medical Museum
Etc. Etc. Etc. D.C

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 16

Post Hospital
Fort Clark, Texas
January 16, 1885

To the
Surgeon General,
United States Army,
Washington, D.C.


I would respectfully state that there is at the post hospital a specimen of congenital malformation of the head in a Lamb recently brought forth at the post. The lower jaw, mouth, and nasal passages, are apparently wanting in the specimen. The eyes are absent from their normal position, and one situated just at the junction of the head and throat beneath the jaw. There is also an aperture, probably leading into the esophagus and trachea.

Please inform me if this specimen is desired for the Army Med Museum- and if desired, whether it shall be forwarded through the G.M. Dept., or by express.

Very respectfully
Your obedient servant
F.L. Town
Major and Surgeon U.S. Army
Post Surgeon

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 15

“Art Studio”
1639 19th St. N.W.

Dr. D.L. Huntington


Having in my studio a Portait, painted in oil, of the celebrated “Siamese Twins,” said painting having been executed by a French Artist in Paris in 1836. I thought it would be a fitting subject for your Museum.

I will dispose of it for a moderate price.

Should you think favorable of the offer, it can be seen at my studio or I can send it down for your inspection.


Mrs. V.B. Mullan.

Rec’d for file Jan 15 1884

Friday, January 14, 2011

Some concepts for a dental corps exhibit

Brain Awareness Week at the Medical Museum: March 14-18, 2011

LIMITED SPACE REMAINING! SCHEDULE YOUR SCHOOL TODAY for Brain Awareness Week 2011! Sign up for one incredible day introducing the brain and brain sciences to students. Space is limited, so act now! Each two-hour session features an introductory talk that will highlight the brain and its functions. Students will then rotate through a series of hands-on activity stations for one-on-one interactions with neuroscientists. Presentations by Howard University, NIH, Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Rutgers University, and the Army Audiology and Speech Pathology Clinic.

This program is designed for middle school students, grades 5 through 8, and is for groups (minimum: 10 students; maximum: 72 students). A limited number of individual students and home school students may attend, depending on space constraints. Reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis. Morning and afternoon sessions are available.

For more information or to make a reservation, call the Museum’s tour program office at 202-782-2456 or e-mail

Another cool Valentine's Day program at the Medical Museum

Letter of the Day: January 14

Headquarters National Guard
of Pennsylvania

Adjutant General's Office,
Harrisburg, Pa., Jany 14" 1896

Daniel L. Foster, Esq.
Washington, D.C.

My dear Sir:

I wish you would call at the Government Museum, sometime at your leisure, and ascertain if possible, whether or not my leg is there. It was amputated at Alexandria, Va. Jany 30, 1864, and I learned at that time it would be sent to Washington, D.C. for examination, after which it would be placed Medical Museum.

By making some inquiry you may be able to ascertain where it is.

Very Truly Yours
A.L. Crist

x c/o


Washington, D.C.
No. 19 Iowa Circle
Jany 18" 96

Respectfully referred to the Surgeon General U.S.A. with the request that reply be made direct to Mr. Crist.

I would add that he was a member of Company A 5th Pa. Reserve Vols. Infantry

Respect'yDaniel C. Foster

[Contextual Note: The Museum does not have Mr. Crist's leg, but given the information in his letter and in Foster's note, I was able to find Crist in the National Park Service's Soldier and Sailors Database, which tracks Civil War servicemen, from both the Union and Confederacy. Mr. Crist was very likely Corporal Abram L. Crist. He served in the 5th Pennsylvania Reserve Infantry, Company A, on the Union side. He entered as a Private and left a Corporal. From the letterhead on which he wrote his letter to Foster, Crist may have gone on to work for the Pennsylvania National Guard.]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Two Vietnam War-era military medicine films online now

The Limbo Minutes on medical evacuation and Introduction to Combat Medicine, two short films by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research dating from the Vietnam War, have been loaded up to the Internet Archive.

Letter of the Day: January 13

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01193

Fort Yates, N.D.
January 13, 1896.

