Showing posts with label anatomical collections. Show all posts
Showing posts with label anatomical collections. Show all posts

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.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Anatomical Collections adds photos to Flickr

transverse section of head plastination
Brian of our Anatomical Collections department is putting some cool photos up on Flickr too.

Since we passed 500,000 viewers late last night, we've gone up to 628,026 now. You like us, you really like us (that's a quote of sorts). If you've found us from somewhere besides Wired, Boing Boing, NPR or Austria's public television, chime in and let us know, please.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Photographs of Museum specimens on French blog

Morbid Anatomy tipped me to E-l-i-s-e's blog post on photographs of specimens taken at the Museum. It looks like some of these were shot behind-the-scenes as even I don't recognize some of the specimens (not that it's my department...)

Monday, November 3, 2008

Preserving specimens?

Here's a really interesting article in Chemistry & Engineering News about replacing the old standbys of formalin or alcohol to preserve tissue. Brian Spatola of our Anatomical Collections is quoted in the article.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Anatomical Theatre website launches

Morbid Anatomy's launched a new site based on an exhibit of photographs she's done. She writes "I have finally launched the website for Anatomical Theatre, the photographic exhibition of medical museum artifacts. For more information about the project, check out the "Introduction" and "Press Release" pages."

Wax and plaster models as well as other specimens from the NMHM are included.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Anatomical Theatre: Medical Museum Images

Came across this nice set of images (click on gallery) done by Joanna Ebenstein, a New York-based photographer and designer, during a one-month pilgrimage to medical museums in England, Scotland, Hungary, Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, and the United States. Wax models, wet specimens, skeletal specimens...and is that Brian's arm I see?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

St. Elizabeth's Calvarium - Dr. I.W. Blackburn

A good day at the museum is rediscovering the history of a specimen or artifact that has lost its association with the record that tells us who, where and why it has come to the museum. Sometimes it takes archival research to do this and sometimes it's purely serendipitous.

This weekend I discovered a copy of "Intracranial Tumors Among the Insane (1902) by Dr. I. W. Blackburn in a used bookstore in Gaithersburg, MD. Dr. Blackburn was the former pathologist for St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. He performed hundreds maybe thousands of autopsies on patients who died at the hospital. While browsing through the book I noticed a photo of very unique calvarium (top of the skull). The specimen had two rare conditions; scaphocephaly and hyperostosis frontalis interna. The bone looked strangely familiar.

In the Anatomical Division of NMHM we have such a specimen. It was listed as coming to the museum from an early exchange with the Smithsonian National Museum and not attributed to St. Elizabeth's at all. I bought the book for $15 and lo and behold when I brought it back to the museum our specimen was the same one in the book. It was attributed to a 65 year old black female patient at St. Es. The existing record was based on a bygone curatorial staff member using the wrong numbering system to describe the specimen. There have been several systems in place at the museum at various times which causes a lot of confusion for us today.

Here is a recent photo of the specimen. In addition to the pathological conditions there are also consistencies among the size and shape of the exposed frontal sinus, the etchings of the meningeal vessels, the contours of the thickened frontal bone and the two small bony exostoses in the center just left of the midline. The front of the skull is oriented to the right.

The specimen's history is now restored. Additionally, four other calvaria in the collection with no known history have similarly composed autopsy numbers written on the bones. All are now believed to be from St. Elizabeth's with further research pending. These specimens have very early accession numbers which means that they arrived at the museum around 1917-1918 when the Army Medical Museum was busy attending to the medical needs of World War I. It is not clear when the original error was made, but it likely extends back several decades. The specimens themselves are from the late 19th century autopsies.

In the photo below you can see the scaphocephalic calvarium (left) next to a normal one (right). Notice that the normal one on the right has a jagged line called the sagittal suture (front to back) which the one on the left lacks. Sutures are where the bones of the cranium grow and expand. In scaphocephaly the sagittal suture fuses prematurely and the coronal suture continues to grow which gives the unique elongated shape you see here. The one on the left is darker due to over 100 years of dust and dirt adhering to oils that remained in the bone. Since bone is porous, it can absorb materials from the environment which effect its color. The one on the right was cleaned using chemicals that removed much of the oils and was stored in a relatively cleaner environment.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

New forensic paper based on Civil War specimens

Healing following Cranial Trauma by Lenore Barbian and Paul Sledzik (one of our bloggers) has appeared in the Journal of Forensic Sciences March 2008 issue. The two former curators of the Museum's anatomical section examined 127 Civil War soldier's skulls for evidence of healing after their wounding. The issue is only available online to subscribers.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Stuff the museum should have

After fifteen years working in the bowels (well, maybe more like the small intestine) of the museum collections, one tends to developed a vision of things the museum should have. Jessics Joslin's half-animal steampunk creatures should be in one of those nice blue cabinets in the back room. As should Sarina Brewer's more classical taxidermy with a bit of a twist.

Dillinger - the FAQ

Our former PR man Steven Solomon sent me a note this morning with a link to this story - Dillinger: The man, the myths. Steven spent a lot of time on creating little pages in a FAQ to explain parts of the museum including No. 43 - Do you have 20th-century gangster John Dillinger's penis in the collection?