Showing posts with label Army Medical Museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Army Medical Museum. Show all posts

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Letter of the Day: June 18


18 June 1959


Captain Mauro Gangai, MC
1st Hospitalization Unit
45 Field Hospital
APO 19, New York, N.Y.

Dear Captain Gangai:

Reference is made to your letter of 8 June 1959 relative to obtaining mounted gross specimens and microscopic slides.

The Institute prepares both macropathological and micropathological material for itself and for use by requesting organizations of the Armed Forces. While the Institute does not prepare material for sale, it does have a training program in the technique of preparation and mounting of gross material in which accepted students may learn modern gross mounting methods.

Glass is no longer employed as a mounting medium for gross specimens. the old glass jars have been replaced with plastic containers which are cheaper and more useful.

While commercial sources are somewhat uncertain, Mr. Robert E. Mincey, Bird L. Color Hospital, Welfare Island, New York, is reportedly engaged in a semi-commercial production of modern plastic wet mounts.

If we may be of assistance in this matter, please do not hesitate to write.

Sincerely yours,

Frank M. Townsend
Colonel, USAF (MC)
Deputy Director

Albert E Minns Jr
Colonel MSC
Curator, Medical Museum

Friday, March 25, 2011

Letter of the Day: March 25

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 03775

Subject: Repair of Army Medical Museum Building.

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

Washington, March 25, 1899

To the Surgeon General,
U.S. Army


I have the honor to state that the following repairs are necessary at the Army Medical Museum Building.
1. Repairing metal work of entire roof including new spouts where necessary
2. Painting entire roof of building.
3. Kalsoming Museum Hall in conformity with present color.
4. Kalsoming entrance hall, corridors, photograph gallery and 3 rooms.

As regards No. 1, the recent storms here damaged the metal work of the roof in a number of places, allowing the rains to penetrate into the photograph gallery, the museum and library halls, and room No. 7 on third floor. It is estimated that the necessary the repairs, including several new spouts will cost about $35.00.

When repairs to the metal work of the roof have been made, roofs of main as well as rear building should be repainted. They were last painted in 1895. The estimated cost of this work is $130.

In regard to the Museum hall, I would state that it has not been rekalsomined since its first occupation in 1887. During this time a number of repairs have been made to the plastering, and the rain has leaked through the roof leaving the walls very much defaced. It is estimated that the area to be kalsomioed [sic] is 2000 square yards (more or less), which, in tints, at 11 cents per square yard would account to $220.00.

The walls of the entrance hall, of the stairs, and main corridors, which were kalsomined three years ago, are open to the public in all kinds of weather, and are much defaced and worn. Rains have spoiled the kalsomining in the photograph gallery and in room No. 7, of third floor, and the removal of stationary wall cases from the new faculty and school room has left the walls marred. This area to rekalsomined contains about 4300 square yards, and at 7 cents per yard would require $301.00. To this should be added for repainting the skirting (washboards) in Museum Hall, corridors and rooms, about 1500 running feet, at 1 cent per foot, $15.00.

The repair of the metal work and the re-painting of the roof should be done as soon as possible, and I would suggest, as the best time for kalsomining, the middle or latter part of April.

Very respectfully,
Dallas Bache
Col. & Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum and Library Division.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New book on craniology collectors is out

The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America's Unburied Dead
By Ann Fabian
University Of Chicago Press (October 15, 2010)

Judging from Amazon's Look-Inside feature,while the Army Medical Museum is discussed regularly, the author did not actually use the Museum's archives, instead working from the Surgeon General's Office records in the National Archives, and correspondence transferred to the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives.

Available in the Museum's archives are Curatorial Records which cover the subject especially

OHA 13

* Curatorial Records: Incoming Correspondence (Loose), 1862-1894
* 2.5 cubic feet, 5 boxes.
* Finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Correspondence, arranged alphabetically, from the first two decades of the Museum's existence. The series ends when the Museum began a correspondence numbering system (see Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence). Includes letters sent to curators John Brinton, George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, John S. Billings, and Walter Reed. Most of the incoming correspondence from this period is currently missing.

