Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 30

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01842

Dr. Jay Perkins,
78 Broad Street,
Providence, R.I.

Nov. 30, 1896

Dear Sir:-

In an editorial in the Journal of the Am. Med. Assoc. reference is made to work done by you in regard to the Serum Diagnosis of Typhoid fever. I am now working up this subject for a medical society here and if you have written any thing which has been printed on this subject in any medical journals or publication of the sort[?], would you be kind enough to give me references to them? Or if nothing has been published would it be troubling


you too much to give me your opinion as to the value of the test. Thanking you in advance for any attention given to this I remain

Yours truly,
Jay Perkins

To Dr. Walter Reed
U.S. Army

Monday, November 29, 2010

Evacuation in military medicine article in Wash Post


U.S. strategy for treating troops wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq: Keep them moving

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 27, 2010


Museum collections continue to have relevance due to Dr. Taubenberger

Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger was on the staff of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology when he did groundbreaking work on deducing the genetic code of influenza, using stored tissue samples collected by the Medical Museum in 1918. He’s gone back to one of those samples to make another exciting discovery.

Here’s the initial Wired story -

From 1918 Autopsy, A First Glimpse of Sickle Cell — and a Warning


-an NPR followup -

92 Years Later, A Sickle-Cell Surprise

by NPR Weekend Edition Sunday November 28, 2010


-and finally the original short report –

 Sheng Z-M, Chertow DS, Morens D, Taubenberger J. Fatal 1918 pneumonia case complicated by erythrocyte sickling [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 Dec;



Letter of the Day: November 29

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01057

November 29, 1895

Mr. Ed Frossard
108 East 14th St.,
New York

Dear Sir:

Of the medals enumerated in your letter of the 23rd inst. I should like to examine the following which are not in this collection:

No. 1. Acrel.
" 2. Berzelius.
" 3. Flosser.
" 4. Hess.
" 5. Kreysig.
" 6. Linnaeus.
No. 8. Ros. A. Rosenstein.
" 9. Rudolphi.
" 10. Thunberg.
" 11. Fingsladius.
" 13. Hortus medicus.

If you have not yet disposed of the Fortunius Licetus medal referred to in your letter of Oct. 16th, I will take it at the price offered by you, viz., $33.60.

Very respectfully,

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 28

Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming
November 28 1874

Asst. Surgeon Geo. A. Otis, USA.
Curator Army Med. Museum.
Surgeon General’s Office
Washington, DC


In reply to your communication of the 11th I have to state that the pathological specimen in the case of Private James Cassidy recorded in the monthly report of this post for March 1874, was carefully preserved by my predecessor, Surgeon John F. Randolph, USA, for transmission to the Army Medical Museum. Through the carelessness of one of the hospital attendants it was lost, and all efforts to recover it have proved unavailing.

I am, Sir,
Very Respectfully Yrs,
R.M. O’Reilly
Asst Surgeon, USA
Post Surgeon

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 27

27 November 1957

[To] Assistant Chief, Medical Illustration Service

[From] Curator, Medical Museum

[Subject] Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association

Request that application be made for the presentation of the following exhibit at the Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association, to be held in the Hotel Roosevelt, New Orleans, Louisiana, 28 April – 1 May 1958:

a. Exhibit title: Some Contributions of Dr. Hugh H. Young to Operative Urology.

b. Exhibitor’s name: Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Col. H. W. Coddington, Curator and Helen R. Purtle, and the Instrument Collection Committee of the American Urological Association, Dr. Edward E. Ferguson, Chairman, Washington, D.C.

c. Description: This exhibit shows some of the instruments devised by Dr. Young with a brief biographical introduction.

d. Space requirement: Four, 4’ x 5’ panels (already constructed).

H. W. Coddington
Colonel, MSC, USA
Curator, Medical Museum

Friday, November 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 26

N.R. Moseley,
Surgeon U.S.V., in charge
U.S. General Hospital “Emory,”
Washington, D.C. Novr. 26th, 1864.


I have the honor to transmit herewith One Pathological Specimen accompanied by Medical History.

Very Respectfully
Your Obedt Servt
NW. Moseley
Surgeon U.S.V.
In Charge

Brig. Genl J.K. Barnes
Surgeon General U.S.A.
Washington D.C.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


REEVE 0015201 Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner served by Headquarters Troop 32nd Div. [Division] on Thanksgiving Day. The soldier in the picture is Sgt. [Sergeant] Robert B. Craik. Chateau Letellier, near Consdorf, Luxembourg, France. [Food and drink. United States. Army. Signal Corps.] World War 1.