Dear Doctor Reed:

Although I know how very busy you must be I have been so much puzzled that I am going to take the liberty of appealing to you for help in my difficulty. I have not been able to stain the diphtheria bacillus satisfactorily with Loeffler’s Methyllene [sic] Blue solution since my return from Washington and cannot imagine what is wrong. Dr. Swift even sent to Merck some of the dye thinking perhaps there was something wrong with the material we had on hand. I have made the solution from one to three percent in 1-10000 solution of caustic potash over and over and tried it from time to time on fresh blood serum cultures of the bacilli, sometimes staining for ten minutes, sometimes heating the solution. It always gives the same very faint stain so that I cannot use it for diagnosis. It is so much different from the beautiful mounts that I made under your direction and which are still deeply and properly stained as a standard of what ought to be.

Again I know you kept on hand as stock solution a saturated alcoholic solution using 30cc of that to 100cc solution of caustic potash. Now the dispensatory gives the solubility of methyllene blue as only 1.50 % in alcohol and that is all I can make it dissolve so of course cannot make a watery solution strong enough from that. I am satisfied there must be something wrong somewhere with my method and that a few lines of advice from you can straighten it out. I have given up using methyllene blue in despair and by using gentian violet very rapidly am able to detect the bacillus though the stain is not as satisfactory as Loeffler’s Solution ought to be.

I make cultures from every throat that presents any opportunity and have made a great many examinations this winter. It is so much satisfaction to be able to do this work and I appreciate more every day that advantages I had under your kind instruction last winter. Have found the germs in three throats this winter, - on in the throat of a child of crylian [?] parents post mortem, attended by a civilian for tonsillitis. I was called in after the sudden death of the child to verify the diagnosis and to allay any scare about diphtheria. Fortunately a public funeral was prevented.

Yesterday afternoon I used my first injection of antitoxin upon a soldier, after six hours inoculation from his throat upon blood serum. No visible colonies had grown but by swabbing [sic] the loop over the surface of the serum many bacilli were collected.

Thanking you in advance, I am
Very Sincerely yours,
Henry C. Fisher

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 12

United States National Museum
Under direction of
The Smithsonian Institution
Jan. 12. 1884

My dear Dr. Shufeldt:

Prof Mason is anxious to have for his lecture this afternoon “four exaggerated specimens of head deformation” Chinook + crania, etc. We have none in this museum. There is not time left to make formal application. If you could let them come informally by bearer Prof Mason and the lecture committee will be greatly obliged. If you can’t, please don’t hesitate to say so.

Yours very truly,
G. Brown Goode

Dr. Billings sent over the specimens.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Where the heck is the Frank syphilis exhibit?


With the Pathology Institute closing in the spring, there's no official requirement to do an annual report this year, but I feel that people should be able to find out what we did. Annual Reports for the time I have run the Archives, 1989-2009 are available on the Museum's website.


Michael Rhode, Chief Archivist
(A) Laura Cutter, Assistant Archivist
(D) Kathleen Stocker, Assistant Archivist
(D) Jasmine High, Archives Technician
(D) Donna Rose, IMC Supervisor Archivist
(D) Amanda Montgomery, IMC Contract Archivist
(D) Johanna Medlin, IMC Contract Archivist
(D) Emilia Garvey, IMC Contract Archivist
(D) LaFonda Burwell, IMC Contract Archives Technician
(D) Karen West, IMC Contract Archives Technician
(D) Anna Korosec, IMC Contract Archives Technician
(D) Erissa Mann, student volunteer

2010 was the last year of almost-normal life in the Archives, although BRAC planning began to take a large amount of time. The year saw a large staff turn-over which affected the amount of work the Archives could accomplish. Jasmine High left early in the year for the Smithsonian’s Natural History museum and the Archives technician position has not been filled due to BRAC restrictions on hiring. Kathleen Stocker left in early summer and was replaced in October by Laura Cutter. All of the IMC staff were transferred off the Museum’s project in September 2010 when the scanning contract was stopped for Museum records. A significant amount of time was also spent in planning for the BRAC move of the Museum, and the new storage systems that will be needed.

