Thursday, April 2, 2009

Walgreens and Quest partner up

Amid the bad news we hear about corporate America daily was some good - no, excellent news from the Walgreens drugstore chain and Quest Diagnostics. They are partnering to provide free basic health care through the end of the year to laid-off workers who have also lost their health insurance. Family members will also receive care if they don't have coverage elsewhere.

"Walgreens said patients who lose their job and health insurance after March 31 will be able to get free treatment at its in-store Take Care clinics for respiratory problems, allergies, infections and skin conditions, among other ailments. Typically those treatments cost $59 or more for patients with no insurance." Quest will offer free tests for strep throat and urinary tract infections.

Pretty excellent news and real community responsibility.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Saipan and Pacific Islands fighting in WW2 on Flickr

Kathleen just loaded a bunch of pictures from the Island campaigns in the Pacific in World War 2. These photos are pretty gruesome and their caption reflect the heated attitude of the time - this is what the photographer wrote and sent back, and not what someone would use to caption a photograph today.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Malaria Moe cartoons on Flickr

Kathleen put up a bunch of scans of World War 2 Malaria Moe propaganda cartoons on Flickr today. The artist, Frank Mack, later went on to work for Ripley's Believe It Or Not.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another item on the Internet Archive

We uploaded the August 1918 edition of the Carry On, a Red Cross publication about reconstruction and rehabilitation of World War 1 soldiers and sailors to the Internet Archive. See it here.

For some weird reason it's there twice although I uploaded it only once.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

National Gallery of Art puts Eakins' Brinton painting back on display

Our registrar just heard from the head of American paintings at the National Gallery of Art who says, "She tells me that it is hung next to Eakins’ portrait of Dr. Thompson, which was his last painting of a medical professional, and that is where it will stay." Our registrar also says the colors of the painting look fantastic and the details can be seen much better. I'm looking forward to seeing it. It's been on loan to the NGA since 1946.

Dr. Thomson actually worked alongside Brinton when the Museum was being established. Along with Dr. Norris, Thomson did studies for the Army's Surgeon General about the utility of microscopes in medicine:

OHA 330

* Thomson Photomicrographs, 1876
* .3 cubic foot.
* No finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Two copies of an album of photomicrographs made by Dr. William Thomson in 1864 during the Civil War at Douglas Hospital in Washington, DC. The photographs were made "to demnostrate the value of photomicography and its possibility with the compound microscope then issued by the Surgen General's Office to the general hospitals." (from the introductory note.) These albums were compiled for and exhibited at the U.S Centennial International Exhibition (1876). A Union doctor during the Civil War, Thomson contributed to writing the Museum's Catalogue and pioneered in photomicrography and ophthalmic surgery. One album is the Surgeon General's Library copy (SGL #72845) and has an introductory handwritten note by Dr. J. J. Woodward; the second album (MM8615-2) was Assistant Surgeon General Crane's personal copy.

Two museum reports online now

Here's a couple of reports that are almost a decade old, but should still be of interest.

Responses to a Human Remains Collection: Findings from Interviews and Focus Groups. (July 1999).

This report presents the findings from a study conducted by Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A), for the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), Washington, DC. The study was designed to investigate how visitors respond to the Museumâs human remains collection.

National Museum of Health and Medicine Visitor Survey (April 2000).

This report presents the findings from a study conducted by Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A), for the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM), Washington, DC. The findings were generated from a total of 1,063 surveys collected between May and November 1999.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Library of Congress likes Flickr and YouTube and iTunes...

EWS from the Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20540
Phone: (202) 707-2905
Fax: (202) 707-9199

March 25, 2009

Library of Congress Makes More Assets and Information Available Through New-Media Initiatives
YouTube and iTunes Launches Will Follow Groundbreaking Flickr Pact to Bring More Treasures to the Public

The Library of Congress will begin sharing content from its vast video and audio collections on the YouTube and Apple iTunes web services as part of a continuing initiative to make its incomparable treasures more widely accessible to a broad audience. The new Library of Congress channels on each of the popular services will launch within the next few weeks.
New channels on the video and podcasting services will be devoted to Library content, including 100-year-old films from the Thomas Edison studio, book talks with contemporary authors, early industrial films from Westinghouse factories, first-person audio accounts of life in slavery, and inside looks into the Library's fascinating holdings, including the rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and the contents of Lincoln's pockets on the night of his assassination.

“The Library of Congress launched the first U.S. agency-wide blog two years ago and continued its pioneering social-media role with initiatives such as the immensely successful Flickr pilot project,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “We have long seen the value of such interaction with the public to help achieve our missions, and these agreements remove many of the impediments to making our unparalleled content more useful to many more people.”

The General Services Administration today also announced agreements with Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo and that will allow other federal agencies to participate in new media while meeting legal requirements and the unique needs of government. GSA plans to negotiate agreements with other providers, and the Library will explore these new media services when they are appropriate to its mission and as resources permit.

The Library began a groundbreaking pilot project with the popular Flickr photo-sharing service last year, loading 3,100 historic photos to start and an additional 50 photos each week. The overwhelmingly positive response from the Flickr user community not only brought broad public awareness to the Library's existing online collection of more than 1 million prints and photos at, but also sparked creative interaction with them, as users helped provide Library curators with new information on photos with limited descriptions through public review and tagging. Library of Congress photos on Flickr currently have received more than 15 million views.

A Flickr initiative called The Commons was introduced with the Library’s project launch and a growing number of libraries, museums and archives have since started their own accounts within the Commons framework. The Library has been followed by 22 additional institutions from the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, France, Portugal, and the Netherlands that are sharing selections from their photo archives and inviting the public to contribute information.

The Flickr pilot placed the Library in a leadership role for other cultural and government communities exploring Web 2.0 possibilities. Information on Library news and events is now available through Twitter, more than 30 RSS and e-mail news alert services, and one of the first blogs from a federal agency.
Library staff worked with service providers to adjust technological and legal standards to permit participation in social-networking services by other federal agencies and non-profit organizations. All content made available on third-party sites will also be available on the Library’s own website at

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized Web site at

# # #

PR 09-055
ISSN 0731-3527

Light 'em up

Thanks to our friends at Boing Boing, a pair of lungs that will light your cigarette, and they got it from Street Anatomy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prof. Jas. Mundie's photos of Museum on Flickr

Prof. James G Mundie left a comment on a different post, along with a link to his Cabinet of Curiosities Flickr set of pictures of exhibits in the Museum. Cool, hey?

1917 Clinico Motion Pictures catalogue online

Kathleen scanned a 1917 (we think) Clinico Motion Pictures catalogue for Medical, Surgical and Dental films today and put a pdf online.

