Tuesday, December 23, 2008

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 Café 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

Archives Technician job opening - Closes 12/9/08

I just found out about this opening today, and it closes tomorrow - Mike

AFIP GS-1741-7

AFIP GS-1741-7

The second is open to the general public while the first is for current government employees.


ONLINE ( ). You can also view additional vacancies at this website. Once on the search

page, you can either search for vacancies by selecting District of Columbia for the “State” search, or enter the following in the Search-Announcement box: NCAN%.

Vacancy Announcement Number: NCAN08136638D

Opening Date: November 26, 2008
Closing Date: December 09, 2008
Archives Technician, GS-1421-7
$39,330 - $51,124 Annual
Place of Work:
Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Office of Director, Collections Division, Washington, DC 20307

Position Status:
This is a Permanent position. -- Full Time
Number of Vacancy: 1


Duties: Serve as Assistant Archivist for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, responsible for receipt, accessioning, classification, coding, filing, custody, dia-typing 35mm slides, loan and furnishing of medical illustration material.Apply extensive knowledge of medical terminology; photographic processes; subject matter contained in files; and principles of cataloging, filing and use of reference materials. Assist the Archivist with plans for the operation of the division. Determines organization of work which most effectively achieves objectives. Establishes policies for identification, preservation and use of materials.Determines most effective utilization of space.Based on broad experience with and knowledge of medical subject matter in files, carry out extensive searches for and select materials to fill requests. Consider entitlement of requester to photographic materials in accordance with policy and regulations; advises requesters of procedures whereby copies may be purchased.

About the Position: PHYSICAL DEMANDS: Work is mostly sedentary; however, work requires some physical effort for organizing, sorting, moving, and transferring boxes of records. Employee will be required to lift and move boxes weighing up to 40 pounds.

WORK ENVIRONMENT: Work is performed in an office setting.

Who May Apply: (Click on Who May Apply)
· All U. S. citizens and Nationals with allegiance to the United States.
Qualifications: Click on link below to view qualification standard.

General Schedule
· The ideal candidate for this position will have the following knowledge, skills and abilities:
Knowledge of archival principles and practices, theory, and techniques sufficient to plan, implement, and maintain, a nation-wide historical document collection program for the U.S. Army and Armed Forces Institute of Pathology.
A professional knowledge of historical research methodology is used to assist historian and activity directors in planning and conducting historical studies. Ability to analyze data, draw logical conclusions, and present findings.
Knowledge of public and private documents is used to advise and refer requesters to further sources of information in cases where the resources of the Institute are inadequate to ensure complete and accurate response. Knowledge of the existence and location of applicable record information in obscure or unlikely sources is regularly applied.
Knowledge of the Federal Laws and Army regulations governing the creation, organization, use and disposition of official and historical records.

· GS-07: One year of experience directly related to the occupation equivalent to at least the next lower grade level; or 1 full year of graduate level education or superior academic achievement; or equivalent combinations of experience and education.
· The experience described in your resume will be evaluated and screened for the Office of Personnel Management's basic qualifications requirements, and the skills needed to perform the duties of this position as described in this vacancy announcement.
· Applicants who have held a General Schedule (GS) position within the last 52 weeks must meet the Time in Grade Restriction.
· Education can be substituted for experience. Review the qualification requirements for specific information.
· One year of experience in the same or similar work equivalent to at least the next lower grade or level requiring application of the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the position being filled.
· Must have 52 weeks of Federal service at the next lower grade (or equivalent).
· Only degrees from an accredited college or university recognized by the Department of Education are acceptable to meet positive education requirements or to substitute education for experience. For additional information, please go to the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and U.S. Department of Education websites at - and
· Demonstrated work experience that equipped the applicant with the particular knowledge, skills, and abilities to successfully perform the duties of the position, and that is typically in or related to the work of the position to be filled.
· The related work experience must have been equivalent in difficulty and complexity to the next lower grade level.
· Foreign education must be evaluated for U.S. equivalency in order to be considered for this position. Please include this information in your resume.

