Monday, February 15, 2010

Letter of the day: February 15

Smithsonian Institution
February 15 '70 (1870)

Dr. George A. Otis
Army Medical Museum,

Dear Sir,

I have the honor on behalf of this establishment to acknowledge the receipt of the two teeth mention in yours of February 5th and which have been transferred by the Medical Department of the U.S. Army to the Smithsonian Institution in accordance with the terms of an agreement, entered into, some time since, by these two establishments relative to an exchange of certain kinds of specimens.

Of the two teeth which are of those of Fossil horse, - the larger will bear the number 9826, the smaller 9827.

Very truly,
Your obdt servant,

Joseph Henry

Scty, Smith. Inst.
by D.L. [illegible]

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Letter of the Day: February 14

A subsequent letter from the AMA said they do not have the die but have no objection to having another medal struck. There is no reply (that I found) to a letter in the folder from Davis to Tiffany about the die. I couldn’t find any mention of this medal in Emu.

14 Feb. 1942
American Medical Association
Chicago, Ill.

Dear Doctor:-

We have a very comprehensive collection of Medical Medals at this Museum and are endeavoring to add to it.

There was issued by your association sometime in 1914 a medal to Gen. William C. Gorgas. This medal is described and listed in Storer’s catalog of Medical Medals and was made by Tiffany Co., New York. As it was of gold it was the only one probably struck.

It is assumed that the dies are still in possession of the maker, Tiffany, or else were turned over to your office. In any event would it be possible to have a gilt bronze replica made for our collection?

So far as known this is the only medal of Gorgas and as he was our Surgeon General we feel that if possible this medal should be in our collection.

Any information concerning this will be greatly appreciated.


Harry A. Davis

Maj. USA Ret.
Hist. Sect.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

NYTimes: New Rule on Cargo Is Shaking Art World

What a nightmare, no matter how big (and funded) a gallery or museum you are. 

From The New York Times:

New Rule on Cargo Is Shaking Art World

Airport security screeners soon may be poking around Picassos in addition to sweaters and socks.

Letter of the Day: February 13

111 Bruce Ave
Yonkers N.Y. Feb. 13th 1904

Surgeon General R.M. O’Reilly, U.S. Army
War Department, Washington D.C.

Dear General:

During the last thirty years I have made a collection of anatomical and pathological material consisting mostly of wax models in colors illustrating deformities of the nose, mouth, throat and chest. These have been made from casts taken from the subjects before and after operation.

The above collection I am considering presenting to the Army Medical Museum in case the museum would be pleased to receive the same.

Some months ago I was contemplating a visit to the museum when I hoped to have the pleasure of meeting you. Owing to illness my condition will not allow of it I will enclose a note of introduction from my friend Dr. J.S. Billings.

I will appreciate it if you will kindly advise me regarding the reception of the collection and the facilities you have for exhibiting the same. I will be pleased to give you detail information of the collection should you desire it.

Awaiting your reply, I am
Very respectfully yours

D.H. Goodwillie M.D.

per R

Dictated by Dr. Goodwillie

[A five-page list of models was in the file with the letter.]

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Day in the Life

Finally got box labels made for the Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology collection - all 62 boxes.

Letter of the Day, February 12

I think we’d like to lay claim to anything Walter Reed (after all, where are we physically sited?) but his alma mater has a far more extensive and enviable collection.



February 12, 1900.






In compliance with Circular dated War Department, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, January 17, 1900, I have the honor to report that I am a graduate in medicine of the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va. and of Bellevue Hospital Medical College, New York City. I have no Academic Degree.


Very respectfully,

Walter Reed,

Major & Surgeon,

U.S. Army


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow fears come true at Smithsonanian

The Associated Press is reporting that one of the collection storage units for the Air and Space Museum has had its roof collapse. We also have a flat-roofed storage unit in Maryland. I hope our colleagues are able to rescue everything - these buildings, if they're the ones I'm thinking of, are older hangers with airplanes in them.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Letter of the Day to resume when snow ends

The government is closed again today, and today we're expecting another 10-20" on top of the 24" we have already, so we'll resume the letter of the day when we can reach the office again.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Letter of the day: February 8

World War 1 has ended and a surgeon with the American Expeditionary Forces in France is more than ready to go home. This is from the Otken Collection.

Sat Feb 8th 1919

My dear Sister,

Your letter of Jan 11th & two bundles of papers came this week, the first mail I have had from you in two weeks.

We are still living here at Beau Desert in a ward doing nothing but hiking a little every day. However our gang plank list has gone in and we are on the sailing list, so expect to get away from here in the next few weeks.

There is not much sickness here – the flu seems to be over & just the wounded & usual run of cases come in. Thursday night a kerosene stove blew up in one of the wards over at 114 – about eleven thirty and the entire ward burned down in a very few minutes. It was full of patients all amputation cases but all were moved out safely. There was a hard wind blowing & the boys did good work in holding the fire to one ward[.] Two adjoining wards caught fire but were extinguished – only the tar paper roofing being burned.

Dr. Gardner[?] sailed this week for home, so guess he will be back in McComb before many weeks.

I wrote Charlie a couple of letters to Camp Leach that should have reached him by this time.

Several of our men have been detached from the unit this week & assigned to new jobs here in this section – I hope nothing like this will happen to me, I’m ready to go home now.

We are to take only twenty of our nurses home, the rest have to stay here on duty with these hospitals here.

Frances is being relieved from Evac. Hosp. #1 at Toul & will probably start for home in a few weeks – she will most likely go by way of Brest or St Nazaire. When she gets to New York will probably wire me at McComb & begin sending her letters there, so just hold them until you hear from me.

She has had very little work to do up there as the hospital is just about cleaned out. The com. officer there gave a party of the nurses a trip over to Verdun & and the battlefields in ambulances – they go to see all the battle front in that sector. That is about the only thing over here that I have missed that I would really like to see.

If the flu is raging over there it does look like they would get some of these Hospital units back and turn them loose lot of Drs. & nurses just killing time over here when they could be of so much use over there.

Am surprised to hear that Benton is back – doesn’t agree with what Henry Hesse told me – does it.

Hope the 1st of March will find us on the water. All take care of yourselves, expect to be with you soon. Much love to all.


