Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photography. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letter of the Day: March 13

De Camp General Hospital, U.S.A.,

Davids’ Island, New York Harbor,

Mar. 13th 1866


My dear Doctor,


I have sent by Adams Express Co. to the address of the Surgeon General, a box containing some photographs of surgical cases, and the histories there of rather imperfectly obtained by me from personal interviews with the patients and statements given by others. The box also contained a humerus and bullet relative to one of the cases. I likewise sent three additional photographic views of this Hospital which will complete the series taken, five of which have been previously forwarded by me to the Army Medical Museum.


Will you oblige me by forwarding a copy of Circular No 6 to the following address: Dr. S.F. Morris care of R.L. Morris, M.D., Pelham, P.O. Westchester Co., N. York.


Yours very truly


Warren Webster


Dr. Otis, +c. +c.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Letter of the Day: September 6

Dear Doctor:

I have been called upon to give testimony in a criminal case - in which there is a bullet wound of the head with extensive fracture of the skull – and no external marks of violence.

Would I be asking or troubling you too much in requesting you to send me such photographs as will have a bearing upon the case, such as will illustrate the average amount of fracture of the skull from bullets, + especially pistol shots.

Also such as will illustrate well authenticated cases of fracture from “Contre Coup.”

With great respect
I have the honor to be-
Very Sincerely,
Your Obdt Servant
A. Van Deveer


Respectfully submitted to the Surgeon General, U.S.A. for instructions. A certain number of the illustrations contained in the Army Medical Museum on the subjects referred to have been photographed and prints have been furnished to two medical men of Albany, engaged in a medico-legal inquiry – possibly the same to which Dr. Van Derveer refers.

George A. Otis
Ass’t Surg. USA

Sept. 13. 69.


Let him have them if in hand --

Friday, July 23, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 23

Surgeon General’s Office

Washington City, D.C.

July 23d 1866


Prof. H.L. Smith


Dear Sir,


Yours of the 19th came duly to hand and I thank you very much for the growing slides. They are very ingenious and I shall value them the more as being your work. You know that the whole energy of the microscopic labor under my direction is directed towards Pathology and I only turned to the Diatomacea as test objects in developing the photographic process which we are using with the most complete success on the tissues. Still as I feel we have mastered the whole matter of microphotography, I should be glad to photograph a few more diatoms by way of showing those who are not interested in Pathology how good and reliable our process is and of inducing them to use it also. Should you therefore care to take the trouble of sending us a few specimens of carefully selected single diatoms for the Museum, we would in the course of the summer and fall undertake their photography, and cheerfully furnish you copies of our results. I think Wales really a clever young man. He has made me a number of pieces of apparatus, which with rare exceptions have given perfect satisfaction. His photographic 4/10, 1/8 and amplified leave little to be desired further. I have just received from him a 1/5 for photography, which however I have not tried. All of these lenses are made on Rutherford’s formula and can only be satisfactorily used for vision when illuminated with violet light. He is now making me a 1/16 on the same principle, from which I expect great things. He has improved enormously since I first knew him.  In fact in /62 I saw lenses of his in the hands of various parties and regarded them as very inferior. It was not until 1864 that he began to make work of the highest class and I do not think that at present he would claim even to have made a 1/16 of the best quality. Barnard objects to his 4/10 that it is really a ¼ and so perhaps it is, but it is the habit of nearly all opticians to misstate the power of their lenses and I find his run quite parallel in nomenclature to those of Smith + Beck and other English opticians.


I am, Sincerely,

signedd. J.J. Woodward

Bvt. Maj. and Ass’t. Surg. U.S.A.


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 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 26 - the Peabody Museum sends thanks


Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology

Harvard University


F.W. Putnam,

Curator of the Museum,


Cambridge, Mass, Apr 26 1876


My dear Dr. Otis


Many thanks for your kindness in sending me the negative which arrived today. I have sent it to Mr. Edwards without unpacking + shall have a proof from him at once. If it turns out all right would you like copies for your own use? If so I will have some sent you with the compl.[iments] of our museum as I shall have a number printed on large sheets for special distribution.


We shall greatly value the large photograph you propose sending as all we have now is one of the Cabinet rig which you sent in, which I framed + hung in the museum.


You will be pleased to know that we begin our new building at once, so I hop e in time to have a chance to arrange the museum as it should be. I shall be very much pleased to see you here + and you will kindly send me word when you are to be or in advance, for as I live in Salem + and not at the museum every day I often miss parties here unless they let me know when they are coing.