Substantial requests for information were handled, frequently regarding sensitive topics. Of the requests that we tracked, we had at over 100 substantial reference requests this year. Rhode presented “Cancer in the Comics: No Laughing Matter,” “The National Museum of Health and Medicine’s History As Seen Through Its Archives,” and moderated “Panel discussion on Use of Social Media to Promote Digital Collections,” while continuing working on the AFIP historical volume. In addition to providing scans of photographs of the Institute and personnel, they also wrote captions while contributing to the layout and editing of the publication. The book featured many photographs from the Archives.

The Medical Illustration Service Library, through the IBM (formerly NISC, formerly IMC) scanning project, ended with approximately 1,250,000 images digitized. Rhode was the Task Order Manager for the MIS part of the project; he and the assistant archivists and technicians selected material for scanning, reviewed the material, and recommended accepting the work on behalf of the government. The assistant archivist provided quality control. The members of the NISC team processed and cataloged the images prior to scanning so the records of the images are complete upon their return. Slightly over 400,000 images were scanned last year. Collections cumulatively scanned are the Reeve collection, HDAC’s Carnegie collection photographs, Arey-Dapena lantern slides, parts of the Blackburn-Neumann, Welker and Yakovlev files, part of the A-Bomb collection, Anatomical’s Orthopathic Pathology collection records, teaching slides from AFIP’s VetPath dept. (given MIS Library numbers and returned), the Army Medical Museum photographs from the Spanish-American War, American Expeditionary Forces (WWI autopsies), Atlas of Tropical Extraordinary Diseases [ATED], Swan and Hansen collections (Vietnam War surgery), Korean War Ballistics photographs, Museum and Medical Arts Service’s WWII photographs, Signal Corps photographs, part of the Medical Illustration Service Library, New Contributed Photographs collection, the unpublished 7th Saranac Silicosis Symposium from the Vorwarld Collection, Hollister Collection dental education photographs, an AFIP Study of 58 Combat Deaths from Vietnam, various museum publications including the Medical & Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, captured Vietcong medical manuals, the Museum’s 19th century curatorial logbooks, one half of John King’s 35mm veterinary slides, AFIP Public Affairs Office photographs (which were given MIS Library numbers), the Spanish-American War photographic collection, WRAIR 1960s-1970s photographs (under a shared contract), WRAMC DPW department photographs (given MIS numbers and returned), the Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) photographs (given MIS numbers and returned), Surgical Photographs, Contributed Photographs, and Specimen CDVs. As a reminder, the scanning project did not get through all the accession files. AFIP 657,675-2,372,287 (end of the AFIP-assigned numbers) are not done. Some departmental catalogue records are really displaced accession files. Catalogue records in Anatomical were partly done and integrated into the Accession files. Historical collection catalogue records were not done at all. A few straggling projects continue – the Records Repository is digitizing the microfilm of atomic bomb casualties, and the Radiology Pathathology department is scanning x-rays from the MIS Library. WDMET Vietnam War-era wounding data is also being worked on, and remains in West Virginia.

Computerized cataloguing on the collection has continued on both the collection and item level. Cataloguing of new material coming into the museum was done for the General Medical Products Information Collection, Medical Ephemera, New Contributed photographs, Audiovisual Collection, AFIP Historical Files, WRAMC Historical Collection and other artificial collections. Implementation of a comprehensive computer catalogue for the entire Museum continued with data from the archives added to KE Software’s EMU database. New cataloguing is now done directly into EMU, unless a traditional archival-style finding aid is done. Tens of thousands of records were created or modified for the Archives after the initial data load, and in 2011, all of the IMC records and images will be added into the database.

