Another letter showing the Museum’s move towards being a Pathology Institute.
Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1252
United States Indian Service,
Pine Ridge Agency, S.D. [South Dakota]
To the Surgeon General, U.S.A.
I send you by this mail a little box containing a pill box, in which is a tiny tumor which I removed from an Irish lady’s gum, at the margin and between the upper central incisors. The tumor has been removed, 3 times, but recurs. By soaking the specimen, its nature can be ascertained under the microscope ,and if not too much trouble may I ask you what is its pathology?
Very Truly & Sincerely,
Handwritten Note: Tumor received Feb. 15, 1896
The letter sent back reads:
March 5, 1896
Dr. Z.T. Daniel,
U.S. Indian Service,
Pine Ridge Agency,
I received, on February 15, 1896, through the Surgeon General, a pill box in which was contained a tiny fragment of a tumor, described as having been removed by you from an Irish lady’s gum. The appearance of the fragment of material contained in the box did not lead one to anticipate that a microscopical examination would give any result, inasmuch as you omitted to place it in any hardening fluid. No amount of soaking the specimen, as suggested by you, would be of any use, since, upon section, we found that there had been a complete destruction of all nuclei and cells contained in the tumor. For this reason it is impossible for us to ascertain anything concerning the microscopical character of this growth. If, however, you will remove another fragment of the tumor, and place it at once in 95% alcohol, and forward it to me, I will take pleasure in informing you as to the true character of the growth.
Surgeon, U.S. Army
The issue of what an Indian Service doctor was doing treating an Irish lady remains unsolved as well.