Capt LB Otken
USBH 22,
APO 705 Am.E.F.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Letter of the Day #2: February 7

Even during World War I, traditional donations continued to come in and be accepted.

February 7, 1918

Dr. G.W. Remage,
Jennings, Louisiana

Dear Doctor Remage:

Permit me to thank you in behalf of the Surgeon General and of myself for the surgical case recently donated by you to this Museum which has just been received and placed on deposit here. We gratefully appreciate your thoughtful courtesy in this matter and the case has been carded as a gift from you.

Very sincerely,

W.O. Owen

Colonel, Medical Corps, U.S. Army
Curator, A.M.M.

Letter of the Day #1: February 7

E.D. Hudson cooperated with the Museum for many years, providing photographs of his patients including the Confederate soldier Columbus Rush whom he provided with two artificial legs.

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington, D.C.

February 7, 1866

Dear Sir,

I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge your communication of the 25th ultimo, and to thank you for the nine (9) interesting photographs which accompanied it.

The Surgeon General has authorized me to give you the names of officers and soldiers who have recovered after undergoing the operation of excision of the head of the humerus and I have directed a list of such to be prepared.

In any future official publication with which I may be entrusted, I will carefully consider the subject of artificial limbs and the relative value of different apparatus, and I shall endeavor to do entire justice to inventors. Your claims in regard to apparatus for patients mutilated by the operations of Syme & Pirogoff, and by knee-joint amputations will not be overlooked.

I am anxious to obtain photographs of double amputations of the thigh or leg and of other cases of unusual interest, and am willing to pay for such. I hereby authorize you have photographs taken of cases of especial interest. As near as may be they should be uniform in size with those taken at the Army Medical Museum, of some of which you have copies. The negatives should be sent, securely packed, by Harnden’s Express, directed to Major General J.K. Barnes, Surgeon General U.S. Army. (For Army Medical Museum.) The bills should be made out in triplicate on the enclosed forms.

I have directed a copy of Circular No: 6, of this office, containing reports on the materials available for a medical and surgical history of the rebellion to be sent to your address.

Very respectfully,
Your obedt. servant,
By order of the Surgeon General,

George A. Otis

Surgeon & Bvt. Lt. Colonel U.S. Vols.

Dr. E.D. Hudson,
Clinton Hall, Astor Place,
New York City

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Due to the obvious.

Letter of the Day: February 6

Numbered Correspondence 5752. Around this time, the Museum started a dental registry, or a collection of dental interest.

February 6, 1902

Prof. B.E. Lischer, D.M.D.
2341a Russell Avenue,
St. Louis, Mo.

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 3rd inst., in reference to a series of human teeth which Dr. A. H. Fuller, of your city, wishes to present to this Museum, has been referred to me for answer by the Surgeon General, U.S. Army

The Museum would prefer to receive these specimens properly tagged, but unmounted, so that they may be mounted and labeled here in uniformity with others, already in this collection.

Please have them carefully packed in a box marked Army Medical Museum, 7th and B Streets, S.W., Washington, D.C., and send them by express, freight charges to be paid here.

Thanking you for your considerate action in this matter, I am,

Very respectfully,

Calvin DeWitt

Col. & Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.

In charge of Museum & Library Division

Photographs of the series will be sent when the specimens have been mounted.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Museum closes today at 1:30

Due to inclement weather (ie a forecast of 24 inches of snow), the Museum will close at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, February 05, 2010. Updates to operating hours will be posted to the Museum’s information line at (202) 782-2200.

Letters of the Day

Outgoing correspondence, in the days before carbon paper and mimeograph and Xerox, was copied by hand into bound volumes of blank pages. It was the only way to keep track of what correspondence went out. A scribe of some of the letters was obviously an artist and a bit of a rebel because he added flourishes to many of the letters he copied. I wish I knew who it was. Here are two examples on one page of his artistry.

Right off I'm going to apologize for the softness of this photo. I'm not allowed to take my real camera into the building but I am allowed my cell phone, so I was reduced to using it for this picture. It's a great phone but a lousy camera. But as Mike would say, Notwithstanding That, I'm going to post this shot anyway.

Letter of the day: February 5

Surgeon General’s Office
February 5, 1873

Dr. H.A. Martin

My dear doctor: Yours of the 3rd has just reached me. The diptheritic cast reaches us safely, has been placed in the medical section, and is fully appreciated. Dr. Otis having written, I supposed had acknowledged this as well as the cast of the plastic operation. Let me assure you the omission did not arise from want of appreciation. Many thanks for the additional vaccine vesicle. Those you previously sent are undergoing the hardening process and will soon be ready to make sections. I am sanguine of interesting results, and will write you how we get along. A full set of the section will be reserved for you.

The catalogue of the Library, first edition, is out of print; only three hundred and fifty copies were printed. Dr. Billings is now at work on a second edition which will contain about twice as many titles as the first. Your name has been put down for a copy of the first part of the medical history of the war now in the hands of the binder.

I learned last evening that a little boy who was staying with the Shermans, when I vaccinated them last, and who left immediately after took nicely. I had intended to write you that Mrs. Sherman’s arm was quite sore after the last vaccination but presented nothing characteristic. On the whole I hardly think it worth while to re-vaccinate them again, regarding them as “protected,” especially as I used the method you described. If, however, you think it worthwhile, I will urge them to try once more.

Sincerely your friend,

J.J. Woodward

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NPR interview on the history of obstetricsI

I caught part of this on the ride home today and it sounds pretty interesting - 'Get Me Out': Making Babies Through The Ages

Letter of the Day #2: February 4

February 4, 1889


I have the honor to request authority to purchase for deposit in the Army Medical Museum the following specimens to be paid for from the Museum appropriation:

Skull of Troglodytes gorilla, adult, Cost, $30.00
Skull of Troglodytes niger, adult [Cost] $13.00

I am, General, Very respectfully, Your obedient servant,

(Signed) John S. Billings

Surgeon US Army
Curator Army Medical Museum

Surgeon General, US Army
Washington D.C.

Letter of the Day #1: February 4

A microtome is used to cut sections for microscopic slides.


February 4, 1905


To the Surgeon General,

U.S. Army.




