Showing posts with label A Day in the Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label A Day in the Life. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WW1 speech by nurse

The blog slipped open so here's a quick post. Historical collections had a request for info on Helen McClelland, a World War I nurse. They're not finding anything, but the archives has 2 pictures of her at an opening of a 1972 exhibit on nursing and a folder of clippings. The folder of clippings at first glance was just photocopies of articles about her, but it turns out there's also a talk in there that she gave about her WW1 service. Pretty neat!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Have we mentioned our new archives staff member?

I think not. Jasmine High has joined us in the archives, fairly freshly out of GWU's museum studies program. She'll be managing the MIS Library photo collection of 2000 boxes or so, and doing quality control on the scanning project for them. We'll try to get her to stop in and post here. So far this week she's been running the paper and electronic sign-in marathon, but we put her to work today on processing a small collection of awards and certificates from former AFIP director James Hansen.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Museum catalogue getting closer to fruition

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

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wired discovers the Museum's online photographs

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Photo contest entered by Archives staff

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

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

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Day in the Life

Last Friday, a British film crew crew came in on behalf of the History Channel to shoot some footage for a special on ... Lincoln! That was a shocker (in Washington now, every other thing is about Abraham Lincoln).

The crew had a team of 4 - director, videographer, sound man, and general fixer. They filmed parts of our new Lincoln exhibit (see?) and then shot some of Tim talking in front of parts of the Civil War exhibit. Then it was my turn.

I talked about surgery and amputations in front of the large mural in the Battlefield Surgery exhibit, then about reparative (ie plastic surgery) in front of the case that Alan and Steve did in that exhibit, and then talked briefly about Field Day, our picture of a pile of amputated limbs at Harewood Hospital.

Then the fun began. We went back to the Archives where they turned off all the lights and set up some of theirs with blue filters for that spooky 'archives' effect. I'm thinking we need to switch over to this permanently to cut down the number of walk-in requests. Then they filmed me turning the movable aisle handles over and over again. Then walking into an aisle over and over again. Then opening a bound volume of Civil War photographs over and over again. I think you're getting the picture (and this was a very good crew, who were working quickly).

I'm not a big fan of doing tv - it's too much like making sausage. Still it's neat when one of your neighbors rides by and says, "I saw you on tv yesterday" as happened to me last week.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Lincoln Exhibit

Pictures from today's installation of the new Lincoln exhibit:

This one's not actually from today, but it shows our registrar with a drawer that slides in under the exhibit case which will hold a moisture-controlling substance.

Jim is placing an original drawing of Lincoln's death scene, by Hermann Faber.

The probe that doctors used to try to find the bullet in Lincoln's brain is being marked for position.

Now that the positions are marked and plexiglass posts are in place to hold everything where it needs to be, the panel is taken to the exhibit floor and placed on the stand. Jim and Steve fine-tune placement of documents.

The case's contents have been carefully laid into place and now Jim and Steve lower the plexi cover ve-e-e-ry gently and settle it down and around the platform.

The contents of the second case have been prepped by being backed with stiffening board and held in place with mylar strips. Some of the things on this table are an account by the first doctor to treat Lincoln, Charles A. Leale (coincidentally, this pamphlet was republished by Dr. Leale's estate on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth), and a tear sheet from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, which lists Lincoln as another casualty of the war. He is listed in the book as A____ L____.

The second case has been brought to the exhibit floor and more items have been added, including a lock of Lincoln's hair, fragments from his skull, a blood-stained cuff from a doctor who treated him, and the bullet that killed him.

Uh-oh, the cuff is in the wrong place. Jim is holding the envelope that held the cuff when it was donated to the museum as Andrea suggests the correct location for the cuff.

Jim removes Lincoln's life mask from the temporary storage cabinet to add to the 3rd cabinet. Sorry for the blur.

The case's platform is placed on the floor, the Lincoln mask (a life mask, not a death mask) is lowered onto batting, and we all hit the floor, making sure there's plenty of clearance.

