Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Steampunk Anatomy

From the blog e-l-i-s-e, a different take on anatomical illustration. Make sure you click through to the original blog for more.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Obituary for AFIP's Dr. Scofield ran in Post

Henry H. 'Hank' Scofield Navy Oral Pathologist, Professor
-- Matt Schudel

Washington Post (June 6 2009)

After several postings in the Dental Corps, Capt. Scofield received a doctorate in oral pathology from Georgetown University in the late 1950s. He was chairman of the oral pathology department at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology from 1963 to 1966.


Darn! Missed this for BAW

If only we'd known about this for Brain Awareness Week. It just shows what using your head will get you: your very own brain to sit in.

Lecture by Kazuo Kawasaki this week in Washington, DC

While we have artificial organs and devices related to extra-corporeal circulation in the Historical Collection of artifacts (ranging from the Kolff-Brigham artificial kidney currently on display to a heart-lung machine), we don't yet have examples of Kazuo Kawasaki's stellar medical designs.

Most are familiar with his eyewear, but I am tracking his work integrating medical science (in which he has a Ph.D.) and product design.

Although we might be as likely to see his 1989 titanium wheelchair in a modern art museum than rolling down the sidewalk, I am interested to learn how Kawasaki approaches the subject of personal experience, design and disability. Kawasaki himself uses a wheelchair and has heart trouble.

Hear Design Made in Japan: from Eyeglasses to the Artificial Heart this Thursday, June 11th, at 6:30 at the Japan Information and Culture Center, Embassy of Japan, in Washington, DC. The lecture is free, but reservations are required.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Andrea Seabrook's been twittering us - for a story on NPR she says. I noticed because we're seeing a spike in interest in the Flickr photos again, and some atypical ones too. As of this afternoon: 1,407 items / 819,807 views.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Another upload to the Internet Archive

We uploaded another document to the Internet Archive yesterday: Proceedings of the Seventh Saranac Symposium on Pneumoconiosis. It's an important part of the 250+ boxes of the Arthur J. Vorwald Collection.  Vorwald was an industrial medicine investigator who pioneered in asbestosis research.

Sour Candy Body Fluids

In the interest of propriety, I'll let you read about it yourself. But what a great product for your inner 6th-grade boy.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Microscopes, illustrated

We had a request a couple of weeks ago for scans from old Bausch & Lomb microscope catalogs. This can't really do it justice, but hopefully you'll get the idea of how beautiful the engraving is from an 1893 catalog.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dissection book interview on NPR

Curator and author Jim Edmondson writes in about his book of dissection photographs, noting:

Check out the interview on Dissection, with Ira Flatow of NPR's Science Friday:



The book has been getting amazing press coverage:


And within the last month it soared to #162 on

Boxing and bones?

This photograph made me chuckle. This NCP image dates back to 1870 and displays soldiers from the Medical Detachment, U.S. Army Hospital in Fort Riley, Kansas. The soldiers "boxing" (obviously a not-so-candid shot) in the foreground first intrigued me, but it wasn't until I scanned the background that I really had to "lol", if you will. On the laps of two soldiers sits a human skeleton, whose skull has been positioned in a way that allows for him/her to watch the match. Why the skeleton on the lap, you ask? Well, perhaps the mysterious "guest" is the loser of the last boxing match (cue in the "mwah ha ha" courtesy of Vincent Price.) Or, perhaps sheer proximity to the hospital compelled the soldiers to shoot this interesting photo. Either way, it's a keeper.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Theresa Butler retiring today

Long-time Museum Staff Assistant Theresa Strong-Butler is retiring today after 40 years of government service, almost 20 of that at the Museum. Theresa filled one of those behind-the-scenes rolls that every museum needs, but you don't hear about. She ordered keys, supplies, and the like for the Museum and handled other administrative tasks. We wish her well as she pursues a new career in 'retirement'.

"Red Cross Work on Mutilés at Paris - 1918"

We just uploaded this 1918 film to the Internet Archive. Everything says it uploaded fine, but as I can't actually view it from work, I'll have to take their word for it.

See it here.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

DAVID MACAULAY: Author Talk & Book Signing

When: Friday, June 12, 2009 (1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.)

Saturday, June 13, 2009 (10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.) & (1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.)

Where: National Museum of Health and Medicine

What: Join David Macaulay for a discussion about his new book, "The Way We Work," as he illuminates the most important machine of all -- the human body. Your body is made up of various complex systems, and Macaulay is a master at making the complex understandable. He shows how the parts of the body work together, from the mechanics of a hand, to the process by which the heart pumps blood, to the chemical exchanges necessary to sustain life. A book signing will follow the discussion.

This event is being held in conjunction with NMHM's temporary exhibition, "David Macaulay Presents: The Way We Work, Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body," which features the famous author's original artwork for the book.

Bring your kids along! This event, as well as the exhibit, is great for teaching children about the human body.

Cost: FREE!

Parking is available. Photo ID required.

Information: or (202) 782-2200

David Macaulay bio:

Born on December 2, 1946, Macaulay was eleven when his family moved from England to the United States. An early fascination with simple technology and a love of model-making and drawing ultimately led him to study architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design. He received his degree in 1969 after spending his fifth year with RISD's European Honors Program in Rome. Macaulay is probably best known for a very thick book called "The Way Things Work" (1988), an exhaustively researched compendium of the intricate workings involved in almost anything that functions. It was followed by "Black and White," winner of the 1991 Caldecott Medal. Over the next decade, Macaulay published eight additional books, and in 2003 he began a volume about the workings of the human body—the results of which comprise this exhibition. In 2006, Macaulay was named a MacArthur fellow.

Able and Baker--the Space Monkeys

Today is the day, 50 years ago, that the space monkeys Able and Baker were shot into space for 9 minutes of weightlessness before they returned to earth. Able is close to my heart, as one of my favorite specimens in the musuem's collections. When vets were removing electrodes from Able, her heart stopped beating as she lay on the operating table. Able's body was sent to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology for a necropsy. I went down to Otis Historical Archives today and rummaged through about 3 boxes that contained slides, films, x-rays, notes, diagrams and an autopsy report. Little Able weighed 5 lbs. at autopy and was 1-1/2 years old. It was amazing to read the first-hand descriptions, although the slides made me wish I hadn't peeked--necropsies of cute little monkeys are not so pleasant.

She did her duty and became a hero in our nation's space race. We have Able's skeleton in our Anatomical Collections--the Smithsonian has her pelt. She's not currently on display.