I have the honor to request authority to purchase for deposit in this Museum:


1 large or flat section cutting microtome, 1900 pattern, with double lever to prevent cutting thick and thin sections, est. cost… $45.00 to be paid for from the Museum appropriation. 


Very respectfully,


C.L. Heinzmann

Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.

In charge of Museum & Library Division


[handwritten note]


See Cat. of W. Watson & Sons, 313 High Holborn, London W. C. p. 124 No. 840.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New York Times on Hela cell line book

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS by Rebecca Skloot is the book. The two articles are:

February 3, 2010
Books of The Times
A Woman’s Undying Gift to Science

Second Opinion
A Lasting Gift to Medicine That Wasn’t Really a Gift
February 1, 2010

Letters of the Day: February 3

This is the first set of letters from a collection donated to the Museum, rather than being the conduct of Museum business. The three come from this collection:

OHA 228

* McMillin Letters, 1865-1866
* .1 cubic foot, .1 box.
* No finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Tissue and letterbook copies of letters sent by Thomas McMillin in his position of assistant medical purveyor in New York City.

I wonder how you lose 336 ounces of chloroform?

Medical Purveyor's Office

New York

Feb. 3 1866




An invoice addressed to Mr. George Wright late Medical Storekeeper at this Depot ha been received. I have to inform you that the instruments etc have never been received. As the invoice is dated Dec. 1st, I presume they have been lost in transportation.


Very respectfully,

Your Obt Servt.

[Sig.] Thos. McMillin

Asst. Surg. USA and Asst Medical Purveyor


Dr. Thos. F. Perley

Late Surg. USA

Portland, ME



Medical Purveyor's Office

New York

Feb. 3 1866




You will please send an Invoice of thirty four (34) cases Hospital and Medical Supplies received at this Depot as now has been received Case no. 30. Said to contain 336 oz [zuici?] Chlor. Liq. [chloroform liquid] has not been received. I cannot receipt you for the Bedsteads mentioned in your letter of Feb. 1st; as all Bedsteads received, were accredited to Dr. Orton late asst. Surg. USA.


Your Obt Servt.

[Sig.] Thos. McMillin

Asst. Surg. USA and Asst Medical Purveyor


Dr. J. W. Merrain

Act Asst. Surg USA

Fort Schuyler, NYH [New York Harbor]



Medical Purveyor's Office

New York

Feby. 3 1866



The receipts for Medical and hospital property issued you together with the endorsement that the Hypodermic Syringe was missing has been received.


Will you please to inform me if you saw the box unpacked, and know from personal observation that the instrument was not received.


I am Sir Very Respectfully,

Your Obedient Servant

[Signed] Thos. McMillin

Asst. Surg. USA and Asst Medical Purveyor


C. H. King.

A.A. Surg. USA

Fort Trumbull, Conn


Cecil Miller collection, new in the Archives

We’ve just received the records of Dr. Cecil R. Miller, who was the NCOIC of the 430th AAFRTU ("Army Air Force Replacement Training Unit", a convalescent center for battle fatigue), Ephrata, WA, possibly co-located with the 430th Combat Crew Training Station-Standby, at Ephrata Army Air Base. It includes 21 photographs, 5 typescript documents, "You Are Convalescing In An Army Air Forces Hospital" booklet and digital image of Dr. Miller.


Our donor kindly made PDFs of the 5 documents noted above, and I scanned the photographs this morning, a quick job. It’s so nice when we can say a collection is digitized.


Here are a few photos from the collection. One is labeled, “Ephrata. Our convalescent garden is mainly painted rocks!!” The second says, “I think this is the Altitude Training Chamber.” And the third is Sergeant Miller. Higher-resolution versions will be on our Flickr site.





Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Double Take

Despite the cover art, this is not a collection of spooky stories for children. It's a history of embryology and teratology from the 1960s by Ekkehard Kleiss in Venezuela. I can't read Spanish, but based on the many images inside, Kleiss compiled information on prehistoric cultural objects that clearly depict congenital abnormalities. The smaller picture shows what looks to me like it could be Arnold-Chiari malformation (?).

I didn't find out much else about this Kleiss character, other than that he was a professor of anatomy and embryology and also wrote on the history of mummification.

Letter of the Day: February 2

I don't know how key blanks qualify for expenditure from the emergency fund unless that's the only fund that had any money.

February 2, 1889


I have the honor to state that the following articles are required for use at the Army Medical Museum and would request authority to buy them as emergency purchases to be paid for from the Museum's appropriation.

2 papers Tacks Estimated Cost .26
Screw-eyes " " 1.50
10 lbs 8d finishing nails " " .50
1 dozen Key blanks " " 3.00
2 pieces thin plate glass " " .60

Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
(Signed) John S. Billings
Surgeon, US Army
Curator Army Medical Museum

Surgeon General US Army,
Washington, D.C.

Monday, February 1, 2010





 Narvin Gray, 202-356-1012 x 2-6110 or


Book Covers Comprehensive Treatment of Service Members with Limb Amputations

Borden Institute Releases Care of the Combat Amputee



Washington, DC – Focusing on the critical issue of multifaceted care for our combat veterans with major limb amputations and polytrauma, the Borden Institute has released Care of the Combat Amputee, the latest volume in the Textbooks of Military Medicine series.

This book provides a significant update to the field of rehabilitation, with comprehensive coverage of emerging approaches, techniques, and technologies for amputee care. “Despite more destructive weapons and horrific wounds, the men and women of Military Medicine, as a whole, have continuously adapted to changing requirements and have developed comprehensive rehabilitative methods. This approach, combined with the goal of restoring our wounded service members to the highest possible functional level, is resulting in the optimal reintegration of our wounded Warriors,” according to Lieutenant General Eric B. Schoomaker, Surgeon General of the US Army.

Written by experts in the military, Veterans Administration, and private sector—with specialty editing by Colonel Paul Pasquina (US Army Medical Corps) and Dr Rory Cooper (VA; University of Pittsburg)—the publication addresses aspects of combat amputee care ranging from surgical techniques to long-term care, polytrauma and comorbidities such as traumatic brain injury and burns, pain management, psychological issues, physical and occupational therapy, VA benefits, prosthetics and adaptive technologies, sports and recreational opportunities, and return to duty and vocational rehabilitation. The book will serve as an essential resource for providers involved in amputee care, as well as service members and veterans with major limb amputations.