All the items have been installed and the completed exhibit is open for visitors.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Emu editing complete; WRAMC book editing not quite

Kathleen and I got through editing the archives data for our new online Emu database today. At some point in 2009, all five collection divisions should be included and anyone will be able to search our data. We've been striving for this for years now.

Tomorrow, we'll be back to working on a photo history of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The book, which will be from the Borden Institute, will cover 100 years of the campus in photographs. More information to come in the future.

And we'll be writing the Archives annual report this week too. You'll see it here when we finish it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Day in the Life

Wow, what a day.

First thing this morning I finished scanning hi-res versions of flu images from the 1918 and 1957 outbreaks for a request from someone at the UN. This is a big time of year for flu photo requests. We have a folder called “Flu” that held a mix of tiffs and jpegs but not all jpegs had corresponding tiffs; hence the scanning. I burned 5 copies of the disc so the next time we won’t be scrambling to put one together (seems like something we should have done long ago, but noooo), and then FedExed the patron’s copy.

When Mike came in he and I went over what documentation is still needed for images that are being used in the 100th anniversary of Walter Reed book, and what images are needed in higher resolution. I had to use a tiny laptop computer that’s not on the network to access our external drives, where 99% of our images are, in order to look for that information. As we’ve mentioned before, the USB drives on our networked computers no longer function, so we have to go through these gyrations to get work done. Even if our external drives could still be used on the networked computers, we’re blocked from file-sharing sites, a great service I’ve used in the past to upload images. So once I finish looking those things up I’ll have to burn whatever I come up with to a disc to give to the guy doing the layout.

The Anatomical Collections manager came into the archives with a folder of negatives of the first documented military aircraft fatality, in 1908. He wanted to scan them and doesn’t have a working scanner, so we got him going on an ancient scanner and computer. I’ll get some of those images posted here, but not today.

Andrea came into the archives to measure artifacts that will be used in the Lincoln exhibit going up next month. She needs the measurements to plan the exhibit case layouts.

The museum director said there is a book in the works about the AFIP. We will likely be called on to find photos and documents for the person putting it together.

I emailed one of the archivists at Catholic University in DC to let her know that we wouldn’t be bringing them some clippings we promised them until the week after the inauguration. If you don’t live in this area, you wouldn’t believe how packed the roads are predicted to be; that is, those roads that are being allowed to stay open. I think my commute through town, and Mike’s similar commute, will be all the inauguration traffic we’ll be able to take. Come to think of it, we live here and can’t believe what’s happening to the roads, like a ban on “personal vehicles from all Potomac River bridge crossings from Virginia into the District and from interstates 395 and 66 inside the Capital Beltway on Inauguration Day.” Off-topic, but this is our life.

Mike returned from a meeting with a request from someone in the AFIP’s legal office who wanted information on the history of AFIP, so I headed to a different part of the building to pull files for her. On the way I met Andrea who asked for a scan of an oversized image of Ford’s Theater. My large-format scanner hasn’t arrived yet so I’ll either have to take it to another office where there is one, or scan it at my desk and stitch it together in Photoshop, which I’m not at all good at. That request is still percolating.

After lunch Mike and I started another run-through of the data that’s been uploaded into this new relational database the museum is converting to. We both really, really, really hate this job. We work from a print-out that’s organized by collection, and then by field, to check that the data has mapped from our old database into the correct fields in the new one. This process has been done probably 6 times and the notes for each run-through are in a different color. We’re running out of pen colors. Today one of the modules kept freezing. Grrr. We did that as long as we could stand it.

Jim from Historical Collections came in trying to match an image of an artificial kidney to the one we have on display, for a researcher request he’s gotten. We pulled the original picture to take to the exhibit floor to make the comparison. It’s not the same machine. Very similar but not quite. Here's a photo, different from what Jim was looking at, to show you this machine.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Upcoming book

Today Kathleen and I joined the staff of the Borden Institute (who publish the Textbooks of Military Medicine) to keep working on a Walter Reed Army Medical Center Centennial Atlas, ie a book of photographs of 100 years of it being a hospital. We're going to make a big push in January to finish the book which should be available in late April. Watch this space.