I hope you'll enjoy Baker & Able's story on NPR's site:

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Leprosy found in 4000 year old skeleton

We've got a lot of material on leprosy here, so this article is pretty interesting -

A Skeleton 4,000 Years Old Bears Evidence of Leprosy
Published: May 27, 2009
The oldest known skeleton showing signs of leprosy has been found in India and may help solve the puzzle of where the disease originated.

1512 alchemy book avaible online at NLM

NLM's History of Medicine Division is proud to announce that a new Turning the Pages Project has been released on the TTP kiosks in the Library and on the Web:

The project features Hieronymus Brunschwig's Liber de Arte Distillandi, printed in Strasbourg in 1512.  The book is a practical manual on chemical, alchemical, and distillation devices and techniques used to manufacture drug therapies, and it includes a number of hand-colored woodcuts featuring scenes of laboratories, distillation devices, and doctor patient scenes. 

Special thanks to Anne Rothfeld, who curated the project, and Michael Chung, Glenn Pearson, and George Thoma, who created another visually beautiful project through their incomparable programming skills.  Also special thanks to Roxanne Beatty for encoding the files for the gallery page.


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


We've found maps, or portions thereof, on the backs of some of Frank Mack's "Skeeter" malaria cartoons I've been scanning. Cool stuff.

Yester-Day in the Life of an Archivist

Yesterday due to heavy rains, we had some minor flooding in the Museum. The Archives is in the "new" (1971) wing, which attaches to the old (1955) building, and water can get between the walls so we had some bubbling up through about 5 square feet of rug. Other areas in the Museum saw some slight leaks too. Let's hope the rain lightens up for the rest of the week.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

AFIP's Armed Forces Medical Examiner featured in NY Times

Here's a really good article about some of our colleagues (at least for 2 more years until BRAC goes through) - "Autopsies of War Dead Reveal Ways to Save Others," By DENISE GRADY, New York Times May 26, 2009. I hadn't heard about the collapsed lung problem and solution, but isn't that great how Dr. Harcke spotted that?

And this bit is lovely - "“He was one of the most compassionate people throughout this whole process that I dealt with from the Department of Defense,” Mrs. Sweet said of Captain Mallak." I don't really know Craig Mallak all that well as OAFME's off in Rockville, MD but it's nice to read something that positive about someone.

Malaria Moe

Warren Bernard gave us a nice donation last week of some WW2 malaria education cartoons done by Frank Mack, and a further "donation" of more of the same that we can scan for our collection. We had some of the "Malaria Moe" cartoons and some of these calendar pages, but ours were from microfilm and are black and white. Warren gave us the color versions and even 65 years on, they're fabulous.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Hospitals using Web2.0 to advertise

Today's NY Times has a fascinating article on this -

Webcast Your Brain Surgery? Hospitals See Marketing Tool
Published: May 25, 2009
Hospitals are using Twitter from operating rooms, showing surgery on YouTube and having patients blog about their procedures, but ethics and privacy questions linger.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yesterday was the Museum's 147th birthday

The Army Medical Museum was founded, on paper at least on May 21, 1862.

Yeah, we didn't notice either.

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Today was a positively gorgeous day in these parts, which called for a little road trip to Richmond. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is closing next month for a year for a massive remodel and expansion (sigh with envy) and they have just about four galleries open.

Here's what I found in one of them:

Scene from the Epidemic of Yellow Fever in Cadiz,
Théodore Géricault,
ca. 1819

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Avian autopsy, or, a Ready-Made Meal

I found this tasty thing on the NLM website. The caption says something along the line of "Do you want to have dinner with us, Mother Piton?"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

More on the Red Cross and Mutilés

I came across a reference that's hosted on the WWW Virtual Library website. (Now there's a website that will cost you hours. What a great reference tool.) It's called A Statement of Finances and Accomplishments for the period July 1, 1917 to February 28, 1919, by the American Red Cross, Washington, DC, October 1919. It contains this paragraph:

The relief of French mutilés included the operation of a school farm, the manufacture of portrait masks and artificial limbs, the operation of an educational and publicity service, and assistance to French institutions offering commercial and industrial courses to mutilés. It is estimated that 6s,000 [?] of the 600,000 crippled French soldiers were reached by the Red Cross.

It has a table that shows what kind of services were provided:

I'm surprised that only 94 men received "portrait masks." I would have expected a higher number.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Red Cross Work on Mutilés

Yesterday I gave a short presentation to an Elderhostel group visiting the museum (and let me just interject here how refreshing it was to speak to my peers, age-wise, as opposed to all the kids on staff) and as part of the presentation showed a 4-minute film called Red Cross Work on Mutilés, Paris, 1918. We recently had it transferred from Beta to a DVD and, although I've watched it over and over, I'm still mesmerized by it.

Today I was trolling the internet for more information on the Red Cross and mutilés (maimed) and found a title on Google books, American Red Cross Work among the French People, by Fisher Ames (1921) that had a photograph in it just like the background in the film.

And which is very similar to an exhibit we have:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Deal Art Registry

The Jack McMillen painting I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, which showed psychiatric patients at Forest Glen, Maryland, has been added to the New Deal Art Registry.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Forensics articles in today's NY Times' Science section

There's five or six articles in the Science section for May 12th.

Vorwald Collection

I've been working on updating the Vorwald Collection, a 250+ box set of documents, studies, and patient files related to asbestosis and silicosis. Arthur Vorwald was a doctor who devoted his career, first at the Saranac Laboratories in New York, and then at Wayne State University (my alma mater, but a little before my time) in Detroit, to showing the cause of these diseases. I recently came across a couple dozen photographs that show working conditions in quarries and factories, both with and without dust control mechanisms in place. They will eventually go up on Flickr, but here's one in advance. Is it any wonder these guys were dying?

Leyner Bar Operator Working Without Dust Control

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Exhibit Development FlyThru David Macaulay Exhibit

Exhibit Development flythru of the Macaulay Show
by Navjeet Singh Chhina
photoshop/cinema 4-d /vectorworks
Exhibit is "David Macaulay presents; The way we work" and 
exhibits 55 of his drawings. At the museum until Sept 09.

Fun Films

Found a neat film in the Developmental Anatomy Center.  It is supposed to be one of the first films showing cleavage occuring in a rabbit egg.  Very cool.  Going to scan it into digital format and hopefully post it.

