Saturday, March 6, 2010

Letter of the day, March 6 (1 of 2)

You can see some examples of these medical illustrations on our Flickr site, as well as the Lyster bag, developed by the Colonel Lyster mentioned in the letter, in 1915. The Lyster bag was a means of purifying water with the treatment of calcium hypochlorite and was used for decades for field and camp water treatment.

Yale University
The School of Medicine
Affiliated with the New Haven Hospital
on the
Anthony N. Brady Memorial Foundation

Laboratory of
Pathology and Bacteriology

New Haven, Connecticut
March 6, 1919

Colonel Charles F. Craig,
Army Medical Museum
Washington, D.C.

My Dear Colonel Craig:

I am sending you, under separate cover, four illustrations of the lung in influenza, which were done by artists from the Army Medical Museum. The autopsy numbers of these cases is on the illustration, and there is attached an anatomical diagnosis of the case. I have, besides these four illustrations, eight colored drawings of more or less similar lesions of the respiratory tract in influenza. They are as follows:

Aut. No. 1. Trachea showing an accute hemorrhagic inflammation.
" " 2 &3. Pleural surface and cross section of lobular pneumonia in influenza.
" " 4 &5. Pleural surface and cross section of the lobar type of inflammation.
" " 6. Fibrinopurulent pleurisy
" " 7 &8. Cross sections of subacute and chronic necrotizing and organizing pneumonia.

There are besides these illustrations of influenzal pneumonia, one hundred and thirty-eight gross and microscopic drawings and photo micrographs of the lungs of animals that have died or were killed after exposure to one of the following poisonous gases; chlorine, phosgene, chloropicrin, mustard, cyanogen, chloride, bromide, arsene, organic arsenic compounds, and superpalite.

The monograph which includes these illustrations is in the hands of the Yale Press. A complete list of the illustrations has been furnished to Colonel Lyster of the Chemical Warfare Service, and I have no other list of them to submit at the present time. Of course, it can be made if you feel that is is absolutely necessary.

Very truly yours,
[Major M. Winternitz]

Friday, March 5, 2010

Letter of the Day: March 5

I wonder what cardiac dropsy is? Probably congestive heart failure, I'd guess.

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 542




March 5, 1895, Lieut. Col. W.H. Forwood, Dep. Surgeon General, U.S.A., Attending Surgeon, U.S. Soldiers’ Home, Washington, D.C., contributes specimens from case of cardiac dropsy. John Crinian, Co. “E”, 4th Infantry.


Need not ask for history.


A.M.M. No. 10822 Path. Sect., 3318 Prov. Path Sect. and 822 Prov. Anat. Sect.

Timothy O'Sullivan at American Art museum

O'Sullivan isn't really a medical photographer, but he was a Civil War photographer, and apparently he and William Bell knew each other so we have some of his stereographs here. We also have information on some of the other western expeditions. The exhibit should be good, and Toby's speaking on it as well.

Wednesday March 17, 2010

Gallery Talks with Toby Jurovics
6:00 PM

Meet in the G Street Lobby
American Art Museum

Curator Toby Jurovics expands on several of O'Sullivan's photographs taken for topographic surveys led by Clarence King and Lt. George M. Wheeler, describing how the photographer recorded the rugged emptiness of the western landscape with an unsentimental eye that continues to influence and inspire contemporary artists.


Thursday April 22, 2010

Gallery Talks with Toby Jurovics
6:00 PM

Meet in the G Street Lobby
American Art Museum

Curator Toby Jurovics expands on several of O'Sullivan's photographs taken for topographic surveys led by Clarence King and Lt. George M. Wheeler, describing how the photographer recorded the rugged emptiness of the western landscape with an unsentimental eye that continues to influence and inspire contemporary artists.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Letter of the day, March 4

We still have many wax models, showing just the kinds of things he's asking for in this letter.


War Department
Office of the Surgeon General
Army Medical Museum and Library

March 4th, 1919

Circular Letter No. 121.

Subject: Reproduction of Interesting Lesions in Wax.

1. There is present at the Army Medical Museum an expert in the reproduction of various lesion of the skin in wax. A considerable number of models have been made during the war and it is desired to make this collection as excellent and as representative as possible.

2. The following types of cases can be well represented in wax: chronic or unhealed ulcers following various types of wounds; unhealed lesions resulting from gas burns; unusual scar formations; and unusual skin diseases. Such lesions can be most naturally reproduced by wax models and it is believed that many of the hospitals receiving cases from overseas have cases of this nature which should be reproduced for permanent record.