I congratulate you as arriving so near to the end of your editorial work on the big volume. It was a great undertaking + I fully know the time + attention required for such work. I hope to have some good photorelief figures of the California skulls to go in my report, and I shall be very thankful to you for the use of your measurements as you propose..



Faithfully yours,

F.W. Putnam


To Dr. G.A. Otis, U.S.A.

Curator Army Medical Museum

Washington, D.C.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 19 - photographer job?

Office Sergeant-at-Arms,

House of Representatives U.S.,

Washington, D.C., April 19, 1888


Dr. Billings –


Dear Sir –


Mr. E.J. Taylor, a photographer, is anxious to obtain the position Assistant Photographer in the Museum.


Mr. Taylor is recommended to me, by personal friends, as an expert in his profession, and if you can possibly help him I wish you would do so – I should be glad [to] hear from you as to the prospect of his success.




W.H.F. Lee

Friday, January 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: January 29 (4 of 5)

Numbered Correspondence 1215


January 29, 1896


Mr. Wayland F. Reynolds,

Clarksburg, W. Va.


Dear Sir:


In answer to your letter of the 28th inst., I would state that there is in this Museum a microscopic slide which contains the Lord’s prayer, 227 letters, in a space 1/294 x 1/441 of a square inch.


Very respectfully,


D.L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

In charge of Museum and Library Division.

Letter of the Day: January 29 (1 of 5)

The photographs he refers to have not been catalogued and may no longer exist. Darn it.


County Clerk’s Office

John C. Johnston,

County Clerk


Newton, Kas. Jan 29, 1885


David Flynn

Army Medical Museum

Washington City DC


Dear Sir


If you remember I was in your Department last May (1884) and you had me photographed. I am the original of Cast No 1401 Shell wound in right side of my face, Battle of Spotsylvania CH [Court House] May 10 1864. You gave me several phots. But you said if I would write you would sand me some better ones when you had more leisure to get them up. If it is not asking too much I wish you would please send me ½ doz. of each side. I had both sides of my face taken etc.


Yours Truly

John C. Johnston

Newton PO

Harvey Co.



[1 doz Photographs sent April 9, 1885]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jim Edmondson on 'Dissection' on Lopate radio show

Leonard Lopate Show / December 07, 2009

Author James Edmonson, Chief Curator of the Dittrick Medical Center and Museum at Case Western Reserve University, explains why, in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, medical students took pictures of themselves with the cadavers they dissected. His book Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine includes 138 rare, historic photographs that reveal a strange piece of American medical history

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog tip - Civil War Medicine (and Writing)

Steven Solomon, our former public affairs officer, pointed out this Civil War Medicine (and Writing) blog to me today. At my first quick glance, the author Jim Schmidt has a couple of posts about the Medical Museum - one on the Museum proper and another new one on Doctor (and photographer) Reed Bontecou which is the one Steven pointed out. Besides Blair's articles mentioned therein (I think I'm a co-author on the 2nd), anyone interested in Civil War medical photography might want to check out this Shooting Soldiers article.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

On a couple of nondescript stereographs

Here's a couple of stereographs I bought over the weekend, due to their rough relationship to the Museum:

Rau - dutch courtship
The 'Dutch Courtship' was probably intended to be humorous.

Rau - crowd scene
This crowd scene is meaningless now without its caption.

So, why did I buy these?

Rau - dutch courtship credit

Rau - crowd scene credit
Both are by William H. Rau.


He was William Bell's son-in-law. Bell was the Museum's best photographer of the 19th century who took photographed many of the Civil War soldiers at the Museum. He was the subject of a small exhibit at the American Art museum last year.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

New Walter Reed hospital photo book by Archives staff

The Museum’s Archives staff supported the publication of these two new books from the Borden Institute that feature the history of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. See the details and links below for more information.

1) Walter Reed Army Medical Center Centennial: A Pictorial History – “A profusely illustrated history covering the full range of WRAMC’s activities in service to the Army and the Nation.” Hardbound. Over half of the photographs are from the Museum’s collections, and Museum archivist Kathleen Stocker was the photographer for some of the views of the buildings of the current campus.

· S/N: 008-000-01020-0

· Price: $35.00

· Link:

2) Borden’s Dream – “An engaging history-memoir covering WRAMC’s early history, filled with stories about the people and events that shaped its evolution as an institution.” Hardbound.

· S/N: 008-023-00135-9

· Price: $55.00

· Link:

We helped find replacement photographs for some of the missing images in the typescript copy of Borden's Dream.

