Tuesday, August 31, 2010

PR: National Library of Medicine Announces "History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium"

 What a great project.


National Library of Medicine Announces “History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium”


The History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is pleased to announce the release of its prototype History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium (, a search-and-discovery tool for archival resources in the health sciences that are described by finding aids and held by various institutions throughout the United States. A finding aid is a tool created by archivists to give information about the contents of archival collections. Finding aids provide contextual information about collections oftentimes with detailed inventories to help researchers locate relevant materials. NLM is the world’s largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health.


The resource crawls existing Web content managed by several partner institutions, provides keyword search functionality, and provides results organized by holding institution. Links point to the holding institution’s Web sites. Formats indexed consist of HTML, PDF and Encoded Archival Description XML. The project does not include content held in bibliographic utilities or other database-type information.


Crawls are conducted monthly to ensure information is current and to capture new content as it is released.


Current Consortium partners are:


NLM’s History of Medicine Division invites libraries, archives and museums which include in their collections archival materials related to the history of medicine and health sciences to join.


For more information about the project or requests to join the Consortium, please contact John P. Rees, Archivist and Digital Resources Manager, NLM, at




Letter of the Day: August 31

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1683


August 31, 1896


To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

Washington, D.C.




I have the honor to report that during the month of August, 1896, I have been on duty in the Surgeon General’s Office, as Curator of the Army Medical Museum, in accordance with Par. 2, S.O. No. 153, dated Headquarters of the Army, Adjutant General’s Office, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1893.


Very respectfully,

Walter Reed

Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Curator Army Medical Museum

Monday, August 30, 2010

Medical Effects of Atomic Bombs vol. 6 scanned and online

Here's the manuscript:
and the 1951 published version:
These scans are part of  OHA 104 - Artificial Manuscript [Atomic Bomb Material]

1866 Catalogue of the Medical Museum scanned and online for download

Letter of the Day: August 30

Hayward & Hutchinson,

424 Ninth Street, N.W.

Elias S. Hutchinson.

Washington, D.C., August 30, 1888


Dr J. S. Billings


Dear Sir:


While appreciating your kindness in sending to us for estimate for a cremating furnace, but as it is so much away from our line of work we cannot give it the necessary to make a close competitive estimate + respectfully return the plans with this.



Hayward & Hutchinson


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 29

N.D.C. Hodges, Publisher,
47 Lafayette Place.
New York, August 29th 1888.

Dr. John S. Billings.
Washington D.C.

Dear Sir,

A short time ago I returned from my trip to British Columbia. I have collected a considerable number of crania and skeletons – 86 of the former and 14 of the latter, but some parts of that province are not well represented in my collections. I should like to study the material contained in other collections, in order to ascertain the best results. Can you, please, inform me, whether and how much material there is in the Army Medical Museum from Southern Alaska (Tlinkit [sic Tlingit]), Queen Charlotte Islands and the coast of British Columbia, from Puget Sound and the Salish (Flathead) of the interior. I hope to have a chance to visit Washington this winter and trust, you will kindly permit me to examine the material in your possession. I should like to know, how much there is, in order to know, how long it would take, to go over it.

Yours very respectfully,
Dr. Franz Boas

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 28

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 906

641 Clay St. San Francisco California
Aug 28/95

Dr. Billings U.S.A.

D Sir

I have been collecting skulls for some years and have always found ready sale for them in almost any quantity to Proff Franz Boaz Clarks University Worcester Mass but unfortunately he has left and for the present is in Berlin. I have now on hand several very fine Flat Heads from Indians of this Coast and as they are not obtainable at any price except when rare chances appear of collecting them I am able to offer something rare to you and at a reasonable price which is $7.50 each. In case you would like to see one or two and are willing to pay freight both ways in case they do not suite I shall be happy to ship what I have to you on approval. I am the largest collector of Indian relics in America and your name was given to me by Dr. H.C. Yarrow.

Hoping to have the pleasure of a reply,
I am Resply
Nathan Joseph.

Washington D.C.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 27

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1661

August 27, 1896

Dr. H.R. Storer,
Newport, R.I.