New material acquired included the Kindred Collection (housed in HDAC), the Miller (Cecil) Collection] of Dr. Cecil R. Miller, who was the NCOIC of the 430th AAFRTU ("Army Air Force Replacement Training Unit," a convalescent center for battle fatigue), Richard Satava’s DARPA Videotape Collection and the Leach Scrapbook, a World War I album of photographs of World War I facial case reconstructions and other surgical injuries. Newly-catalogued as a separate collection was Curatorial Records: Army Medical School Sanitary Chemistry Instruction Cards, 1905. As 2011 began, and AFIP started shutting down the Museum has received a pallet of videotapes from the Radiology dept. and 5 pallets of books and journals from Ash Library which will close at the end of February.

The Archives has a significant presence on the Internet including the Guide to the Collections of the Museum on the museum website which remains the main way researchers begin to use the archives. Cutter did finding aids for St. Elizabeths Hospital collection and American Board of Forensic Odontology (ABFO) records and inventoried videotapes from Richard Satava. No more archival collections were listed in the Library of Congress' National Union Catalogue of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC); however, finding aids should still be sent to NUCMC in the future for the different audiences it reaches.

In fall 2006, archives staff began adding interesting photographs to Flickr’s website. By December 31, 2009, we wrapped up the year with slightly under a million views - 906,255 for approximately 1800 images. As of the first week in January 2011, 1,515 people had chosen to be contacts of the Museum’s Flickr site. This number had increased drastically in December when the web post “Candid photographs of Civil War battlefield injuries” by Maggie Koerth-Baker (Boing Boing Dec 27, 2010; picked up the Archives posting of Civil War images from the Contributed Photographs collection. The Flickr daily view statistics for roughly ~250 images were December 27, 2010: 327,779; December 28: 245,041; December 29: 83,579; December 30: 30,834; December 31: 14,260; January 1: 8,268 and January 2: 10,569 for a 7-day total of 720,330 views. The entire Flickr group of photographs had 3,281,103 views of about 2,600 images by December 28th. A Repository for Bottled Monsters, an unofficial blog for the museum, continues to attract a worldwide audience. The notice about sharing the Civil War images was first posted to the blog and picked up from there. Since January 19, 2010, transcriptions of a ‘Letter of the Day’ from the Archives files have been posted to the blog with only July 4th not having a letter found for it.

Books and documents scanned by IMC were uploaded to the free Internet Archive, where they are available for downloading. Titles uploaded included a score of scans of the Museum’s nineteenth century logbooks, the three 1866 printed Catalogues of the Museum, captured handwritten medical manuals from the Vietnam War, the Medical Report of the Joint Commission for the Investigation of the Effects of the Atomic Bomb in Japan vol 6 (manuscript), Carry On: a Magazine on the Reconstruction of Disabled Soldiers and Sailors (08/1918) and audio recordings from the AFIP Oral History Project.

Rhode served on the AFIP's Institutional Review Board and HIPPA committees as well as Museum committees including the Admin group, the collections committee (as did Stocker and Cutter), and the database committee (as did Stocker).

