Wednesday, December 31, 2008

More from the Ball Collection

Some original drawings I scanned from the James Moore Ball (ophthalmology) Collection. I'm making what I hope is a final pass through the 89-page finding aid, checking every folder to make sure the spelling is right. I just wish I had time to scan everything, there are such interesting images there.

Also check out our latest Flickr account for another couple from Ball.

These were done by Margaretta Washington:

Acc. 18696 Lacrimal fistula

Acc 18697 Trachoma

Acc 18698 Um, I don't remember. This might be tuberculosis.

Acc 18699 Acute catarrhal conjunctivitis

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

YMCA in World War 1

I emailed these three photos to myself a couple of weeks ago to post here, and of course don't now remember what led me to them to start with. In any case, I think they're interesting and not images you see every day.

Reeve 16000: YMCA kitchen. 11/05/1918. Metz, Lorraine. YMCA kitchen where all Allied prisoners of war are fed after being released from German prison camp.

Reeve 16079: YMCA, Chavonne, France. Bringing supplies to the YMCA. On the door is a large "Y" made from shells which landed near the door while under shell fire.

Reeve 16065: YMCA. Field Hospital #3. Froissy, France. Female workers giving refreshments to French patients.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Influenza News Means More Museum Photo Requests

News like this report from Reuters this evening will likely spur some additional requests this week and next for the Museum's collections of photos related to the influenza pandemics of the early 20th century.

"Researchers have found out what made the 1918 flu pandemic so deadly -- a group of three genes that lets the virus invade the lungs and cause pneumonia. They mixed samples of the 1918 influenza strain with modern seasonal flu viruses to find the three genes and said their study might help in the development of new flu drugs."

So be on the lookout for mentions of Camp Funston, everyone. You might see one of our photos gracing a newspaper near you.

Want to know more? The Museum had a temporary show on influenza (back in 1997, the exhibit, not the pandemic) and there's a virtual exhibit here.

Some updated links about the Balad exhibit

The new 'Trauma Bay II, Balad, Iraq' exhibit is garnering a lot of attention from visitors, and if you are in or around DC now or in the near future, make plans to check out the new offering in the gallery.  

We appreciate Medgadget for picking up our release about the exhibit, too.

And, this was probably linked earlier in the year, but this USAF news story from April offers some background on the preservation of the hospital.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Little Gems Are Worth The Effort

This quote says a lot about our Museum, I think, and the article itself from today's New York Times, is worth reading, too.

Sean Smith, director of government and public relations for the Association of Science-Technology Centers, said that these “little gems” offer “really, really unique things to people — if they take the trouble to go out and find them.”


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Medical museum annual visitor stats

So from 1958-1968, the Army Medical Museum or Medical Museum of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology is on the Mall, at 7th and Independence, NW, where the Hirshhorn Museum stands now. Our visitorship peaked in 1966 with 3/4 of a million people - about what the Hirshhorn achieves now.

Year Annual visitation notes
1958 234384
1959 363136
1960 586697
1961 684606
1962 631297
1963 478194
1964 451000
1965 543680
1966 765157
1967 571293
1968 280000* *partially closed

So in 1968 we were forced off the Mall, and were going to be moved up to Walter Reed, after some years in storage which severely damaged the collections.

1969 0 closed
1969 0 closed
1971 28216 reopens at WRAMC

In 1971, the Museum reopens in a new wing on the Pathology Institute building.

1972 65688
1973 >60000
1974 50000* *partially closed

Visitors are finding us, but then we get closed again as the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences gets established in our space...

1975 0 closed
1976 0 closed
1977 0 closed
1978 639* *partially closed
1979 6818

So I'm wondering what will happen when we close again, due to the BRAC of Walter Reed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

National Gallery of Art painting conservation

Here's an article that talks about how the National Gallery of Art does painting conservation - "Virgin Rebirth: Technology Helps Humans Work Miracles on a Renaissance Treasure," By Jessica Dawson, The Washington Post Tuesday, December 23, 2008; Page C01. And why should I care you ask? Because the Museum's painting of Philadelphia doctor John Hill Brinton by Thomas Eakins is being worked on in the same way. The painting of the Museum's first curator has been on loan to the Gallery since 1946, but recently has traveled to New York City and Italy for Eakins' shows.

