Friday, July 31, 2009

NLM History of Medicine Summer of Seminars

History of Medicine Division
Summer of Seminars
Thursday, August 6, 2009, 2-3:30pm
NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A, NLM
Bethesda, MD

"The Anatomist and the Book in the Early Sixteenth Century."

R. Allen Shotwell, Indiana University

The role of the book in the study of anatomy is an interesting one.
This presentation suggests that there are things to be learned by
looking at the history of anatomy as a topic in the larger history of
the book, but these lessons may not be as simple nor as pervasive as
some might think.

The next HMD "Summer of Seminars" program will be held on Thursday,
August 13, 2-3:30pm in the NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A. Julia F. Irwin
(Yale University) will speak on "Poster Children and the Construction of
American International Identity." The final program in the series will
be held Thursday, August 27, 2-3:30pm, also in the NLM Visitor Center,
Bldg 38A. Miriam Posner (Yale University) will speak on "Conventions of
Display: Cultures of Exhibition in Twentieth-Century Medicine."

All are Welcome

Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities
who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen
Greenberg at (301-435-4995), e-mail, or the
Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).

Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised
to consult the NLM Visitors and Security website:

Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD
Coordinator of Public Services
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health and Human Services

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

History of battlefield medicine -

A former intern sent in this site - – which has some nice images, but note that the images don’t necessarily correspond to the text alongside them. There was no photography in the Napoleonic Wars for instance.


Monday, July 27, 2009

By popular demand! Weekday Medical Illustration class added at NMHM, August 6th.

“An Introduction to Techniques in Medical Illustration”

When: Thursday, August 6, 2009 (10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.)


Where: National Museum of Health and Medicine


What: This workshop will explore the delicate beauty of traditional carbon dust illustration. While working from real specimens, participants will learn about the careful observation and drawing techniques required to create beautiful and accurate drawings using carbon dust, colored pencil, and ink. Ages 13 to adult. All levels welcome.


Course leader: Elizabeth Lockett, Scientific Illustrator and Collections Manager of the Museum’s Human Developmental Anatomy Center


Pre-registration is required by July 31, 2009: or (202) 782-2673. Class limited to 15 students.


Cost: FREE!


Photo ID required.


Information: or (202) 782-2673

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

New banner exhibition available from NLM

I am posting this message on behalf of a colleague.  Please direct any inquiries to her. Thanks!





The National Library of Medicine is accepting requests to host a new banner exhibition scheduled to be available October 4 2009. 

The title is Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Yellow Wall-Paper”

In the late nineteenth century, at a time when women were challenging traditional ideas about gender that excluded them from political and intellectual life, medical and scientific experts drew on notions of female weakness to justify inequality between the sexes. Artist and writer Charlotte Perkins Gilman, who was discouraged from pursuing a career to preserve her health, rejected these ideas in a terrifying short story titled “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” The famous tale served as an indictment of the medical profession and the social conventions restricting women's professional and creative opportunities.



As with our other banner exhibitions, we are asking host libraries to cover incoming FedX expenses, which usually run a few  hundred dollars. The booking period is six weeks. The online exhibition will feature K-12 lesson plans and a higher education module and will be available after Labor Day.


An additional note, historian Helen Horowitz advised on the project and developed the higher education module, and is currently writing a book about the topic. She’ll be speaking about her research on Gilman at the History of Medicine Division Seminar this September 9 for those who are interested.


Thank you.


Patricia Tuohy

Head, Exhibition Program

National Library of Medicine

8600 Rockville Pike

Building 38/Room 1E-21

Bethesda MD 20894

t: 301.435.5240

f: 301.402.0872




Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Adler Museum Bulletin received

One of the publications we get is the Adler Museum Bulletin. The Adler is a medical museum in South Africa. The current issue arrived today and has got a nice article on the therapeutic uses of arsenic in it. Agatha Christie would be fascinated.


Monday, July 13, 2009

War Surgery book

Mike wrote a couple of days ago about the War Surgery in Afghanistan and Iraq book. We were able to get a disc with all of the images used in the book. For the last several months, on and off, I've been assigning each digital version a number, tracking down the corresponding one in the book and cross-referencing the number there, and building a spreadsheet with the numbers, diagnoses, and captions as noted in the book. When, if, I ever finish, it will all be uploaded into our database.

Here are two images I numbered today.

Radiographs of hand fracture stabilization with Kirschner wires.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wellcome Library Year in Review now available (PR)

The Wellcome is one of the great history of medicine collections -

The Wellcome Library Year In Review and vital stats are now online:

The Review covers our activities during 2008, specifically highlighting our digitisation programme. We also showcase some of our exciting  acquisitions from the year, including the casebooks of the 'father of modern forensics' Sir Bernard Spilsbury and the notebooks of double Nobel Prize winning geneticist Fred Sanger.

A limited number of print copies of the Year in Review will be available. If you would like to request a copy please contact

They link to a neat article about Spilsbury.

War Surgery book wins award

Dave Lounsbury one of the editors and authors wrote to me today saying:

I recv'd a letter today informing me that "War Surgery in Afghanistan & Iraq: A Series of Cases, 2003-2007" has won a national book award.

The American Medical Writers Association in Rockville, Maryland announces that "War Surgery": "is the winner of the distinguished 2009 AMWA Medical Book Award. AMWA's annual book awards "were established more than 30 years ago to recognize the very best in ... non-fictional medical writing." The textbook was "1 of 18 submitted ... and was evaluated by a panel of 4 judges."

The award will be formally presented in October in Dallas at the AMWA's 69th Annual Conference ... which may explain why notice of this award is not presently noted on its website

[For the record, the textbook was also nominated last spring for a Sidney Hillman Foundation Award, but in the end was not selected.]

