Saturday, July 31, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 31

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 836

Schulze-Berge & Koechl,
79 Murray Street, New York,
Importers and Sole Licenses for the United States For the Modern Medicinal Products
Of the Farbwerke, Vorm. Meister, Luciuss & Bruning,
Hoechst-on-the-Main, Germany.


Dear Doctor:--

It will probably interest you to learn that the Serum department of the FARBWERKE vorm. MEISTER, LUCIUSS & BRUNING at Hoechst-on-the-Main, Germany, where the original DIPTHERIA ANTITOXINE of PROF. BEHRING is manufactured, is now and has been for some time, under the immediate supervision of the GERMAN GOVERNMENT. Each vial of the serum is not only tested and approved by PROFS. BEHRING and EHRLICH, but as a further guarantee of its reliability is also approved and passed by the government experts before it is put upon the market.

In order to be certain of obtaining the genuine “BEHRING” serum, it will be well to specify DIPHTHERIA ANTITOXINE-“BEHRING” and to observe that each vial bears the label herewith reproduced in fac-simile, which is printed in four different colors in order to distinguish the respective strengths.

Literature will be sent upon application to SCHULZE-BERGE & KOECHL,
Sole Licensees for the United States,
79 Murray Street, New York.

Undated but received July 31, 1895

Friday, July 30, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 30

Office of Geo. W. Knox

Storage Passenger, Freight, and Baggage Express.

Cor. 2d. & B Sts NW

Washington, D.C. July 30th 1887


Surg: J. S. Billings USA

Washington D.C.




Your letter of 28th inst was received by me this A.M. upon my return to the city after an absence of two days.


Arrangements will be made to commence the work of moving to the new Army Med: Museum Bldg. on next Tuesday August 2nd. My wagons will report for duty at 7 AM, as my understanding with Capt. Hoyt was for a full days work from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M.


Will confer with you in person next Monday to make final arrangements.


Respectfully +c

Geo. W. Knox


Thursday, July 29, 2010

PR: NLM "Turning The Pages" Adds Richly Illustrated Japanese Manuscript

NLM "Turning The Pages" Adds Richly Illustrated Japanese Manuscript, Hanaoka Seishu's Influential Surgical Casebook


The National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library and an arm of the National Institutes of Health, announces the addition of Hanaoka Seishu's Surgical Casebook ( to its growing collection of virtual books and manuscripts available for thumbing through online via Turning the Pages ( The virtual volume is also available on kiosks in the Library's Visitor Center (Building 38A, first floor) and the History of Medicine Division Reading Room (Building 38, first floor), and marks the continued collaboration of the Library's Lister Hill Center and the History of Medicine Division.


The newest addition to Turning the Pages is a magnificently illustrated manuscript depicting the likenesses of the men and women who came to Hanaoka for treatment in early 19th-century Japan. It is the first in the collection in which users will turn the pages according to Japanese custom, right to left.



Hanaoka Seishu (1760-1835) was a pioneering Japanese surgeon who was the first to use general anesthesia to remove tumors from cancer patients. The images in the Surgical Casebook are colorful, often charming, and depict quite graphically the medical and surgical problem to be treated.



Hanaoka studied both traditional Chinese-style medicine and Western-style surgical techniques. At age 25, he took over the family business and began to practice an eclectic style of medicine that combined these two traditions. He was greatly concerned with his inability to treat cancer patients, and over a period of 20 years he developed an herbal concoction he called "mafutsusan," made up of several highly toxic plants. It did not include opium derivatives which European doctors were only beginning to identify as anesthetics. The narcotic effects of Hanaoka's anesthetic could last as long as 24 hours, allowing him to surgically remove many different kinds of tumors which previously had been inoperable.



Images from the manuscript were selected and curatorial text was written by Dr. Ann Jannetta, Professor Emerita of History at the University of Pittsburgh. The descriptive text can be viewed if one clicks the "T" in the upper left corner of the virtual book page.



Letter of the Day: July 29

Phil: 29.7.63


Mr: J. H. Brinton


Dir (sic) Sir


I send you by returning of mail the priese (sic, price) of Cartoon covord (sic, covered) with Paper as sample. The large size will by (sic, be) $2.00 your priese (sic, price), and the small 24x36 $1.20.