Light 'em up

I was checking on some information in the Maxillofacial Surgery volume of The Medical Department of the US Army in the World War today (does that make me sound smart!?) and came across this passage on patients who had splints in their mouths for various fractures:

"Many of the soldiers with their mouths splinted were unable to smoke. This was overcome by placing a glass of water or cup of coffee or chocolate where they could reach it, when, after wetting their lips with their fingers which had been immersed in the liquid, they were able to smoke as long as the moisture remained. This gave them a great deal of comfort. It was possible, also, in cases in which the lower jaw was fixed or missing, for the patient to hold one nostril closed and then, by moistening the other nostril and putting a cigarette in it, to inhale through it, thus smoking quite readily."

I wish I had a picture of that.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

May 6: A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed

A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed

Second in NMHM’s Walter Reed Centennial Year Lecture Series

When: Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Russell Auditorium, National Museum of Health and Medicine

What: Kick off National Nurses Week with "A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed." An informal discussion, featuring the history of nursing at Walter Reed, perspectives on current practices, and thoughts on the future of the Army Nurse Corps, will commemorate 100 years of nursing at Walter Reed.

Presenters: Debbie Cox, former Army Nurse Corps Historian; CPT Jennifer Easley, Medical/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, WRAMC; LTC Patrick Ahearne, Staff Officer, Office of the Army Nurse Corps, Office of the Army Surgeon General

Cost: Free

Info: (202)782-2200 or

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

An amazing story

Just saw this on my homepage. The woman who was the first US face transplant patient had a news conference. Brave, brave woman.

Jack McMillen painting

This 1944 painting by Jack McMillen was commissioned by the U.S. government for Walter Reed Army Medical Center as part of the Works Projects Administration (WPA) artists' program of World War II. It illustrates the historical function of the Forest Glen annex of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a holding and rehabilitation unit for medical patients, including psychiatric patients, during World War II.

This is a role the Forest Glen annex also played in subsequent wars. Psychiatric patients were identified, and to an extent stigmatized, by wearing maroon hospital clothing. For many years this painting was on display at the Forest Glen annex in Silver Spring, Maryland.
(from a publication by the Borden Institute)

The painting is egg tempera on canvas and measures 7 by 10.5 feet. It now is on display at the museum.

I also found a website while searching for whatever I could find on the artist. It's the New Deal Art Registry, a fun site to browse.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Avoid the swine flu

Thanks to Mike Lemish for the tip.

Don't do this.

May 6: A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed

A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed

Second in NMHM’s Walter Reed Centennial Year Lecture Series

When: Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Russell Auditorium, National Museum of Health and Medicine

What: Kick off National Nurses Week with "A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed." An informal discussion, featuring the history of nursing at Walter Reed, perspectives on current practices, and thoughts on the future of the Army Nurse Corps, will commemorate 100 years of nursing at Walter Reed.

Presenters: Debbie Cox, former Army Nurse Corps Historian; CPT Jennifer Easley, Medical/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, WRAMC; LTC Patrick Ahearne, Staff Officer, Office of the Army Nurse Corps, Office of the Army Surgeon General

Cost: Free

Info: (202)782-2200 or

American College of Surgery Archives website

Susan Rishworth is the archivist of the American College of Surgery Archives, and when I saw her at AAHM, she noted that they're starting to digitize some of of their collections. Check out their website.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Delousing WW1 photos and Flickr stats

Reeve 14292

Sterilizer. 01/21/1919. LeManns [Le Mans?], Sarthe, France. View of sterilizer. Interior. At salvage branch, American Embarkation Center. Delouser.

Our Flickr stats are at 1,307 items / 793,036 views this evening, slowly closing in on 800K, in spite of a series of WW1 delousing photographs that Kathleen put up recently.

Reeve 11739

German delousing and bathing plant. Interior view. Steam delouser compartments. Andenaide?, Belgium. 11/14/1918.

National Gallery trip today

In the pouring rain. With streets blocked off by DC police - on a Sunday morning no less. But I found this little gem that I hadn't seen before. (And really, it's not out of focus; I wonder if the artist didn't paint it soft like this because of the subject. Just a thought.)

Autopsy at the Hôtel-Dieu by Henri Gervex, 1876.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Guide to Collections is now online

It was a long, hard haul, but the 2009 edition of the Guide to the Collections at the National Museum of Health and Medicine (the first update in 10 years) is now online at the Internet Archive. You can download the PDF here.

Applause, please.

Medical Design Excellence

Thirty-two winners in the 2009 Medical Design Excellence competition have been named.

My two faves are
1. The Medigenic infection control keyboard, manufactured and submitted by Esterline Advanced Input Systems (Coeur d’Alene, ID). The Medigenic infection control keyboard addresses studies showing hospital keyboards to be a source of bacterial cross-contamination. The keyboard helps monitor its own cleaning status. I remember swabbing keyboards with alcohol when I worked in in a medical library and it always kind of makes my skin crawl at the public library when I need to log on. Next thing Medigenic needs to work on is antibacterial mice. They have a high yuck factor too.

2. The Whiz Freedom hygienic urine director, manufactured and submitted by Jbol Ltd. (Oxford, United Kingdom). (Do ya love the name?) The Freedom hygienic urine director is a hydrophobic, antibacterial, and eco-friendly device that enables women to urinate standing or sitting, indoors or outdoors, without undressing. It is suitable for use by incontinent or mobility-impaired users. Ladies, wouldn't you find this eminently useful at least once in your life? Just put it in the trunk with the Send Help banner and the road flares.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

White House on Flickr; can we be far behind?

Keith Axline at Wired says that the White House put up almost 300 photographs on Flickr this week.

"Perhaps we'll be able to post pictures from work again someday...," the photo archivist noted wistfully.

CSI: Borden Institute

Borden Institute book designer Doug wrote to me today:

We weren't able to get a definite date from the network, but either tonight or next Thursday "CSI - Crime Scene Investigations" will be using one of our books in an episode. Looking at the episode summaries it looks like tonight may be the night.

Lawrence Fishburn and another doctor are s upposed to be consultingwith our "Medical Aspects of Biological Warfare" book in an effort to deal with an outbreak caused by a patient receiving a transplant of an infected organ.

You can watch the broadcast tonight on CBS at 9:00 (8 Central and Mountain) or you can go out to the website later and watch the episode "The Gone Dead Train."

New Walter Reed hospital photo book by Archives staff

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

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

· S/N: 008-000-01020-0

· Price: $35.00

· Link:

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

· S/N: 008-023-00135-9

· Price: $55.00

· Link:

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

A display is in the hospital lobby and May 1.