            Conceived in 1987, the Borden Institute, under the Army Surgeon General, publishes the Textbooks of Military Medicine. Each book is a comprehensive subject reference on the art and science of military medicine, extensively illustrated, and written to integrate lessons learned in past wars with current principles and practices of military medicine.

            The Borden Institute offers volumes in hardback, as well as on its Web site and on CD-ROM.

For more information on the Borden Institute and how to order the publications, visit the organization online at



Dittrick Medical Museum blog launches

Check it out at


Letter of the day: February 1

These prints were needed for the second edition of the Medical & Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion.

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington City, DC
February 1, 1868

Baron von Egloffstein,
Superintendent Heliographic Engraving Company
135 West 25th Street
New York City


The two impressions of the plate representing the surgeons railway car of the hospital train of the Department of the Cumberland were duly received and submitted to the Surgeon General. I have also to acknowledge your communication of the 30th ult., announcing the transmission of these proofs, and asking for my criticism thereon.

I regard the work as a very satisfactory copy of the drawing. Much of the engraving appears to me to be done by hand, but it is immaterial how it is done provided so good work can be furnished at the same price as lithographic work.

For an edition of 5020 prints of a similar plate, done by lithography, this office has heretofore paid one hundred dollars, the paper being furnished by this office.

I am instructed by the Surgeon General to request you to send a proof on the thin paper. I herewith transmit, and also a statement of the price at which you can furnish 5020 prints, the paper being furnished.
I am, Baron,
Very respectfully,
Your obt. Servant,
By order of the Surgeon General,
[George A. Otis]
Ass’t. Surgeon, U.S. Army

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Post book review on creating a cell line

This review of THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS hy Rebecca Skloot (Crown. 369 pp. $26) is fascinating. One knows cell lines exist, but one doesn't realize that they can be tracked back to a person.

Letter of the day: January 31 (2 of 2)

Notice that the Soldier's Home, now firmly in DC, wasn't quite there in 1887.

January 31, 1887

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 30th instant has been received. If you will have the kindness to send the man on a fair day, at an early opportunity, I shall be please to have a photograph taken of one side on an enlarged scale to show the supplementary nipple to better advantage.

Thanking you for your kind offer, I remain,
Very sincerely yours,
(Signed) John S. Billings
Surgeon U.S. Army
Curator Army Medical Museum

Byrne Major C.C.
Surgeon U.S. Army
Attending Surgeon Soldiers’ Home
Near Washington, D.C.

Letter of the day: January 31 (1 of 2)

January 31, 1887


I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of January 18th with the accompanying special surgical reports.

The bone specimen from the case of Pt. M.P. Johnson, 4th Cavalry, amputation on account of shot fracture of ankle joint, and the bullet and piece of exploded shell from the case of Pt. F.E. Sloat, 4th Cavalry, have also been received.

The Surgeon General desires me to thank you for these additions to the Museum collection.

Very truly yours,
(Signed) John S. Billings
Surgeon U.S. Army
Curator Army Medical Museum

Brown Captain Paul R.
Assistant Surgeon U.S. Army
Post Surgeon Fort Huachuca
Arizona Territory

Saturday, January 30, 2010

WRAMC campus plan debate in Post

D.C. begins to plan redevelopment of Walter Reed campus
By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 30, 2010

The article contains the intriguing "District officials said Thursday night that the September 2011 closing date had been pushed back, although it is not clear to when."

Smithsonian American Art Museum has a lovely blog

It's off-topic, but the Smithsonian American Art Museum has a lovely blog.

Letter of the day: January 30

I have no idea what "This spaa is also cribriform..." but that's what the letter says.

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington City D.C.
Jany 30th 1866


About 12th September 1865, there was received from you, from Santa Fé, a cranium which has been given the number 4385, in the surgical section of the Army Medical Museum. The specimen shows a discolored surface of six inches by four over the superior anterior portion of the frontal bone. This spaa is also cribriform – No history accompanied the case, and it has been suggested it was one in which scalping had been practiced without immediately fatal results. You are earnestly desired to transmit such notes of the matter as you may possess.

Very respectfully,
Your obedt. servant,
By order of the Surgeon General
[George A. Otis]
Surgeon & Bvt. Lt. Col, U.S. Vols. Curator, A.M. Museum

Bvt Major H.E. Brown,
Assistant Surgeon U.S. Army at Hart’s Island, N.Y.H. [New York Harbor]
Care of Medl. Dir. Dept East, New York

Friday, January 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: January 29 (5 of 5)

Anyone know what Sour Ham is?

Swift and Company

Kansas City Stock Yards

Kansas City

Address All Mail To Station ‘A’




Dr. Sternberg,

Bacterialogical (sic) Dept.,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Sir:-


Referring to our favor of recent date, we enclose herewith memorandum invoice covering 2 Sour Hams, shipped [to] you.


Will appreciate a copy of your report when completed on these two hams. Shipment made at the request of Dr. D. H. White.


Yours respectfully,


Swift and Company,


Per, JAH


Letter of the Day: January 29 (4 of 5)

Numbered Correspondence 1215


January 29, 1896


Mr. Wayland F. Reynolds,

Clarksburg, W. Va.


Dear Sir:


In answer to your letter of the 28th inst., I would state that there is in this Museum a microscopic slide which contains the Lord’s prayer, 227 letters, in a space 1/294 x 1/441 of a square inch.


Very respectfully,


D.L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

In charge of Museum and Library Division.

Letter of the Day: January 29 (3 of 5)

Dr. Fred Pettersen


Comfort, Texas.

January 29, 1881


Surgeon General, U.S.A.

Washington, D.C.




By to-day’s mail I have forwarded a piece muscle (biceps) taken from a  girl aged 8, who died from trichinosis, the same is remarkably full with trichinae spiratis in the second stages.


Very respectfully

Your Obt. Servt.

Fred Pettersen


Letter of the Day: January 29 (2 of 5)

Fort Larned, Kansas

Jan. 29 1878


Surgeon General

U.S. Army




I have the honor to enclose copy of receipt issued this day to me by Post Quartermaster for one box addressed to the Army Medical Museum.