OHA 15

* Curatorial Records: Letterbooks of the Curators, 1863-1910
* 8 cubic feet, 17 boxes.
* Finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Bound volumes of outgoing correspondence by curators John Brinton, George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, John S. Billings, Walter Reed, James Carroll, and F.F. Russell. See Curatorial Records: Outgoing Correspondence (Loose) for other outgoing correspondence that was not recorded in these books.

OHA 25

* Curatorial Records: Smithsonian Correspondence, 1867-1887
* .5 cubic foot, 1 box.
* Finding aid available, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Incoming correspondence, mostly from Smithsonian Secretaries Joseph Henry and Spencer Baird, relating primarily to the exchange of specimens between the Museum and the Smithsonian. George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, and John S. Billings were curators of the Museum during this time. See Museum Records: Accession Records and Curatorial Records: Letterbooks of the Curators for related correspondence.

OHA 26

* Curatorial Records: Special Correspondence, 1862-1887
* .75 cubic foot, 2 boxes.
* No finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Box 1: Correspondence relating to photography and photographic services at the Museum between 1862 and 1885. Includes correspondence of curators George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, and John S. Billings and Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes. Box 2: Correspondence relating to the craniology collection and craniometric/anthropometric measurement at the Museum between 1862 and 1887, mostly sent to curators Otis and Billings.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center that might have been

Here's a look at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that might have been - all of these buildings were eventually built, oddly enough, between the 1920s and 1971. They looked different of course - let me know if there's any interest in the built versions.

Reeve 0002723 (proposed Army Medical Museum, ca. 1917)
REEVE 0002723
Army Medical Center. Army Medical Museum (sketch) proposed, ca 1917. [Architectural drawing.]

REEVE 0002897
Army Medical Center Chapel. Sketch (proposed). ca. World War 1

Reeve 003121A
Reeve 003121A
Sketch of Army Medical School (proposed). Alaska Avenue Elevation. [Walter Reed General Hospital (Washington, D.C.). Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Architectural drawing.]

REEVE 0003146
Sketch of Army Medical Center. Nurses quarters training school. [Walter Reed General Hospital(Washington, D.C.). Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Architectural drawing.]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 31

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1683


August 31, 1896


To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

Washington, D.C.




I have the honor to report that during the month of August, 1896, I have been on duty in the Surgeon General’s Office, as Curator of the Army Medical Museum, in accordance with Par. 2, S.O. No. 153, dated Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1893.


Very respectfully,

Walter Reed

Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Curator Army Medical Museum

Monday, May 31, 2010

Letter of the Day: May 22 - Civil War in Northern Virginia

Here's a nice letter for Memorial Day, even though it's from a week earlier. As I've noted elsewhere, writing during a memorializing age when much of Washington was being filled with statues of war heroes, Surgeon General Barnes hoped, "In carrying out the intentions of Congress, it has been my earnest endeavor to make this Medical and Surgical History of the War, not only a contribution to science, but an enduring monument to the self-sacrificing zeal and professional ability of the Volunteer and Regular Medical Staff; and the unparalleled liberality of our Government, which provided so amply for the care of its sick and wounded soldiers."

Centreville Camp Hays 22nd May 1863

J. H. Brinton, M.D.
Surgeon U.S.V.
Curator of the Army Medical Museum.

In obedience to Yours from May 16th I proceded (sic) to Gen’l Abercrombie’s Headquarters in submitting your letter. I was informed that official orders from Gen’l Heinzelmann were received to let nobody pass outside the lines. The battlefield of Bull Run is 3 miles outside the lines. If I could get a permission from Gen’l Heinzelmann and an escort of Cavalry from Gen’l Stahl in Fairfax, I am sure to be recompensed by a rich booty of pathological objects. Please and furnish permission and an escort and I will immediately proceed to the Battlefield and take with me such men well acquainted with the locality and relative places.