Yours trouly (sic)

Lo. Kaufz


The letter’s note for filing says it’s “relative to canvas covered with paper for artist”


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Intern Project, Excitement, and Art

There is still a lot of work to be done in editing the “Exciting Intern Project”, mostly just adding additional pictures here and there or clarifying explanations. The Google Wiki that we are currently using to create the webpage does not let us play with the images as much as we would like and Liz is looking into a new host site that would provide more flexibility. With Rebecca back at home I will be taking on the transfer as a solo endeavor.

To break up my time working on the Project Liz gave me lecture on excitement written by Dr. Elizabeth Ramsey and a response from Dr. Donald Barron. The lecture talked about the excitement one experiences when they first see something that no one has ever seen before. Dr. Barron recalled images of “Bancroft’s description of the Balyiss and Starling, as excited as school boys when the first drops of bile began to flow after their injection of the extract of the duodenal mucosa”, and of his own excitement at learning of a motor neuron firing through the continuous stimulation of a current. I was glad to be reading about the excitement of others triggered by discoveries/details/things that others would A. be apathetic to or B. find disturbing. This is especially true since my friends are often amused by the “strange” things/concepts that excite me like the recent Neanderthal Genome Project. Ok, I “rewarded” myself for finishing finals (and not procrastinating by reading it early; although, it may have helped on one of my finals if I had) with the May 7th issue of Science on the Neanderthal Genome, so maybe it makes sense that they tease me.

Today Liz gave another lunch time Art lesson, this week drew prosthetics. Hopefully this time you can tell what it is, if not, it’s a prosthetic leg.

"Excitement" by Elizabeth Ramsey

Part of a lecture given at University of Vermont 1983,  Dr. Ramsey's observations about what research is and should be is something all researchers, no matter their field, could take to heart.

The Scientific method is so integral a part of our approach to science nowadays that we do not think of it very often.  It comprises, of course, the two complementary techniques of observation and experimentation and whenever we are confronted by a problem to be solved or a question to be answered, we automatically take hold of one or the other or both of those tools.  What we do not do is sit down and speculate what may be the answer or might be or would be logical if it were.  Nor do we consult ancient tomes by long dead "authorities" to find support and justification for our supposings.  Such arm chair research is an anathema to modern science.  What we want are facts; hard, objectively demonstrable facts.  And on the basis of them we achieve our triumph and excitement.

Letter of the Day: July 28

Fort Hamilton, N.Y.H.

28th July, 1879


The Surgeon General,

U.S. Army,

Washington, D.C.




 I have the honor respectfully to report that the following specimens were this day turned over by me to the Post Quartermaster for transportation to your office for the Army Medical Museum, namely:


Cholera morbus

No. 1. Heart from body of Pvt Maurice Ashe, C, 3d Artillery, showing advance fatty degeneration

No. 2. Tumor from mesentery, lying just below coeliaac axis, from same. Probably Scirrhus cancer.



No. 3. Aneurism of arch of aorta, rupturing into left bronchus, from body of Serg’t Edward Finley “L” 3d artillery.

No. 4 Upper lobe of left lung, from same, showing consolidation, with calcareous deposits.


Very respectfully,

Your obedient servant.

J.C.G. Happersett

Surgeon, U.S. Army

Post Surgeon


Rec. Ack. And turned over to Dr. Woodward Aug. 2, 1879.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

John's Last Blog - July 27

Over the course of this summer I have learned a lot while working at the Human Developmental Anatomy Center (HDAC). It has been an interesting experience working here as an intern; I have never before worked a 7-8 hour day with the exception of school. During my time here I was assigned a variety of projects. Some of the things I did were creating games relating to the topic of embryology, tying packages to ensure they would not come open when transferred, and in the spare time reading about embryology. One of the things I learned while doing all this is what embryology actually is - the study of the developmental process. I was able to learn things I never knew and things that were not taught in school. I appreciate the guidance of my mentor and her assistant along with the help provided from the other interns. Ultimately, I enjoyed working at HDAC and am saddened as this is my last day and last blog.

Letter of the Day: July 27 - early radiology?

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1622


July 27, 1896


Queen & Co., Inc.,

1010 Chestnut St.,

Philadelphia, Pa.




Please forward to the Army Medical Museum at your earliest convenience, with bill: 1 Fluorescent screen, 11” x 14”, (tungstate of calcium) for use in contact with plate for lessening time of exposure – the screen to be made as fine as possible to prevent granulation.


Very respectfully,

D.L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

In charge of Museum and Library Division.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 26

American Museum of Natural History,

Central Park, (77th St. & 8th Ave.)