I was down visiting the conservators and curator a few weeks ago when they uncovered some details in the painting that hadn't been obvious before. I told them I'd have no idea what they were and I didn't, but research goes on and I'll let them tell there story in their own time and place.

Electrotherapy Museum

We recently filled some requests for Jeff Behary at The Turn of the Century Electrotherapy Museum in West Palm Beach, Florida. Just goes to show that you never know what someone will want. He found our General Medical Products Information (GMPI) list online and saw that we had equipment repair records that a particular company kept on index cards, and asked for scans of them. I remembered some images of this kind of therapy being administered, hunted for more, and sent them off.

Here are a few images we sent to him.

Reeve 41477

Reeve 41469

Reeve 41523

Reeve 41488

Reeve 41481

Navy nurse who was at Pearl Harbor dies

Capt. Ruth A. Erickson, 95; Leader of Navy Nurse Corps
By Patricia Sullivan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 23, 2008; Page B04

This one's posted for my colleagues Jan and Andre, the historians at the Navy's Bureau of Medicine & Surgery. They've interviewed lots of people involved in the Navy's brand of military medicine and I'll bet they talked to Capt Erikson. They also put out Navy Medicine, a monthly journal as well as DVD histories. We're going to work with them this year to get their photo collection scanned with an electronic catalogue.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Job opening: Collections Curator, National Museum of Health and Medicine

[Contact them and not me please]

Please disseminate this information within your work area. If you are, or if you know of someone who is qualified and interested in any of the attached jobs, please submit your CV/Resume, 3 positive (work-related) references, and your salary history/requirements to the person listed in the ad.

Current ARP Openings

American Registry of Pathology

Job Announcement

Monday, December 22, 2008

Collections Curator

National Museum of Health and Medicine

Business Unit-Salary Source 1031-7178

(Exempt: $3,650 - $4,038 Bi-weekly)

The American Registry of Pathology is seeking a “Collections Curator” with oversight responsibility for administration, planning, resource development and use, and personnel, collections development and use, and activities of the Collections Division at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. Serves as Collections Curator of the National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. The position is responsible to the Director, NMHM/AFIP and the incumbent has oversight responsibility for administration, planning, resource development and use, personnel, collections development and use, and activities of the collections divisions of the NMHM/AFIP to ensure the successful accomplishment of Museum missions. Supervises staff, analyzes proposals, prepares requests for extramural funding, manages successful extramural activities, and provides oversight in the collecting areas to insure the appropriate development and implementation of plans and policies. Mandatory Requirements: Superb oral communications skills with knowledge of public speaking techniques for public and professional small groups and large audiences. Superb written communications skills with proven ability to write effective articles, speeches, exhibitions, scholarly publications, and professional contributions. Superb academic publication record in the history of medicine. Proven excellent track record with the extramural funding in the Museum field and the management of projects related thereto. Publication and activity record should demonstrate excellence in both history and museum work at the national level. Excellent supervisory and project management skills. Located in DC near Silver Spring, MD. Please send cover letter, 3 professional references, salary history and current requirement, curriculum vitae by email COD: 18 January 2009 (CB/WP)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

A searchable (federal) web

The Washington Post recently ran an article about making information on federal web pages more findable. I wish I was more technically savvy so I could really understand the difficulties, but I think it has to do with how deeply buried the pages are. The article cites as an example the user having to fill out a form before certain information can be accessed, and those pages aren't visible to web crawlers. There's an effort going on to improve the situation because, as we know, if people can't find something on Google they assume it doesn't exist. In some cases, if the user goes to the federal agency's website they can get at the information, but many people don't know anything beyond Google.