Dear Dr. Storer:

I herewith send you description of medal of Freemason’s Hospital at Hamburg, which you desired:

Obverse: A female figure, seated, holding in outstretched left a palm branch over a hospital building; serpent wound around her right arm feeds from a cup held by a genius standing at the side of the figure. O Bergmann, Hamburg. In exergue: 1795-1895.

Reverse: Inscription in a wreath of two laurel branched tied by a ribbon: Zur Erinnerung | an das | 199-jaehrige | Bestehen | des Freimaurer - | Krankenhauses | zu Hamberg | 3. October 1895.

Bronze, size 27.

Please accept my thanks for the Newport Herald containing notice of Jenner memorials and also copy of “Memorials” reprinted from Jour. Am. Med. Assoc.

Very sincerely yours,
D.L. Huntington
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
In charge of Museum and Library Division

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 26

12th U.S. Infantry,

Tompkins Square

New York

August 26th 1863


Surgeon J.H. Brinton U.S.A.

Washington D.C.




I send you by Express a few specimens of balls, extracted at Gettysburg, Pa. with an account of each case.


Also., a few spiculae of bone. It was my intention to leave them with you when in Washington but the matter escaped my memory.


You will hear from me whenever matters of surgical interest occur.


I remain

Very Respectfully

Your obt. Servt.

E. de W. Breneman

Asst Surgeon


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

NY Times features Harvey Cushing's brain collection

We have a lot of similar brain collections  -
Published: August 23, 2010
Chunks of brains preserved at Yale exemplify the evolution of 20th-century American medicine.

Letter of the Day: August 25

War Department,

Surgeon General’s Office,

Washington, D.C., Aug 25, 1884


Asst Surg. W Matthews:

Asst Curator A.M.M.




In the portion of turkeys liver, contributed by Asst Surgeon Shannon U.S.A. and referred to me for microscopical examination, I find numerous nodules, a portion of which have undergone cystic degeneration of a peculiar character. They are neither carcinomatous or sarcomatous.


Very respectfully

Your obdt servant

J.C. McConnell M.D.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Museum exhibit featured in Washington City Paper

Wounded in Action at the National Museum of Health and Medicine By John Anderson on August 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 24

Fort Bridger, Utah

August 24th 1868.




In reply to your communication dated January 14th 1868, concerning specimens for the Army Medical Museum, I will state that opportunities of observing the results of “injuries + surgical diseases of the lower animals” at this post are very limited + nothing has come under my observation since the date of your letter that could be contributed to the section of the Museum illustrative of the subject.


Large wild game such as buffalo, elk, deer, antelope +c, are not found in this immediate vicinity + such is very seldom indeed brought to the post.


As a consequence of the scarcity of game no bands of Indians camp near hear except during a short time in the early summer when they collect to receive annuities, + are soon off for their fishing and hunting grounds again. I have not known of the death of an Indian in this locality since I have been stationed at the post – hence have had no opportunity of collecting crania.


During the present summer I have obtained specimens of bows + arrows from three tribes that have passed through the post – the Shoshone, Bannack + Ute – the weapons will be sent to the museum by Express + it will be observed that there is much similarity in those of the three tribes – all of them roving over the country in different direction within 200 miles of the post. The bows of all are usually made of the bow of oxyokes obtained along the several emigrant routes through the country. When first obtained they are soaked in hot water until they become pliable, + are bent into their present shape, reversing the curve as found. The component curve in the middle of the bow is thus easily obtained. The front or outer part of the bow is then curved with shreds of tendons obtained from along the spine of their game – either deer or buffalo. This is securely fastened on, as will be observed, by glue, which the Indian makes from the hoof or horn of the game. The elasticity of the bow is increased in this way.


The strings they make of tendons also.


The specimen of the Shoshone bow is one of the finest I have ever seen both as regards finish and springs. The remark about the similarity of the bows will apply also to the arrows. Those of the Utes are shorter than the arrows of either of the other tribes + the feathers extend along a greater proportionate length of the arrow. The grooves along the arrows are not made of a uniform curvature, but with these three tribes, they will be found much more tortuous than on the arrows of the Sioux, Cheyenne + Arapahoes, who roam on the Eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains. The grooves in their arrows are nearly straight. The object of these grooves is to facilitate the escape of blood while the arrow remains in the body of the animal.