1876 Human Anatomy checklist online

Brian of Anatomical Collections told me that the catalogue, Check List of Preparations and Objects in the Section of Human Anatomy of the Army Medical Museum, prepared for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia for the Anatomical Section has been scanned and is online. Note that another book or two is squished in with it and our catalogue ends around page 137. I'm not sure if Harvard bound their copy with other things or if something went wrong in the scanning and saving process.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Museum catalogue getting closer to fruition

We've got 5 collecting departments in the Museum. Archives and Anatomical's data conversion is finished and Historical is just about done. Currently if you stick in a keyword like "malaria," at least for the Archives data you get over 200 hits of photographs, books and letters. This is how it's supposed to work for the whole museum and we're getting closer. It'll be months before we clean the data and get it online, but the goal is in site. Just in time for BRAC to throw us off Walter Reed and close us for a while, but still...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Anatomical Collections adds photos to Flickr

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

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

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Symposium on Lincoln's Health

Just a reminder--on April 18-19, the Museum will host a 2-day lecture series about Lincoln's health. The event is free to the public, but reservations are required due to limited seating. Topics will include discussions about Lincoln's mental health and his medical care during his last hours, amongst other many topics. For an agenda, visit this link on the Museum's website:

Call 202-782-2673 to make a reservation or email There's limited seating left, so contact the Museum soon!

We're stunningly popular?

Ok, people are suddenly reading this blog from all over the world. Can you tell us in the comments how you found us and why you're checking it out? We went from about 100 views a day to 290 views an hour today.


Mike the archivist

500 Big Ones

We hit the 500,000 mark sometime early this morning. Oh, I'm talking about our Flickr account that wrote about last week. As of 5 seconds ago, 503,160 views on 872 photos. We couldn't be happier. Thanks, everyone!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Civil War opthalmology

Michael Hughes called in the other day and mentioned an article he wrote on Civil War ophthalmology that he used some of the museum's pictures in - Eye Injuries and Prosthetic Restoration in the American Civil War Years
Michael O. Hughes
Journal of Ophthalmic Prosthetics
Fall 2008; pg 18-28

Brain Awareness Week podcast

Pentagon Web Radio interviewed Tim and did a podcast. The site is, of course, blocked at work because it's both a blog and streaming media, so I haven't listened to it yet.

Original Air Date: 3/18/2009 2:00 PM
Episode #7: National Brain Awareness Week

Tim Clarke, Jr., deputy director of communications for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, will discuss the 10th anniversary of National Brain Awareness Week, which was established by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives in 1996, linking scientists, clinicians, journalists, and other educators in an effort to raise awareness about the brain and brain science. Brain Awareness Week promotes an understanding of current research and its translation into clinical practice for a younger audience. More than 1000 middle-school students from across the entire Washington, D.C., area are expected to attend the 10th anniversary activities at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The appearance of advertising on this Web site does not constitute endorsement by the DOD, of the products or services advertised on this site.

Brain Awareness Week Launched at Museum of Health and Medicine

Brain Awareness Week Launched at Museum of Health and Medicine
By John Ohab
Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2009 – Hundreds of middle school students have passed through the halls of the National Museum of Health and Medicine here this week to learn about brain anatomy and pathology, as well as military medical history, as part of National Brain Awareness Week.

The students got to hold a human brain, view the bullet that killed President Abraham Lincoln, and learn about the role the museum has had in military and civilian medicine since its Civil War beginnings, Tim Clarke Jr., the museum’s director of communications, said during a March 18 “Armed with Science: Research and Applications for the Modern Military” audio Webcast on Pentagon Web Radio. The museum is an element of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and is located on the campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center here.

“The idea is … to have young people really inspired about neuroscience and to understand a little more about the brain in a context that they might not be able to get in the classroom today,” Clarke said.

Established in 1996 by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, a private philanthropic foundation, Brain Awareness Week connects government agencies, universities, scientific societies and other partners to bring neuroscience-based education to young audiences. This year’s Brain Awareness Week is March 16 to 22.

Since 1999, the Dana Alliance has worked with the museum and other partners including the National Institutes of Health, George Washington University, Howard University, the Society for Neuroscience, the Tug McGraw Foundation, the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and the Army Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

“We want to find a way through Brain Awareness Week to connect many of the various disciplines that are involved in neurosciences,” Clarke said. “And work with those groups to put together very compelling, persuasive, hands-on demonstrations for young people.”

The museum maintains the world’s largest and most comprehensive neuroanatomical collection, which offers Brain Awareness Week participants a unique, first-hand opportunity to learn about brain anatomy and pathology. Students, chaperones and parents all have a chance to handle actual human brains.

“The look of awe and wonder on a young person’s face when they are holding an actual human brain is something you really have to see to believe,” Clarke said. “Nothing they had ever done compares to being able to hold a brain with the spinal cord still attached.”

This year’s Brain Awareness Week includes a new partnership with The Tug McGraw Foundation, which was created by professional baseball player Tug McGraw in 2003 to facilitate research that will improve the lives of those suffering from brain tumors. The foundation taught kids how to start their mornings with brain exercises designed to increase blood flow.

Clarke noted that Brain Awareness Week also highlights the variety of federal agencies conducting important basic and clinical neuroscience research. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism stages an obstacle course that students traverse while wearing “fatal vision goggles,” which distort eye-muscle coordination and simulate the loss of balance induced by alcohol intoxication. In addition, the Army Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center informs students about how the center works with soldiers, veterans and their families to treat communication disorders.

“We try to find ways to engage the students on their level,” Clarke said. “They are starting and ending the day with a lot of very interesting and compelling scientific information.”

Students who participated in Brain Awareness Week also had the opportunity to view the museum’s newest exhibition, “Abraham Lincoln: The Final Casualty of War,” which features several of its most popular artifacts. The exhibit honors the nation’s 16th president with various items associated with his last hours and the Army doctors who cared for him. On display is the actual bullet that took Lincoln’s life and fragments of hair and skull that were gathered during his autopsy in the White House.

“We are able to tell a really interesting story that people know about, but we tell a different side of the story than you might get in the history textbooks,” Clarke said.

The museum was founded in 1862 during the Civil War to collect anatomical specimens that could be used to develop new treatments for injuries sustained during battle. The museum, once led by Walter Reed, also played a role in shaping modern germ theory and an understanding of infections, as well as helping to found the Army Medical School and various clinical libraries focused on treating soldiers.

“It was Army Medical Museum staff, curators and scientists over the latter half of the 19th century that worked with partners all over the world to indoctrinate those types of practices into Army medicine,” Clarke said.

(John Ohab holds a doctorate in neuroscience and works for the Defense Media Activity’s New Media directorate.)

46,000 views for one picture?!

It's here if you'd like to add your clicks to it.

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.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Patten Collection of embryology

In one of the more un-glamerous jobs in a museum, just boxed 1000 histo slides yesterday.  Only ~10,000 more to go.  The goal  is to ge the collection in better shape to use and ultimately ship, if/when the museum moves.

NPR blog mentions Flickr site and old interview

See "National Museum of Health and Medicine Shares Collection Via Flickr," By Jo Ella Straley. There's a link to an interview that I did and had forgotten about, but the reporter, Joe Shapiro, does good work on medicine and health.