Other Information:(Click on Other Information)
· To successfully claim veteran's preference, your resume/supplemental data must clearly show your entitlement. Please review the information listed under the Other Requirements link on this announcement or review our on-line Job Application Kit.
· The Department of Defense (DoD) policy on employment of annuitants issued March 18, 2004 will be used in determining eligibility of annuitants. The DoD policy is available on
· Salary includes applicable locality pay or Local Market Supplement.
· Permanent Change of Station (PCS) expenses are not authorized.
· The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commissions recommendations have been approved. This vacancy exists in an organization that is affected by BRAC.

Other Advantages: All federal agencies in the National Capital Region offer qualified employees a monthly stipend as a transit or vanpool subsidy to help reduce traffic congestion and air pollution. Generally, staff members who take part must give up their parking permits to receive the subsidy. Federal (civil service) employees who use public transportation or van pools to Walter Reed are entitled to a free MetroChek pass which can be used to save up to $105 per month in transit costs.

Other Requirements:(Click on Other Requirements)
· Personnel security investigation required.
· A medical examination is required.
· You will be required to provide proof of U.S. Citizenship.
· Male applicants born after December 31, 1959 must complete a Pre-Employment Certification Statement for Selective Service Registration.
· Direct Deposit of Pay is Required.
· Failure to provide all of the required information as stated in the vacancy announcement may result in an ineligible rating or may affect the overall rating.
· One year trial/probationary period may be required.

How to Apply: (Click on How to Apply)
· Resumes must be received by the closing date of this announcement.
· Self-nomination must be submitted by the closing date.
· Resume must be on file in our centralized database.
· Announcements close at 12:00am (midnight) Eastern Time.

If your resume is currently in our central database, you may click here to Self Nominate

Click here to use the Army Resume Builder to create your resume. Follow the instructions in this vacancy announcement to apply for the job.

Point of Contact: Central Resume Processing Center, 410-306-0137,

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Fort Detrick 1957 Evacuation Plan

Oldtimers at the museum and others with some time in DC will recall John Ptak and his incredible rare/antique science bookstore in Georgetown. John departed DC in 2002 and has apparently moved to Asheville, NC, His blog discusses "unusual connections in the history of science and mathematics with the arts and social history." highlighted a post on the blog describing a 1957 letter from a Colonel Leslie Moore to an unnamed "key" scientist at Ft. Detrick detailing the procedure to get the heck out of town before the nuke hit. The letter instructs the scientist to show up at the control point alone with the document on his person. Makes one long for the days of hunkering down under your school desk.

Ptak donated items to the museum collection, including the unique Princeton collection of dissected animal heads. The museum also has many items from Fort Detrick, including an autoclave the size of a Humvee.

No memories leads to thanks

H.M. has died. According to the NY Times, "In 1953, he underwent an experimental brain operation in Hartford to correct a seizure disorder, only to emerge from it fundamentally and irreparably changed. He developed a syndrome neurologists call profound amnesia. He had lost the ability to form new memories."

For the next 55 years, Mr. Henry Gustav Molaison cooperated with researchers seeking to understand how memory worked. While he passed away this week, he'll long be remembered in neurology studies - and perhaps in a museum too. "Dr. Corkin arranged, too, to have his brain preserved for future study, in the same spirit that Einstein’s was, as an irreplaceable artifactof scientific history."

Friday, December 5, 2008

Upcoming book

Today Kathleen and I joined the staff of the Borden Institute (who publish the Textbooks of Military Medicine) to keep working on a Walter Reed Army Medical Center Centennial Atlas, ie a book of photographs of 100 years of it being a hospital. We're going to make a big push in January to finish the book which should be available in late April. Watch this space.

In the meantime, we still need photographs of the base from the 1970s-1990s. If you were at Walter Reed and have pictures, let us know.

Who writes this stuff anyway?

Not enough of us, that's who. It's mainly the Archives staff, so I removed all the people who never have posted to the site. That's why the list of names in the upper right corner suddenly shrunk.