Reeve 11325
REEVE 0011325 American Red Cross. Paris, France. Menu of Thanksgiving dinner. Original Signal Corps caption - Thanksgiving Dinner. Paris, France. Menu of Dinner given by the District of Paris Chapter of the ARC to men of the hospitals in Paris. [Food and drink.]


NCP 3457
NCP 3457 Thanksgiving dinner on the USS Repose at Inchon, Korea, in 1952. It is unlikely that this nurse found time to eat turkey that day. also in collection as MIS 09-5085-29 Inchon, Korea: Aboard USS Repose Thanksgiving Day. Lieutenant Junior Grade Weece Wood, Nurse Corps, U.S. Navy, assists Private 1st Class Jack W. Newman, U.S. Marine Corps, with his holiday dinner. [Wounds and injuries.][Korean War.][Food and drink.][Hospital ships. Transport of sick and wounded.][Scene.] Repose (AH-16) Folder 2 11/27/1952; USN 449212; U.S. Navy BUMED Library and Archives

MIS 09-5085-30 Inchon, Korea: Aboard USS Repose Thanksgiving Day. Corporal Richard R. Hollander, U.S. Marine Corps, is assisted with his dinner by Lieutenant Junior Grade Caldie Green (Nurse Corps) U.S. Navy. [Wounds and injuries.][Korean War.][Food and drink.][Hospital ships. Transport of sick and wounded.][Scene.] Repose (AH-16) Folder 2; 11/27/1952; USN 449213; U.S. Navy BUMED Library and Archives

NCP 006067 Thanksgiving. [Kitchen employees.] [Dietitians.]

...and a curiosity...

NCP 6472 New York, Nov. [November] 22-Crash victim given plasma. An unidentified doctor crawls into wreckage of two Long Island rail road trains here tonight to provide plasma for a victim pinned in the twisted jumble of steel. Trains bound from Manhattan to Long Island points, crowded with Thanksgiving Eve commuters, crashed in the Kew Gardens section of Queens. (APWirephoto) (See wire story) (OB42205stf) 50.

Letter of the Day: November 25

620 F. St.
Tuesday Nov. 25th [1884]

My dear Doctor-

I have been looking over my Husband’s private letters but find none of the correspondence of which you spoke. Indeed I may say there is none of this scientific correspondence among the letters I have.

They are from many people and on divers subjects but with the exception of a few from Dr. Maddox on photo-micrographs, and some from Gen’l Cox on microscopic work and one or two from a German Doctor (Munnich the name I think) they are all more or less private letters.

I can send you the list of his library books and I think it is complete. Also a list of the various Societies he belonged to. But as to Diplomas or Certificates I can find nothing. I have one or two medals conferred upon him and all of his commissions.

I fancy you will find all of the letters you spoke of in his “letter book” at the office and as for the Diplomas +c if they are at the office, do you not think I ought to have them?

I have looked over the pamphlets and have quite a number ready to send you, if you will be so good as to dispose of them.

The other bound books I think you have a list of and I can send them to you at any time whenever you may want them.

With kindest regards,
Yours very truly
Blanche Woodward

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Early 1960s Civil Defense Medical Kits

The museum surfaced yesterday in 'John Kelly's Washington' in the Washington Post (November 23, 2010). The column mentions the transfer of a cache of Civil Defense medical kits to the museum from the U.S. Senate about a year ago. They were found by Heather Moore, photo historian at the Senate, in a storage space at the Russell Senate Office Building that was under renovation. The kits are assembled in cardboard boxes that, while dusty, remain in excellent condition.

Survival supplies furnished by Office of Civil Defense, Department of Defense, Medical Kit C, 300-325 Shelter Occupants [ca. 1963]

They at once are a fine complement to our Civil Defense and Cold War-era collections and also represent the interesting additions to the collection that are (re)discovered in one way or another. That medical material culture tucked away, hidden, and forgotten in rafters, attics, storage lockers and drawers.

Kelly's story, "No negative fallout from these shelters," is here:

Dangers of dental radiation and medical technology in Times

Radiation Worries for Children in Dentists’ Chairs

November 22, 2010



Peek into the Archives: Contributed Photographs collection

The "Contributed Photographs" collection, as it came to be known, consists of photographs donated or contributed to the Museum.  Photographs arriving during and after the war were usually added to the Surgical Section and numbered like the bones were.  Many photographs were sent by doctors who wished to see their cases included in the History.  Doctors such as Reed Bontecou of Harewood Hospital in Washington, J.C. McKee of Lincoln General Hospital in Washington (who also provided surplus photographic equipment after the Museum's burglary), and J.H. Armsby of Ira Harris General Hospital in Albany, New York, contributed dozens of photographs at the end of the war.  They received photographs from the Museum in exchange.  Most of the photographs given to the Museum were albumen prints, but infrequently a tintype (a photograph printed on thin metal) was donated.  (Otis to Lyster, May 11, 1866)  Tintypes were never as popular as other photographs.  (Welling, p. 117)  Their dark background made medical subjects harder to see and reproduce in print. 