New books from the Borden Institute

Our friends at the Borden Institute have two new books out, and the first has quite a few photos from our collection:

A History of Dentistry in the US Army to World War II (2008) - a detailed history of the development of military dentistry in the United States, from beginnings in the early 17th century, through the professionalization of dentistry in the 19th century, dental care on both sides of the Civil War, the establishment of the US Army Dental Corps in 1909, and the expansion of the Corps through World War I and afterward, to the verge of the Second World War.

Medical Aspects of Chemical Warfare (2008) - a comprehensive source of the information available on chemical agents, this book will increase the level of preparedness and response capability of military and civilian practitioners responsible for chemical casualty care. Includes detailed explanations of chemical detectors and protection equipment, diagnosis, decontamination techniques, established and emerging countermeasures, and therapy techniques, as well as the history of chemical warfare and casualty management.

Photomicrographs exhibit

You know what we have a lot of? Photomicrographs. 19th century photomicrographs. We even have microdaguerreotypes.

Here's an older Wired story about an exhibit of other people's photomicrographs that I stumbled across - "Rare Microphotographs Resurface After 150 Years," By Alexis Madrigal, November 19, 2008.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wired article drives visitors to Flickr site

Last night around 10:20 we had 65,070 views. This morning at 4:45: 82,395. At 2pm: 173,792 views. At 7:15 pm: 246,540 views. At 7:36: 252,951 views. At 11:10: 310,089. And that's for 816 pictures.

Some people have been asking about HIPAA, which provides for privacy of medical records. These photographs were taken for medical education by various sources including the Army Medical Museum's Museum & Medical Arts Service (MAMAS) photographers which had no role in treating patients (or an electronic billing relationship with them which is the main criteria for applying HIPAA), but was sent out to theaters of war to take pictures. Additionally, when we created the scanning database, we did not capture the name of the patient. We have tried to be very careful about selecting images that are anonymous UNLESS the photograph was previously published with the names included (as all the Civil War and Signal Corps pictures were). The whole secure scanning database of over 500,000 images, which is not available to the general public, has many restricted images that only administrators can see. We'll continue to make a subset of them available somehow, but keep in mind that with over 2500 boxes of photographs - it's going to take a long time and there's a lot of junk.

These photographs have been available to the public as part of the AFIP's Medical Illustration Service Library since the 1940s - this is just the first time that they have been easily viewable without visiting Washington, DC. The other half of the old Army Medical Museum & Library's collection was put online years ago by the National Library of Medicine (which has a far larger budget than we do) -

Another excellent source is the Wellcome's photo library, which like ours, includes clinical images of diseases (which the Library of Medicine does not).

Finally about that 'permission' thing in the Wired article - what we're waiting on is permission to join Flickr Commons, which asked us last year and has certain legal requirements, not permission to post public domain photographs online. We can ask our web manager to post them on our own website - Flickr just has far more viewers and we could do it ourself in seconds once upon a time.

Anyone interested in the history of the medical museum and photographs may want to read this article.

Another letter from WW1

I've transcribed another letter from the American Expeditionary Forces surgeon whose letters I'm scanning.

I hope it goes without saying that the disparaging comments made in this letter are not our views, collectively or individually, and from reading Captain Otken's letters as I have over the past couple of weeks, I would also say that he would not speak this way today.

"Bordeaux Sat Oct 5th

My dearest Lois:

Received Mama’s and Frances letters of Aug. 20th & Sister’s of Sept 8th this week – needless to say was glad to get so much news from home & to know that all are getting along as well as they are.

We are awfully busy, have nearly three thousand patients and eighteen ward surgeons to take care of them, so you can see what we have to do. Have lots of the Spanish Flu – with its chief complication – Pneumonia – consequently we are losing quite a number. I lost count of the number of hospital trains we got this week – four I believe – seems like I have been up nearly all night every night this week. So far I have had nothing but surgical cases – they sent me the one with the most severe wounds – have sixty severe patients now – some have as high as eight big wounds – every man has to be dressed every day & I do all my own operating – I didn’t get out of the op. room until six o’clock tonight – so you see how much idle time I have.

I got some fine pictures of some of the big wounds in my ward – will have others made when I close them up. My face case I wrote you about has healed up now, both operations were successful & he has a fairly presentable face. Am going to have a picture made of him. We got in a lot of sick & wounded officers this week but none that I knew – one from Brownsville Texas lives just a few doors from Effie Pornell Feuder. It has been real cold here the past week especially at night, have had several heavy frosts.

You folks mustn’t expect a letter every week – I write you at least once a week but a mail boat doesn’t leave every week & remember the millions of letter that go from the A.E.F. – and then you can see the reason why they come in bunches, if one could only see one of these mail boats unload in New York, you would cease wondering at the delay.

I hope Spencer improves at Ft. McPherson which I think he will – those cases generally get better in course of time – I don’t know of any treatment that will do them any good except massage & exercise. His sciatic nerve – the big nerve to the leg is probably involved [?] – neurasthenia is where a person imagines they have something that they haven’t. We see lots of them in the army – it is a racial characteristic of Jews and Dago’s.

The war news is certainly encouraging – with Bulgaria’s surrender – Turkey is cut off from Germany & Austria so it is only a question of time before she falls & every thing points to internal dissension & revolution in Germany – there are all kinds of peace rumors rife these days. Meanwhile the Allies keep on hammering on the Germans on all fronts – something is going to break ere long. Am getting some fine experience but I’ll be glad when it is all over with & we can come back to our own country once more.

As to Gidiere I spoke to George Wolhecht about him when I was home last – he & Frank will attend to that all right. Will start once more – the lights went out all over the camp – so I went down to the ward to see how my operative cases were doing.

Hope Charlie can get a change before long, the kind of work he is doing is bound to grow very monotonous.

A new ruling forbids putting the name of your organization on your letter in the upper left hand corner – hence the change but address me the same as usual – it does not apply to mail addressed to us – I can’t see the idea of the rule myself but it is so.

Be careful & don’t any of you take any risks and get sick.

Love to all at home – a kiss for each of you.


Capt. LB Otken M.C.

US Base Hosp. 22

B.S. #2 A.P.O. 705"

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Wired discovers the Museum's online photographs

See "Rare Trove of Army Medical Photos Heads to Flickr," By Alexis Madrigal,'s Science blog March 17, 2009 and "Bringing Hidden World War II Photos to the Masses," By Betsy Mason, 03.17.09.

I think I come off as a bit strident there, but we are creating a massive new resource and need to make it available in new ways. Most of these photographs were never described in any database (although there is a set of index cards that fills a wall) and we're discovering and seeing them for the first time too. There are so many pictures that no one of us is seeing all of them - the contractor's scanning team working on this has 7 people just getting the pictures catalogued to be scanned. And there's at least 2000 boxes left to go.

Remember that these photos are in the public domain so you can repurpose them for your own use - let us know if you come up with something particularly interesting.