Block the flu in style

Core77, the design blog, shows some masks being worn in Mexico. People find a silver lining in any kind of cloud, it seems.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NLM updates its photo website

Here's the PR, but I saw this at AAHM, and tried it out more today, and it works much better than the old one. And they've gotten rid of those ridiculous watermarks. 60000 images is nothing to be sneezed at either, and they've put some surprising clinical pictures up too (search World War 1 Base Hospital for example).

New look, advanced features for NLM's Images from the History of Medicine (IHM)

The History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine announces the launch of a new image platform for its premier database, Images from the History of Medicine (IHM). Using award winning software developed by Luna Imaging, Inc., NLM offers greatly enhanced searching and viewing capabilities to image researchers. Patrons can view search results in a multi-image display, download high resolution copies of their favorite images, zoom in on image details, move images into a patron-defined workspace for further manipulation, and create mediagroups for presenting images and sharing them via e-mail or posting on blogs. With these new capabilities, NLM greatly enhances usability of its image collection, where inspection and comparison of images is often as important as access to bibliographic data. IHM is available online, free of charge, at

Comprising almost 70,000 images from the Prints and Photographs and other collections held in the History of Medicine Division, IHM is one of the largest image databases in the world dedicated to images of medicine, dentistry, public health, the health professions, and health institutions. The collection includes portraits, photographs, caricatures, genre scenes, posters, and graphic art illustrating the social and historical aspects of medicine. Most types of printmaking are represented: woodcuts, engravings, etchings, mezzotints, aquatints, and lithographs. Also included in the collection are illustrations from the
historical book collection. Newly acquired posters and other materials are continually being added to IHM. The collection is administered by the NLM History of Medicine Division.

Located in Bethesda, Maryland, the National Library of Medicine is the world's largest library of the health sciences. For more information, visit the Web site at

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) -- The Nation's Medical Research
Agency -- includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the
U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal
agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational
medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures
for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and
its programs, visit

Ginny Cathcart
Curator, Prints and Photographs
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine

For questions, please contact the History of Medicine Division Reference
Desk at

Papercutting Wow!

This is a papercut by American artist Hunter Stabler called "Baba Yaga Misquotes the Face to Steeleye Span." Not all of his work is anatomical, but it's all fantastic. What skill and patience.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine flu? How about Spanish flu?

Smith Flu 3: Convalescent pneumoconiosis

In these days of our photographs of the WW1 influenza epidemic appearing in papers (uncredited at times, alas), here's a reminder that you can see all of our photographs from two other epidemics on our website - 1918 Influenza Epidemic and 1957 Influenza Epidemic.

58-15573-67 - Child Gargling Broth, Sagamihara Hospital, Japan, August 9, 1957.

Two medical museum references in today's New York Times Science section

The Mutter for "Bone, a Masterpiece of Elastic Strength," By NATALIE ANGIER, in which one can find out Mr. Eastlack had requested that his skeleton be preserved for scientific research, and today it can be seen at the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians in Philadelphia — or rather, they can be seen. As the developmental biologist Armand Marie Leroi has observed in his book “Mutants,” Mr. Eastlack’s skeleton, with its “extra sheets, struts and pinnacles of bone,” amounts to “that of a 40-year-old man encased in another skeleton, but one that is inchoate and out of control.” I've seen his skeleton and it's very striking. Our museum has a skeleton of Peter Cluckey, a Spanish-American War veteran in which ALL of his joints fused, including his jaw, so he couldn't move or eat.

The Dittrick's Dissections book is featured again in "Snapshots From the Days of Bare-Hands Anatomy," By ABIGAIL ZUGER, M.D. April 28, 2009.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Hairballs, hairballs

This happened this afternoon, but some of it still lingers:

What: National Hairball Awareness Day! NMHM is preparing a temporary exhibition of hairballs for display. Plan now to visit the Museum at 12 p.m. on Monday, April 27 to learn how hairballs form in the stomach, see a selection of human and animal hairballs on display, and get a chance to hold an animal hairball! Hairballs, also known as bezoars, form in the stomach of humans and some animals, and are made of indigestible matter such as hair, food and some medicines.

Want to learn more about hairballs? Check out the Museum's virtual exhibit here

Dissection photos book review

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

April 29: Walter Reed Centennial History Symposium

Lots of friends and colleagues speaking here - if you decide to attend, remember to bring a photo id. The auditorium is upstairs in the old hospital. I hope to make most of the morning sessions.

Walter Reed Centennial History Symposium
Schedule and Program

April 29, 2009, Wednesday
Vorder Bruegge Auditorium, Bldg #1, Old Main Hospital

0800 Welcome and Introduction
Sherman Fleek, WRAMC Historian

0810 Opening Remarks
COL Coots, Commander, WRHCS

0820 Program Overview and Schedule
Dr. Dale Smith, Senior VP, USUHS
Program Chair and Commentator

0830 Keynote Presentations:

Walter Reed the Man and his Family
Dr. John Pierce, MD, COL USA (Ret)

Yellow Fever: The Scourge Revealed
CAPT Stanton E. Cope, MSC, USN, PhD

1000 Break

1020 Second Session

Walter Reed General Hospital and the Rise of the American Military Medical Complex
Jessica L. Adler, PhD Candidate

The Army School of Nursing at Walter Reed
Scott R. Schoner, Museum Curator

1130 Third Session

Walter Reed Hospital, Rehabilitation Medicine, and Reconstruction Aides in World War I America
Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD

Physical Rehabilitation at Walter Reed: The First Decade, 1917-27
Sanders Marble, PhD

1230 Lunch

1330 Fourth Session

“The Patient is First, and Always”:COL Ogden C. Bruton and the Legacy of Pediatric Care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
COL Thomas R. Burklow, MD

A Remembrance of Dr. Ogden Bruton
Marcia Boyle, Foundation President

1430 Centennial Film Preview

1530 Closing Remarks
Dr. Dale Smith

Tour of Building #1 and Campus (Optional, 1 hour tour) Sherman Fleek

Presenter Biographies:

Jessica L. Adler PhD Candidate, History: Columbia University, New York City

Marcia Boyle Founder and President of the Immune Deficiency Foundation, established in 1980. The Foundation is the national non-profit patient organization dedicated to improving the diagnosis, treatment and quality of life of persons with primary immunodeficiency diseases through advocacy, education and research.