This reminds me of a session I attended at a Webwise conference in 2007 on a slightly different topic, but still about accessibility. The presenters talked about the Web-at-Risk project that tries to archive federal web pages before they disappear. Their example was "numerous Web sites and blogs that emerged in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (to help direct aid and provide real-time information for the affected area)" that were fast disappearing. It was a very interesting session and if you're interested in reading about it, it's on page 12 of the Webwise proceedings link that's linked above.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Acupuncture again

I wrote a while back about my husband getting a couple of acupuncture treatments for pain. One worked really well and the next not so well. He had a serious problem in his neck that acupuncture wasn't going to cure, but the fact he got some pain relief for a while, until he had surgery, is terrific. He also quit smoking more than 25 years ago as a result of a single acupuncture treatment. I underwent acupuncture myself recently when I had a bout of pretty crippling back pain. In conjunction with some therapeutic massage, it worked.

Today the Washington Post ran an article saying 38% of adults use alternative medicine. It goes on to quote someone from the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, who says, "Acupuncture is a placebo. Homeopathy is one step above fraud...The fact that they are so widely used is evidence for how gullible large segments of our society are." Huh. Hmmm. My choices for pain relief were drugs and/or a cortisone shot. Which might or might not work. I took a chance on the acupuncture, sure, but it wasn't drugs pouring into me.

If you read the article, make sure you read the comments as well. There are a lot of believers out there and, as I say, thousands of years of Chinese medicine can't be wrong.

Happy Holidays from Mike Lemish

Today we received an email from Mike Lemish, a researcher of ours who has a special interest in military working dogs, and who I have written about in the past. Now, isn't that a cute dog?

To all:

Sedona had her picture taken with Santa to help support the Falmouth Animal Shelter in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Over eight years old she wouldn't stay still - but the photographer caught her on the fly - notice the ear and tongue.

A special hello and Merry Christmas to all my tracker friends in Australia! Thank you all for your support down under- I really do appreciate it. The efforts you have taken to recognize your friends that served in Vietnam and were left behind is incredible.

For all the Vietnam Dog Handlers - thank you for your service.! I have not forgotten you or the dog that you worked with.

Let us not forget the dog teams that are working for us every day to secure our liberty and work for our safety. If you want to help out, check out the Space Coast War Dog Association ( and contact Sheri Wells. If you are interested in adopting a retired military working dog please check out and contact Debbie Kandoll.

For those of you without a dog - consider having one. They will always be there for you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Best Wishes
Mike Lemish
Vietnam Dog Handler Association

Merry Christmas back to you, Mike!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Museum souvenir DIY

Should you be looking to make … distinctive… holiday gifts, you can use the Museum’s public domain photos on Flickr and a printing company like Zazzle or CafĂ© Press.

Here’s how you do it.

Go to one of the four “Otisarchives” flickr sites as linked to on the right side of the blog. Look through the photos and select the one you like. There's roughly 700 photographs in the 4 accounts.

Click on it and then on the top of the photo, click on ‘all sizes’. Select ‘download’ for the large size which will save it to your harddrive.

For Zazzle, where I’ve been experimenting, go to and establish an account. Click on ‘create a product’ and pick a product. Click on ‘add an image’ and then pull the picture off your harddrive. Position it on the product until you like it. You can add multiple images or text to some products. You can also make multiple products using the same image which will have been stored in your account under ‘my images.’

Click on either ‘add to my cart’ or ‘post for sale’ when you’re happy with the way it looks.

Pay them and do what you will with the finished product. They can be a bit cranky when it comes to publishing stamps and wouldn’t let my Civil War surgery experiment go out to the world, although they sold me the stamps.

Have fun. Let me know if you do anything particularly interesting.

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.

Monday, December 8, 2008

World War 1 records online in UK

Jeff also sent in this press release. Regular readers of this blog know that we've been putting WW1 books up on the Internet Archive and our Flickr sites. We've scanned thousands of images as well, but haven't figured out how to put them online yet. I like the family heirloom part of this site though.

The University of Oxford uses CONTENTdm(r) to digitise rare First World War resource collections

Birmingham, UK, 08 December 2008: The 90th anniversary of the Armistice sees The University of Oxford launch the final element of two remarkable online First World War archives that provide open access to an unrivalled database of primary source material as part of the JISC Digitisation Programme.