The contents are,


1)      One Golden Eagle – shot near here Dec 2, 1877. I have roughly dressed it so as to leave the plumage on the skeleton, that the curator may use it as preferred, applying salt or alum.

2)      One skull & bal. [balance] of skeleton of a male Raccoon found dead here Dec 2, 1877.

3)      I also send in behalf of Asst. Surg. W.E. Whitehead the skin & extremities of one whooping crane (I believe) shot near here in fall of 1877 – arsenic and Plaster of Paris were used.


I am, Sir, with great respect

Your Obt Servt

Francis H. Atkins

A.A. Surgeon

U.S. Army

Letter of the Day: January 29 (1 of 5)

The photographs he refers to have not been catalogued and may no longer exist. Darn it.


County Clerk’s Office

John C. Johnston,

County Clerk


Newton, Kas. Jan 29, 1885


David Flynn

Army Medical Museum

Washington City DC


Dear Sir


If you remember I was in your Department last May (1884) and you had me photographed. I am the original of Cast No 1401 Shell wound in right side of my face, Battle of Spotsylvania CH [Court House] May 10 1864. You gave me several phots. But you said if I would write you would sand me some better ones when you had more leisure to get them up. If it is not asking too much I wish you would please send me ½ doz. of each side. I had both sides of my face taken etc.


Yours Truly

John C. Johnston

Newton PO

Harvey Co.



[1 doz Photographs sent April 9, 1885]

New copy of South Africa's Adler Museum Bulletin has arrived

The world of medical museums is pretty small today, but there are still ones spread around the world. Our new copy of South Africa's Adler Museum Bulletin arrived today. Topics include disease detectives, British colonial nurses in Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War, world’s first in vitro fertilisation of a gestational surrogate mother and “Do museum objects speak for themselves?” among others.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: January 28

Selected by Kathleen this time.


ND [immediately following letter of January 28 1864]


Specification of jars, for Army Medical Museum


Best pure glass, ground stoppers (extra with Emory) – stopper with glass knob, as in pattern. Each stopper to be provided with a hook inside. This hook to be attached as in figure 1, & not on the bottom of stopper as in sample, the object of the change to being to gain room for suspension of object. The mouths of the jars to be as wide as possible. In case it is not possible to make stoppers to the larger jars (24 in by 10 in; 18 in by 9 in; 16 in by 8 in) then these jars must be made as in figure 2, the top edge of the jar ground level so that a plate of glass or lead may be laid over it, & tied on with bladder.


The sizes and number of the jars required by the museum are as follows


12 jars 24 inches high by 10 inches wide

12 jars 18 inches high by 9 inches wide

48 jars 16 inches high by 8 inches wide

72 jars 12 inches high by 6 inches wide

72 jars 10 inches high by 4 inches wide

144 jars 7 inches high by 2 inches wide




Gentlemen, I desire to know the price per pound at which these jars can be delivered in Washington, and also the approximate number of pounds in all. As the funds at the command of the museum are somewhat limited the number of jars ordered must depend on this information. Is the government tax included in the prices as specified?


Yrs respectfully


JH Brinton

Surgeon, USA & Curator, A.M. Museum


Mssrs Muzzey & Munro

419 Commerce St.

Philadelphia, PA







Archives staff member departs

Jasmine High has been managing the Medical Illustration Service Library since last April, and handling the quality assurance on our large scanning project. She’s leaving us for the Smithsonian’s Natural History museum and we’ll miss her.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Code of Public Local Laws, City of Baltimore, 1882

Article 4, Section 154 Laws of Maryland 1882, Chapter 166 Page 168
Any public officer of Baltimore City or Baltimore County having charge of or control over the bodies of deceased persons required to be buried at the public expense, or at the expense of any institution supported by said city or county, shall notify the chairman of the Anatomy Board, said board being composed of a demonstrator of Anatomy of each medical school in the State of Maryland, of the existence and possession of of such bodies, and shall give permission to said Anatomy Board through its chairman or to any physician or surgeon of the State of Maryland, upon his request made therefore, to take such bodies within forty-eight hours after death, to be given by him, used within the State for the advancement of Medical Science ...

"A Note on Experimental Cranioplasty"

This paper is pretty neat. Written by a military surgeon, Paul Wegeforth, from the Army Neuro-surgical Laboratory at John's Hopkins Medical School in 1919, it talks about reconstruction of the skull after traumatic injury on the battlefield. Some amazing, pioneering techniques.

Have you seen this man?

Have you seen this man? Found this image tucked in an envelope in the Carnegie Reprint collection. The name is tough to read and we don't seem to have any papers associated. But great picture. Its from a photography studio in Boston.

Med School

An anatomy class handbook and grade sheet from the University of Toronto, 1892. It's not shown here, but the only thing in bold inside the green-ish pamphlet is something like "No tobacco permitted in the dissection room." For anyone that has looked through Blast Book's Dissection pictures, Toronto seems pretty advanced in that respect.

From the HDAC reprint collection

Yes, the Alexander Graham Bell. Apparently he was into eugenics after realizing that children of deaf couples were more likely to be deaf too.

Letter of the Day: January 27 UPDATED


Six months after the establishment of the Museum, Civil War hospital doctors were saving material for it.


U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1,

Frederick, MD., Jany 27 1863




I will endeavor to  pl[ea]s[e] also [illegible] to take Davis place & at any rate the specimens “shall be preserved”. Enclosed please find corrected bill.




R.F. Weir

Asst Surgeon, USA


Dr. J.H. Brinton, USA

Surg. Gen’l Office

Washington, DC


Curiosity over this letter leads me to transcribe the earlier one:


U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1,

Frederick, MD., January 25 1863




Enclosed find your vouchers for expenditures for whiskey to preserve pathological specimens. Will you please have them settled as the money had been advanced by Dr. Davis who has recently left for England & me, heir to bones & [illegible – whiskey?] collections. When may we expect to see the new Catalogue[?]