Sadly, some losses

Today the AFIP director reported, "Dr. Ahmed Hidayat, Chief Ophthalmic Pathology, AFIP, passed away last evening from a long-term illness. Dr. Hidayat was a long-time member of the Institute Staff in Ophthalmic Pathology."

And STIL Casing Solutions (whom we bought 16mm film cans from for our eventual film project) sent an email telling me that André Pion, the person who I usually dealt with and just talked to a couple of weeks ago about new DVD cases, passed away too.

We regret to announce the death of our colleague and friend André Pion, who passed away last Tuesday evening from septicaemia (blood poisoning). Death’s irrevocable nature makes it very difficult to accept, but at the same time reminds us of how priceless life is.

We will remember him for his unquestioned integrity, intellectual honesty and his devotion to his work, and also for the gifts of his friendship and humour. He cared deeply for each person he talked with, he loved his work and felt privileged to be able to do something he loved every day.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dan Sickles' Yuletide spirit by former exhibit staff member Bill Discher.

Surgical Photographs

I've been reviewing the work our scanning contractor has been doing for us. It's a never-ending job because of the volume of images they're handling. We actually scanned the Surgical Photos in-house and sent them and the database to the contractor for upload, but I'm still going through them to make sure we sent all versions of a particular case. For instance, many of the photos in this collection are of Civil War soldiers showing their healed wounds, and many of those are wounds or amputations of the leg up to the hip. These men were often photographed without draping them in some way to protect their modesty. I personally am surprised at that, but that's how it was done.

However, some of these photos were displayed at the 1876 World Exposition in Philadelphia and it was then that modesty prevailed. Or, rather, as Mike and J.T.H. Connor wrote in Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Images, Memory, and Identity in America, it appeared that the issue was less about protecting the men's identity and modesty than it was about not offending the potential audience.

In any case, we have more than one version of some of these photos: those with fig leaves and those without, and I've been going through the 400 in the collection to make sure that all versions were uploaded.

Not all of the photos are of soldiers, though. Here's one of a young boy who was shot in the head with a shotgun. It's called Successful Operation of Trephining of Cranium for Gunshot Injury.

And here's the case history:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A couple of pictures

Nothing special about these. They just appealed to me.

cp 4355
CP4355, Travois Litter [in front of Capitol building, Washington, DC] by Capt JC McDonald, photograph by CM Bell.

Reeve 072203, Airplane, 1910. "Rhodes - Gosman aeroplane trial, 01/26/1910. Fort Barrancas, Florida."

New exhibit

The Historical Collections guys and the exhibit guy finished putting together an exhibit yesterday and I went over and shot some of the process as well as the finished product. Because I know for a fact, yes a fact, that not one of them will write about it, I'm doing it because I'm so responsible. And because I love behind-the-scenes stuff and assume you do too.

The exhibit is contained in one wall-mounted cabinet and is called Facial Reconstruction. We have really cool and interesting plaster models and they're what make up the bulk of the cabinet. Here are four on them on a cart, waiting to go into the cabinet. They're various stages of one person's reconstruction.

Here are two of the three guys working on the cabinet.

They used the line of the bottom row of models (the ones shown on a cart above) to mark a line for the next row up. Here's that bottom row being hung.

Here's the exhibits guy using a spiffy, bendy thing on the drill to make a hole for the next row up.

A test fit on the second row.

Here's a close-up of them on a cart.

The models are all safely tucked away again and the labels are installed.

Here are a couple different models, both from World War 1. The first one shows a nasal splint after the surgeon rebuilt his nose from a flap of skin from his forehead. Note the scar.

This one shows an appliance used to keep his fractured upper jaw aligned correctly within his face.

This is a more contemporary model. This man sustained a severe head injury and a portion of his skull was removed to allow his swollen brain to expand. A CT scan of his head allowed the doctors to create a resin model of his skull and then make a cranial plate based on a mirror image of the undamaged side of his skull. This view shows a portion of the skull removed. It's art, isn't it?