By the way, at 10 pm, we're at 64,787 views for the Flickr account (formerly Otis Archives1) that Kathleen paid for and then collapsed all 4 pre-existing accounts into (and the old Otis Archives 2 has 32,778; 3 has 23,897; and 4 half-full with only 104 pictures has 2,206). That's 123,668 views since we started on September 22 2006.
(By 10:23, we're up to 65,505 views on the main account - enjoy!)

Duncan Winter artwork

Those wild young men in Anatomical Collections were looking for illustrations for their annual course, and I recalled that AFIP artist Duncan Winter had done some nice illustrations of bones that we had. Kathleen scanned and mounted some on Flickr.

Dry Storerooms? We got Wet too

I just finished reading Dry Storeroom No. 1 by Richard Fortey, about the British Natural History Museum. It’s an admittedly idiosyncratic account of one man’s time there in the 2nd half of the 20th century and his colleagues and the collections they care for. He gives a good idea of what it’s like to work in a museum, especially one like the medical museum with one foot in a the natural history field and one foot in the history field.

Prosthetics of a Different Color

This one's thanks to Susan Lomuto at Daily Art Muse, who writes, "Aimee Mullins is an accomplished athlete, a motivational speaker, an actress and a model. Aimee Mullins is also a double amputee who wears prosthetic legs the way some women wear a new pair of expensive shoes, a drop-dead piece of jewelry or the latest pair of body-hugging designer jeans: with attitude; exuding confidence and leaving you wanting more. This is a TED talk you should not miss. Watch and listen as Mullins talks the talk AND walks the walk (in 4 inch heels!) regarding the myth of being dis-abled, the truth of being super-abled, why individual shifts in consciousness work and a new definition for wearable art. Sheer, pure inspiration.

More about Aimee Mullins here and here."

Friday, March 13, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My friend Joe Levin has died

For many years, Jeanne Levin was the tour and volunteer coordinator of the Museum, shepherding various groups around for various reasons. I met Jeanne when I was a callow student intern, long before I became the wizened archivist. I used to see her husband Joe at events and functions, and eventually became friends with him despite our age difference. We'd meet for lunch once in a while and I did an oral history with him in late 2005 about his World War II service. After earning a law degree and being drafted, Joe was with the 17th Bomber Group in North Africa, Italy and France. He was the adjutant of the 34th Bomb Squadron of that Group and ran the Group's newspaper. Here's a couple of photographs from him, one of him at the beginning of the war and one he took at the end as France is being liberated. Joe and I kept planning on getting the oral history down to the Library of Congress' Veterans History Project, but never got around to it. I'll make sure that the recording and copies of his photographs do get down there though. The family's death notice from the Post follows. Requiescat in pace, Joe, January 24, 1919-March 9, 2009.

On Monday, March 9, 2009, JOSEPH LEVIN of Bethesda, MD. Beloved husband of Jeanne Levin; devoted father of Michael (Christine Ims) Levin and Cynthia Levin; dear brother of Samuel Levin and the late Sara Zash. Also survived by many loving nieces, nephews and friends. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, March 11, 2009, 10:30 a.m. at Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County, 8215 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, MD. Interment following at King David Memorial Garden, Falls Church, VA. Shiva will be observed at the late residence on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Memorial contributions may be made to Hadassah, 1220 East-West Highway, Suite 120, Silver Spring, MD 20910 or to the Jewish Social Service Agency Hospice, 6123 Montrose Rd., Rockville, MD 20852. Arrangements entrusted to TORCHINSKY HEBREW FUNERAL HOME, 202-541-1001 (endorsed by the Rabbinical Council of Washington).

Published in The Washington Post on 3/11/2009

Letters Home from the Front

A few weeks ago we received a small collection of letters from the descendants of a World War 1 American Expeditionary Forces surgeon. I've been scanning them so we can give digital and printed copies back to the family. Today I came across one that I've transcribed to post here. The surgeon is Luther B. Otken. He served in France and in the US. I realize this isn't as good as the handwritten letter, but it was multiple pages. I will post a scan of a page here and there so you can get a feel for the real thing, but in the meantime, here's one letter home.

"Bordeaux Sunday Sept 22 1918
Dearest Mother,

I didn’t get my letter from home this week –however I got a bundle of papers from Sister.

Everything running along in its usual manner now. Work going very smoothly. We got in a lot of new patients this week, among them a lot of wounded German prisoners – all came from the St. Mihiel fight a rather stolid ignorant looking lot, some old, some mere boys, one a Lieut, looks to be about nineteen years old. About half of them came in on litters, badly wounded, our boys had certainly worked on them with hand grenades. All my boys are getting along nicely – all getting well. One of the nurses in BH114, the unit next to us, died Friday from pneumonia – don’t know what part of the States she came from.

Our boys won a great victory at St. Mihiel + today we got word that Metz is just about to fall – I think the morale of the German army is fast weakening.

I operated a second time on my face case this week and completed the job, think I am going to get a fine result.

On some of the field cards that came in on the wounded in this last convoy, I noticed where Maj. Ney was the operator in Evacuation Hospital #4 so guess he is over here now.

We have been having a quite a lot of rain and it has turned much cooler – the nights are cold. The days feel like our fall days. Makes me want to be back there again out in the pine hills once more.

We have been in France three months now – the 19th , in one way it seems a long time in another it seems that we got here but yesterday.

I don’t hardly think we will win this war before Xmas but I don’t think it will even last another year, the Allies are hitting them at all points and are giving them no rest so that the German reserves are just about used up.

Hope I get some mail from you next week, we are about due some more mail from the States.

Hope all at home keep in their usual good health. Give my best to Dr’s. Inirs[?] + Reahew.

Love to all at home

Capt LB Otken M.C.
US Base Hospital 22"

Museum on Wired's Science blog?

Tim and I talked to them recently about scanning our historical medical photographs, so perhaps we'll be online today? I think we got bumped by the space station's problem with satellite debris, which thankfully didn't turn into a bigger story.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Oh, the things you miss when you stay home

Who went to WonderCon, the comics convention in San Francisco last week? Nobody? Then you missed your chance to buy your very own plush stomach, intestine, or spleen, or gall bladder. You could have had your own uterus too, but would have had to give it back; they've been the victim of an "impromptu hysterectomy:" the ovaries can be pulled off and are of chokable size, I guess.
All courtesy of "I Heart Guts! The Happiest Internal Organs on Earth." (And thanks to Wired for the story.)

The Wonders of Flickr

A Flickr user by the name of Endless Forms Most Beautiful included some of my photographs as his/her favorites so of course I had to go check out this person to see how nefarious their intentions are. Endless Forms says on their profile that "I'm using this as a place to collect interesting things for inspiration and teaching" and what a wonderful collection of images they have! This set, called Kunstformen, is from a series of 100 lithographs entitled "Kunstformen der Natur," German for "Artforms of Nature", created by Ernst Haeckel in 1899-1904. Here's just one example, that reminded me of something seen through an electron microscope. It's a fascinating set of images.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"A Village Hospital 1928 Through 1953"

Another of our researchers has just had her book published. Beverly Moore emailed me late last week that her book, A Village Hospital 1928 through 1958, is now available online. It was a lot of fun working with Beverly, finding pictures of hospitals and nursing activities of a time long gone. Best of luck, Beverly!