New York, July 26 1880


Genl. Geo. A. Otis.


Esteemed Sir.

Will you have the kindness to send me a copy of the “List of Specimens in the Anatomical Section of the Army Medical Museum. 1880.” Prefer a copy bound in cloth.


I am Sir, with respect,

Very Truly Yours,

James Terry


Pl address corr above.

Who is Walter Reed?

Walter Reed was born in Virginia in 1851.  In 1869, after a year of medical school, Reed graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in medicine. He then studied at Bellevue Medical Hospital in New York.  He joined the Army Medical Corps in 1875 and spent most of the next two decades at frontier posts, but did post-graduate education at Johns Hopkins and other places.  In 1893, Reed began serving as curator of the Army Medical Museum and professor of bacteriology and clinical microscopy at the Army Medical School.  As part of the Surgeon General's Office staff in Washington, Reed was assigned to investigate typhoid fever in 1898 and then yellow fever a year later. 



Reed spent the war studying typhoid fever.  In 1899 during the wake of the Spanish-American War, Reed and Dr. James Carroll (also of the Army Medical Museum) investigated the bacteria thought to cause the disease and concluded that it did not.  In May 1900, Reed headed the Yellow Fever Board, investigating the cause of the fever.  The team, including Reed and Carroll also included Dr. Jesse Lazear and Cuban-born probably-immune Dr. Aristides Agramonte.  The men who all knew each other convened at Columbia Barracks near Havana, Cuba.  Their first accomplishment was to again rule out the recently-proposed bacterial theory. After a prison outbreak when one prisoner was infected and died but the eight other prisoners were not infected, Reed suggested a method of transmission by mosquitoes, which were already known to transmit malaria.  Finlay was contacted and provided mosquitoes for testing and Dr. Lazear, who had previously worked with mosquitoes, began experiments in a lab at the Barracks with them while Reed returned to Washington to finish the Typhoid Board's report.  Since no animals were known to get the fever, the Yellow Fever Board concluded that the ethical experiment would be to try to infect themselves. By having a mosquito bite them, Lazear successfully infected Dr. Carroll and a volunteer soldier named Pvt. William Dean in August.  Lazear though may also have been testing himself for he was infected and died on September 25, 1900.  He had reported being bitten by accident in Havana, but his notes implied he might have experimented on himself; Reed was not sure if Lazear was infected accidentally or purposefully, but accepted the accidental theory.  Lazear's notebooks enabled Reed to study the data Lazear compiled when he returned from the States.  Transmission by mosquito was obvious to the Board at that point and Reed reported that they were the cause in October - after 5 months of work, not a year as stated in the movie.  The Washington Post called the hypothesis "the silliest beyond compare," but in November, Camp Lazear was established as a quarantine site to prove the theory beyond a doubt.    Fourteen American soldiers volunteered and recent Spanish immigrants were hired using the first "informed consent" form.  Private John Kissinger was the first to get the fever, and Charles Sontag, the last. No one in the experiment died, Spanish or American. Congress eventually authorized gold medals for the American volunteers.   Using volunteers, the team also tested the fomite theory with articles fouled with the effusions from yellow fever victims including the dead men's clothes (although they were allowed to eat outside).  This theory was proven wrong - "burst like a bubble" in Reed's words.


            Reed realized that the Aedes aegypti  mosquito (which has been renamed three times) carried yellow fever but only under certain conditions.  The female mosquito must bite a yellow fever victim during the first three days of an attack, incubate the virus in its body for at least twelve days and then bite another person to pass on the disease.  Reed's team was the first to prove the mechanics of infection of yellow fever.  Since there was no cure or vaccine, soldiers continued to die from the disease, but Gorgas' mosquito control efforts meant by the summer of 1901, Havana was free of yellow fever.  This discovery enabled the United States to essentially eradicate yellow fever within its borders after one last epidemic in New Orleans in 1905.  In Panama, William Gorgas was able to suppress the disease so the Panama Canal could be built, although he was able to use methods such as oiling water so the mosquitoes suffocated. The disease proved easy to conquer because the Aedes aegypti mosquito is an urban mosquito and breeds only in small pools of stagnant water such as fish ponds or even flower jars.  Although a vaccine was developed in the 1930s, yellow fever is still prevalent in tropical climes due to both a different mosquito vector and the fact that jungle yellow fever, as it is occasionally known, can live in monkeys as well as human hosts.