And finally, the finished exhibit. Ta-Da!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Today we had a request for images of people who were blinded by poisonous gas. If the requester had asked for rabbits we would have been in business, but we had nada for those two conditions together. Some blindness, some poisonous gas, but the Venn diagram did not converge.

I did find, however, some interesting pictures about blindness, and here they are.

Reeve 870, A blinded French soldier, World War 1

Reeve 871, A blinded French soldier and his bride, World War 1

AEF007 (American Expeditionary Forces)
Blind French soldiers, patients in the department organized by Miss Winnifred Hope for the re-education of the blind. Base Hospital number 115, Hotel Ruhl. Base Laboratory Hospital Center Vichy, France. 08/1918[?].

Reeve 14494: American Red Cross workrooms. Paris, Seine, France. Stitching eye bandages on the machine in the American Red Cross workrooms for surgical dressings, rue de la Faisanderie, Paris. These bandages are used largely for gas cases.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Audio Tour at the NMHM

About a year ago, the Museum acquired the Tour-Mate audio tour system, which allows visitors to do a self-guided highlights tour of the permanent exhibitions. Just yesterday, we added an additional hour to the audio tour to include the new exhibit "RESOLVED: Advances in Forensic Identification of U.S. War Dead," and “Trauma Bay II, Balad, Iraq.” Come by the museum for a listen. We might even have the files available for download on our website soon.

St Elizabeths hospital history

We've got a lot of autopsy records from St Elizabeths hospital in our Neuroanatomical collections. A new article discusses the race relations at the hospital, especially between the long-term patients and the soldiers arriving after WW1. Ask for an interlibrary loan of "`These strangers within our gates': race, psychiatry and mental illness among black Americans at St Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, DC, 1900-40" by Matthew Gambino, History of Psychiatry, 19:4, 2008. I read it at work today - Matthew's used our collection in the past although not for this article.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Telemedicine from the first world

Here's an Washington Post article about a British couple who have set up their own charity to provide telemedicine around the world, based on just themselves, an assistant and a lot of energy. The Swinfen Charitable Trust sounds like a pretty amazing shoe-string operation. Based in England, it has links to the University of Virginia. It's apparent in this article that telemedicine is going to change the practice of medicine as the 21st century progresses.

New upload to the Internet Archive

Today we uploaded a new item to the Internet Archive. It's "A Guide for Uniform Industrial Hygiene Codes or Regulations for the Use of Fluoroscopic Shoe Fitting Devices," by The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.

It sounds kind of boring. All right, it sounds really boring, but when you read it you have to say to yourself, "what were they thinking?" It's self-described as a guide "designed to minimize the amount of radiation to which persons are exposed during the use of fluoroscopic shoe fitting devices." In other words, shoe stores had x-ray machines that you stuck your feet in (and our museum has one of them (the machine, not the feet)) to see how well your shoes fit. I dunno, when I was a kid the salesman used to press down on the toe of the new prospective shoes and ask if I could feel it.

Anyway, you can see this guide here.

Blackhawk as sickbed reading, circa 1951

53-2024-1 GSW of lower femur (with comic)

Here's a picture that one of the assistant archivists brought to my attention today. This poor guy has a gunshot wound of his lower femur (shown with a Blackhawk comic book on the bed) during the Korean War, 1951.

Scanned on a computer old enough to require a scuzzy port to connect to the scanner, copied to a cd and then carried home to be uploaded to Flickr and blogged about.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Photos aren't us continued again

Thomas asked "what's going on" in a previous posts comments. I have no idea why Flickr is blocked. However for the USB ports, this is a response to a computer virus - kind of like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly.

Oddly enough, Australian papers rather than American ones seem to have picked the story up and here's one. This earlier Wired article says:

The problem, according to a second Army e-mail, was prompted by a "virus called Agent.btz." That's a variation of the "SillyFDC" worm, which spreads by copying itself to thumb drives and the like. When that drive or disk is plugged into a second computer, the worm replicates itself again — this time on the PC. "From there, it automatically downloads code from another location. And that code could be pretty much anything," says Ryan Olson, director of rapid response for the iDefense computer security firm. SillyFDC has been around, in various forms, since July 2005. Worms that use a similar method of infection go back even further — to the early '90s. "But at that time they relied on infecting floppy disks rather than USB drives," Olson adds.