After the engagement at Strasburg and the battle of Kross Keys (sic - Cross Keys) I had a little collection, but afterwards meanwhile my captivity in June & July last year they were lost. The cranium Dr. Baron mentioned is lost, but I hope that this loss will be repaired by another one I will send to you.

Very Respectfully Your Obdt. Servant,
Frederick Wolf
Surgeon of the 39th Regt. N.Y.V.

P.S. Allow me to write you next time a letter, concerning views in composing the materials of a military museum which I would hazard to submit to you.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Letter of the day, May 4

We have several exchanges between Mrs. Lyon and the Museum scheduled for November, so check back for them.

This is the same J.E. Ash who made the comment about "bottled monsters," where we got our blog's name.

Noble J. Gregory

Member of Congress
First Kentucky District

Home Address:
Mayfield, Kentucky

Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

May 4, 1939

Colonel James E. Ash,
Curator, Army Medical Museum,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Colonel Ash:

On display in your museum you have the bodies of five babies, and the placard by these bodies merely gives the date of their birth.

For your information, these babies were born in my home town of Mayfield, Kentucky, on April 29, 1896, to Mrs. Elizabeth Lyon, who is now a resident of Kevil, Kentucky, and who is eighty-two years of age. These boys were named Matthew, Mark, Luke, James and John. It strikes me that proper recognition should be given in this instance, and it is my suggestion that a placard be placed with these bodies giving the facts which I have above outlined.

I am sending you herewith two newspaper clippings recently appearing in the Mayfield, Kentucky, Messenger giving additional facts pertinent to this case.

I will appreciate your reaction to my suggestion, and if you desire further or more complete information before giving recognition as is due, I will be glad to secure the information for you.

Sincerely yours,
N.J. Gregory


And the reply:

War Department
Office of the Surgeon General

May 8, 1939

Honorable Noble J. Gregory
Congress of the United States
House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Gregory:

My assistant, Lt. Col. J.E. Ash, Curator of the Army Medical Museum, has furnished me with the enclosed photostat copy of the caption that is at present in the case with the “Mayfield Quintuplets” and a photostat copy of a letter from the then Curator of the Museum to Mrs. Lyon, in which you will note it was promised the specimen would simply be numbered. It is contrary to the policy to use names on specimens at the Museum, particularly when they are from persons still alive. The effort is made to maintain as high a scientific atmosphere as possible at the Museum and to keep the exhibits as impersonal as practicable.

I appreciate your interest in this particular “specimen” and thank you for the recent clippings. We are particularly glad to learn that Mrs. Lyon is still living. You might be interested to know that she visited the Museum during her trip to Canada in 1934 to see the Dionne Quintuplets.

In response to your suggestions, Colonel Ash has prepared a new caption, a copy of which is also enclosed, in which you will note that the name of the town has been added and also the interesting point about the babies’ names. According to our file, the fifth name was Paul instead of James. We still feel it would be well to adhere to our policy of omitting Mrs. Lyon’s name.


C.R. Reynolds,
Major General, U.S. Army,
The Surgeon General.

1. Present caption.
2. Ltr 2/25/16 from A.M.M. to Mrs. Lyon.
3. New caption.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Letter of the day, April 30

Filling out his time card:

[Numbered Correspondence 5185]
Subject: Station & Duty.

War Department,
Surgeon General's Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets SW.,
Washington April 30, 1901.

U.S. Army.


I have the honor to report that during the month of April 1901, I have been on duty in the Surgeon General's Office as Curator of the Army Medical Museum in accordance with Par. 2 S.O. No.153, Hdqrs. of the Army, A.G.O., Washington, July 7, 1893.

Very respectfully,
Walter Reed,
Major & Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Curator Army Med. Museum.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Letter of the day, February 25 add-on

Our correspondence is in different collections and we don’t look in every one of them when we’re searching for the Letter of the Day, so we may come across another one we want to post when we’re looking for something else. Here’s an example of one too good to pass up.