Reed died in 1902, of appendicitis, at Washington Barracks hospital, now on Fort McNair in the District. The hospital named in his honor opened in 1909, and the Museum he headed is open to the public on its grounds until the hospital closes and the Museum moves in 2011.




Sunday, July 25, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 25

Nunda, N.Y. July 25 /85
Hon. Geo A Otis
Asst Surgeon USA

My dear Sir

Please send me four sep slips of the printed history of my wound. I refer to Nos. 167, 168, 169, 170 + 186 – my photographs in your Department. You promised me them.

Very Respectfully Your Obedient Servant,
Rowland Ward
Nunda N.Y.

Here's the photographs and printed history that Ward referred to:


Surgical Photos
SP #
167-170, 186

Title (Caption)









Additional Photos In Series
SP 167-170; CP 1145-50


SURG I, P. 373.

Date of Injury
25 AUG 1864

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Galileo's bones go on display

A Museum Display of Galileo Has a Saintly Feel
Published: July 22, 2010

A Florence museum, renamed for Galileo, is exhibiting newly recovered bits of his body as if they were the relics of an actual saint.

Dengue fever, mosquito-borne disease, found in US first time since 1934

Dengue Fever? What About It, Key West Says
Published: July 23, 2010
Floridians are unsettled by the disease’s impact, and the way the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has publicized it.

Letter of the day, July 24

We still have this painting in our collection, although it's been on long-term loan to the National Gallery of Art. Which might give you the idea it's probably worth more than $350.00.

Army Medical Museum
War Department
Washington, D.C.

July 24, 1936.

MEMORANDUM for the Executive Office, S.G.O.:

1. You will note from the attached letter that the Museum has been left a legacy consisting of a portrait of the first curator, Dr. John H. Brinton, Surgeon, U.S. Volunteers. It is very appropriate that this portrait should hang in the Museum and we will be very glad to receive it. Such a portrait is of great sentimental value to the Museum but it probably would have little monetary value in the open market, although it is valued at $350.00 in the letter.

2. An opinion is desired from the Judge-Advocate General's Department as to our legal right to accept this legacy and as to whether or not the Museum would be required to pay the Pennsylvania inheritance tax.

[signed] Hugh R. Gilmore, Jr.
Captain, Medical Corps, U.S.A.
Acting Curator


Friday, July 23, 2010

Who is George Otis?

Dr. George Otis must be regarded as one of the mainstays of the Museum. He served for 17 years until his early death at 50 in 1881. Under his direction, the second, much larger Catalogue of the Army Medical Museum and the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion were published, as well as many shorter monographs. Over 100 years after his death, Otis has become something of a cipher. His personal life is hard to trace. He married Pauline Baury in 1850. They had three children, Agnes Pauline, Anna Maria, and Alfred Louis, but only the girls seem to have survived to adulthood. His wife apparently died as well, since in 1869 he married Genevieve Poe and later disinherited her for abandonment. Thousands of pages of his official correspondence exist, but the formal style of the nineteenth century gives little feeling for the man. We can turn instead to his friends. Otis is described by his colleague J.J. Woodward as, "Hesitating, often embarrassed in his manner in ordinary conversation, especially with strangers, he became eloquent when warmed by the discussion of any topic in which he took interest." Otis was born in Boston on November 12, 1830. His father died before his first birthday and his mother returned with her son to her native Virginia. Otis had an undistinguished career at Princeton, preferring to read French literature instead of the assigned material. He returned to Virginia and privately studied in Richmond. He received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in April, 1851. He spent the rest of that year and the next studying in Paris. A coup d'etat gave him the opportunity to begin a first-hand study of military medicine. He returned to Virginia in spring 1852 and the next year began the Virginia Medical and Surgical Journal. The Journal, in competition with the Stethoscope, was not a financial success. Otis sold a partial interest to Dr. James McCaw and moved to Springfield, Massachusetts but maintained his connection as corresponding editor. McCaw later became known for his organization of Chimbarozo Hospital in Richmond for the Confederacy. Otis enlisted as a surgeon in the 27th Massachusetts Volunteers to particpate in the war. He moved over to the regular army as the war continued and joined the Museum staff in 1864.