So this is a problem that dates back 2 decades and was apparently addressed by anti-viruses, but this is the current response. Personally I think there's a second underlying reason and this virus is just the current cover story. However, USB ports and the Internet are the way computers work now - as much as the military would like to, they're not going to be able to singlehandedly reset technology to 1995 nor return the Internet to a DARPAnet.

I put in a request to have my scanner port opened again, but I honestly do not expect to get a response. At some point, probably right about now, having computers on the military's network will be too much trouble and I'll pull them all to stand alone. People can just go back to telephoning with their requests - which we will then be able to actually fulfill.

Friday, November 21, 2008

More discoveries

I found this series when doing research for someone the other day.

The initial photo of Albert Bauer, a soldier wounded in World War 1:

The first medical illustration demonstrating the surgical procedure used to correct it:

And the continuation of the procedure:

I haven't come across the final picture but hope I do. I'd really like to see the finished reconstruction.

Osler photos

And, like yesterday, here's an announcement of someone else's neat history of medicine website. At one point in the early 20th century, the Museum rebuilt McGill's medical collections after a fire. One of their professors has rediscovered what's left recently, and I'll try to post on that soon. In the meantime, check this out:

The William Osler Photo Collection

The McGill Library is pleased to launch The William Osler Photo Collection, a searchable and browsable website of 384 images drawn from the Osler Library’s collection of photographs of Sir William Osler (1849-1919), who graduated from Medicine at McGill University in 1872 and, after a brief interval, taught there for ten years. He went on to the University of Pennsylvania (1884-1889), Johns Hopkins (1889-1905) and finally became Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford and one of the most famous doctors in his time. There are photographs from all stages of his life, along with pictures of Lady Osler, his son Edward Revere Osler and other family members. The site was made possible by a generous donation from the John P. McGovern Foundation.

The url is

Photos aren't us continued

Today the AFIP's IT department reached in and turned off our USB ports so we no longer have access to the 3/4 of a terabyte of hi-resolution scans on our external harddrives. They also made our scanners non-functional at the same time, as they plug into USB ports, so we can't make new scans for people either.

On the positive side, I talked with an ex-AFIP staffer who worked in the Medical Illustration Service from the early 1960s through the mid-1970s. He's given Historical Collections a moulage kit he worked on and we're going to do an oral history with him.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

In other news... excellent History of Embryology site launches

This press release came through the Caduceus history of medicine list today:

Making Visible Embryos,

An online exhibition by Tatjana Buklijas and Nick Hopwood, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge, with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Images of human embryos are everywhere today: in newspapers, clinics, classrooms, laboratories, baby albums and on the internet. Debates about abortion, evolution, assisted conception and stem cells have made these representations controversial, but they are also routine. We tend to take them for granted. Yet 250 years ago human development was nowhere to be seen.

This online exhibition is about how embryo images were produced and made to represent some of the most potent biomedical objects and subjects of our time. It contextualizes such icons as Ernst Haeckel's allegedly forged Darwinist grids and Lennart Nilsson's 'drama of life before birth' on a 1965 cover of Life magazine. It also interprets over 120 now little-known drawings, engravings, woodcuts, paintings, wax models, X-rays and ultrasound scans from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. It displays the work of making visible embryos.


One image on their site is from our museum - a His Embryograph - but we have similar collections of wax models, embryos and embryo models as discussed in the article. The two photographs here are from our collection. Some of the embryological collection is on display and I've heard that a reworking of it is underway.