February 25, 1910

To the
Surgeon General, U.S. Army.

Dir:- [sic]

I have the honor to request that a railing be placed on the balustrade of the stair case from the basement floor to the end of balustrade in second story of this building. It will require the following material, the estimated cost of which is $65.00:

1-1/4 in. brass tubing, finished and polished, cut in lengths as follows:
24 brass brackets for hand rails.
16 brass acorns.

The present balustrade is not of sufficient height to afford adequate protection and this railing is needed to protect persons passing up and down the staircase mentioned. There has already been one life lost from falling over the balustrade to the basement, and another person narrowly escaped a similar accident a few days ago.

If the material mentioned is furnished, it can be placed by mechanics at this building.

Very respectfully,
Col. Medical Corps, U.S. Army,
In charge, Museum & Library Division


Friday, March 26, 2010

Letter of the day, March 26


War Department
Office of the Surgeon General

March 26, 1919

Circular Letter No. 156

Subject: Museum Specimens (Gas Lesions).

1. It is desired to obtain gross and microscopical specimens from cases who have lived for a considerable time after being gassed. There are now in hospitals many of these soldiers suffering in some cases from the results of this gassing, and also from various other condition.

2. Considerable material has been collected from acute lesions in man and in animals, and a certain amount of material is available showing the subsequent lesions in animals, but no specimens have been received from human sources which can be used to study the final changes and determine what, if any, permanent alterations result from exposure to the gas.

3. Should autopsies occur in any case giving a history of having been gassed, specimens will be carefully preserved and sent to the Army Medical Museum, even though there is apparently no change in the organs referable to the previous gassing. The respiratory tract is most important but blocks of tissue should be sent from each organ. A careful history and protocol will accompany the specimens.

By direction of the Surgeon General:

C.R. Darnall,
Colonel, Medical Corps, USA,
Executive Officer.

Copy for:
Surgeons, Ports of Embarkation,
Commanding Officers, all Base & General Hospitals,
Commandant, Army Medical School,
The Chief Surgeon, S.O.S. American expeditionary Forces.


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Letter of the day, March 23

This letter, in and of itself, is only moderately interesting; however, because we picked up a donation of about 400 or so microscopes last week, arguably making ours the largest microscope collection in the world, it is somewhat more interesting. That, and the fact that it bears Walter Reed's signature. Hopefully someone from Historical Collections will report more details here.

March 23, [189]5

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


In reply to your letter of March 22, 1895, I beg to report that the following microscopes, all in good condition as to serviceability, are on hand at the Museum, viz.:

Large microscope, continental stand, mechanical stage, Zeiss (One of these belongs to the microphotographic outfit.) No. 4
Large microscope with fixed stage (Stand 1B, Leitz,) [No.] 1
Medium sized microscope, Stand II, Leitz, [No.] 1
Microscope B B, Continental stand, Bausch & Lomb, [No.] 6

The foregoing instruments are furnished with suitable oculars and objectives for pathological and bacteriological work, and were taken up upon my property return for the year ending December 31, 1894.

Very respectfully,
[signed] Walter Reed,
Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Letter of the Day: February 16 2 of 2

U.S.A. General Hospital

David’s Island, N.Y.

Feb 16th, 1863



Friend Brinton


I am working hard at histories of cases for you, and will be able by the latter part of this week to send you some specimens and detailed accounts. There being no particular  hold on the A.A. Surgeons here, it is with difficulty that I can get them to make reports. Unfortunately the man who had charge of the dead house stole our specimens and sold them to Dr. James. R. Wood of New York, to whom I have written in regard to them, but have received no answer.  Still I have a few interesting specimens and some interesting statistics of amputations and resections.


I suppose you have seen Dr. Simons in Washington. It is a perfect outrage that a man who has sacrificed so much should be so persecuted. I have been his intimate friend for the past six months, and can truly say that he is as perfectly loyal as you or I.