Research and historical material, mostly on military medicine, was provided to AFIP, especially the Public Affairs Office for which High in particular has pulled scores of photographs for a new history of the AFIP. External users included the following institutions: NYU Langone Medical Center Office of Communications & Public Affairs, National Library of Medicine Dept of History of Medicine, University of Virginia Center for Bioethics, Alaskan Heritage Bookshop, University of Queensland Centre for the History of European Discourses, Dept. of Justice ATF Historian, National Park Service’s Fort Scott National Historic Site, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s Repatriation Office, The New York Times Magazine, Pictures on the Waves, McGraw-Hill, William P. Didusch Center for Urologic History, History Works, Inc., Society for the History of Navy Medicine, LaGuardia Community College’s LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, Oakland University, Walter Reed Army Medical Center Directorate of Public Works, Ritsumeikan University’s College of Policy Science, National Institutes Of Health’s NAIAD, New York State Museum, University of Pennsylvania’s Dept. of History and Sociology of Science, WRAMC Historian’s Office, Weider History Group, Inc., Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, University of Western Ontario, Fort Buford State Historic Site and Missouri-Yellowstone Confluence Interpretive Center, Washington Post, Burns Archive, USAF School of Aerospace Medicine, Ft. Baird Historic Preservation Society, Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History’s Dept. of Anthropology, Gina McNeely Picture Research, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, Oxford University Press Medical Books, University of Illinois, Case Western University’s Dittrick Medical History Center, Walter Reed Army Institute Of Research, US Navy Group 2, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), United States Army Medical Research Institute for infectious diseases’s Visual Information Office, Kaplan Fuller Group, National Library of Medicine Prints and Photographs division, Thompson Rivers University Dept. of Philosophy, Food and Drug Administration, Loopline Film, Rutgers University Dept of American Art and Visual Culture, Brera Fine Art Academy, Quercus Books, Elsevier Publishing Services, Anker Productions, Inc., Clement Railroad Hotel Museum, Texas Military Forces Museum, PRI Healthcare Solutions, Papers of Abraham Lincoln, North State Forensic Psychiatry PLLC, Memorial Hospital of Rhode Island’s The Stroke Center, The Valley Hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging, Longwoods Publishing, University of Maryland Baltimore County UMBC Honors College, Sam Weller Books, Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center (AFHSC), U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, University of Delaware Dept. of History of American Civilization, Virginia Historical Society, Universidad Nacional’s Dept. of Anthropology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Field Museum’s Dept. of Anthropology, Auckland Hospital, Universit√© de Picardie’s Facult√© d'Histoire, University of Michigan’s Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, O&P Business News, Open University of Israel, Writing and Editorial Services, and American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy.


1. Rhode, M. moderator, “Panel discussion on Use of Social Media to Promote Digital Collections,” Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences & Medical Museums Association joint meeting, (April 29)
2. Rhode, M. “Cancer in the Comics: No Laughing Matter,” American Association for the History of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, (May 1, 2010),
3. Rhode, M. “The National Museum of Health and Medicine’s History as Seen through Its Archives,” Society of American Archivists’ Government Records Section, (August 13, 2010)

Dr. Chevalier Jackson in NY Times

The NMHM also has a collection of material from Dr. Jackson, similiar to that from the Mutter Museum and discussed here...

Down the Hatch and Straight Into Medical History

From brain tissue to gallstones, doctors have long preserved specimens from their patients — sometimes as trophies, sometimes as teaching tools, sometimes as curiosities or even art. But Dr. Chevalier Jackson went much further than most.

A laryngologist who worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, he preserved more than 2,000 objects that people had swallowed or inhaled: nails and bolts, miniature binoculars, a radiator key, a child's perfect-attendance pin, a medallion that says "Carry me for good luck."

January 22: Lecture on Walter Reed radio show in WW2

Michael Henry of the University of Maryland's Library of American Broadcasting has let me know about a lecture he's doing:

Parks Johnson's radio show Vox Pop visited Walter Reed on March 15, 1943. Co-host Warren Hull specifically refers to the fact that they are broadcasting from the "Red Cross Recreation Hall". On Saturday January 22, I will be giving a presentation about the broadcast at the Radio & Television Museum in Bowie, MD. The event is free and open to the public. The presentation will start at 2pm. The museum is located at 2608 Mitchellville Rd in Bowie.

Pictures of the show being done at Walter Reed are online.

Letter of the Day: January 11

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01948

January 11, 1897

Dr. L. Campbell,
Slatington, Pa.

Dear Sir:

I answer to your letter of the 7th inst. I would state that we have several specimens of the effect of scorbutus on the jaw of grown persons, but none in a child. and I should, therefore, be pleased to receive the specimen referred to.

If you conclude to donate it to the Museum, please have it packed in a box marked: Army Medical Museum, Cor. 7th and B sts, S.W., Washington, D.C., and send it by Adams Express, which has authority to receive and forward it and collect freight charges here.

Very respectfully,

D.L. Huntington
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army
In charge of Museum and Library Division

Monday, January 10, 2011

We're still sending Civil War pictures to Flickr.

Visit us!