R.F. Weir

Asst Surgeon, USA


Dr. J.H. Brinton, USA

Surg. Gen’l Office

Washington, DC


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letter of the day: January 26th

The Museum’s eventual transformation into a pathology institute is foreshadowed…


Numbered Correspondence 1956


January 26, 1897


Captain John L. Phillips,

Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Fort Walla Walla, Wash.


Dear Doctor:


The specimen of testicle referred to in your letter of January 9th has been embedded and examined microscopically, with the following result: Marked fibroid thickening of the normal covering of the testicle together with such extensive interstitial change in the structure of the testicle proper as to render it extremely difficult to even make out any of the remains of the spermatic tubules, which are here and there seen as narrow crevices lined by low epithelium. The diagnosis, therefore, would be chronic interstitial orchitis, which may have had a syphilititic origin. There is no appearance, whatever, of any malignant disease.


A slide will be forwarded by to-day’s mail.


Very sincerely yours,


Walter Reed


Surgeon, U.S. Army,


Monday, January 25, 2010

...and what are we doing?

Anyone have any idea why our Flickr account got 26,000 hits last Friday?

Stats for: Your account
← Friday, Jan 22 2010 →

Your most viewed photos and videos
Visits %
Photos and Videos 20,917 78%
Photostream 2,244 8%
Sets 3,448 12%
Collections 0 0%

Why we do this

Today we got an email in the archives from a man in California who found pictures of his mother, a World War 2 nurse, on our Flickr page. His mother's 87th birthday is coming soon and he wants to print one of the photos for her. He said he's not sure she knows these photos exist.

So many of our images have no or very little information, but in this case his mother's name was spelled out in the caption to all four!!! photos of her. I have often said to myself, as I am posting this kind of detail, that someone is going to be trolling the internet, looking for their mom or dad, and may very well find one of the things we've tossed up there.

It's exactly this reason that we do what we do, with the hope that we're the connection between today and yesterday. Have I said I love my job?

Letter of the day: January 25

This letter followed immediately after one thanking a Colonel C. Sutherland for his donation of two Indian arrowheads.


January 25, 1869




It appears to me right that the contributors to the section of Indian Curiosities etc., should be notified of the transfer of their donations to the Smithsonian Institution, and I would therefore respectfully submit the enclosed “Memorandum,”  and suggest that it be printed, or some modification of it, and distributed in the form, if you approve, of the Memorandum of Sept. 1868.


Very respectfully,

Your obd’t servant,

[George A. Otis]

Ass’t Surgeon, U.S.A.

Curator, A.M.M.


Bvt. Brig Gen’l C.H. Crane,

Ass’t Surg. General, US Army

NY Times expose on medical radiation injuries

In the past, we've posted pictures of radiation burns from the early years of the 20th century here and on our Flickr site. The NY Times reports that a century later, this is still an ongoing problem:
Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm
Published: January 24, 2010
While new technology saves the lives of countless cancer patients, errors can lead to unspeakable pain and death.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brunswig Mausoleum, Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans

Lucien Napoleon Brunswig (1854-1943) donated the School of Pharmacy at USC. He moved to Los Angeles in 1903 and became a partner in a local drug company. In 1907 he bought out his partner and created the Brunswig Drug Company with branches in Phoenix, Tucson, and San Diego. Among the company's earliest buildings are three that are still standing on the west side of Main Street, across from the Pico House at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument (Los Angeles). He also owned the Brunswig Building on 2nd Street, which was demolished in 1968. Lucien Napoleon Brunswig became the city's largest wholesale drug supplier. He sold commercial medications and patent medicines that he invented himself and supplied to many city pharmacies.

I have no idea why he's buried in New Orleans and not Los Angeles.

Follow the picture to close-ups of the two statues flanking the door.

Some things never change

From our military working dog expert, Mike Lemish:

The same issue about getting dog food distributed properly was a big problem in Vietnam - now 40 years later they (the military) still have the same problem in Afghanistan. Go figure - some things never change.

Letter of the day: January 24

Received wisdom has the Medical Museum collecting American Indian remains, and later transferring them to the Smithsonian, but this form letter shows that material went both ways.

Smithsonian Institution
U.S. National Museum
Washington City, Jan. 24, 1878


In accordance with the arrangement between the Smithsonian Institution and the Army Medical Museum, I have the honor to transmit the collections mentioned below,t he receipt of which please acknowledge.

Very respectfully, yours,

Spencer F. Baird
Asst. Secretary S.I.

Collection human bones from Indian graves in Santa Barbara Col, Col., gathered in 1875 by the expedition of Lt. Geo. M. Wheeler.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Covetousness, a deadly sin

Medical ephemera
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
These would fit so nice and neatly in our GMPI (General Medical Products Information) collection. I had a serious case of envy. From the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Goddess of Evils

Goddess of Evils
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
Lest you think we're fixated on STDs... We also think highly of alternative and complementary medicine. From the voodoo section at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Theater of War

Because I forgot to turn off my alarm yesterday, I was treated to an early-morning segment on NPR called Metro Connection. It was about a DOD program called Theater of War, in which plays of the ancient Greeks are used to make connections with today's soldiers. One of the venues is Walter Reed. You can listen to the segment at

Letter of the day: January 23

Sternberg is known as one of the fathers of bacteriology and became the Surgeon General himself. Steve Hill of our staff also notes, "10th Cavalry was one of the two all-black cavalry regiments (Buffalo Soldiers) created shortly after Civil War."

Fort Riley, Kansas
Jan: 23rd, 1868


I have the honor to send herewith for microscopic examination (if desired) the kidneys of Pvt: James Garrode Co “G” 10th U.S. Cavalry, who died at this hospital of Brights disease on the 19th inst:

I have a full record of this case, which I will transmit with my next monthly report of Sick and Wounded.

I also transmit a fibrous polypus, removed from the pharynx of Pvt David Young Co “K” 10 US Cavalry.

Very respectfully
Your obt: servt

G.M. Sternberg

Asst. Surg: & Bvt. Maj
US Army

Bvt. Maj. Genl. J.K. Barnes
Surgeon Genl: US Army
Washington, DC

[an accompanying note written on the reverse says “Receipt acknowledged 1-30-68, and statement that kidneys were too much decomposed and were thrown away. Request for history of polypus.]