          Otis frequently wrote to surgeons requesting a photograph of a specific case which he would then have engraved for the History.  He also wrote to patients asking them to have their wound photographed.  Otis wrote to Charles Lapham, who had been with Co. K of the 1st Vermont Cavalry:



                   The interesting report of your case, which is recorded

          in this office, leads me to desire to possess if possible, a

          photograph which shall farther illustrate it.  The Surgeon

          General possesses photographs of a number of the very rare

          cases in which patients have survived after the very grave

          mutilation of the removal of both thighs, and has instructed

          me to request you to have a photograph prepared, the expense

          to be defrayed by this office.

                   It would be well to have two pictures taken: one

                   representing the stumps, the other the appearance with

          artificial limbs attached.

                   The photographer might take two or three prints of each

          to be retained by you, and then should forward the

          negatives, carefully packed to this office, by express,

          enclosing at the same time the bill for his services.

                   I enclose copies of a photograph of the size desired. 

          (Otis to Lapham, May 25, 1865)


Lapham had the work done and two photographs were added to the collection.


          Otis commissioned physicians such as E.D. Hudson of New York City to take photographs for him.  Writing to Hudson, Otis said "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 to 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."  In the same letter, Otis sent a list of soldiers who had survived the operation of the excision of their humerus.  Hudson, a maker of prosthetics, undoubtedly appreciated Otis' fulfilling his request for the names.  Otis and Hudson's arrangements to look out for each others interests, resulted in striking photographs such as the two of Columbus Rush, a young Confederate from Georgia who lost both legs. (Otis to Hudson, February 7, 1866)  Otis and Hudson cooperated so closely that Hudson was able to display his prosthetics in the Medical Department's exhibit at the Centennial fair.  (Otis to Hudson, March 8, 1876)


          For many years, these photographs received a Surgical Section number and were bound in volumes labeled Photographs of Surgical Cases. (Otis to Washburne, April 4, 1866)  The photographs donated to the Museum were often rephototographed to be included in the Surgical Photograph series.  Roland Ward's plastic surgery after the destruction of his lower jaw (SP 167-170, 186) is an example.  Columbus Rush's photograph, in which he demonstrates his Hudson-made artificial legs, was copied and sent out as part of the series.  Otis also purchased photographs from studios, buying "two dozen of the war views for the Museum" from E. & H.T. Anthony & Co.  (Otis to Anthony, September 25, 1865)


          Contributors of photographs like Hudson also used the pictures themselves.  Dr. Gurdon Buck is particularly noteworthy for his use of photographs.  He had engravings made of "before and after" photographs for his 1876 text on plastic surgery, Contributions to Reparative Surgery.  In the engravings, Buck used drawn lines to explain his operation.  Buck deposited a set of his photographs in the Army Medical Museum soon after the end of the war. 


          About 1876, as photographs of many sizes and from many people continued to arrive, the collection was removed from the Surgical Section and named the Contributed Photographs.  Otis no longer had the photographs bound in albums.  All of the photographs were renumbered from the beginning in red ink with the identifying "Cont. Photo." or the initials "C.P."6  Some of the best photographs were copied in the Museum and published as part of the Surgical Photograph series.  Others were engraved for the History.  Some photographs almost certainly taken by the Museum such as the one of Neil Wicks, probably by Bell,7 were added to the collection after the original negatives disappeared.  Unfortunately, many photographs were given away by Daniel Lamb in 1915 including scores to Reed Bontecou's son. 


6  These abbreviations never stood for "contract photograph" as has been surmised by earlier authors.

7 The photograph is listed in a logbook of Museum stereographs (MM 8797), p. 20, Curatorial Records: AMM Collection Logbooks, Box 18.

Letter of the Day: November 24

Mrs. Charles T. Sivers
R.D. No. 3
Oswego, New York

Oswego, New York
November 24, 1957

Mr. Robert W. Davis
Medical Museum of the Armed Forces
Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Davis:

Since reading the enclosed article in the Oswego Palladium Times, I thought I would write to you to see if the museum would be interested in purchasing a great deal of material I have on Dr. Mary Walker.

I am a "picker" for antique dealers, and I have a collection of things that were owned by Dr. Mary Walker. I have such things as the family sampler, many of Dr. Mary's medical books with her autograph on the fly leaf, her brass name plate with which she had her cards printed, a journal kept by Dr. Mary's father about 1820, the "sit tub" in which she bathed, the suitcase she carried during the war, her albums of many of the Civil War generals and friends of Civil War days, and many, many personal items such as letters, invitations, etc. I also have some actual snap-shots in large sizes, taken of her as an old lady. There are many pictures of her as a young woman in the albums. I also have her scrap book which she kept about herself, made up of clippings about her taken from the papers of her time. They are pasted in one of her old medical record office books.