The Ball Collection. The End.

The final step has been taken on the James Moores Ball ophthalmology collection that I worked on for lo those many months. It is now online. You may enjoy the finding aid at your leisure.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Post recommends "ancient museum of veterinary science, complete with flayed human cadavers"

See "A Brush With The Paris Art Scene: Out-of-the-Way Sites Show Off The Avant-Garde Side of the City," By Blake Gopnik, Washington Post Staff Writer, Sunday, March 8, 2009; Page F01 for his recommendation of the 250-year-old National Veterinary School's museum. Here's the details on visiting from the Post -

WHAT TO DO: National Veterinary School/Fragonard Museum (7 Avenue du General de Gaulle, Alfort, 011-33-(0)1-43-96-71-72, Admission about $8.75, younger than 18 free.

Any of our readers ever been there?

New book based on NMHM collection available

Paul E. Sluby Sr. tracked our St. Elizabeths Hospital Collection down a few years ago and says his book "Burial Ledger of St. Elizabeths Hospital is a straight transcription of the ledger you copied for me. In 1982, I published "Civil War Cemeteries of the D.C. Metropolitan Area." In this I covered the St. Elizabeths Civil War cemetery on the west campus and the continuation of those burials on the east campus." While the original ledger is available to anyone who'd like to see it in our Archives, this transcription will be much easier for genealogists or historians to use.

MOMA updates website, can NMHM be far behind?


But this article "To Ramp Up Its Web Site, MoMA Loosens Up," By RANDY KENNEDY, NY Times March 5, 2009 is pretty interesting. Although given our parent agency (the US Army), you'd never know "The era is one in which blogs, photo sharing, social networking, bookmarking and many other ways of creating art-loving online communities have become a much more important part of museum Web sites..."

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Photo contest entered by Archives staff

Kathleen, who takes a lot of photographs for us in the Museum, entered a Your-Dream-Photography-Assignment contest and would appreciate it if you would take a minute to vote for her and her idea of photographing religious architecture across America. You do that by clicking on the little box on the leftish side of the screen that has the word “Pics” in it. Here is the link: You can see her photos on Flickr.

Of course if she wins, she'll be asking for a year off...

Osler and the study of death lecture online

John Erlen of the University of Pittsburgh sent in this video lecture link today, which I'm watching now.

February 26, 2009
Paul Mueller
Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic
“Foundations of Palliative Care: William Osler’s Study of the Act of Dying.”

Mueller found Osler's original statistical card study at McGill University and goes through it - very good! I do think that deleting the names of people from 1900 is over-'protecting' privacy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

History of Medicine videos from UVA on YouTube

Well, this is neat:

The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library and the University of Virginia School of Medicine are pleased to announce a new service: Medical Center Hours are now available for viewing on YouTube at Subscriptions to the channel are offered as a convenient feature for the new service. We encourage you to subscribe! The Medical Center Hour (MCH) is the School of Medicine's weekly forum on medicine and society. Produced by the Center for Biomedical Ethics and Humanities, The Medical Center Hour is an hour-long program held on Wednesdays from mid-September through March. Many Medical Center Hours are History of the Health Sciences Lectures, co-sponsored by the Library’s Historical Collections. The first MCH available on YouTube is Robert Martensen, M.D., Ph.D., presenting “A Doctor’s Reflections on Illness in a High Tech Era,” on 18 February 2009. Dr. Martensen’s talk is a History of Health Sciences Lectures, all available from this point forward at

Monday, March 2, 2009

'Brought to Life' Exhibit Features Battlefield Surgery Web Exercise

More than a few blogs are pointing out the opening of the new 'Brought to Life' exhibit at the Science Museum in London. This is from the Wellcome Library's blog:

Today has seen the launch of 'Brought to Life: Exploring the History of Medicine', a new online resource from the Science Museum.

The website showcases more than 2,500 objects, the majority of which were originally collected by or on behalf of Sir Henry Wellcome (1853-1936). Mostly populated by items now held in the Science Museum’s stores, the website also draws on items from the Wellcome Library.

'Brought to Life' places these items in their historical contexts, giving information on practitioners, their techniques, the medical objects they used and the patients they aimed to heal, all wrapped up in a timeline stretching from Ancient Egypt to the present day. There are also ten multimedia games, including a trip to a plague-ridden town in the Middle Ages and an immersive account of battlefield surgery through the ages.

Considering our own interests in battlefield surgery, I thought it was worth re-posting the Wellcome note here. I checked out the battlefield surgery exercise, pretty cool stuff.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Medical Museums

I've been planted in front of my computer all day, editing photos. I came across this one from the History of Medicine museum in Paris

which reminded me a lot of the old Army Medical Museum in Washington with the similarities of the upper gallery, the rows of cases, the light flooding in....

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The VisualMD

Anatomical Travelogue, a medical visualization company, has created a new site that should be pretty neat when its done, it's in beta testing right now. The site has health guides, a library of images and videos on various topics. A lot of images are recycled from some books they've done on various health topics. A lot of those images have been shown at the museum in past exhibits and some of the embryology images are from pictures and data from the Human Developmental Anatomy Center.

Researchers from Japan lead to news story

Here's a story on a 1954 fisherman whose death the AFIP consulted on: "US sought tissue from dead fisherman after 1954 H-bomb test," Chiba (Japan), Feb 23. Researchers from Japan were in last month, looking at various collections relating to radiation injury and then we got a call from a reporter a few days later.

James Hansen, the person who sent in the case and later donated his records of it, became the director of the AFIP in the 1970s and his daughter is planning on donating his personal papers to us this year. I didn't read the documents (which are in the AFIP Historical Files under "Hansen" for those interested), so I can't vouch for the accuracy of the news story. DeCoursey was on the ground after the atomic bombing of Japan, and took some motion picture footage, so it would make sense that he retained his interest in radiation injuries.

Walter Reed medical center WW1 photos appearing on Flickr

Walter Reed Historical Collection
Kathleen's uploading a bunch of World War I photos from Walter Reed hospital up on our Flickr account now, since she purchased a Pro account for us. She's also put up some veterinary shots.
We've been pulling these photographs for a year to possibly include in a book on the campus, which is just about finished now. Produced by the Borden Institute, it should be going to the Government Printing Office this coming week, and be available for purchase by April. The photographs included come from many places including us, WRAMC's archives, the National Archives, WRAMC's Dept. of Public Works archive, and John Pierce, a collector and historian.
As of today, Flickr's stats are reporting that our 755 photographs have over 110,000 views. Web2.0 is an amazing thing.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Thanks for checking us out!

The day I merged the 4 Flickr accounts into one, and talked about it here, our viewership soared on the combined account: 2790 views on that day alone. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Baby's Got a Brand New Name

I had a "duh!" moment today when I talked to Mike about coming up with a name for our combined Flickr account. Medical Museum just tripped off his tongue and so it is. You can find us here at Flickr.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Moving Day

This morning I finished moving both of the remaining Flickr accounts to consolidate them into one. Feel free to visit and add tags and send us emails if we need to add individual photos to sets or even add more sets.