3. As it is impossible for the one worker in wax models to travel from place to place, it is requested that when such cases occur at any Army hospital they be reported to the Surgeon General’s office, attention the Laboratory Division, with a brief description of the case and probable permanence of the lesion at the time, accompanied by a rough unmounted photograph if possible to obtain the same.

4. It is intended to order especially interesting cases of this character to the Walter Reed Hospital for further treatment and for the production of the model which will be a permanent exhibit in the Army Medical Museum.

By direction of The Surgeon General:

C.R. Darnell,
Colonel, Medical Corps, U.S.A.
Executive Officer

Copy to:
Commanding Officers of all
Base Hospitals,
General Hospitals,
Embarkation Hospitals

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How fast is the Museum growing?

That’s an impossible question to answer for the most part, but here’s a factoid. Our scans of existing photographs and papers have made it up to 932 gigabytes. That’s for about 750,000 images, and we have 400,000 planned for this 2010 fiscal year.


Letter of the Day: March 3 (2 of 2)

Brooklyn, Mar. 3. 68


My dear Doctor,


Your favor of the 29th Ult. Is just received and I feel greatly obliged to you for the advice you have tendered me in reference to Francis, of which I shall avail myself.


It is a pity that the examining surgeons of Brooklyn have been ill-chosen. None of them enjoys reputation or public confidence, and Burdick belongs to the eclectic school of quackery. I doubt very much whether one of them is capable to realize the actual condition of the patient. However I will assist in the matter and see that justice is meted out in the premises.


The specimen you refer to is at your disposal and will be sent with the others, if you deem it worth your while to add it to the museum. I am however, unable to furnish you with the items of the case to which I paid no attention when at Fortress Monroe.  Dr. Bontecou of Troy N.Y. may be able to furnish you with the desired information, for he was the medical director of the Hygeia Hospital at the time. The specimen intended for you I shall send at my swiftest leisure.


Very sincerely yours

Louis Bauer


Geo A. Otis, M.D.

Lieut. Col.  & Asst. Surg. U.S.A.


PS In what way will I send it so as to incur no expenses.



Women's History Month program at the Medical Museum

Women’s History Month program at the Medical Museum -- "A Lady Alone" Elizabeth Blackwell: First American Woman Doctor

Date: Saturday, March 27, 2010

Time: 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Suitable for ages 10 & up


Celebrate Women's History Month at the National Museum of Health and Medicine with a one-act play about Elizabeth Blackwell, the first American woman doctor. Written by Harvard playwright N. Lynn Eckhert, M.D., this one-actress play, performed by Linda Gray Kelley, tells the story of Blackwell, who in addition to being the first woman to receive her medical degree in the United States, founded her own infirmary in New York (when other hospitals would not accept her as a doctor) and trained nurses during the Civil War. During the play, Kelley acts as Blackwell's fellow classmates and colleagues in addition to the doctor herself. “A Lady Alone” is a production of Theatre Rising Unlimited


Cost: Free!




The National Museum of Health and Medicine

6900 Georgia Ave., NW

Washington, D.C. 20307


NMHM  is located in Building 54 on the campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Visitor parking is available in the driveway in front of the museum. Additional free parking is available throughout the campus on weekends. No registration is required, but seating is limited.


SPECIAL NOTE: Adults are required to present photo ID to gain entry to Walter Reed.


For more information, visit For specific information about directions and parking, visit


NMHM on Twitter:

NMHM on Facebook:





Letter of the Day: March 3 (1 of 2)

Camp Verde, A.T. [Arizona Territory]

March 3rd 1871


Asst. Surgeon G.A. Otis, U.S.A.

Curator, Army Medical Museum

Washington D.C.




In answer to your letter of January 30th requesting specimen in the case of Pvt. Kinnear, I regret to state that the specimen cannot be procured; it was buried with the intention of being forwarded to the Army Med. Museum if desired, but the coyotes unearthed it, and no trace of it can be discovered.


Pvt. Kinnear was an unfavorable subject for operation, having received treatment for chronic dysentery for six months previous to the accident, he was also addicted to the use of alcoholic liquors.


The accident occurred about four miles from the Post, and he was not seen by the Doctor until four hours subsequent to the injury.


On examination, the knee joint was found to be seriously involved, the inner condyle fractured, and the soft parts badly lacerated, his condition was bad; the operation was delayed for some time to enable him to recover from the shock.


Amputation was performed, the lateral flap method, he did not completely rally from its effects, he died ninety-nine hours after, from the conjoined effects of shock hemorrhage and pyaemia.


Very Respectfully,

Your Obt Sert.