Thomas R. Burklow COL, MC, Chief of Pediatrics at Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Stanton E. Cope PhD CAPTAIN, Medical Service Corps, United States Navy, served as entomologist for 20 years; winner of Campbell Collection Award for YF material at UCLA; delivered numerous publications on yellow fever experiments in Cuba. Director, Armed Forces Pest Management Board, Silver Spring, MD

Sanders Marble PhD, AB, William & Mary; MA and PhD, King’s College University of London; five years as historian with Office of Medical History, Office of The Surgeon General, U.S. Army

John R. Pierce Retired U.S. Army Colonel and physician, former chief of pediatrics at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Department of Veterans Affairs; he the co-author of Yellow Jack: How Yellow Fever Ravaged America and Walter Reed Discovered its Deadly Secrets, 2005.

Jeffrey S. Reznick PhD is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Modern History of the University of Birmingham, United Kingdom, a member of its Centre for First World War Studies, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He is author of two books in the Culture History of Modern War series of Manchester University Press – Healing the nation: Soldiers and the culture of care-giving in Britain during the Great War (2004) and John Galsworthy and Disabled Soldiers of the Great War (forthcoming, 2009) – as well as numerous articles which explore the medical, material, and memorial cultures of 1914-1918. Reznick lives in Rockville, Maryland, and he serves as Director of the Institute for the Study of Occupation and Health of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation, Bethesda, Maryland.

Scott R. Schoner Curator of the U.S. Army Medical Department Museum, Ft. Sam Houston, Texas.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Women of the World, Raise Your Hands (or maybe just your guns!)

I found this image while going through the NCP, (New Contributed Photograph,) file; signed by F. Schultz, this illustration struck me as being especially intriguing. Not only is it a depiction of a handgun firing in slow motion, but if you look closely, you will see that the marksman, (more like markswoman,) is wearing pink fingernail polish! Although the image is educational in and of itself, you have to give the artist kudos for feminizing this illustration. As an avid shooter myself, hats off to you, F. Schultz!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Percy Skye contraception collection

At the Dittrick Museum in Cleveland, Ohio, a massive collection of contraceptive devices is slowly being turned into a new exhibit. Percy Skye collected these devices over a forty-year period and donated them recently. I got to see the planned exhibit and some of the artifacts today, and they're really interesting.

Medical Museums Association

Here in Cleveland, a grand scheme of making history of medicine more relevant to the general public is being explicated by Joanna of Morbid Anatomy. We're live-blogging to discuss how to get information out to a wider audience.

New book of dissection photographs by Jim Edmondson

Dittrick Museum curator Jim Edmondson has a new book, Dissection, showing historical photographs of medical classes and their anatomical lessons. It's a very cool book. The publisher Laura Lindgren of Blast Books says it'll be featured on Slate tomorrow, NPR over the weekend and in the Sunday New York Times Book Review.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Curley and Rhode at AAHM

Jim and I will be at the American Association for the History of Medicine meetings in Cleveland at the end of this week, as well as the accompanying Medical Museum Associations one. Feel free to come up and say hello. While our names both end in "eeee", he's the slightly taller one, but I've got longer hair.



April 13, 2009, Washington, D.C. – The National Museum of Health and Medicine/AFIP will host a six-month installation of "David Macaulay Presents: The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body," a new exhibition based on of the acclaimed author’s most recent book of the same title. The exhibition was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature of Abilene, Texas and opens on April 20, 2009. Admission is free. NMHM is open to the public and is located on the campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

"The real beauty of the human body, as it turns out, had little to do with outward appearance. It is displayed in and beneath the skin in a remarkable demonstration of economy and efficiency," said Macaulay in a NCCIL publication about the book. On why he began "The Way We Work": "What began as a simple desire to better understand my own inner workings has become an opportunity to display both my wonder and gratitude."

Over the course of six years, Macaulay delved into the inner workings of the human body, approaching the material with the same vigor to which he previous applied to examinations of architecture and machines. The exhibit takes the visitor on an immersive journey through the human body system-by-system, from the most basic details about cell structure to vivid descriptions of bodily functions. The original artwork will be displayed alongside one-of-a-kind anatomical specimens drawn from the Museum’s collections, so that visitors will be given the opportunity to see in three dimensions that which Macaulay so vividly conveys through his whimsical take on the human body.

"Where else but the nation’s medical museum to display these wonderful works of art?" said Adrianne Noe, Ph.D., Museum director. "Macaulay’s keen eye for detail is evident throughout the exhibition. We hope that the pairing of Macaulay’s sketches with anatomical specimens from our collection will engage the visitor to consider the wonder of the human body."

A series of public programs will be launched to coincide with the temporary exhibition, including a special hands-on program that will be offered on Wednesday mornings (starting in June). Interested parties are encouraged to monitor the Museum’s Events page on their Web site at, or sign up for the Museum’s free e-newsletter.

The exhibit will close on September 20, 2009.

"The Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body" by David Macaulay (the book) was published in 2008 by Houghton Mifflin, Inc. of New York.

Reservations are not required to visit the Museum. Admission is free and parking is available. Adults seeking to visit the Museum are required to present valid government-issued photo identification to gain entry to Walter Reed, and will be asked to present ID again at the Museum.

For more information, contact Tim Clarke, Jr., the Museum’s Deputy Director for Communications, phone (202) 782-2672, email

Did you know we have a newsletter?

Here's the info from our website which also has links to previous editions from 2001-2009:

Flesh and Bones

Flesh and Bones [ISSN 1535-0878] is a publication of the National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. It contains information about upcoming events and public programs, and general news about the museum. There is no charge for Flesh and Bones, but donations are gratefully accepted and may be made by sending a check drawn on U.S. funds made payable to "National Museum of Health and Medicine - Registry." To receive a copy of Flesh and Bones, send an email with your name and mailing address to Please allow 4-6 weeks for processing.

National Take Your Child To Work Day--April 23

On NTYCTWD the Museum will be on the go--we've been invited to participate in the NIH at Fishers Lane program of activities for kids age 7-15. Archie Fobbs will engage the kids in fun ways to learn about brain anatomy; Gwen Nelmes will talk about the museum profession by describing activities and collections of the museum, including a hands-on experience with plastinated organs and a Civil War amputation demonstration (any volunteers??); and Andrea Schierkolk will lead a forensics mystery workshop where participants will learn how much information can be gleaned from examining bones of an unidentified individual.