The feathers on the arrows in these specimens, it will be seen, are fastened only at the extremities. On the arrows of some tribes they are attached the entire length of the feathers by glue.


The base of the arrow heads of these tribes are never bearded, + in some instances, as in the forwarded specimens of the Ute arrow, the slope of the base is in the opposite way, as if to facilitate its removal from the body. The Sioux, I am informed make their arrow heads more or less bearded. The round pointed arrows are used in shooting small games such as rabbits, birds, prairie dogs +c


The tomahawk sent is a weapon not often carried by the tribe from which I obtained it + the buck who had it, displayed it from his quiver more as an ornament than otherwise. These instruments are made in the East and sold to the Indians by traders. The specimen I forwarded is made to be used as a pipe, but it is of doubtful utility in that respect + seems not to have been used as such by the owner.


I send also a specimen of a Navajo arrow said to have been poisoned. A dark substance may be observed adhering to the arrow just above the head.


This description of the articles sent may not be desired but as it may not be entirely devoid of interest to yourself or to others, I have thought it best to give it.


The articles I have forwarded were purchased of Indians for cash to the amount of twenty-seven dollars. This may be regarded as an unreasonable expenditure for things of so little intrinsic value, but in consequences of the liberal prices they always obtain for every thing they sell at this post, I was unable to get them at a lower rate.


In the same package I send the bones of a fractured elbow joint from the accidental discharge of a gun loaded with eleven buckshot, the muzzle being within a few inches of the part at the time of the discharge of the piece. If a report of the case is desired I will be very happy to furnish it.


Very Respectfully

Your Obt. Servant

W. E. Waters,

Asst. Surg. U.S. Army


Bvt. Lt. Col. Geo. A. Otis

Asst. Surg. U.S. Army

Surgeon General’s Office

Washington, D.C.




Monday, August 23, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 23

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 875

August 23, 1895

Dr Lee, Jr.
Grass Lake, Mich.

Dear Sir:

In answer to your letter of the 21st inst., to Dr. J.S. Billings, U.S. Army, I would state that it is not customary for this Museum to purchase such specimens, and that the price offered by Dr. Billings, viz., $20.00 is considered its full value, as far as this Museum is concerned.

Very respectfully,

D.L. Huntington
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
In charge of Army Medical Museum and Library.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 22

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1663

War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum And Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets S.W.,
Washington, D.C., August 22, 1896

To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
Washington, D.C.


I have the honor to state that by reason of the regular and steady growth of this Library, the point has been reached when it will be necessary to provide for additional shelving for the security and preservation of the books deposited therein, as well as to prevent undue strain upon the building by properly distributing the increasing weight over a greater surface.

It is contemplated to add six iron book stacks, similar in size and design to those now in use, and which have proved to be satisfactory. I enclose a ground plan of the Library, on which is indicated the location on which these new stacks should be placed.

From preliminary estimates it is believed that the cost of these six iron book stacks with the necessary hard-wood shelves, will not exceed $6,000.00, and I would, therefore, respectfully suggest that Congress be requested to make the following appropriation:

Building for Army Medical Museum and Library: For six (6) stacks of book cases in Library Hall, including iron supports, stairs, and perforated gallery floors, and necessary hard-wood shelves, six thousand dollars.

The annual increase of books and medical literature is about 6,000 volumes, and the stacks herein estimated will furnish the requisite accommodation for the Library for a period of about five years.

I would request that the ground-plan of the Library Hall be returned to me.

Very respectfully,

D.L. Huntington
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
In charge of Museum And Library Division.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 21

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 875

Grass Lake, Mich., Aug. 21, 95

Dear Doctor:

Your letter at hand, contents noted. Replying to same will state, These babies stand me a great many dollars, and the alcohol I have used and jar alone stands me over $25.00. They could not be any better preserved and they are very handsome babies. I claim them to differ from any on record. These babies I can present to a great many museums but they stand me to (sic) much money to do that. I have also had offers from museums, but they are all too small. By the way, the offers were all larger than yours. It would be impossible for me to set a price on these babies, but I know what they stand me, and I know they differ from all monstrosities on record. I feel that they ought to be worth what they stand me, and a great deal more. Hoping to hear from you soon, and trusting that we will be able to deal.