Friday, January 22, 2010

That Old-Time Gonorrhea Treatment

Those of you who follow our Flickr account know we have a special place in our hearts for STDs. Prophylactics, propaganda, you name it; if it has to do with a social disease, we do our best to publish it.

I went to a dusty, off-the-beaten-track museum in New Orleans last weekend - the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. I have a lot of very neat stuff from there, but have to lead off with A Safe and Speedy Remedy for the Cure of Gonorrhea and Gleet. I have never heard of Gleet.

Letter of the day: January 22nd

Here’s a letter showing both how the Museum expanded its interests and influences after the Civil War, and how the photographic collection grew. By the way, this was a very rare operation even through the Civil War. When a surgeon performed one, the case was named after him.


Surgeon General’s Office

Washington City, DC

January 22nd, 1868




I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the reception of your interesting letter of the 20th inst. A photograph of the patient on whom you operated eighteen years ago, and who has so long survived so dreadful a mutilation, would be a very interesting addition to our collection. In a few days, I will send you a picture we have secured of Dr. Morton’s patient taken nearly a year after the photograph from which the plate in Circular No. 7 S.G.O., 1867, was copied.


I should be glad to secure a picture of your patient of about the same size. The expence (sic) will be defrayed from the Army Medical Museum Fund.


Please instruct the photographer to print four or five copies and to send them with the negative to me at the Army Medical Museum, No. 454, Tenth Street, Washington, together with the bill.


The Surgeon General is much gratified that you and other surgeons of practical experience, in the operation of amputation at the hip-joint, commend the report he has published on the subject.


I am, Doctor,

Very respectfully,

Your obt. servant,

By order of the Surgeon General:


[George A. Otis]

Ass’t Surgeon, U.S.A.

Curator Army Medical Museum


Dr. Washington T. Duffee

N.E. corner of 18th & Wallace Sts.

Philadelphia, Penna



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Web 2.0? Laughing through my tears

This article appeared in the NY Times today:

Aid Urged for Groups Fighting Internet Censors
Published: January 21, 2010
Five United States senators want the government to move ahead with plans to provide $45 million to help people in other countries evade Web restrictions.

This paragraph could easily have "Walter Reed medical center" substituted in for "China and Iran":

But in the online age the nature of censorship has changed, and regimes like those in China and Iran often deny their populations access to Web news outlets and sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

...although we can get to Google. Not Youtube, or blogs though.

Orthopedic surgery book mentioned in Post based on Museum photographs

In a good article about the difference between military and other types of emergency surgery, Surgeon seeks to prevent 'unnecessary amputations' in Haiti's earthquake zone
by David Brown, Washington Post January 21, 2010, cites Orthopaedic Injuries of the Civil War. This book was written by Julian Kuz, an orthopedic surgeon, and is illustrated with photographs of wounded soldiers from the Museum's collection.

Letter of the day: Jan 21st

Embryology was a new science in 1905 – and the museum was apparently back in the business of taking ‘bottled monsters. Liz Lockett of our embryology collection notes that embryology dates from the 17th century, but the large systematic collections were done at the turn of the twentieth century.


Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 8084


January 21, 1905


Dr. J. J. Repetti,

404 Seward Square, S.E.

Washington, D. C.


Dear Sir:


I am directed by the Surgeon General to express his thanks for the specimen of monstrous foetus received from you on this day. It will be added to the collections with a properly inscribed card.


Will you have the further kindness to furnish the Museum with a history of the case?


Very respectfully,


C.L. Heinzmann

Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.

In charge of Museum & Library Division

Letter of the day: Jan 20th

The Museum has an extensive numismatics collection – this letter shows how it was built up.

January 20, 1897

Dr. H. R. Storer,

Newport, R. I.

Dear Doctor:

Your letter of the 17th inst. Has been received. I shall be glad to purchase the medals you offer at the prices quoted, viz:

Rokitansky, 6.10
Howard, Am. Jour. Num., 687, .35
“ “ “ 689, .35
“ “ “ “ 726, .50

You may send them by Adams Express, freight to be paid here. We have Howard, Am. Jour. Num., #688.

The famine, Germany (Danket dem Herrn) seems to be identical with Pfeiffer u. Ruland #157, but ours has “Ps. 116,” and I can notice no defacement.

Very sincerely,

D. L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army

In charge of Museum and Library Division

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Louisville history of medicine and science meeting



The 12th annual meeting of the Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science-SAHMS- will be held in Louisville, KY March 5-6, 2010. There will be over 70 papers presented in these two days, along with a tour of the first U.S. Marine Hospital built on an inland waterway. Registration for all students is only $75.00. All meeting, registration, and hotel information can be found at:


Please share this information with your faculty and graduate students.


Thank you for your assistance.


Jonathon Erlen, Ph.D.

SAHMS Program Committee

History of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh


Times on Web 2.0-influenced museums

Published: January 20, 2010
New online ventures let users be curators.
Some of us would like to try more of this... however, we are blocked from Flickr, Youtube and blogs and similar sites, so, probably not.

Julie Brown speaks at NLM

Julie's done a lot of research in the Museum over the years.

History of Medicine Division Seminar
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 2-3:30pm
NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A
Bethesda, MD

"Health and Medicine on Display: International Expositions in the United
States, 1876-1904."

Julie K. Brown
Independent Scholar

International expositions, with their massive assembling of exhibits and
audiences, were the media events of their time. In transmitting a new
culture of visibility that merged information, entertainment, and
commerce, they provided a unique opportunity for the public to become
aware of various social and technological advances. This presentation
examines how international expositions, through their exhibits and
infrastructures, sought to demonstrate innovations in applied health and
medical practice.

All are welcome.

Note: The next history of medicine seminar will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2-3:30pm in the NLM's Lister Hill Auditorium. In aspecial program celebrating African American History Month, NIH scholar Sheena Morrison will speak on "Nothing to Work with but Cleanliness: The Training of African American Midwives in the South."

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


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letter of the day? January 19

Stealing the idea from another museum’s blog - - it seems like it might be interesting to look at 150 years of museum history, one day at a time by transcribing letters in the collection. Here’s one from 101 years ago, showing that ordering office supplies never gets any easier. This is page 1 of Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 3629.



Washington, January 19, 1899


Bausch & Lomb Optical Co.