The National Museum of Health and Medicine collaborates with NIH on numerous scientific and public outreach projects, including Brain Awareness Week, the Human Cardiac Development Atlas, The Visible Embryo, and the Virtual Embryo Atlas of Histology.

McClelland's WW1 nursing experience


For Rea P, a quick transcription from p. 4-5, discussing being assigned to a hospital in Belgium, to a British nursing team with one other American nurse:

There were seven surgical teams; five British and two American, besides the regular staff of officers and sisters. Four teams were put on day duty; three on at night until a "push" began - then the schedule was changed and the teams would work for twelve hours - go off for eight - then on again for twelve. In this way, all the teams would be working for part of the twenty-four hours.

There were five operating tables in a Nissen hut and two in a large tent (marquee). The two American teams were on duty at the same time and our tables were next to each other in the hut.

When the first big drive came - which was the heaviest that we had known, all the teams worked overtime - no one felt like going off when the men were pouring in. One day, we worked for twenty-two hours - only stopping for something to eat. After cleaning up our tables, we went to bed at 2:00 A.M., but were back on duty at 4:00 A..M, and worked for another twelve hours. At the end of that period, when the men were not coming in so fast, we were relieved for eight hours.

Knitting at the NMHM--May 16, 2009

Calling all knitters and crocheters! On Saturday, May 16, from 2-5 p.m., the NMHM will host its 3rd helmetliner knit-in. These helmetliners will be sent to servicemembers in Iraq and Afghanistan to offer warmth during cold nights.

During the last helmetliner knit-in, we had a very special guest, Major General Douglas Stone of the Marine Corps Reserves. (MajGen Stone is a knitter himself.) He shared stories about the value of the helmetliners--he said that a lot of the service members are stuffing their helmets with materials to provide extra warmth. This causes the helmets to sit too high on their heads, making them more vulnerable to gunshot wounds to the head. The helmet liners, made of 100% wool, offer warmth without compromising the protective design of the helmets.

If you are an experienced knitter and wish to get an early start on the project, you may download the knitting pattern at If you would like a crochet pattern, click here to download a PDF.

A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed

The NMHM will host the second program in our series of lectures to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Here are the details:

When: Wednesday, May 6, 2009, 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Where: Russell Auditorium, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Building 54

What: Kick off National Nurses Week with “A Conversation on Nursing at Walter Reed.” An informal discussion, featuring the history of nursing at Walter Reed, perspectives on current practices, and thoughts on the future of the Army Nurse Corps, will commemorate 100 years of nursing at Walter Reed.

Presenters: Debbie Cox, former Army Nurse Corps Historian; CPT Jennifer Easley, Medical/Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, WRAMC; LTC Patrick Ahearne, Staff Officer, Office of the Army Nurse Corps, Office of the Army Surgeon General

Cost: Free

World Digital Library begins

PR from the Library of Congress:

101 Independence Ave. S.E.
Washington, DC 20540

April 21, 2009

UNESCO, U.S. Library of Congress and Partners Launch World Digital Library

Paris, Washington D.C.—UNESCO and 32 partner institutions today launched the World Digital Library, a website that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world. The site―located at ―includes manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, prints and photographs. It provides unrestricted public access, free of charge, to this material.

The launch took place at UNESCO Headquarters at an event co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. Directors of the partner institutions were on hand to present the project to ambassadors, ministers, delegates and special guests attending the semi-annual meeting of UNESCO’s Executive Board.

Billington first proposed the creation of a World Digital Library (WDL) to UNESCO in 2005, remarking that such a project could “have the salutary effect of bringing people together by celebrating the depth and uniqueness of different cultures in a single global undertaking.” Matsuura welcomed the proposal as a “great initiative that will help to bridge the knowledge divide, promote mutual understanding and foster cultural and linguistic diversity.” In addition to promoting international understanding, the project aims to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences and narrow the digital divide within and between countries by building capacity in partner countries.

The World Digital Library functions in seven languages―Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish―and includes content in more than 40 languages. Browse and search features facilitate cross-cultural and cross-temporal exploration on the site. Descriptions of each item and videos, with expert curators speaking about selected items, provide context for users and are intended to spark curiosity and encourage both students and the general public to learn more about the cultural heritage of all countries.

The World Digital Library was developed by a team at the Library of Congress. Technical assistance was provided by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of Alexandria, Egypt. Institutions contributing to the WDL include national libraries and cultural and educational institutions in Brazil, Egypt, China, France, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Mali, Mexico, Morocco, the Netherlands, Qatar, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Uganda, the United Kingdom and the United States.

“UNESCO welcomes the creation of the World Digital Library which reflects the values and priorities of our organization,” Matsuura declared. “WDL offers an invaluable platform for the free flow of information, for international solidarity, for the celebration of cultural diversity and for the building of inclusive knowledge societies. With projects like the Digital Library, the cultural and societal potential of digital technologies come into their own.”

“We are honored to be working with so many great libraries in this venture,” said Billington, “and thankful for the strong support that UNESCO has given to this project. What we launched today is a first step. We look forward to seeing this project realize its ambition to bring people together, deepen our understanding of each other, and help electronically oriented young people enjoy what is best in traditional culture, using the new media.”

Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, UNESCO Special Envoy for Basic and Higher Education and Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, congratulated UNESCO and the partner institutions on the launch of the WDL, and stated that “Qatar is very proud to be a founding member of this remarkable international collaboration.” Her Highness noted that “universal education is the key to international understanding,” and “this endeavour will do much to develop the appreciation of other cultures and nations.”

The National Library of China (NLC) contributed manuscripts, maps, books, and rubbings of steles and oracle bones that span the range of Chinese history from ancient to modern times. “The World Digital Library project offers a brand-new platform for showcasing the diversity of the world's civilizations,” said Dr. Furui Zhan, Chief Librarian of the NLC. “This endeavour enables cultural exchange while bringing together different countries and peoples in mutual understanding and enrichment. The spirit of equality and open understanding comes into full view with the creation of this World Digital Library. The National Library of China is ready to work in close cooperation with the World Digital Library, continuing to promote in concert the prosperity and progress of all human civilizations.”

Examples of other treasures featured include Arabic scientific manuscripts from the National Library and Archives of Egypt; early photographs of Latin America from the National Library of Brazil; the “Hyakumanto darani,” a publication from A.D. 764 from the National Diet Library of Japan; the famous 13th century “Devil’s Bible” from the National Library of Sweden; and works of Arabic, Persian, and Turkish calligraphy from the collections of the Library of Congress.