Yours Sincerely

Dr Lee, Jr.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 20

Central Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers.

P.O. Address, National Military Home., Ohio, Aug 20th, 1883


Friend Billings

D. Sir


As our fraternal friend Dr. Otis has left us and I am not acquainted with the med. Officers in charge of the Med. Museum and as pathological specimens of interest are not infrequent here I expected to see you at the Cleveland Meeting and if the specimens are wanted at the Med. Museum I would try to get them to you.


Are they out of Sulphuric Acid in Egypt or why do they let so many die of cholera?


Yours respect.

H.A. Stephens


Dr. J.S. Billings

Surg. Gen. Office

Wash D.C.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bringing it all back home

One of today's Flickr posts is a shot from our backyard, so to speak.

CP 3160
Cp 3160 Post hospital, Fort Myer, Virginia.

This was in Arlington, VA. I'm sure the building is gone now though.

Letter of the Day: August 19

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 875

August 19, 1895

Dr Lee, Jr.
The Lake House,
Grass Lake, Mich.

Dear Doctor:

In answer to your letter of the 17th inst., in regard to the girl babies connected at sternum by bony union, I would say that such specimens are usually presented to this Museum, and only exceptionally purchased by it.

If the specimen is in perfect condition, and has been preserved in alcohol, I would be willing to give $20.00 for the same; if dry, it is not wanted.

If you will forward it on approval, you may box it carefully, marked Army Medical Museum, Cor. 7th and B Sts., S.W., Washington, D.C., and send by Adams Express, which has authority to receive and forward the box and collect freight charges here.

Very respectfully,

J. S. Billings
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,
In charge of Army Medical Museum and Library.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Letter of the Day: August 18

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 8573


War Department,

Office of the Surgeon General,

Army Medical Museum and Library,



August 18, 1905.


Major Ogden Rafferty,

Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Fort Monroe, Va.




I have the honor to report the following as result of the bacteriological examination of four samples of water forwarded by you August 1, 1905, and received at this laboratory on the following day:


Sample A. Creek water, brought in claret wine cask, from New Market Creek, Hampton, Va.


Numerical count 459 bacteria per c.c.

1 c.c. of this water was added to each of 10 glucose bouillon fermentation tubes with the result that all of them contained gas on the third day of incubation. The amount varied from 20% to 60%.


Sample B. New Market Creek water, after treatment by electrolysis.


Numerical count 6491 bacteria per c.c.

Of ten fermentation tubes receiving each  1 c.c. o this water, five contained gas on the third day of incubation, the amount varying from 109% to 85%.


Sample C. Creek water, mixed with a typhoid culture and subjected to electrolysis for five minutes.


Numerical count 23141 bacteria per c.c.

All of the glucose bouillon fermentation tubes charged with 1 c.c. of this water, contained gas on the second day, varying in amount from 55% to 95%. No typhoid bacilli were recovered from this water after inoculating large flasks of sterile bouillon and then using the method of Conradi and Drigalski four days later.


Sample D. The same as sample C. strained through a layer of absorbent cotton.


Numerical count 18616 bacteria per c.c.

The ten fermentation tubes, charged in the usual way with 1 c.c. of this water, all contained gas on the second day of incubation. On the fourth day the amount of gas present ranged from 30% to 75%. All attempts to recover typhoid bacilli from this water resulted in failure.


REMARKS: The failure to recover typhoid bacilli is probably due to the well-established fact that this organism usually disappears from water containing ordinary bacteria within three or four days.


“A” is quite turbid, is tinted red and gives off the aroma of wine.


“B” shows a faint tint, contains a moderate amount of coagulum.


“C” is the most turbid of the set.


“D” contains a moderate amount of coagulum, but is perhaps the clearest of the four. It is possible that the tannin, or other substance in “A” has inhibited multiplication of the bacteria present in that sample.


“B” contained about one-third as many bacteria as “D”, and nearly four times as many as “C”. From the bacteriological standpoint “B” is the least objectionable of the four waters; whether this is due to the mode of treatment or some other cause cannot be well determined without an intimate knowledge of the details of the manipulations. Neither of the samples can be regarded as a good potable water.


Very respectfully,

James Carroll

1st Lieut., Asst. Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Curator, Army Medical Museum