A.F. Steigers

Act. Asst. Surg. U.S.A.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Clinico Motion Pictures

A while back we uploaded the Clinico Motion Pictures catalog to the Internet Archive. Today, while free-range browsing through correspondence, trying to find a good letter of the day, I found a letter on their letterhead. There are some real beauties of letterheads in some of our files, but to stay on topic, here's a simple one from Clinico.

LaFonda's Degree

I remember when we hired LaFonda Burwell as an Inventory Technician to work on the scanning project we've had going for several years. I was part of the interview panel and I liked her right off. She struck me as just the kind of person we should hire before anyone else snatched her away; I'm so glad we did. I could always count on her to do her job and do it well, and that's no small thing. Always cheerful, always positive, and that's no small thing either.

LaFonda just brought in her diploma to show us. She showed the same spirit in working towards her degree as she always shows on the job, and now she's the proud owner of a Bachelors Degree in International Business.

Congratulations, LaFonda! We're so proud of you.

And, no, you can't have her.

Letter of the Day: March 2

We may very well have the type of oil wrong.




Baton Rouge Barracks, La.

March 2, 1878


Surgeon General U.S.A.

Washington, D.C.




I have the honor to state that I have delivered to the A.A.Q.M. [Acting Assistant Quarter Master], at this Post for transportation to the Army Medical Museum, a small vial containing the head of a Tape Worm. Taenia solium? It was discharged by a  child 2 ½ years of age on May 12, 1876.The child had been treated for the worm at different times, for more than a year previous to that time.


Treatment – Complete starvation for twenty-four hours – The administration at the end of that time of Zi oil of Male Fern – and the repetition of the same does with Z; castor oil 12 hours subsequently. The patient has been entirely free from any signs of Tape Worm from that time to the present. I trust the contribution though small, may be acceptable.


Very Respectfully

Your obedient servant

(Signed) M. E. Taylor

Assistant Surgeon U.S.A.

Post Surgeon


A true copy

George A. Otis

Asst Surg. USA

Monday, March 1, 2010

Morality and exhibits?

A few recent articles have raised questions about the morality of some museum exhibits. Obviously, Germany and Nazism is a special cultural case, but I'm glad that they appear to not be just closing off that aspect of their military history.

The first article specifically raises some items that you naturally find in a medical museum. On the other side, I don't actually believe that the National Museum of Crime and Punishment is actually a museum - I think it's closer to an attraction, or a tiny theme park. Beyond that, I don't think the exhibit of a serial killers car tells you anything about the killer. On the other hand, if it is still in existence and people want to pay to see it - well, I, personally, am ok with that too.

Why some art should be censored
Shreveport Times (February 28, 2010)

Another sort of case concerns the use of human corpses in art. There is a venerable tradition of showing the dead for various reasons, as in Rembrandt's famous The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp or Goya's depictions of the horrors of war — not to mention numerous crucifixions. News coverage sometimes courts the grisly by its depictions of the deceased. A case where I supported censorship involved Cincinnati artist Thomas Condon who was prosecuted for photographs he took of corpses in 2001. He gained access to the corpses illegally and staged images without the knowledge or permission of their families.

George Packer, Letter from Dresden, “Embers: Will Dresden Finally Confront Its Past?” The New Yorker, February 1, 2010, p. 33

Ted Bundy's VW goes on display at D.C. crime museum, but should it?
By Philip Kennicott
Friday, February 19, 2010

Letter of the Day: March 1 (2 of 2)

The 'heart of Jumbo' is from P.T. Barnum's famous elephant, of course.

Ward's Natural Science Establishment

Nos. 16-26 College Avenue (opposite University),

Rochester, N.Y., March 1 1886


Dr. John S. Billings,

Army Medical Museum.


Dear Sir,


I have lately received directly from Australia a fine Foetus of Dugong (Holicore australis) in alcohol. It is about 3 ½ feet long, and is in excellent condition. Price is $75.


Heart, & Penis, & Eyes of adult Dugong in alcohol, $18.


I still have Heart of Jumbo in alcohol $30


Or, the whole lot for $118.


Shall I send by Express or Freight?!


Very truly yours,

Henry A. Ward.


No hurry about payment.

Photos of the day, March 1

It’s turned out to be much easier to find a letter of the day (see our blog at if you’re viewing this on Flickr) than a photo with a date attached, but today we were successful. Here are two photos of the same patient who suffered a gunshot wound of the shoulder during the Korean War. They’re labeled 53-8668-5 and 53-8668-6, from the Korean War Ballistics photo collection.





Letter of the Day: March 1 (1 of 2)

The citations listed here may very well be spelled wrong as the letter was hard to read.