The book has received uniformly favorable reviews from deployed medical officers (British & American) and in both lay (NYT, New York Review of Books, and The Economist) and peer-referenced (JAMA, NEJM, and Environmental & Wilderness Medicine, the journal of the Wilderness Medical Society) literature, as well as in the open media (BBC, NPR).

This is an excellent book, in the grand tradition of military medical publications, dating back to the Medical & Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. You can download the whole thing for free at the link above, or order the book from the Government Printing Office.

Flickr picture statistics

I spoke to someone who's writing a paper on Flickr use by archives the other day, so here's our most recent stats:

View counts

So far today Yesterday All time
Photos and Videos 295 689 1,049,485
Photostream 205 461 843,269
Sets 41 192 66,807

Total 541 1,342 1,959,561

Walter Reed Army Institute of Research photographic collection


In the 1960s and 70s (and possibly longer), doctors trained by the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) were sent out to investigate tropical medicine while given cameras and film to document what they found. WRAIR had many photographs including film teams, all over the world including in Vietnam. The Vietnam still photos went to the National Archives when WRAIR moved into its current building, and the Medical Museum got 1/2 of the other still pictures that were left. We're now scanning WRAIR's third (thanks to their providing funding) and our third to create a digital collection that can be used by WRAIR and our researchers.


I put these samples of the first test batch of scans on Flickr. The captions are limited because they're being taken from a printout of an early computerized catalogue. As you can see, not all of the pictures deal directly with medicine.


Thursday, July 9, 2009

I'm in IMDB?

Well, this was weird - I'm especially disappointed at being down 48%.

Michael Rhode 


STARmeter: ?
Down 48% in popularity this week.


  1. "Nova" (special thanks) (1 episode, 2004)
        - Life and Death in the War Zone (2004) TV episode (special thanks)


Museum's scanning statistics

So far, the Museum's had about 722,000 pages scanned, which doesn't work out to quite that many images since some of these are books that are then compiled into pdfs. Others are case files which the average person won't be able to see due to medical privacy restrictions. Overall it's a pretty impressive number though, and is still due to grow by 111,000 before the end of fiscal year 2009.

AFIP's online continuing medical education

I was in a meeting today on the digitization via scanning of the AFIP's records, and one part of that project is AskAFIP which provides courses for Continuing Medical Education credits. Doctors need CMEs to maintain their license. In June, AFIP provided about 2500 hours online at

You can also buy some of the Museum's photographs there - notably the McGee Russo-Japanese War collection which we haven't gotten online anywhere else yet.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Embryo Models Found

Jim Curley has been in contact with an anatomy professor at Johns Hopkins Medical School. It seems they are moving to new digs and a closet full of anatomical models had been found. Would the museum like them? Jim got some pics of the contents and were we excited. Not only were there what looked to be some Zeigler wax models, but there was a model that had originally been part of the Carnegie Collection. Beth, Jim and I went up today for a look and there were lots of Zeigler and Carnegie models! This is the kind of fun treasure hunt I expect most museum people live for, finding beautiful things thought the be lost.

Posted by Picasa

Bert Hansen on why we should celebrate today

See his blog post at

By popular demand: second Medical Illustration class added at NMHM, July 25th.

“An Introduction to Techniques in Medical Illustration”

When: Saturday, July 25, 2009 (1:00 – 4:00 p.m.)

**Note: The July 11th class has been filled to capacity. Spots for the July 25th class are filling quickly (only 9 left)—register today!


Where: National Museum of Health and Medicine


What: This workshop will explore the delicate beauty of traditional carbon dust illustration. While working from real specimens, participants will learn about the careful observation and drawing techniques required to create beautiful and accurate drawings using carbon dust, colored pencil, and ink. Ages 13 to adult. All levels welcome.


Course leader: Elizabeth Lockett, Scientific Illustrator and Collections Manager of the Museum’s Human Developmental Anatomy Center


Pre-registration is required by July 8, 2009: or (202) 782-2673. Class limited to 15 students.


Cost: FREE!


Photo ID required.


Information: or (202) 782-2673

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Are you up for some weirdness?

In one of those strange, how-did-I-get-here moments on the internet, I came across the abcnews website that shows some oddball x-rays. As they say, Viewer Discretion is Advised.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New collection available in Archives

Guide # OHA 227.05 - Personal papers - [McGrath Notebooks]

Two notebooks from Thomas  McGrath with course notes on Experimental Physiology and Physiological Chemistry from classes at Albany Medical College, 1906-1907.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

NY Times on cancer research

Today's Times has a very interesting article on how cancer research grants now go to the cautious - quite a change from the way Bert Hansen described late 19th and early 20th century medical research in his book.

Grant System Leads Cancer Researchers to Play It Safe
Published: June 28, 2009
A major impediment in the fight against cancer is that most research grants go to projects unlikely to break much ground.

Bert's book has quite a bit on antitoxins, serums and therapies derived from attenuated germs in animals. So much so that I was planning on writing to him and asking if he knew why nobody was using these types of methods anymore, in favor of relying on vaccination and antibiotics. At one point he noted that there were over 70 different tuberculosis serums - if drug-resistant TB continues to evolve, and by definition it will, one would think this earlier cure holds new promise.

However, this article from tomorrow's paper harks back to the future, and again, Bert's book can shed light on these historical techniques being rediscovered.

New Treatment for Cancer Shows Promise in Testing
Published: June 29, 2009
A new method of attacking cancer cells, developed by researchers in Australia, has proved surprisingly effective in animal tests.