In the meantime, we still need photographs of the base from the 1970s-1990s. If you were at Walter Reed and have pictures, let us know.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Photos aren't us continued again

Thomas asked "what's going on" in a previous posts comments. I have no idea why Flickr is blocked. However for the USB ports, this is a response to a computer virus - kind of like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly.

Oddly enough, Australian papers rather than American ones seem to have picked the story up and here's one. This earlier Wired article says:

The problem, according to a second Army e-mail, was prompted by a "virus called Agent.btz." That's a variation of the "SillyFDC" worm, which spreads by copying itself to thumb drives and the like. When that drive or disk is plugged into a second computer, the worm replicates itself again — this time on the PC. "From there, it automatically downloads code from another location. And that code could be pretty much anything," says Ryan Olson, director of rapid response for the iDefense computer security firm. SillyFDC has been around, in various forms, since July 2005. Worms that use a similar method of infection go back even further — to the early '90s. "But at that time they relied on infecting floppy disks rather than USB drives," Olson adds.

So this is a problem that dates back 2 decades and was apparently addressed by anti-viruses, but this is the current response. Personally I think there's a second underlying reason and this virus is just the current cover story. However, USB ports and the Internet are the way computers work now - as much as the military would like to, they're not going to be able to singlehandedly reset technology to 1995 nor return the Internet to a DARPAnet.

I put in a request to have my scanner port opened again, but I honestly do not expect to get a response. At some point, probably right about now, having computers on the military's network will be too much trouble and I'll pull them all to stand alone. People can just go back to telephoning with their requests - which we will then be able to actually fulfill.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photos aren't us continued

Today the AFIP's IT department reached in and turned off our USB ports so we no longer have access to the 3/4 of a terabyte of hi-resolution scans on our external harddrives. They also made our scanners non-functional at the same time, as they plug into USB ports, so we can't make new scans for people either.

On the positive side, I talked with an ex-AFIP staffer who worked in the Medical Illustration Service from the early 1960s through the mid-1970s. He's given Historical Collections a moulage kit he worked on and we're going to do an oral history with him.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Photos aren't us

As you've seen previously, last week Walter Reed blocked access to Flickr so we can't upload photographs for people to use or just enjoy. At the same time, they also blocked access to uploading services such as Rapidshare or Yousendit that we had been using to send photographs to requestors with same-day service. We switched back to burning and mailing cds this week. However today, the military implemented a policy of blocking USB ports on all networked computers (see below for details), and since they had previously required all their computer networks to be hooked together (changing our email addresses overnight but not actually notifying us about the change so all our email was bouncing), we're affected . Since all of our gigabytes of hi-resolution scans are on external hard drives that connect via USB, and we can't upload pictures to the internet, we are at the moment out of the photo library business and will not be providing publishable quality images to researchers. We may still be able to email small images. We apologize to our users. To be honest, since the CAC cards required to turn on the computers, the mouse and keyboard are all via USB, I don't actually expect to have a functioning computer at work. I would suggest calling the Museum if you have a question about coming in to do photo research since we will still be able to provide you access to the original image, unless it was electronic in the first place.

Here's the policy as sent out by Walter Reed's Department of Information Management (DOIM):

Effective immediately, the use of USB storage devices are suspended on all DoD NIPRNET and SIPRNET computers.

This rule will be technically implemented beginning 19 1800 November 2008 and will be applied across the entire network on all computers. Implementation of this rule will impact all memory sticks, thumb drives, USB external hard drives, and camera flash memory cards. USB connected printers with internal and external media storage (e.g. SD Cards, etc.) may also be impacted.

Other USB connected devices such as keyboards, mice, CAC readers, and blackberries "SHOULD NOT" be affected. Any user that experiences problems with such devices after technical implementation is asked to call the DOIM help desk or follow the procedures noted below for faster service.