Contributed Photograph 0936



PVT, Company H, 5th Pennsylvania CAVALRY

Wounded NEAR RICHMOND, 2 APR 1865


See also CP 628



Letter of the Day: January 10

All communications to this Office should be addressed "To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C."

Subject: Repairs of heating apparatus.

War Department
Surgeon General's Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library
Corner of 7th and B Streets S.W.

Washington, D.C. January 10, 1895

To the
Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
Washington, D.C.

I have the honor to request authority to have repairs made to the heating apparatus in this building, at the estimated cost of $15.00, and to be paid for from the Museum appropriation as an emergency purchase.

Very respectfully,
JS Billings
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
In charge of Army Medical Museum and Library.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 9

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1956

Fort Walla Walla Washington
Saturday, January 9th 1897

Major Walter Reed
Surgeon U.S. Army
Washington, D.C.

My dear Doctor

I have sent you by mail today a piece of a testicle, the organ having been removed about five weeks ago. I will be very much obliged a microscopical examination as well as for a mounted slide if not too much trouble. The former owner, a man about forty years of age denies and I think honestly as far as he knows any syphilitic history, he dates his trouble from an injury received while riding about nine years ago. During the past year the organ has increased very much in size + has been painful. The surrounding lymphatic were not markedly enlarged nor tender, tho there has been a gradual loss of flesh[,] general weakness and cachexia.

On examination there was found an eggshaped tumor adherent in one place to the scrotum, much larger than the other testicle and quite solid with severe pain on pressure.

The diagnosis was a toss up between syphilitic and sarcoma with a leaning toward the latter. Trusting that I am not giving too much trouble I am with best wishes for the New Year

Very sincerely yours
John Phillips
Capt + Asst Surgeon A.S.U

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Advances in military medicine featured in good newspaper article

The Washington Post has been doing an excellent series on this, and is now joined by the NY Times.

In Wider War in Afghanistan, Survival Rate of Wounded Rises

January 7, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 8

Museum of Hygiene
Bureau of Medicine & Surgery,
Cor. 18th & G. Streets, N.W.
Washington Jany 8 1883

D.L. Huntington,
Lt. Col. + Surgeon, U.S.A.
+c +c


I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communications of the 5th + 6th instant.

I gratefully acknowledge the receipt of the following articles for the Museum of Hygiene, viz:

1. A model of Tompkins wheeled stretcher.
2. A full sized folding hand-litter with telescopic handles, made at Watervliet Arsenal.
3. A model of an ambulance wagon made at Watervliet Arsenal, accompanied by a copy of Report of a Board of Officers to decide upon a Patter of Ambulance Wagon for Army Use, etc.
4. A model of a ward of a hospital.
5. A model of Hick’s Hospital, with table.
6. A set of Microscopical photographs by Surgeon J.J. Woodward, U.S.A.
7. A set of Centennial photographs with explanatory pamphlets.

Very respectfully,
Your obd’t servant.
J.M Browne
Med. Director, U.S.N.
In charge

Friday, January 7, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 7

See Dr. Huntington's reply on January 11, 1897

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01948

Established 1870
Treating and Filling
Crowns in Porcelain and Gold
Artifical Teeth
Bridge Work, etc.

Dr. L. Campbell's
Dental Rooms

Slatington, Pa., Jan 7th, 1867

Dr. D.L. Huntington
Deputy Surgeon General

My Dear Doctor

I am in receipt of the Report of the Committee on the National Dental Museum + Library and certainly am in sympathy with such a grand movement and will do all I can for the sucess of it I have a case of "Scorbutus" in a child 2 yrs old a rare case although I do not like to part with it still I may send it I have the teeth of lower jaw all mounted on a plaster cast shape of jaw and set are the same as in the mouth let me know if you have any such case at the Museum

L. Campbell

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Navy World War 2 cartoon by Hotchkiss online now

MIS 09-7914-1
MIS 09-7914-1

"He had his heart set on pate de foie gras. Navy chow is the best!
Take all you can eat, eat all you can take! Don't be finicky!"
[Nutrition.] [Propaganda.] [World War 2.] [Illustration by: "Hotchkiss
USNR".] World War II. Cartoon.