Photos aren't us

As you've seen previously, last week Walter Reed blocked access to Flickr so we can't upload photographs for people to use or just enjoy. At the same time, they also blocked access to uploading services such as Rapidshare or Yousendit that we had been using to send photographs to requestors with same-day service. We switched back to burning and mailing cds this week. However today, the military implemented a policy of blocking USB ports on all networked computers (see below for details), and since they had previously required all their computer networks to be hooked together (changing our email addresses overnight but not actually notifying us about the change so all our email was bouncing), we're affected . Since all of our gigabytes of hi-resolution scans are on external hard drives that connect via USB, and we can't upload pictures to the internet, we are at the moment out of the photo library business and will not be providing publishable quality images to researchers. We may still be able to email small images. We apologize to our users. To be honest, since the CAC cards required to turn on the computers, the mouse and keyboard are all via USB, I don't actually expect to have a functioning computer at work. I would suggest calling the Museum if you have a question about coming in to do photo research since we will still be able to provide you access to the original image, unless it was electronic in the first place.

Here's the policy as sent out by Walter Reed's Department of Information Management (DOIM):

Effective immediately, the use of USB storage devices are suspended on all DoD NIPRNET and SIPRNET computers.

This rule will be technically implemented beginning 19 1800 November 2008 and will be applied across the entire network on all computers. Implementation of this rule will impact all memory sticks, thumb drives, USB external hard drives, and camera flash memory cards. USB connected printers with internal and external media storage (e.g. SD Cards, etc.) may also be impacted.

Other USB connected devices such as keyboards, mice, CAC readers, and blackberries "SHOULD NOT" be affected. Any user that experiences problems with such devices after technical implementation is asked to call the DOIM help desk or follow the procedures noted below for faster service.

These actions are being completed as part of an Army-Wide Information Assurance initiative to protect the DOD network from intrusion and continuous attacks. In order to further protect our network we ask all users to adhere to posted rules and allow us the opportunity to find secure alternatives (if those exists) to meet mission needs.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today's discoveries

Did I ever tell you how much I like my job? Sometimes there's too much of it, but usually it's a journey of interesting discoveries.

Today I worked on a reference request that included anything we have on the Polish Relief Commission in World War 1. Searching for images for someone else is almost like spending someone else's money. I have all the fun and it's on someone else's dime. Cool.

We have about 100 pictures that include the Commission's name in the caption. Some of them, like some of just about everything, are, sorry, boring, but some just grab you right off and demand a second look.

Here's what I mean.

Reeve 31754 Polish Relief Commission (Col. Gilchrist). Little Polish girl.

Reeve 31756 Polish Relief Commission (Col. Gilchrist), opening public bathing place, distribution of cigarettes.

Reeve 31765 Polish Relief Commission (Col. Gilchrist), three waifs, fatherless & motherless, from effects of typhus fever, near Dora-Husk, Poland, 1920.

Reeve 31770 Polish Relief Commission (Col. Gilchrist), delousing Bolsheviks on the highways, 1919-1920.

Reeve 31933 Polish Relief Commission. (Col. Gilchrist). American equipment in the near east. Foden Thresh steam sterilizer with A.P.R.E. to Poland.

Reeve 31935 Polish Relief Commission (Col. Gilchrist). Cases of cholera left by retreating Bolsheviks near Villna, 1919.

Now admit it. Don't I have a great job?

Lecture at the National Museum of Health and Medicine: ‘Utilizing Literature and Film of War to Facilitate the Warrior-Civilian Transition’

Here's an announcement for a pretty specialized lecture in the Museum tomorrow.

Lecture at the National Museum of Health and Medicine: ‘Utilizing Literature and Film of War to Facilitate the Warrior-Civilian Transition’

Dr. Brett Holden of Bowling Green State University has been an invited lecturer at a number of universities around the country and has been a frequent participant in conferences and symposia related to media and war, reintegration of returning service personnel and their families, veteran literature, the witnessing process in veteran recovery, soldier in American cinema, and wounded warrior programs, etc.

When: Thursday, November 20, 2008, 3:00 p.m.

Where: Russell Auditorium, National Museum of Health and Medicine, in Bldg. 54

Cost: Free! Open to the public! Light refreshments served at 2:30 p.m.

Questions? Call (202) 782-2200 or email, or visit

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Foiled again!