We're also batting around ideas of what to call it, rather than 99129398@N00. National Museum of Health and Medicine is a little wordy, NMHM too cryptic, and we've blanked out on anything else. We could use some ideas.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

We're Migrating... one Flickr account. We finally have a pro account so I took a leap of faith and downloaded a migration program that I had to have Microsoft Explorer (ugh) for, downloaded that, and am now in the process of migrating Otisarchives2 to Otisarchives1. It takes a while so the other two accounts probably won't be done until tomorrow.

Brazilian pathology blog

Here's a tip from one of the pathologists at work - his friend Luciano Franco of Brazil has started The Background Doc, a blog about interesting autopsies he's done. Of the first four posts, I'd say two were of general interest - polycystic kidney disease and worms in the gut.

Sec of Smithsonian on future

Our friends at the Medical Museion linked to this first - "Wayne Clough is still trying to connect the Smithsonian Institution"

Washington City Paper Best of DC 2009 poll

The City Paper's just started its 2009 poll for Best of DC and you can vote for the museum. Go check it out and vote now.

City of Las Cruces City Museums annual report.

City of Las Cruces City Museums annual report? Why you ask? Museum exhibit dept. alum Carey Crane's heading a department out there now.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Leo Slater lecture on malaria at UMD

The cover of his new book is a photograph from us -

The Maryland Colloquium on the History of Technology, Science, and Environment (MCHOTSE) is pleased to announce its session for March 5, 2009.

Leo B. Slater, author of "War and Disease: Biomedical Research on Malaria in the Twentieth Century" (Rutgers University Press, 2009).

The Colloquium meets in room TLF (Taliaferro Hall) 2110 at the University of Maryland, College Park. Social 'hour' with refreshments, 4:00-4:30 pm; presentation and discussion, 4:30-6:00 pm.

[no precirculated paper available for this talk]

Malaria-a major cause of mortality and morbidity during the twentieth century-remains one of the leading killers in the world today. Malaria's enormous impact on human populations throughout the modern era has often put this disease at the center of colonial expansion, warfare, economic transformation, and North/South global tensions. In the late 1930s, the growing global conflict brought new attention to malaria.

The US antimalarial program during World War II was a Manhattan Project for biomedicine. From 1939 to 1946, it screened some 14,000 compounds for antimalarial activity, clinically ratified atabrine as the drug of choice in 1943, and, by war's end, identified chloroquine as a superior compound. Initiated by the National Research Council, the program drew on a set of intellectual and organizational resources and models extending back to the German pharmaceutical and dye industries and to such domestic institutions as the Rockefeller Institutes and Foundation. Prospectively, the wartimeantimalarial program deserves historical attention as both an undertaking in its own right-one that helped to safeguard millions of GIs-and as a model for future large-scale biomedical research projects. Its later use as a model was perhaps most clearly seen at the National Institutes of Health.

The innovations of the US wartime antimalarial program chiefly lay in three areas: administration, scale, and communication. The program produced not just research findings, novel compounds, and clinical protocols, it also developed new organizational structures for scientific cooperation and distributed research networks. I argue that wartime work was essential to the development of NIH, if only because the confused and faltering structures of the early war years, 1939-1943, suggest that an organizational infrastructure for large scale, multi-center cooperative research did not exist prior to World War II.


Taliaferro Hall is up the hill past the Memorial Chapel, off of U.S. Rte. 1 (Baltimore Ave.) in College Park. The University's web site will provide a map as well as advice on parking [see:; look for building 043]. Many restricted lots at the university are available to the public after 4:00 pm, but attendees are advised to read all parking lot signs carefully. Lots C and L are the closest unrestricted lots (after 4 pm) to Taliaferro Hall.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Calling All Knitters!

On Saturday, February 28, from 2-5 p.m. the NMHM will host a Knitting for Marines charity event to make and distribute helmet liners to Marines stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The liners help to protect our Marines and keep them warm during the harsh winters in these countries.

If you don't know how to knit in the round, this is a great time to learn. Instructors will be on site to help you through the project. If you are an experienced knitter and wish to get an early start on the project, you may download the knitting pattern.

I hope you'll join us! This will be an excellent opportunity to see our new exhibit, "Balad: Trauma Bay II."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Lincoln news, this time mentioning the Army Medical Museum!

Another in recent news clips mentioning the Museum, though this one is a little different...

Last night was the official gala re-opening for Ford's Theatre after its two-year renovation. In this article on Bloomberg today you will find mention of the Army Medical Museum (today's NMHM). Here's the money paragraph:
In the aftermath of the assassination, the government bought the theater, which dates to 1861, from Ford for $100,000 and gave it to the War Department for use as storage space and an Army Medical Museum.
This news on the same day our exhibit received the last major element for installation - the remnants of a flag that hung in the state box at Ford's the night Lincoln was shot.


Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America lecture this Saturday

Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America

When: Saturday, February 14, 2009, 11:00 a.m.

Where: Russell Auditorium, National Museum of Health and Medicine (AFIP, Bldg. 54)

What: Did syphilis travel from the New World to Europe on Columbus’ ships? What remedies did Lewis and Clark use to treat the disease on their expedition? Why were so many women with venereal disease quarantined in America in both world wars? What impact did the introduction of penicillin have on the spread of venereal disease? Join us for this Valentine’s Day talk with noted medical historian John Parascandola as he discusses his book, "Sex, Sin, and Science: A History of Syphilis in America." A book signing will follow the presentation.

Cost: Free

Odd copies of our Civil War pics in the Library of Congress

I saw one of these pictures referenced in a paper on Civil War wounded (more about that paper anon). They are linked from a nice little page on enlisted soldiers in the Civil War, which I thought was an excellent finding aid.

The top photograph, is a copy photo of four of our Surgical Photographs. The Library isn't quite sure who is in the picture, so I sent them this information via their Ask a Librarian interface:

Brink, John, Pvt. Co. K., 11th Pennsylvania Cavalry Reproduction number: LC-B8184-10376 - upper left. (Surgical Photograph 208)

Decker, Samuel H., Pvt. Co. I, 9th U.S. Artillery Reproduction number: LC-B8184-10376 - lower left (Surgical Photograph 205)

Shutter, Allison, Drummer, Co. C, 7th Pennsylvania Reserves - lower right (Surgical Photograph 204)

Warden, Sergeant. - upper right. (Surgical Photograph 207) - this may have been a fake name. He was found on the streets of Washington and came to the Museum for a photograph, but they never found a record of him.

LC-B8184-10377 Smith, Eben - man on lower left, w/ amputated leg. (Surgical photograph 029)

Volk, Edward, Pvt. Co. D., 55th Ohio Volunteers, Reproduction number: LC-B8184-10377 - skull in upper right corner (Surgical Photograph 212)

LC-B8184-10377 - lower right - not a Civil War soldier - Pvt. John Schranz, 7th Austrian Feldjagers (Surgical photograph 247)

The other skull is anonymous.