These actions are being completed as part of an Army-Wide Information Assurance initiative to protect the DOD network from intrusion and continuous attacks. In order to further protect our network we ask all users to adhere to posted rules and allow us the opportunity to find secure alternatives (if those exists) to meet mission needs.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A day in the life...

Today Walter Reed was having a disaster planning episode which involved locking down the AFIP building so all of the collections staff went out to the warehouse. I was running a bit behind because yesterday a curator at the National Gallery of Art called to say that while the Gallery found something interesting while a conservator was cleaning Thomas Eakins' painting of the Museum's first curator John Hill Brinton. The partially-cleaned painting has what was thought to be a curtain in the upper left corner, but instead appears to be a flag or heraldic device. They had hoped it would be a medical one that I'd recognize, but I was in the dark... More research to follow, but the painting should look great when it's finished in a few months.

Up at the warehouse, Kathleen and I inventoried boxes of early 20th century journals that the AFIP library had transferred to us years ago, and then helped restack Neuroanatomical's Yakovlev Collection's library. Kathleen also had been editing a finding aid of the James Moore Ball Ophthalmic Museum collection which is a very large group of material on eyes and vision from the turn of the 19th century. I had to leave early to go to another building to get my warehouse ID card renewed and then popped back into the museum to update location in our database. Look for the Ball finding aid to show up on our main website soon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Exhibit Design for MHS

A day in the life of, exhibits...

Exhibit Design for Military Health System
I had the privilege of art directing and designing
this for MHS.  

Yea, I worked this up using
Photoshop, Indesign, & Cinema-4D.  The artwork
was inspired by and uses photos from the respective
websites, but the mural is just a comp. I just love engineering
structure. This one was tough as hell though. Comments please.

credit of photos
Department of the Army,
Department of the Navy,
US Coast Guard,
US Air Force
and of course several images from the National Museum of Health & Medicine archives.

Art Director - Navjeet Singh Chhina
Design- Navjeet Singh Chhina

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A new motto for the archives

I saw Brian of anatomical collections this morning as we swapped some folders of Civil War soldiers files that a researcher had asked to see. He popped back into archives about an hour later, surprising me as I hadn't expected to see him again on a day when he had visitors coming in and I had a long Institutional Review Board meeting (21 straight hours! No lie!) assigned to me. I queried him on his reappearance in the Archives and he said "There's too many secrets hidden here". That's our new motto.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A day in the life...

Today began with nothing much on the calendar, but Bruce from the Department of Veterinary Pathology (VetPath) stopped by to say that Dr. John King was arriving with his donation of 35mm slides for the museum. Dr. King and Cornell University had been digitizing the collection as Dr. John M. King's Necropsy Show & Tell and posting them online. They got about 1/2 done, but Dr. King donated all the slides to us and we're going to finish the scanning job.

Dr. King was in his early 80s, and lively and full of interesting stories about veterinary pathology and how there are some controversies in the field like the bursting aortas of racehorses (which I'd never heard of - the competing theories are high blood pressure v. King's compressing the chest when collapsing or mating). He's also a collector of veterinary instruments and brought down some for us.

When I mentioned this collection coming in, I didn't tell you readers that it's 48,000 35mm slides in 108 notebooks, arranged by animal and pathology (ie herpes, heart disease, liver failure). Cool, huh?

Midday was a tour for Lauren the intern's mom. It's always fun to take people that are interested on a tour. Lauren's done a great job for us this summer, working most recently on updating the Vorwald Collection finding aid and adding more material into the trade literature collection (ie advertising), General Medical Products Information Collection.

Later on in the day, we got a call from people doing renovations in the area the AFIP director works in and so we removed paintings of the former directors for safe storage while the work goes on.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A day in the life...

Turned on the computer this morning and saw the screen above and this email...

Effective immediately, when you log onto the AFIP network you will see a New DOD Consent Banner and User Agreement. Please take a moment to read this banner, by clicking ok you are in agreement with the consent banner.