Mike mentioned a couple of days ago that we've been blocked by the Army from our Flickr accounts. Yeah. So now we have to load images onto a thumb drive or email them to ourselves at our personal accounts, and upload from home. Which is what I've just done. Inefficient. Inconvenient. A waste of resources/time. But we're Intrepid Archivists who will do what it takes. Here's the latest offering, a severely fractured skull of a Confederate soldier from the Civil War, Surgical Photograph 9 (SP009).

Monday, November 17, 2008

A Day in the Life....

Today was a really typical day with no excitement but a pretty good feeling of accomplishment at crossing things off my List. I basically worked on two things. The first was performing QA (quality assurance) on several curatorial log books that we've sent for scanning. Each one comes back in both JPG and PDF formats and I have to look at both for the QA. Not every single page, but enough to know the scans are up to snuff. You might wonder why I have to look at both formats. That's because when we first started scanning books the jpegs came back in whatever lovely color they actually had, but the PDFs inexplicably were in grayscale. I don't know that we ever figured out how or why, and they were fixed, but now I look at both. By the way, these books will eventually be uploaded to the Internet Archive. In my spare time.

The other project of the day had to do with a new book published by the Borden Institute, the publishing arm of the Army Medical Department and School. It's called War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq: a Series of Cases 2003-2007. We received a couple of discs of the pictures used in the book and while waiting for huge PDFs of the books I talked about above to load, I matched the loosely identified images from the discs to the ones in the book. I'm making a spreadsheet of captions for all of the pictures that will be uploaded, along with the images, into our (still internal) database as part of our Medical Illustration Service Library.

What I find compelling about this book, aside from the miracles the docs over there are working on our soldiers, is that it's fulfilling a mission much like the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion did at the time of the Civil War; it's a valuable teaching tool. As Dr. David Lounsbury, one of the three authors, said in an interview with the International Herald Tribune, "The average Joe Surgeon, civilian or military, has never seen this stuff... "It's a shocking, heart-stopping, eye-opening kind of thing. And they need to see this on the plane before they get there, because there's a learning curve to this."

Balad Exhibit @ National Museum of Health and Medicine

Exhibit Design / Photos - Navjeet Singh Chhina
Art Direction - Navjeet Singh Chhina

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Our Flickr issues

We're being blocked by Walter Reed's IT dept now, so we can't go to, let alone upload, photographs on Flickr. We're hoping to get that changed.

We've been working on joining Flickr Commons, but that agreement is currently being reviewed by our Legal Department.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Coffee Talk at Museum: 'Borrowed Soldiers: Americans Under British Command, 1918' - Wed., 11/12, 2pm!

My buddy Mitch is talking about his new book for Veteran's Day (well, the day after).

Afternoon Coffee Talk at the National Museum of Health and Medicine
Title: "Borrowed Soldiers: Americans Under British Command, 1918"

Speaker: Mitch Yockelson

What: During the summer and autumn of 1918, two United States Army divisions, fresh from training camps in South Carolina, were attached to the British Army and participated in some of World War I's bloodiest fighting. Attacks against strong German positions on the Western Front resulted in high American casualties and the British were called upon to provide medical support. Historian Mitch Yockelson will discuss how the 'doughboys' were evacuated from the battlefield and taken to British
hospitals for treatment. Following the program, Yockelson will sign his recent book, 'Borrowed Soldiers,' (available for sale before and after the program.)

When: Wednesday, November 12, 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Room: Russell Auditorium (AFIP, Bldg. 54)

Cost: FREE!! Coffee also included.

Photo ID required.

Contact information:
Name: Jessica Stark
Phone: 202-782-2200

Friday, November 7, 2008

Found in the Archives

Found in the Lent Johnson collection - scores of unprocessed boxes from an orthopedic pathologist who worked at AFIP from the 1940s until he died around 2000 – 5” of “A Study of Malnutrition in Japanese Prisoners of War,” from the 174th Station Hospital, New Bilibid Prison, Philippines. This is actually a study of Japanese captured by Americans at the end of the war – so they were suffering from malnutrition while being in the Japanese Imperial Army.