We've actually scanned all 400 of these images at 900 dpi - we just haven't figured out how to put them on the web for everyone yet.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lincoln artifacts at Museum featured in Post

This article talks a bit about the Museum's Lincoln objects, and has pictures of them -
"A Curious-Looking Hero Still Mesmerizes the Nation: Even Tiniest Lincoln Relics Command Reverence," By Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, February 10, 2009; Page A01.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Cartoons at Walter Reed hospital

Here's a couple of pictures with cartoon themes that have shown up in the process of doing a photo book on Walter Reed Army Medical Center:

Uncle Scrooge poster - WRAMC ward 1970s

Early 1970s ward in Walter Reed Army Medical Center hospital where soldiers wounded in Vietnam were treated. Note the Uncle Scrooge poster on the wall. From the WRAMC DPW collection.


Garry Trudeau visits wounded soldier at Walter Reed Army Medical Center hospital. Courtesy of the Stripe newspaper.

Lincoln Bicentennial Goes Into Overdrive

As we get closer (just a few more days!) to the actual bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, the pace of news coverage - about Lincoln himself and celebrations in DC and nationwide - is getting ramped up to a fever pitch.

Our new exhibit 'Abraham Lincoln: The Final Casualty of the War' - which Kathleen blogged about earlier - is included in the long list of exhibits in and around DC that are centered on the slain president. So, it's natural then that we're getting some collateral coverage (did I just coin that phrase?) in other write-ups of exhibits at Library of Congress or Smithsonian, or the re-opening at Ford's Theatre like in this article here. (Regrettably, the hyperlink they offer is incorrect. But the name and location is there.)

I'll try to make sure I post other links to worthwhile news coverage as it comes in.

Have you seen the new exhibit in the gallery yet? Are you planning a visit to DC and a visit to the Museum? Let us know about your experiences.

Death of a donor

Almost 20 years ago, Mrs. Dilorenzo contacted us about her husband, Dr. Anthony Dilorenzo's medical material. Alan and I went to her home and picked up a lot of pharmaceuticals, advertising material, books and some medical equipment. These types of visits are always tough, but have to be done. Mrs. Dilorenzo herself passed away recently - "Julie DiLorenzo Church Member," Washington Post Friday, February 6, 2009; Page B07. The collection of her husband's work is available in the Museum.

A Day in the Life

Last Friday, a British film crew crew came in on behalf of the History Channel to shoot some footage for a special on ... Lincoln! That was a shocker (in Washington now, every other thing is about Abraham Lincoln).

The crew had a team of 4 - director, videographer, sound man, and general fixer. They filmed parts of our new Lincoln exhibit (see?) and then shot some of Tim talking in front of parts of the Civil War exhibit. Then it was my turn.

I talked about surgery and amputations in front of the large mural in the Battlefield Surgery exhibit, then about reparative (ie plastic surgery) in front of the case that Alan and Steve did in that exhibit, and then talked briefly about Field Day, our picture of a pile of amputated limbs at Harewood Hospital.

Then the fun began. We went back to the Archives where they turned off all the lights and set up some of theirs with blue filters for that spooky 'archives' effect. I'm thinking we need to switch over to this permanently to cut down the number of walk-in requests. Then they filmed me turning the movable aisle handles over and over again. Then walking into an aisle over and over again. Then opening a bound volume of Civil War photographs over and over again. I think you're getting the picture (and this was a very good crew, who were working quickly).

I'm not a big fan of doing tv - it's too much like making sausage. Still it's neat when one of your neighbors rides by and says, "I saw you on tv yesterday" as happened to me last week.

Wow Wow Wow, Ophthalmology and Dissections

The Ball Collection, and I hope you're not bored to tears with it yet, continues to wow me. Here are the treasures I uncovered today, and no pun intended. All typos are mine alone.

Acc 20836-14 Dissection of the head to show the relation of the eyeball to the orbital margin, the course of the optic nerve, the position of the optic chiasma, the trochlear nerve in its whole course, the cavernous sinus, and the semilunar or Gasserian ganglion.

Acc 20836-10 The obicularis oculi muscle dissected away from the lateral side and swung medially to show the direct continuity of its pars lacrimalis with the pretarsal or pars tarsalis fibers which run along the lid margins. The relation to the upper part of the lacrimal sac, which has been exposed by cutting through the lacrimal fascia, is shown.

Acc 20836-8 Dissection of the eyelids, third stage. The orbicularis oculi and the septum orbitale have been completely removed, and the fore edge of the aponeurosis of the levator cut away to expose the tarsal plate; the orbital fat has been cleared away. The preparation shows the supra-orbital and supra-trochlear nerves, the pulley of the superior oblique muscle, the anastomosis between the ophthalmic and angular veins, the inferior oblique muscle with its so-called "check ligament" (the only instance of this structure the writer has met), and the lacrimal gland subdivided into its two parts by the lateral horn of the aponeurosis of the levator.

Acc 20836-6 The middle concha has been pulled upwards to expose the middle meatus. The position of the fossa for the lacrimal sac relative to this wall was ascertained by driving pins through from the opposite side and is outlined in black. Rods have been passed through the opening of the sphenoid sinus and down the infundibulum of the frontal sinus; the latter leads into the hiatus semilunaris, which is bounded above by the rounded bulla ethmoidalis and below by the processus uncinatus; the ostium maxillare of the antrum is also seen.

Acc 20836-9 The relations of the lacrimal gland. Dissection of the left orbit from above and also in front to show the aponeurosis of the levator palpebrae superioris muscle and the lacrimal gland. The pulley of the superior oblique and its tendon are also seen. Natural size.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Anatomy for the Younger Set

In one of those quirky, roundabout ways you have of finding sites on the internet comes American Science and Surplus, which has Anatomical Foam Fun:

Not just for toddlers anymore! While you can't start too young prepping for MCATs, our foam puzzles are must-haves for anyone planning a career as a gastroenterologist or orthopedic surgeon. You get (2) flexible, dense-foam puzzles in vivid colors, 11" x 6-1/4" x 5/16" thick. One is a 14-piece jigsaw of the digestive system, the other is a 21-piece skeleton model. Both have all the relevant parts labeled.

A bargain at $3.95 for two different puzzles. I'd show them but haven't figured out how to copy the image over.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

NLM digitizes Journal of National Medical Association

PubMed Central Adds Historically Significant Journal of the National Medical Association (1909-2007) to Its Free Online Holdings

In celebration of Black History Month, the National Library of Medicine is pleased to announce an important addition to PubMed Central (PMC), its free digital archive of full-text journal articles: the complete archive of the Journal of the National Medical Association (JNMA), which observes its centennial this year. To see the archive, please visit:

The National Medical Association (NMA), established in 1895, is the largest and oldest national organization representing African American physicians and allied health professionals in the United States. The JNMA was published quarterly from 1909 to 1938, bimonthly from 1940 to 1977, and monthly since 1978. The archive currently represents over 77,000 digitized pages of issues, cover to cover, through 2007. Current content will be coming at a later date.