Otis wrote the first two volumes of the Surgical Section of the Medical & Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion as well as curating the collection of bones. He also oversaw the Division of Surgical Records. Otis supervised or created four photographic collections, the Surgical, Medical, Microscopical and Anatomical, which loosely paralleled the arrangement of the Museum. The Medical Series photographs, a very small run, consists of now little-used pictures of colons made by Woodward, who during the war was looking for physical clues to the cause of disease, especially the "alvine fluxes" or dysentery and diarrhea. Woodward also took thousands of Microscopical Series photographs in which he experimented with photomicrographs using artificial lights and specialized stains. Otis's Anatomical Series photographs compared skulls of aboriginal people throughout the world. This work stemmed from an arrangement with Secretary Joseph Henry of the Smithsonian Institution, under which the Army Medical Museum became the government's home for human anthropological remains while the Smithsonian handled cultural remains. Otis had plans for a larger publication (probably like the Surgical Photographs) and began compiling a checklist of the specimens which was published for the 1876 Centennial. The Army was not interested in funding this project though, and most of the photographs and remains were returned to the Smithsonian some years after Otis's death. Otis was also an accomplished surgeon and performed the difficult amputation at the hipjoint on Julius Fabry, removing the infected remains of his femur. Fabry survived for many years after the second operation.

Otis stayed with the Museum through a stroke in 1877 until his death in 1881. He continued working on Museum projects even after the stroke made him an invalid.

Letter of the Day: July 23

Surgeon General’s Office

Washington City, D.C.

July 23d 1866


Prof. H.L. Smith


Dear Sir,


Yours of the 19th came duly to hand and I thank you very much for the growing slides. They are very ingenious and I shall value them the more as being your work. You know that the whole energy of the microscopic labor under my direction is directed towards Pathology and I only turned to the Diatomacea as test objects in developing the photographic process which we are using with the most complete success on the tissues. Still as I feel we have mastered the whole matter of microphotography, I should be glad to photograph a few more diatoms by way of showing those who are not interested in Pathology how good and reliable our process is and of inducing them to use it also. Should you therefore care to take the trouble of sending us a few specimens of carefully selected single diatoms for the Museum, we would in the course of the summer and fall undertake their photography, and cheerfully furnish you copies of our results. I think Wales really a clever young man. He has made me a number of pieces of apparatus, which with rare exceptions have given perfect satisfaction. His photographic 4/10, 1/8 and amplified leave little to be desired further. I have just received from him a 1/5 for photography, which however I have not tried. All of these lenses are made on Rutherford’s formula and can only be satisfactorily used for vision when illuminated with violet light. He is now making me a 1/16 on the same principle, from which I expect great things. He has improved enormously since I first knew him.  In fact in /62 I saw lenses of his in the hands of various parties and regarded them as very inferior. It was not until 1864 that he began to make work of the highest class and I do not think that at present he would claim even to have made a 1/16 of the best quality. Barnard objects to his 4/10 that it is really a ¼ and so perhaps it is, but it is the habit of nearly all opticians to misstate the power of their lenses and I find his run quite parallel in nomenclature to those of Smith + Beck and other English opticians.


I am, Sincerely,

signedd. J.J. Woodward

Bvt. Maj. and Ass’t. Surg. U.S.A.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 22


Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1604


July 22, 1896


Sister Beatrice,


Providence Hospital,

Washington, D.C.


Sister Beatrice:


I return herewith four of the registers showing admissions etc., to Providence Hospital under your charge. The other two, being those at present in use at the Hospital, I returned yesterday by messenger, as I feared their retention by me might inconvenience you. I hope they reached you safely.


Please accept my sincere thanks for your kindness in permitting me the use of these records, which will, I hope, be of some service to me in an investigation regarding malarial fever at Fort Myer, Va., and Washington Barracks, D.C., which the Surgeon General has directed me to make.


Very respectfully,

Walter Reed

Surgeon, U.S. Army,


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Moulage kit

Jim Curley aka "niceguy", showed me some cool stuff from his historical collection,
its always fun to interact with Jim, he knows his stuff... as you walk into hammond hall the 12"floor to ceiling stacks of out of date medical instruments from the banal to bizarre in powder blue cabinets, labeled with wierd notes like... stop playing with this stuff or you'll go blind...
you start to have expectations of seeing something extrooordinary (said like the monarch) This moulage kit was from the 50's, my favorite inside is the atomic burn face. probably unlikey to
encounter this ever, but at least i know what to look for. doubt you could help that victim out unless its just sunburn and then you can hand em a can of cocoabutter.
Thanks to Jim C
NC out

Moulage kit from the museums historical collection