Mar 1 / 86


1362 N Gilman [Baltimore, MD]


Dr. Jno S. Billings U.S.A.


My dear Doctor,


Dr. Alex H. Bayly of Cambridge, MD, used the artificial magnet successfully in removing spicula of iron from the cornea, in 1846.


I claim that this is the first use – not only in Maryland, but in the U.S.


I am looking up the literature of the subject to trace the earliest use of the magnet in Eye Surgery.


If you have the works below in your library, will you be good enough to give me the passages cited that have a bearing on this point, and the date of editions you quote from –


Matthiohrs Commentaria in Discodene Let 5 @ 105


Kirchringius Spicilegia Anat – Observ. 44


Fabicius Hildassus Guliet. Cent -5. Observ. 21 “Descoria chalybis cornea infixa ejusdemque inginiossissima curatone”


With much resp.

Yours truly


Jno. R. Quinan


Note reads “References & quotations sent March 6th 1886.”

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Letter of the Day, February 28. Reply to "What can the blind see in their dreams"?

From the personal papers of Royal de Rohan Barondes (b.12/10/1896), of California. A veteran of the US Army Medical Department for both world wars, Barondes researched both surgical instruments and pharmaceuticals in his private practice. His initial query has been previously posted as the February 24th Letter of the Day.

State of California
Department of Education
California School for the Blind
3001 Derby Street
Berkeley, California

February 28, 1938

Dr. R. de R. Barondes
291 Geary Street
San Francisco, California

Dear Dr. Barondes:

In answer to your letter of February 24 I will say first that there is some literature on the imagery of those born totally blind. I do not have it in hand just at present but could secure it for you if you so desire.

Helen Keller has a most interesting book called “The World I Live In.” In it she discusses the senses and touches somewhat on her dream world. It must be remembered, of course, that Helen lost her sight when she was about eighteen months old and, therefore, must have residuary sense impressions on which to draw. This would be largely true of many persons totally blind even where sight was lost very early.

The case of a person born totally blind is very rare. We have, however, at the present time one such authentic case, that of a young woman who is a graduate student in our music department. You might like to question her and I am very sure that she would consent to being questioned.

If your time permits you are perfectly welcome to visit the School and I shall be happy to make arrangements for the carrying out of any investigation you might like to make.

Very truly yours,

R.S. French


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Letter of the day, February 27

War Department,
Surgeon General's Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library
Corner 7th and B Streets SW
Washington February 27, 1902

Dr. H.R. Storer,
230 Central Park South
New York, N.Y.

Dear Sir:

Your note of the 17th inst. has been received. We have had no accession to our collection since November last.

The plaster medaillon [sic] of Dr. A.P. Southwick in our collection, has on the back: "By T.S. Hitchcock, M.D.S. Sculptor, Oswego, New York, 1898". Your remark in reference to Alfred Porter, S. of Buffalo, N.Y., has been noted.

The only reference to the Hope medal in our Library is found in: An account of the Life, Writings and Character of the late Dr. John Pope, &c. by Andrew Duncan, M.D.F.R.S.&A.S. Ed., Edinburgh, 1789, p.20, as follows: "By bestowing entirely at his own expense, an annual gold medal, as a testimony of superior merit, he gave a spur to exertion, from which the toils of study were alleviated by love of fame".

In the Congressional Library are the "Memoirs and Correspondence of Sir James Edward Smith, by Lady Smith, London, 1832. and on page 63 of the 1st volume, Sir James writes to his father under date Edinburgh, December 31, 1782: ["]I am to have Dr. Hope's medal, but 'tis not yet come from London".

No description of the medal is given in either reference.

Very truly,
Calvin DeWitt
Col. & Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum & Library Division

Obituary for children's health advocate

Today's Post has the obituary of Dr. Frederick C. Green, who sounded the alarm about lead paint. The National Zoo cleaned its monkey cages several years before the District of Columbia would commit to removing the paint from schools and public housing. He was in the US Army Medical Corps in World War 2 and Korea.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Obituary for man who accidentally ended testing drugs on prisoners

Interesting article for its bioethics information.

Dr. Albert M. Kligman, Dermatologist, Dies at 93
New York Times February 22, 2010

Dr. Kligman was hailed for inventing the widely used acne medication Retin-A, but was criticized for tests that used inmates.

Washington Humane Society

This article details a law proposed in 1896 to regulate vivisection in D.C. started by the Washington Humane Society. I haven't been able to see if the law passed, but it looks like not.
I sent this and few other articles to a friend at the Washington Humane Society and they will be used as a reference in making an official history of the organization.