1944; Bureau of Supplies and Accounts: Navy; U.S. Government Printing
Office; U.S. Navy BUMED Library and Archives

Letter of the Day: January 6

This is one of the earliest letters in the collection that documents the acquisition of the Gibson collection. Other letters regarding the purchase of the Gibson collection arrive two years later, in 1868: April 22, May 1, and August 16.

Office Medical Surveyor,
Richmond, Va., January 6th, 1866


In accordance with your note of Dec 29th, 1865, I visited in company with Dr Gaillard of this city + Col. I Simons U.S.A Mw.[?] Director of the Dept. the collection of the late Dr. C. B. Gibson + now offered for sale I have the honor to transmit herewith a catalogue of the same. The great bulk of this collection was made by Prof William Gibson Emeritus Professor of Surgery University of Penn. + which for a long time was used by him in his lectures + well known for its completeness + great value.

The forty two (42) oil paintings aside from their professional are of great value as works of art.

The osteological part of the collection I consider unique. Enhancing I think every known fracture + disease of bone + showing the powers of nature in the repair of the same. A number of specimens are from Waterloo -

I think that this part of the collection would be of great value in filling a gap in the Army Museum which must necessarily exist (ie) showing reunion after fracture, sabre cuts, + repair from disease. The wax preparations are elegant specimens of art the leather ones though not much used now are the finest that I have ever seen.

The whole collection is in good state of presivation [sic] - specimens well mounted + enclosed in upright cases-

The college at N.O. and at this place + some parties in Philadelphia have been asking about the price +c. Mrs. Gibson proposes in regard to price the following which I consider very liberal. She will appoint one professional man the other party to appoint one + they to appoint a third + she agrees to be bound by the decision of the three.

I have the honor
Very Respectfully I am
Your Obedient Servant
John H. Janeway
Bvt. Maj. + Asst Surgeon, U.S.A

[To] Bvt. Maj. + Asst Surgeon
A.A. Woodhull U.S.A.
Surgeon Generals Office

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 5

War Department,
Surgeon General's Office,
Washington, D.C., Jan. 5th, 1870


I have the honor to report that the four (4) blank- books, furnished last January, to be used as registers for Visitors at the Museum, will be completely filled in a few days, and others will be required.

I, am, Sir, very respectfully,
Your obt. servant,

Robt. E. Williams
Hospl. Stew'rd

[To] Brt. Lt. Col. Geo. A. Otis,
Assistant Surgeon, N.S.A.
Curator of the Army Med. Museum.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 4

[Historian of medicine Bert Hansen has written on the early days of vaccination in NYC, and tells me this is probably a cowpox cultivated in calves and used to immunize people against smallpox. Reed had written to the Health Department a week earlier asking about the failure after several months of two samples of bovine vaccine he had made himself. Here’s two relevant photographs - One further note – by the end of the nineteenth century, it was known that something smaller than bacteria could cause disease, but the first actual virus was isolated by Martinus Willem Beijerinck in 1898; hence the terminology used in this letter is imprecise to modern readers.]


Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1903


Health Department,

Centre, Elm, White & Franklin Streets,.

(Criminal Court Building)

Office of the Pathologist, and Director of the Bacteriological Laboratory.

New York, Jan 4th, 1897


Walter Reed, M.D.,

Curator U.S. Army Museum,

7th and B. Streets S.W.,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Doctor:-


Your communication of the 28th ult. To Dr. H.M. Biggs has been received, and he has requested me to reply to the same. With reference to the statement made on the printed directions accompanying the package of vaccine virus sent you on Dec. 24th, I would say that this label was prepared at a time when the keeping quality of the vaccine virus produced by this Department had not yet been fully ascertained. As a matter of fact, we find that the virus preserves its potency unchanged for fully six months; not only does it not deteriorate in strength during this period, but its quality with regard to the number of bacteria present is improved. We have found it impossible to produce a virus absolutely free from bacteria, although we are able to assure the absence of pathogenic organisms. The bacteria originally present in the virus diminish as time goes on, and the age of the virus is, therefore, an important factor with relation to the number of bacteria contained.