A display is in the hospital lobby and May 1.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Dissection photos book review

This book by Jim Edmondson and John Harley Warner was quite a hit when I carried my copy into work today. Here's what another medical historian thought of it - "Gather 'Round the Cadaver: A new book examines photographs of medical students posing with the bodies they dissected," By Barron H. Lerner, Slate Friday, April 24, 2009.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Plastic surgery exhibit in NYC

This rolled in over the e-transom today. I'm not sure yet how I feel about it the idea, but I think it would be an interesting show. - Mike


I am Art - An Expression of the Visual & Artistic Process of Plastic Surgery
Curated by Dr. Anthony Berlet

March 28 - May 9, 2009

Opening reception:
Saturday, March 28, 6-8pm

Presenting work by Anthony Berlet, M.D., Antonino Cassisi, M.D., Michael Cohen, M.D., Scott Spiro, M.D.

Leon Dufourmentel, a pioneer in plastic surgery, said in 1948, “...If I went to Picasso for my portrait, he would probably make me a monster and I should be pleased because it would be worth a million francs. But if Picasso came to me with a facial injury and I made him into a monster, aha, he might not be so pleased.”

This quotation expresses our view, which we hope to share with you in this exhibition, that plastic surgery is a most challenging art form—perhaps the most challenging art form, for our materials are not canvas or clay. Yes, we embrace the great obsession of artists throughout the ages: the human body. But our material is the human body.

We are asked, on a daily basis, to do the impossible, to make the real ideal, to bridge the gap between reality and fantasy. Plastic surgery is the constant struggle between beauty and blood supply

There is art in everything we do. The initial evaluation requires a keen eye. The surgery plan requires artful preparation. The execution can best be described as a well-choreographed ballet of many different steps. Through this dance of medicine and art, science and aspiration, we seek an outcome as beautiful as any painting or sculpture. Every day, we strive to outdo Pygmalion.

Is perfection possible? We know it is not, and yet, that is our calling. We work with terrible constraints, not the least of which is the subjective nature of art itself. Nowhere are human feelings more various and more complex than in perceptions of the body and of the self. We are, all of us, acutely aware of how others see us.

Our field is sometimes associated with excess. We hope to convince you otherwise. For each individual committed to our charge, the stakes could not be higher. In this exhibition, we intend to convey the great care with which we diagnose, counsel, prepare, execute and maintain our artistic creation, with vision, clarity, passion, ingenuity, compassion and, yes, art.

This exhibition will show the many ways in which we express ourselves as artists, borrowing and shaping perceptions. Take a moment to step into the experience of others, whose lives have been transformed at our hands, we trust for the better.

We hope you will come away from our exhibition with a fuller sense of our aesthetic, reconstructive and post-traumatic disciplines. In the gallery space, we want to give you a glimpse into our world, which is never our world alone. Ours is truly the most intimate, the most personal of arts. When we are finished, the product of our labors can turn to us and say, "I am art." That, at least, is what we strive for.

Please join us.
All events are free and open to the public.

291 Church Street, NYC, 10013
t. 212 431 5270

Directions: A, C, E, N, R, W, Q, J, M, Z, 6 to Canal or 1 to Franklin.

apexart's exhibitions and public programs are supported in part by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Carnegie Corporation of New York, Edith C. Blum Foundation, Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, The Greenwich Collection Ltd., The William Talbott Hillman Foundation, and with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts.

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...)

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.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Limb lab continuation - that Civil War amputee

In a paper for Invisible Culture 5 - "Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Images, Memory, and Identity in America," by J.T.H. Connor and Michael G. Rhode, we used Stratton's image. We noted, "After the war, disabled veterans used their photographs to support themselves in a variety of ways. Private Alfred Stratton took the most direct route. During the war, he endured a double amputation of both arms in 1864 and, as a result, received a pension of twenty-five dollars a month. In 1869, he visited the Museum and had his photograph taken. In later years, he sold carte-de-visites of himself in a uniform as a disabled soldier."

Here's the medical museum's photograph of Stratton:

And the cartes-de-visite Stratton sold to support himself:

This paper has pretty much everything I know about the Museum's Civil War photography and is one of my favorites of articles I've written.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A Flickr / Getty Images deal in the works?

Somehow I stumbled across a report today that says Getty Images, one of the mammoth stock-image companies, is in talks with Flickr about trolling for images that have been uploaded there. Of course Flickr can't make deals on people's work but it can give exclusive rights to Getty for that kind of access. Some people who have commented say it's not so much that Getty wants access for art's sake (my paraphrase) but to keep access from other companies. I don't really know, but just in case, being the Flickr addict that I am, I'm going to have to start beefing up my tags on my own pictures. Oh, and if you're wondering what this has to do with the museum, etc., etc., if this is indeed the case it can only mean better exposure for our own pictures that we've uploaded. The latest account is here.