My price on the entire collection is three hundred dollars. If the museum is interested please write me and I will send a detailed list of the things I have.

My address is listed on this stationary.

Very truly yours,
(Sgd) Mrs. Charles T. Sivers

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Adolph Cluss buildings and better ideas?

The Washington Examiner is reporting that an Adolph Cluss-designed building at 13th and K Sts, NW needs a new future. The DC government would like to turn the old Franklin School into a botique hotel while community advocates disagree.

NCP 3064 (OLD RED BRICK" - ARMY MEDICAL MUSEUM BUILDING 1968, right before being demolished for the Hirschorn Museum.)

From 1887 to 1968, the Museum was in the Army Medical Museum & Library building (above) designed by Cluss. In 1971 it reopened at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Now the Center is being shut down due to BRAC. In Sept 2011, the Museum will move to Silver Spring/Forest Glen, MD. for the first time in its history, it will not be located in the District, and the building currently under construction is significantly smaller than the space the Museum currently occupies.


Letter of the Day: November 23

Medical Purveyor's Office,
Washington, D.C.
Nov. 23, 1863


The confiscated Liquor on hand in this Dep't, has been ordered to be turned over to the Curator of the Army Medical Museum. I respectfully request that you state where the Liquor may be sent to?

Very Respectfully,
Your obdt. Servant

H. Johnson
M.S.K. U.S.A
and Actg. Med. Purveyor

[To]Surg. J.H. Brinton
Curator of Nat. Med. Museum
Washington, D.C.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 22

War Department,
Surgeon General's Office,
Washington, D.C.
Nov. 22nd 1869


I have the honor to report that the large Stereoscope in the Museum stall has become so disordered from constant use, as to require repairing.

Also, that one of the Thermometers was thrown down and broken, by Charles while washing the cases. He is commonly very careful.

I am, Sir, very respectfully,
Your obt. servant,
Rob't E. Williams Hospl. Steward
U.S. Army

Brt. Lt. Col. Geo. A. Otis,
Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A.
Curator, Army Med. Museum

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 21

Post Hospital
Fort Sill, Ind. Ty.
Nov. 21st 1875

To The Surgeon General U.S. Army
Washington D.C.


I would respectfully state that a citizen, Thomas Dougherty, died in hospital on the 13th inst. of Remittent Fever – the deceased was however of intemperate habits. This patient was found to have an ununited fracture of the right forearm of a number of years standing – both bones were fracture. No attempt at bony union has resulted, and free motion remains between the upper and lower fragments. As the specimen appears to be somewhat interesting, the forearm which has been preserved, will if desired be suitably packed and turned over to the Post Quartermaster for shipment to the Army Medical Museum.

Very respectfully
Your obt. servant
F.L. Town
Surgeon U.S. Army
Post Surgeon

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 20

Smithsonian Institution.
U.S. National Museum,
Washington City, Nov. 20, 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, the receipt of which please acknowledge.

Very respectfully, yours,

Spencer F Baird
Secretary S.I.

Ball of hair taken from stomach of cow. Received from E. P. Armistead, Newton, Newton Co., Mississippi

Friday, November 19, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 19

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 317


November 19, 1894


Dr. Judson Daland

319 S. 18th St.

Philadelphia, Pa.


My Dear Doctor:


Can you give me any information concerning a centrifugal machine which is considered superior to the Litten centrifugal? Dr. Gray has just informed me that you are using a superior machine for urinary and blood analysis, and hence I write to ask you that you will be kind enough to enlighten me on this subject, especially as Surgeon General Sternberg is considering the matter of supplying certain of the larger military posts with the latest and most improved centrifugal apparatus.


Very sincerely yours,


Walter Reed

Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Curator Army Medical Museum.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 18 (2 of 2)

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 7132


November 18, 1903.


Mr. Henry Reens,

409 Fourth Ave.,

New York, N.Y.


Dear Sir:


In accordance with your request of the 17th inst. 6 copies of printed circular of Museum photograph 177, recovery after fracture of the right ilium by a musket ball (from your own case), are herewith forwarded.


Very respectfully,


C.L. Heizmann

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

In charge of Museum & Library Division

- note that he just asked for a copy of the label - not the photograph, which originally showed him nude. This version had a figleaf added for the 1876 Centennial fair. 1903 seems like a long time after the Civil War, but Reens was just 60 when he wrote in.