The new warning and consent banner establishes that there is no expectation of PRIVACY when using DOD Information systems and all use of the Information system is subject to searches, audits, seizure, and monitoring.

In the past the helpdesk personnel have waited many hours to implement needed updates for security and software. This new banner makes it clear that when such needs arise the systems can be accessed by the personnel without prior notification. However, we will continue to make courtesy calls unless restricted by deadlines.

If for some reason you are not in agreement with the new banner and user agreement you will NOT have access to Information systems within the organization. This is a directive of MEDCOM, which means we MUST follow it.
I can hardly contain my enthusiasm for seeing that message every day, or working for people whose level of trust mandates it.

Later in the afternoon, Kathleen and I went down to the Borden Institute, which publishes the Textbook of Military Medicine series, to work on a picture book on the history of Walter Reed medical center. With the other editors, we culled some of the photos from the 'teens and twenties chapters as we had too many.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Day in the Life...

I meant to write these more often, but somehow the life keeps staying busy.

Here's one from a few weeks ago. We're part of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (see the sidebar history) and their Radiology Department had a lead on some personal papers they were interested in. The American College of Radiology has stored their records with the History Factory in Chantilly, VA, and in their collection they had personal papers of Dr. William Thompson. Thompson was instrumental in setting up the large radiology program at AFIP. The ACR was willing to hand over this series of records to AFIP since it didn't really relate to their core holdings. I tend to wear a dual hat as AFIP's archivist as well as the Museum's so I was on the job.

Poaching from other archives never thrills me, although at times it makes sense. Years ago, we returned photographs of unidentified corpses that we had received from the NY Medical Examiner to the NY Municipal Archives to reunite them with the paper records of the cases. I was fine with that, but there have been plenty of times when people come in to do research and say "wouldn't this be better if it was in..."

Anyway, two people from the radiology dept., and 3 museum staffers took a van from Walter Reed while I drove myself from home. I beat them by about an hour so I hung around with the archivist there. He showed me the collection - it was pretty straightforward personal papers including diaries, some awards and some photographs, both personal and professional. I've seen dozens like it, and at 3 linear feet, it wasn't large. So we talked shop and then when everyone else arrived, they looked at the records. The radiologists were particularly interested as one doesn't see fifty-year old diaries every day, I suppose. We took a quick look in the stacks at the rest of the ACR collection - most archives look alike especially in the 'bulk' storage areas - and I've got to say that they have a nice set of advertising trade literature if you're doing anything on radiology's history. We also looked at the 3-D artifacts because there was some confusion in our party if we were supposed to be checking on them as well.

After signing the paperwork transferring it to us, we headed back to AFIP. Lauren Clark, who's volunteering as an intern this summer, has processed the collection and written a finding aid to it, which should make it onto our regular website soon. There's nothing deeply interesting or dramatic in Thompson's papers, but they help round out the history of radiology at AFIP.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A day in the life...

An interesting research request came in through the Radiology department today. Someone's looking for fluoroscope burns. So far I haven't turned up exactly what they want, which is modern color shots, but check out this photo of a wax model that I did find:


The caption reads: Breast. Burn, X-Ray. Wax model. No. 92 X-ray burn involving right breast and axilla. Necrosis of tissue producing sloughing ulceration, the bottom of which includes pleura and lung tissue. X-ray treatment was applied for carcinoma of the breast. Colored, woman, age 35 years. Army Medical Museum model prepared by Dr. J.F. Wallis.

Wallis means that it was done during World War 1, because that's when he was on the staff. We might still have this model in historical collections, but that department was working at the warehouse today, and thus missed the coffee and cake that we had to celebrate the Museum's birthday.

So how does one find something in the Archives? We've got an internal database (or fifty) that you can access a derivative of at our Guide to Collections. With the help of contract Archivists from the Information Manufacturing Company, we're scanning tens of thousands of images per year and uploading them into an internal database, only available to our staff now, but eventually we'll open it to a wider audience. And some of the finding something is me or one of the other archivists knowing where something is because we put it away a decade ago or so.