Rochester, N.Y.




I have received through the Medical Purveyor at New York, 4 dozen stender dishes, Cat. No. 4075, D. They are altogether too small for our purpose and I have this day returned them to you, by express, to be exchanged for 4 dozen No. 4075 B. If you will examine your Catalogue you will see that the illustrations of No. 4075 do not at all agree with the figures given as to sizes and proportions, an error which misled us in ordering the goods.


 Very respectfully,


Walter Reed

Major & Surgeon, U.S.A.



B&L sent the correct order a week later.

Monday, January 18, 2010

St Roch's cemetery gate

St Roch gate
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
On a visit to New Orleans this weekend, I saw mention of a cemetery founded by a priest in thanksgiving for his parishioners being spared death by yellow fever. Apparently those interred here died of something other than yellow fever. Well, I had to go see this place and thought I finally found somewhere that Joanna of Morbid Anatomy had not been. No. Not only did she beat me there, she got pictures of the discarded prosthetics room with the gate open; I had to make do shooting through the bars. Follow this picture back to the rest I've posted on my flickr page.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finds from the Carnegie Reprints

Found an article called "Irrational Elements in Some Theories of Life" by C. P. Raven, 1956. Its opening paragraphs really struck me.

"One of the starting points of modern (study of significance) is the recognition that the words of everyday language for each person are charged with a complex of 'meanings', and that part of this complex of meanings, of emotional and volitional elements, is taken over in the language of science.

As the progress of science is entirely dependent on the mutual understanding between people working in the same field, it is important at least to recognize these irrational elements in our scientific thinking, and were possible to eliminate them..."

So much information is presented to us these days from so many sources, how often do we stop to think about the "emotional and volitional elements" that had probably colored what was said?

Preserving poster sessions

I was given a couple of cds of AFIP poster sessions by the IT department guy who puts them together. I got 83 attached to the online catalogue today – barely catalogued themselves, but still findable, and not dependent on cd technology, or the hard drive of one computer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Morphine and PTSD

An interesting article in the Post looks at a new claim that morphine can prevent PTSD. "Morphine found to help stave off PTSD in wounded troops," By David Brown, Thursday, January 14, 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Article link: Fort Detrick to inherit medical museum

Fort Detrick to inherit medical museum
Originally published January 12, 2010

By Megan Eckstein
News-Post Staff

Fort Detrick will bring a renowned medical museum under its control, as the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington prepares to close and scatters its resources to local military installations....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lexie Lord's 'Condom Nation' reviewed by Post

Alexandra Lord was the US Public Health Service Historian after John Parascandola, and there must be something about that position, because they both wrote books about sexually-transmitted disease education. Lexie's is reviewed in today's Washington Post -

Book review: Susan Jacoby reviews 'Condom Nation' by Alexandra Lord
By Susan Jacoby
Sunday, January 10, 2010

The U.S. Government's Sex Education Campaign From World War I to the Internet
By Alexandra M. Lord
Johns Hopkins Univ. 224 pp. $40

One slight note about the review - there seems to be some confusion about the various Surgeon Generals. There are four SGs in the US government - Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service. The article is illustrated by a poster from the US Navy, a poster by the US Army is quoted in the review, and the book itself is on the PHS Surgeon General of course.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Primate Researcher Bluntschli

Emmy was organizing our bio-files this week and made some fun finds. These are from the Bluntschli file. The photo on the left is a post card from his travels in Madagascar around the turn of the last century. Dr Bluntschli did some seminal work in describing the primates and other animals there. He clearly had a great sense of humor. Many of the specimens can be found at the American Museum of Natural History.

Kindred embryology notebook

From the Kindred notebook. An interesting end of career project. For all you students out there this is a great example of what a lab notebook should look like.

(this notebook was discovered mixed in with Registry of Noteworthy Pathology records by Ass't Archivist Stocker, and we've housed it in the Human Developmental Anatomy Center for researchers - Mike Rhode)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Addition to the Archives

While cleaning out boxes that hadn’t been looked at in a while, I found a 2-ring binder of notes and drawings done by James E. Kindred in 1959. He was a Ph.D. in the Anatomy Department at the University of Virginia and the binder is a record of some studies on vestigial tail (embryology). This is a kind of find we call “Found in Collection.” When I googled his name to find out more about him, it looks like he had a long career: I found articles published as early as 1929. If his name rings a bell, please let us know.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Miscellaneous Articles, Chiefly Interesting as Curiosities

I’ve been busy uploading PDFs of our scanned curatorial logbooks to our in-house database (and to a lesser extent to the Internet Archive, although they will all be eventually put there too), and came across a few entries in the logbook with the above title. I mean, how could you not open this one up for a look, with a title like that?


“One foot of submarine telegraph cable. It is made of copper wire, coated with gutta-percha cased in tarred [coke?] and spirally wrapped with twelve strands of iron wire in one layer. Believed to have been laid by the Rebels between forts Gregg and Sumter and Charleston, and to have been contributed by Acting Assistant Surgeon H.K. Neff.”


“Four arrows pulled from the bodies of men slain in the massacre at Ft. Phillip Kearney December 1866. The one with a head is an ordinary hunting, showing that they are also sometimes used in war. Contributed by Bvt. Lt. Col. H.S. Schell, Asst. Surg. USA.”


“A crudely fashioned strap, two inches wide made of Army cloth and fastened with two buckles, which was successfully used by a malingerer to induce atrophy of the right leg. Private Ira A. Davidson. E. 13 Connecticut at Knight U.S.A. General Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut.”


“A carved soapstone pipe from the West Coast of America. Presented by Mr. J.B. McGuire.”





Saturday, January 2, 2010

Good summary of influenza response in NY Times

The Museum had an epidemiologist from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research speaking last month, and he noted that if you prevent an epidemic, you never know. His example was West Nile Fever - he said that if you had completely fogged New York City the first year it showed up, and killed all mosquitoes, it wouldn't be established in the US -- but would the political cost have been possible to do that? Especially since one would never have seen the following year's hysteria?

U.S. Reaction to Swine Flu: Apt and Lucky
Published: January 2, 2010
Medical experts have found that a series of rapid but conservative decisions by federal officials worked out better than many had dared hope.