Showing posts with label R.B. Bontecou. Show all posts
Showing posts with label R.B. Bontecou. Show all posts

Friday, February 22, 2013

Why 'Lincoln' should win an Oscar for Best Picture...

...because there's a brief scene of General Daniel Sickles' leg on display at the Medical Museum. Sickles lost his leg at the battle of Gettysburg. The movie is inaccurate as it shows the leg still fully fleshed - which would have stunk amazingly as the flesh decayed off the bone. Instead Museum prepator Schafhirt would have cut and boiled the flesh off, and then wired the bones together so they looked like this picture.
Another scene of a pit of amputated limbs seems to have been influenced by RB Bontecou's photograph "Field Day." And here's the original label for Surgical Photograph 43, Sickle's "Right Tibia and Fibula comminuted by a Cannon Ball."

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 14

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 94

Specimens from Dr. R. B. Bontecou.

August 14, 1894

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


Referring to the letter of Dr. R. B. Bontecou, of Troy, N.Y., dated August 8, 1894, herewith returned, I beg to report that the vials containing the so-called parasites have been received at the Museum, and the specimens have been subjected to careful examination. As I was unable myself to come to any conclusion concerning the nature of the specimens, I referred the matter to Dr. Stiles of the Department of Agriculture. I am to-day in receipt of a letter from Mr. Albert Hassall, of the Bureau of Animal Industry, who informs me that, with the help of Mr. Smith of the Division of Vegetable Pathology, he has determined that the so-called parasites consist of vegetable tissue, and that they are without doubt, seed of some kind. Transverse sections of the specimen show clearly a dicotyledonous arrangement, but owing to their altered condition it is impossible to say what seeds they really are.

Very respectfully,

Walter Reed
Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 2 - Civil War photography

Washington, D.C. July 2, 1885

Mr. Trout

Please deliver to bearer sixty of the Wilderness negatives. He will designate the sixty wanted.

Yours truly,
Albert Ordway

J.S. Billings
Surg USA
To be returned within a week

Trought has list of number sent to Ordway

This is of interest to me because we no longer have these photographs, but they were done by two cameramen of note. In 1865, Museum photographer William Bell and Dr. Reed Bontecou, a proponent of medical photography, roamed Virginia battlefields taking photographs including stereographs of the Wilderness battlefield. One hundred and twenty-one negatives of the Wilderness were taken, although 21 were missing by 1874; they had not been printed since Bell's departure from the Museum in 1868. (Otis to Keen, March 8, 1879; Otis to Bontecou, October 8, 1866; Parker to Otis, February 9, 1874, none are still in the Museum)

Monday, April 6, 2009

What would it take to make a Civil War veteran happy?

Money. But also an accordion "to drive away the dark clouds from my sickroom." I had a vague memory of this letter from twenty years ago, and as she was processing our accession records for scanning, Archivist Amanda Montgomery found it for me.

Here's a post-Civil War letter from veteran Alexander Rider to Dr. Reed Bontecou talking about the difficulties of having a photograph made when he can't leave the house, and asking for an accordion. From the Museum's accession records for SS 2030. Click on the photo to see it larger for reading. Rider was a Private, Company I, 76 Pennsylvania Volunteers, wounded at Pocotaligo, SC on October 22, 1862.

Alexander Rider Letter 1

Alexander Rider Letter 2

Alexander Rider Letter 3

Alexander Rider Letter 4

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Burns Archive

We are very fortunate to have a generous friend to the archives: Stanley Burns, M.D., a New York ophthalmologist and proprietor of the Burns Archive. Several weeks ago Dr. Burns sent us several multi-volume sets dealing with dermatology, oncology, respiratory disease, and mental and mood disorders, and yesterday we received his newest publication, Deadly Intent: Crime and Punishment. He has written these books and many more using images from his own collection.

For the past thirty years, Dr. Burns has collected more than 700,000 photographs from the 19th century. Among these are 60,000 medical images that include dageurreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes from 1840-1860, but he also has strong collections in African-American photographs, wounded Civil War soldiers, Judaica, and war images from the Crimean to World War 2 (plus many other genres; check out his website).

Included in the box with Deadly Intent was a tiny paper packet from Dr. R.B. Bontecou, a Civil War physician and photographer who traveled to battlefields, documenting injuries with his camera. The packet was designed to hold an antiseptic bandage, which Bontecou called the Soldier's Packet for First Wound Dressing. That will go into our GMPI (General Medical Products Information) collection and the book, along with the others he has sent us, lives on a shelf in the archives.

Thank you, Stanley.