Don’t you want an assistant in preparing your museum and writing up statistics, etc? I should like very much to be on such duty and could probably take some labor off your should. Won’t you ask the Surgeon General if you think well of it, to detail me on that duty.


Truly yr. friend,


S.W. Gross

Surg. U.S.A.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Letter of the Day: January 27 UPDATED


Six months after the establishment of the Museum, Civil War hospital doctors were saving material for it.


U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1,

Frederick, MD., Jany 27 1863




I will endeavor to  pl[ea]s[e] also [illegible] to take Davis place & at any rate the specimens “shall be preserved”. Enclosed please find corrected bill.




R.F. Weir

Asst Surgeon, USA


Dr. J.H. Brinton, USA

Surg. Gen’l Office

Washington, DC


Curiosity over this letter leads me to transcribe the earlier one:


U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1,

Frederick, MD., January 25 1863




Enclosed find your vouchers for expenditures for whiskey to preserve pathological specimens. Will you please have them settled as the money had been advanced by Dr. Davis who has recently left for England & me, heir to bones & [illegible – whiskey?] collections. When may we expect to see the new Catalogue[?]




R.F. Weir

Asst Surgeon, USA


Dr. J.H. Brinton, USA

Surg. Gen’l Office

Washington, DC


Thursday, December 31, 2009

Army Medical Museum mention in American History


I was pleased to find the Civil War history, the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion by the Army Medical Museum on display in an exhibit on images in books, "Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration" by Smithsonian Institution Libraries. The exhibit is at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

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

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

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

OHA 330

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

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1876 Human Anatomy checklist online

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

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Medical Museums

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

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

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Lincoln news, this time mentioning the Army Medical Museum!

Another in recent news clips mentioning the Museum, though this one is a little different...

Last night was the official gala re-opening for Ford's Theatre after its two-year renovation. In this article on Bloomberg today you will find mention of the Army Medical Museum (today's NMHM). Here's the money paragraph:
In the aftermath of the assassination, the government bought the theater, which dates to 1861, from Ford for $100,000 and gave it to the War Department for use as storage space and an Army Medical Museum.
This news on the same day our exhibit received the last major element for installation - the remnants of a flag that hung in the state box at Ford's the night Lincoln was shot.


Odd copies of our Civil War pics in the Library of Congress

I saw one of these pictures referenced in a paper on Civil War wounded (more about that paper anon). They are linked from a nice little page on enlisted soldiers in the Civil War, which I thought was an excellent finding aid.

The top photograph, is a copy photo of four of our Surgical Photographs. The Library isn't quite sure who is in the picture, so I sent them this information via their Ask a Librarian interface:

Brink, John, Pvt. Co. K., 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry Reproduction number: LC-B8184-10376 - upper left. (Surgical Photograph 208)

Decker, Samuel H., Pvt. Co. I, 9th U.S. Artillery Reproduction number: LC-B8184-10376 - lower left (Surgical Photograph 205)

Shutter, Allison, Drummer, Co. C, 7th Pennsylvania Reserves - lower right (Surgical Photograph 204)

Warden, Sergeant. - upper right. (Surgical Photograph 207) - this may have been a fake name. He was found on the streets of Washington and came to the Museum for a photograph, but they never found a record of him.

LC-B8184-10377 Smith, Eben - man on lower left, w/ amputated leg. (Surgical photograph 029)

Volk, Edward, Pvt. Co. D., 55th Ohio Volunteers, Reproduction number: LC-B8184-10377 - skull in upper right corner (Surgical Photograph 212)

LC-B8184-10377 - lower right - not a Civil War soldier - Pvt. John Schranz, 7th Austrian Feldjagers (Surgical photograph 247)

The other skull is anonymous.

We've actually scanned all 400 of these images at 900 dpi - we just haven't figured out how to put them on the web for everyone yet.