The University of Oxford's 'First World War Poetry' and 'Great War' Digital Archives hold over 7,000 and 6,500 digital images respectively and both use OCLC's CONTENTdm software to store, manage and make available online, these fabulous collections of highly valued materials.

The 'First World War Poetry Archive' builds on the success of the University's existing Wilfred Owen archive, already referenced by teachers and researchers worldwide. Highlights of the collection include poems, maps, letters and diaries from various eminent 'front line' poets. The works of Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas, Robert Graves, Isaac Rosenberg, Vera Brittain and Roland Leighton appear alongside other contextual and teaching resources such as photographs, audio and film material.

In addition the University's 'Great War Archive' website brings together thousands of digital images of items submitted by members of the public. The majority of these images are of treasured family heirlooms which have never been on 'public display' until now.

Obviously due to the nature of these materials they were previously widely dispersed and in very fragile condition. They needed to be digitized in order to preserve, improve usability and widen access - delivering the collections digitally via the Web.

After assessing various solutions available, the University chose and implemented OCLC's CONTENTdm Digital Collection Management Software because of its flexibility as a system for the delivery of digital collections to the Web.

"We chose CONTENTdm as it best suited our requirements for customisation and the many ways in which data can be exported" explains Michael Loizou, Oxford University's Technical Lead.

Kate Lindsay, Oxford University's Project Leader expands "The Great War is arguably the most resonant period in modern British history. These memorabilia and poetry archives will provide easy access to an unrivalled collection of material which will be of use to anyone interested in getting closer to this world-changing conflict... One of the main reasons for building these archives with CONTENTdm is its versatility in the types of media that it can handle. Our requirements for these archives were very demanding. We invested time working with and customising CONTENTdm to meet these needs, that the system supports this is one of its main benefits."

Anyone interested in viewing these archives can do so by visiting

Guide to the Archives of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

My buddy, former museum curator Jeff Reznick, has made a new history of medicine resource available -

Now Available for the First Time in Digital, Fully-Searchable Formats ~
Guide to the Archives of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

The AOTF Institute for the Study of Occupation and Health is pleased to announce that the finding aid to the archives of the AOTA - the special collection housed in the AOTF Wilma L. West Library - is now available through a unique URL - and as a Microsoft Word document located on the AOTF Institute blog.

AOTF makes the Guide to the Archives of the AOTA available publicly as part of its mission to honor the past and be the best possible steward of the unique body of knowledge that is occupational therapy. To this end, AOTF warmly welcomes individuals from within and beyond occupational therapy to explore the guide and consider using the archives for purposes of research, education, and leadership. Individuals who hold a subscription to OT Search can access over 1000 photos drawn from the archives.

The original hardcopy of this guide was prepared by Inci Bowman, with the assistance of Barbara Scherer. This new electronic version was designed by Rachel Goldman, AOTF Institute Intern, and includes substantial updates prepared by Mindy Hecker, AOTF Director of Information Resources and the Wilma L. West Library and Mary Binderman, consultant.

As the Guide describes, the Archives of the AOTA date from 1917 and include:

·correspondence and early reprints of the founders of the National Society for the Promotion of Occupational Therapy;

·minutes and reports from the AOTA's governing boards, the Delegate/Representative Assembly, councils and committees;

·records generated by AOTA's national office staff; minutes and or proceedings from annual and midyear meetings;

·early legislation and grants important to the development of occupational therapy;

·reports and publications from early occupational therapy schools and programs;

·records and correspondence concerning AOTA's interaction with other organizations and agencies;

·photographs of the AOTA's leaders, of significant events in its history, and of occupational therapists working with patients in various settings; and

·audio and visual material representing the history of occupational therapy and the specific work of several leaders in the field.

For more information, and/or to schedule a visit to consult the archives, please contact:

Jeffrey S. Reznick, Ph.D.

Director, Institute for the Study of Occupation and Health
American Occupational Therapy Foundation
4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220
Bethesda, MD 20824-1220
Tel: 301.652.6611, x2555