Alfred L. Beebe

Asst. Director, Diagnosis Bacteriological Laboratory


Monday, January 3, 2011

Meet Joshua

Joshua was a rhesus macaque born in a "monkey colony" maintained for research on primate development and reproduction. The monkey colony was part of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Embryology from 1925-1971, and the collections are now housed at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Researchers were able to use data on how monkeys develop to better interpret data on how another primate, humans, develop.

The rhesus macaque species has served as a useful animal model for research on human physiology and disease, including the discovery of the namesake Rh factor in blood.

Flickr statistics after Boing Boing's link to Civil War photos

Flickr daily view statistics for roughly ~250 images*.


December 27, 2010: 327,779

December 28: 245,041

December 29: 83,579

December 30: 30,834

December 31: 14,260

January 1: 8,268

January 2: 10,569


7 day total: 720,330 views


*images were added on a daily basis and some previous uploads not identified as Civil War were moved into the set.

Burns Archive blog

Dr. Stanley Burns is one of the most prolific collectors of history of medicine photographs, and he’s got a blog at which has some very neat images.


Dr. Burns is about to wrap up a book on Dr. Reed Bontecou, a Civil War doctor, based in Harewood Hospital in DC, who was a strong supporter of the Museum and donated many photographs here, some of which have been appearing on our Flickr site recently. Dr. Burns has albums of the pictures that were returned to Dr. Bontecou’s son in 1915 and will be drawing on them for the book.

Museum Administrator Donna White retired December 30

Museum Administrator Donna White retired on December 30, 2010, after 11 years in the Museum and over 40 years of government service. Donna handled the nuts and bolts behind the scenes, working on personnel, contracts, payroll, supply orders and the like - not glamorous, but vitally important work.

Here's Donna's profile from the Museum's website:

Donna R. White is the museum's administrator. Her background includes experience in human resources and equal opportunity counseling and instruction. She has worked extensively with the military, having spent five years in Germany working at various military bases in a human resources capacity. During this time, she had the opportunity to travel extensively and to learn the German language.

Speaking personally, Donna's been my supervisor for years, and I appreciate both her support and her forbearance.

Letter of the Day: January 3

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 00409

January 3, 1895

Messrs Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner & co.,
Paternoster House,
Charing Cross Road,
London, W.C., England.


Please purchase for the Army Medical Museum,

1 Arteriometer, and
1 Pulse-pressure gauge,

devised by Dr. George Oliver and figured in his work "Pulse-Gauging. A clinical study of radial measurement and pulse pressure." London, 1895, pp. 3 and 95.

The instructions can be obtained of the maker, Mr. Hawkesley, 357 Oxford St., London.

Have the kindness to send the articles with separate bill in the usual manner.

Very respectfully,

J. S. Billings

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
Director Army Medical Museum and Library.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 2

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 00376

[handwritten notation] Note: These histories relate to specimens received Dec 17 + Dec 21, 1894. See Record Cards nos. 376 + 383

Lt. Colonial W. H. Forwood
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
Attending Surgeon, Soldier's Home,
Near Washington, D.C.

Dear Doctor:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the histories of the cases of John King, "D", 1st Cavalry, and of John Engel "H", 8th Infantry, which furnished specimens contributed by you to the Army Medical Museum, and to thank you for these additions to the Museum records.

Very respectfully,

Walter Reed

Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Curator, Army Medical Museum

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Letter of the Day: January 1

Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology,
Harvard University

F.W. Putnam,
Curator of Museum
Lucien Carr,
Assistant Curator

Cambridge, Mass., Jan 1 1886

Dr. Billings

Dear Sir

I have the material for five hundred skull stands abd partly made up shall I finish them up and send them to you

Truly yours
Edw. E. Chick

PS I'm in no hurry about the miny [money] if you have not got the appropriation yet