Since its founding, this landmark journal has enabled African American health professionals to keep current regarding the latest medical and public health practices, even in the face of segregation and discrimination. This archive provides historical insight into the social, medical and public health issues that continue to be of particular concern to African American patients and physicians. It has also served as a venue to challenge disparaging interpretations of African American health history published in other medical and social science journals. The collection is of great interest to U.S. and international researchers concerned with the societal impact of health care inequalities. Scholars seeking to understand the historic barriers faced by the African American patient and physician will find this collection to be an invaluable resource.

To learn more about PubMed Central, or to browse its contents, go to:

Michael J. North,
Head of Rare Books & Early Manuscripts
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
8600 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, MD 20894

(301) 496-9204 * fax (301) 402-0872

Sickles at Gettysburg book PR

As most people who know about the Museum know, we've got part of Dan Sickles that he left behind at Gettysburg. Here's some PR about a new book by Jim Hessler which undoubtedly talks about what he left behind:

Many of you have asked me to keep you updated on the status of my Dan Sickles biography- "Sickles at Gettysburg". It is finally done and will be published on May 1, 2009! The book is full-length (400+ pages), hard cover, with maps and photos. I cover Sickles' entire life (including the murder trial, Chancellorsville, his efforts to remove George Meade from command, his expulsion from the NY Monuments Commission, etc.) with the primary focus, of course, on Gettysburg.

The book will retail at $32.95, and I intend to have signed copies available for a lower price sometime around publication (although I don't yet know that price). I did want to let you know, however, that Amazon is currently offering a pretty good pre-publication deal: $21.75 + free shipping eligibility. It's probably a few dollars lower than what I will be able to offer later, so if you are watching your money right now, I don't know how long Amazon will offer it at this price. (The author doesn't get consulted on these things.) Of course, if you do buy from Amazon, I'll be happy to sign it the next time I see you.

The Amazon link is here (or go to Amazon and search 'Sickles at Gettysburg') :

You can read more about the book at my website:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Lincoln Exhibit

Pictures from today's installation of the new Lincoln exhibit:

This one's not actually from today, but it shows our registrar with a drawer that slides in under the exhibit case which will hold a moisture-controlling substance.

Jim is placing an original drawing of Lincoln's death scene, by Hermann Faber.

The probe that doctors used to try to find the bullet in Lincoln's brain is being marked for position.

Now that the positions are marked and plexiglass posts are in place to hold everything where it needs to be, the panel is taken to the exhibit floor and placed on the stand. Jim and Steve fine-tune placement of documents.

The case's contents have been carefully laid into place and now Jim and Steve lower the plexi cover ve-e-e-ry gently and settle it down and around the platform.

The contents of the second case have been prepped by being backed with stiffening board and held in place with mylar strips. Some of the things on this table are an account by the first doctor to treat Lincoln, Charles A. Leale (coincidentally, this pamphlet was republished by Dr. Leale's estate on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth), and a tear sheet from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, which lists Lincoln as another casualty of the war. He is listed in the book as A____ L____.

The second case has been brought to the exhibit floor and more items have been added, including a lock of Lincoln's hair, fragments from his skull, a blood-stained cuff from a doctor who treated him, and the bullet that killed him.

Uh-oh, the cuff is in the wrong place. Jim is holding the envelope that held the cuff when it was donated to the museum as Andrea suggests the correct location for the cuff.

Jim removes Lincoln's life mask from the temporary storage cabinet to add to the 3rd cabinet. Sorry for the blur.

The case's platform is placed on the floor, the Lincoln mask (a life mask, not a death mask) is lowered onto batting, and we all hit the floor, making sure there's plenty of clearance.

All the items have been installed and the completed exhibit is open for visitors.

Non-ophthalmic images from the Ball Collection

After a couple of weeks of insanely fast-paced chaos in the archives, I was able to get back to the Ball Collection today for a short time. Here are two scans I made that don't begin to do the original images justice. I wish I could show just how gorgeous the originals are. They are both from Accession 18846: Book: “A Series of Engravings Explaining the Course of the Nerves with an Address to Young Physicians on the Study of the Nerves,” by Charles Bell, First American edition, 1818.

The ghost image of the lower leg and foot you see here has been transferred from the page, where it was folded up on itself.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Skull from 54th Mass Viewable in New 'Virtual' Exhibit

We recently published two new 'virtual' exhibits and one of those new pages offers a link to Black History Month, but as those new pages might be hard to find (go here, scroll down to the bottom of the page), I thought I would post some easy links and a bit of teaser text.

An aside: Are these 'virtual' exhibits? Is there even a standard definition for 'virtual' exhibits? It's an easy term to apply in this case as the pages offer virtually most, if not all, of the text and photographs (and photos of objects) for temporary exhibits that have been previously installed in the Museum's galleries. I am a fan of capturing that exhibit text and some/most/all of the photographs (or photos of objects) and offering it for posterity via the Web site. Hopefully these offer some value to our Web visitors (which gets back to last week's conversation about The Long Tail.)

Back to the show...

One of the new pages features some interesting information and photographs of objects from the William Holland Wilmer Ophthalmology Collection.

The second page - titled "Effects of Canister Shot in the Civil War: Skull of a soldier of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers" - features the skull of a man who was a member of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers. Civil War-types will know that this was the unit depicted in the major motion picture Glory. (I mention that with some caution, as I know the movie usually prompts some interesting conversations about historical accuracy in film.)

Here is a bit of the text from the virtual exhibit itself, which is available online here:
This skull was discovered in 1876 on Morris Island, South Carolina, near the site of Battery Wagner, a powerful earthwork fort that had protected the entrance to Charleston Harbor during the Civil War.

The skull belonged to a man of African descent—a soldier of the famous 54th Massachusetts Volunteers, which had led the assault on Wagner on the night of July 18, 1863. Of approximately 600 men who made the charge, 256 were killed, wounded, or missing.

Let us know what you think!

Museum Audio Tour Now Available for Download

If you've had the opportunity to visit the Museum in the last year or so, you might have seen that we added a free audio tour. The first phase was installed in early 2008 and featured many of the Museum's long-standing exhibits and an update was added this past November that featured our two newest installations (RESOLVED and Balad.)

(At left, that's the graphic that graces some of the audio tour materials.)

But now, you aren't limited to listening to the audio tour just while visiting the Museum - enjoy it at home, the office or on the road! Visit the new Audio Tour page on the Museum's Web site and you'll find links to the series of MP3s that make up the tour. It's listed by exhibit with associated links to relevant Web content, and note that the list runs onto two pages!

Next time you are at the Museum, consider adding the audio tour to your visit. It's free and you can check out the listening wands at the Museum's information desk. Groups can reserve the audio tour, too. More information about the audio tour is here.

Let us know if you find a link that goes awry. Enjoy the downloads and tell your friends!