Ahead of the launch, Matsuura invited UNESCO member states to encourage their cultural institutions to participate in the development of the project. He noted that their participation would contribute to a truly universal digital library that showcases the cultural heritage and achievements of all countries. Matsuura also highlighted the synergies between this initiative and UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program, noting that the WDL should help provide public access to digital versions of collections on the Memory of the World register.

One of UNESCO’s main mandates is to promote the free flow of all forms of knowledge in education, science, culture and communication. The organization therefore promotes education, research and exchanges through the improved and increased availability of content on the Internet. To this end, it collaborates with a number of partners on the creation of digital and other repositories.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. It 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 international resources will be available through the World Digital Library at, while other resources can be found at the Library’s main website, and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at

# # #

PR 09-82
ISSN 0731-3527

National Hairball Awareness Day!!!

My favorite day of the year is coming around again! Monday, April 27 is National Hairball Awareness Day! The NMHM has 27 veterinary and 3 human bezoars in the collection. From April 27-May 3 the Museum will have several of them on display, in addition to the human trichobezoar that is out all the time. We have 3 human hairballs--from 12-year-old girls who spent at least 6 years pulling and eating their hair. My favorite is a hairball removed from the gullet of a chicken. Usually humans and ruminant animals develop hairballs. The one from the chicken is kinda special. The chicken used to hang out with a pet dog and would pick at its fur. The owner of the chicken realized it was having a "problem," so he cut out what turned out to be a hairball and gave it to us. Come on April 27 and you'll learn why bezoars develop--you'll see bezoars from a steer, a cow, a horse, a human, and a chicken!! And, we'll even let you hold one!

Visit to see our virtual exhibit about bezoars. Enjoy!

(Did you know that there have been medical reports of bezoars consisting of gummy bears, polystyrene, foam pulled from the backseat of a car.....)

WW1 speech by nurse

The blog slipped open so here's a quick post. Historical collections had a request for info on Helen McClelland, a World War I nurse. They're not finding anything, but the archives has 2 pictures of her at an opening of a 1972 exhibit on nursing and a folder of clippings. The folder of clippings at first glance was just photocopies of articles about her, but it turns out there's also a talk in there that she gave about her WW1 service. Pretty neat!

Monday, April 20, 2009

News of other medical museums

Here's one about the Southern California Medical Museum's 12th Annual Open House - "Riverside museum hosts CSI symposium," Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer, 04/19/2009.

The Rochester Medical Museum and Archives is featured in "History on Display: Local medical archives in fantastic health," April 20, 2009.

The "New" Tom

As the newest member of the Museum, I am attempting to learn the ins and outs of this wonderful institution. After a week of "hazing" from the higher ups, (a.k.a. running around Walter Reed pleading for signatures and looking for offices,) I am now finally learning my duties as the Archives Technician. Thus far, my favorite thing has been admiring all of the old stuff. I realize that this seems a bit obvious, as I work in a museum, but I truly am constantly amazed by the images, documents and artifacts that I see around me. Sitting with Kathleen last week, I found myself in awe of the fact that the document in my hands had been written by someone in the late 19th century. Apologizing for feeling so giddy, Kathleen assured me that she still has similar thoughts when viewing older materials. I realize that this child-like sense of amazement is likely to fade the longer I work with the collection, but for now, my awe-inspired excitement is the driving force behind me getting in to work at 6:30am to ensure a parking space:) I feel compelled to give a shout out to all the staff members here at the Museum. I have greatly enjoyed meeting everyone and they have all been so kind and helpful. A special thanks to Brian and Jim for the "backstage" tours of the historical and anatomical collections last week; I am happy to admit that not a single nightmare came out of Brian's tour!

Feast or famine on these posts

We hit a dry spell over the weekend on posting to this blog, and if you were anywhere near the DC area you would know why - we hit that sweet, sweet spot of weather with blue skies and temps in the high 60s and had, sorry to say, better things to occupy us. Wait! Not yesterday, but Friday and Saturday - oh, yeah.

However, our faithful over at Flickr put us over 775,000 views last night, so maybe their weather wasn't nearly as nice as ours.

Many thanks to all of you who keep those numbers going.

I think I missed the ice cream

Received this email today, and I think I should have read it a little more closely:

We will be acknowledging the National Medical Laboratory Professionals Week (NMLPW) here at the Armed Force Institute of Pathology. NMLPW will be April 19-25, 2009.

What is NMLPW? NMLPW is an annual celebration of the medical laboratory professionals and pathologists who play a vital role in every aspect of health care. NMLPW is a chance for medical laboratory personnel to celebrate their professionalism and be recognized for their efforts. Often, they use this time to inform and educate medical colleagues and the public about the medical laboratory. Since laboratorians often work behind the scenes, few people know much about the critical testing they perform every day.

The theme will be "Laboratory Professionals Get Results." Due to OPTEMPO we will take the special time to formally thank everyone for their contribution with getting results at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. Our special thank you will commence on Monday at 1100-1300HRS with an ice-cream and cake social held in the foyers of our Main and Rockville facilities.

See? I think the ice cream was today, and I missed it.

Days of Remembrance

This Tuesday and Thursday in the museum's auditorium. Free popcorn, folks - the good stuff.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Macauley exhibit opens on Monday

Our exhibit of the original art from David Macauley's latest book on the human body opens on Monday. It was looking good on Friday as about 1/2 the art was hung.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Have we mentioned our new archives staff member?

I think not. Jasmine High has joined us in the archives, fairly freshly out of GWU's museum studies program. She'll be managing the MIS Library photo collection of 2000 boxes or so, and doing quality control on the scanning project for them. We'll try to get her to stop in and post here. So far this week she's been running the paper and electronic sign-in marathon, but we put her to work today on processing a small collection of awards and certificates from former AFIP director James Hansen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I was cruising through Flickr and came across an account called, with just short of 4000 images. Surely they're not posting from home, not 4000 images! So I emailed them and asked. No, they have privileges because they're the "Web team" and have access to sites others might not have. I want to be a Web team. How do I go about that?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Botox moves beyond cosmetic uses

Good article in the Times today - it's in the business section, but could easily have been in Tuesday's science section -

So Botox Isn’t Just Skin Deep
Published: April 12, 2009
Botox has become a wrinkle-removal gold mine for the drug maker Allergan, but some doctors are also now using it to treat ailments like migraines and oily skin.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The theme of the day is Latrines

You will not believe how hard it is to look for pictures to upload to Flickr. Today I was looking for something else when a picture of a latrine caught my eye and I had an "aha!" moment. Peruse at your leisure.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Face cases"

I just posted some facial wound/reconstruction pictures on Flickr, a small part of a pretty extensive series. For me, this ties in very nicely with the Otken Collection that I've been working on for a while. Captain Otken, as I've written before, was a World War 1 American Expeditionary Forces surgeon in France. He wrote often to his family about his "face cases," in particular one boy who was pretty shot up but through a series of surgeries Captain Otken kept him from being too disfigured. I'm sure that he saw the kinds of wounds that I just put up.