I'd seen this years ago, just after Lent died, but didn't know that it was in the records that came to the Museum. Fortunately another researcher had been looking at them and noted there was a box labeled 'dysentery atlas'. Alan of Historical Collections pulled the box from the warehouse and brought it down, and in the bottom was this malnutrition study.

The dysentery atlas is good too - it's a photographic study also from World War 2 and goes with an unpublished manuscript of a second edition of The practical microscopic diagnosis of dysentery / by Frank G. Haughwout, Manila : Bureau of Printing, 1924. You can see the first edition at the National Library of Medicine.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Upcoming Programs at the NMHM

Here's a preview of some upcoming programs at the NMHM in 2009:

LINCOLN SYMPOSIUM IN APRIL 2009: In April 2009, NMHM will offer a unique
program to mark the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, featuring
renowned lecturers and physicians who will discuss different aspects of
Lincoln's health. The program was recently endorsed by the Abraham
Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. (Visit to learn more about the
ALBC.) Plan now to attend the program in April! Visit to learn

BRAIN AWARENESS WEEK IS COMING! In just four months (March 16-20, 2009),
Brain Awareness Week will be upon us, and if you are a middle-school
teacher in the greater Washington, D.C. area, now is your chance to get
in on the action. Sign up today so that your students will have this
unique opportunity to talk to neuroscientists and learn about brain
sciences through hands-on activities. Don't miss out on the excitement
of the Museum's tenth year celebrating Brain Awareness Week. Visit to learn about this past
year's exciting program, then call (202) 782-2456 or email to learn more or sign up.

Calendar of Upcoming Programs:

* Free Docent-Led Tours! Plan now to visit the Museum and take advantage
of a free introductory tour led by a Museum docent. November tours are
set for 11/8 and 11/22. Tours start at 1:00 p.m.; reservations are not

* Forensic Family Discovery Cart: Whorls, Ridges and Arches! No two
people share the same fingerprints. Join a museum docent for
fingerprinting activities and learn how fingerprinting is used in the
identification of human remains. When: Saturday, November 8 and 22, 2:00
p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Cost: Free

* Afternoon Coffee Talk at the Museum! "Borrowed Soldiers: Americans
Under British Command, 1918": During the summer and autumn of 1918, two
United States Army divisions, fresh from training camps in South
Carolina, were attached to the British Army and participated in some of
World War I's bloodiest fighting. Attacks against strong German
positions on the Western Front resulted in high American casualties and
the British were called upon to provide medical support. Historian
Mitch Yockelson will discuss how the 'doughboys' were evacuated from the
battlefield and taken to British hospitals for treatment. Following the
program, Yockelson will sign his recent book "Borrowed Soldiers"
(available for sale before and after the program.) When: Wednesday,
November 12, 2:00 p.m. Where: Russell Auditorium, National Museum of
Health and Medicine (Bldg. 54, on the campus of Walter Reed Army Medical
Center.) Cost: Free! Coffee served!

Check out the Events Calendar for updates:

A bit of synchronicity with our Vorwald collection

In the 1960s, Dr. Arthur J. Vorwald had a stroke. When he died a decade later his widow donated his personal papers to the AFIP which sent them down to the Museum. Vorwarld worked on industrial medicine and hygiene including asbestosis. In the early 1980s, the AFIP was sued to open the records, which included patient information. The lawfirm that brought the suit was Baron and Associates led by Fred Baron who died last week - "Fred Baron, 61; Asbestos-Fighting Lawyer, Political Operative," Washington Post Saturday, November 1, 2008; B06.

The records have mostly been used by lawyers since then although there's a lot of history in them. One bit that has been looked at by a historian of medicine was the Donora Air Pollution Incident in which a town in Pennsylvania was poisoned. It's now the subject of a museum exhibit as this article points out - "Unveiling a Museum, a Pennsylvania Town Remembers the Smog That Killed 20," By SEAN D. HAMILL, New York Times November 2, 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.