Reeve 034802

Reeve 034801

Not for the squeamish

Today we bring you a couple of autopsy photos, so if you're a wee squeamish, skip this one. For the braver among you, this finally settles the question of where Easter eggs come from. From CraftyHedgehog at etsy. And sure, if you squint your eyes, it's somewhat medical-related.

Library of Congress to launch World Digital Library

This sounds like a worthy endeavor, doesn't it? As regular readers know, we've been digitizing a lot of photographs and a few books (available at the Internet Archive). Somehave had concernes that Google Books is too big - see "Google & the Future of Books," By Robert Darnton, New York Review of Books Volume 56, Number 2, February 12, 2009 and the Library's project seems like a good alternative. Here's the PR:

Library of Congress, UNESCO and Partners To Launch World Digital Library

The Library of Congress, UNESCO and 32 partner institutions on April 21 will launch the World Digital Library, a website that features unique cultural materials from libraries and archives from around the world.

The site will include manuscripts, maps, rare books, films, sound recordings, and prints and photographs – available unrestricted to the public and free of charge. The browseable, searchable site will function in seven languages and offer content in dozens of languages.

The launch will take place at a reception at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters co-hosted by UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura and the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington. Directors of numerous partner institutions will also be on hand to present the project to ambassadors, ministers, delegates, and special guests attending the semi-annual meeting of UNESCO’s executive board.

Dr. Billington first proposed the creation of a World Digital Library (WDL) to UNESCO in 2005, remarking that such a project could “have the salutary effect of bringing people together by celebrating the depth and uniqueness of different cultures in a single global undertaking.” In addition to promoting international understanding, the project aims to expand the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet, provide resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences, and narrow the digital divide within and between countries by building capacity in partner countries.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. It 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 international resources will be available through the World Digital Library. Other resources can be found at the Library’s main website,, and via interactive exhibitions on a new, personalized website at

PR 09-70
ISSN 0731-3527

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Aussie military dogs are awarded medals

Our friend Mike Lemish sent me a link to an article about a medals ceremony in Australia last month that honored six working dogs, two of them posthumously. There's a nice video that goes with it.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Backtracking in the history of medicine for old techniques to reuse

Here's the article that Alexis originally contacted me for - "Old, Brutal Surgeries Inspire Elegant Modern Devices," By Alexis Madrigal, March 31, 2009. I didn't have any good suggestions for him, but he talked to Dave Lounsbury and Dale Smith whom I suggested. This is a neat idea, but I can't imagine you can take it too far since antibiotics, x-rays and asepsis make the biggest differences in treatment.

What would it take to make a Civil War veteran happy?

Money. But also an accordion "to drive away the dark clouds from my sickroom." I had a vague memory of this letter from twenty years ago, and as she was processing our accession records for scanning, Archivist Amanda Montgomery found it for me.

Here's a post-Civil War letter from veteran Alexander Rider to Dr. Reed Bontecou talking about the difficulties of having a photograph made when he can't leave the house, and asking for an accordion. From the Museum's accession records for SS 2030. Click on the photo to see it larger for reading. Rider was a Private, Company I, 76 Pennsylvania Volunteers, wounded at Pocotaligo, SC on October 22, 1862.

Alexander Rider Letter 1

Alexander Rider Letter 2

Alexander Rider Letter 3

Alexander Rider Letter 4

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Arm and leg prosthetics in the making

A dozen photos of arm and leg prosthetics being created have just been posted to our Flickr account. These are some of those behind-the-scenes images I really like. We probably have all seen finished products, but don't usually see how they're made.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

More from our MAMAS collection

The Museum and Medical Arts Service or Services or Section, we're still not quite sure, was the first collection processed when we started the digitization program in 2005. The first batch, and what we thought was the entire collection in our possession, was 13 or 14 shoebox-size boxes and an oversize box. We had been in touch with one of the MAMAS photographers while that project was going on and I was disappointed that we had just a couple of photographs attributed to him. Last year, as we were going through boxes of "unknown" photos, finally sorting through them and checking to see if they'd been scanned already, we found another treasure trove of MAMAS photos, about 1300-1500 of them, and more of them held this photographer's name. We were delighted!

Over the last couple of years, though, we had lost track of the photographer, Melvin Shaffer, but this week he turned up again. He will be giving us more information on MAMAS photos as I shuttle the digital versions off to him. Already he's added some information to some charts I just posted to Flickr showing the comparison between shell shocked casualties and wounded or KIA's. All the military units were in the North Africa/ Italian/ Southern France area. He also gave us the first name of Private First Class Anderson, the illustrator or chart man: he's Pfc Dickie Anderson.

Several years ago Melvin donated his photos to Southern Methodist University and they have built an enviable website to showcase his work. Melvin captioned the photos himself and it is very much worth your time to take a look.

Cartoon postcard in new Medical Museum collection

Otken Collection
Postcard sent by Luther B. Otken, a World War 1 surgeon in the American Expeditionary Forces, stationed in France. This collection of WW1 correspondence was donated to the National Museum of Health & Medicine last month.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Stanley Burns' new photo book

Friend of the medical museum Dr. Stanley Burns has an awesome collection of historical medical photographs, but he also collects many other types of photos. Here's a NY Times review of his and his wife's new book on historical news photos NEWS ART: Manipulated Photographs From the Burns Archive (Power­House, $45)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Flanders' Focus Knack notices Flickr

A friend of mine just noted our Flickr site is in "Focus Knack, Flanders' most prominent media magazine." which may bring another group of hits from an audience we wouldn't normally have.

On the scanning side, we just accepted about 5500 scans of 35mm slides of Walter Reed medical center from our scanning contractor and picked up another 8 boxes of prints of the base to scan.

And it looks like Kathleen's tossed up a bunch of World War 1 facial reconstruction and plastic surgery images on her day off.

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.