Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 31

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01920

December 31, 1896

Dr. Bailey K. Ashford,
Children's Hospital,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Dr. Ashford:

Dr. Adams has kindly consented to allow me to vaccinate a few children in your hospital, but requested me to consult you as to time, etc. I would be under many obligations if you could place at my disposal on Monday afternoon, at about 2 p.m., four children, two of these to be vaccinated hypodermically with glycerinated lymph, and the remaining two in the ordinary way, as controls. If this is agreeable to you please telephone on Monday morning.

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed

Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 30 [mystery diagnosis, part 4]

December 30, 1896

Lieut. P. C. Fauntleroy
Assistant Surgeon, U. S. Army,
Fort Niobrara, Nebraska

Dear Doctor:

I have examined the cover slips and urine which you recently sent, but have been unable to get any information from them as to the cause of your case of purulent urethritis. I think it more than likely that the peculiar bodies I referred to in my former letter are, after all, altered white blood cells. Certainly your case appears to be unique in one respect, namely, the apparent entire absence of bacteria from the discharge. Although I would not, as a rule, place much confidence in the statements of an individual who had been dancing and drinking, still, as far as the evidence goes in this particular case, you can probably exclude the gonococcus as the cause.

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed
Surgeon, U. S. Army,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 29

Attorney at [document torn]
And Notary Public

Lake Crystal, Minn., Dec 29, 1883

Surgeon General U.S.A.

Dear Sir.

Nineteen years ago Dec 15-last-Surgeon AJ Bartlett 33d Mo Vols, now of Virdeu Ill removed the head of the humerus from my left-arm. Hee [sic] writes me that he sent the bone with a minie ball sticking in it to the Army Medical Museum at Washington and it is numbered 6599 surgical section. I have never seen the piece removed and as I had taken a photograph of myself showing the wound taken + sent to the Medical Museum, will you kindly have the bone with the ball in it photographed + sent to me. I will be glad to incur all necessary expense.

I hope you will do this as it will be a valuable war relic to me.

Yours truly,

Lonnie Cray

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 28

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01900

December 28th, 1896

Dr. S.S. Adams,
1 Dupont Circle,
Washington, D.C.

Dear Dr. Adams:

Surgeon General Sternberg is very anxious that I should try the hypodermic injection of vaccine virus on a few children. His idea is that one may make use of the virus free of pathogenic bacteria in this way and obtain complete vaccinal immunity without the formation of any vesicle. He has recently obtained from the Health Department of New York City a glycerinated vaccine virus for this purpose. I write to ask if you would be willing to place at my disposal a few children, say half a dozen, upon whom I could practice this method.

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed.

Surgeon, U.S.A.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Self-referential post, OR, many thanks to Boing Boing

Boing Boing linked to my post about Civil War pictures on Flickr driving our normal traffic from 1500-2000 views per day to 327,779.  Thanks!

Read more about Civil War photography

Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Images, Memory, and Identity in America

by J.T.H. Connor and Michael G. Rhode
Invisible Culture no. 5, 2003


'Blackman's Successful Amputation at the Hip Joint', illustration by Hermann Faber. This operation was rarely successful. The patient is Private Woodford Longmore, Confederate soldier. He was wounded June 11, 1864 at Cynthiana, KY.
(CWMI 013)


Penetrating Gunshot Wound of the Abdomen. General Henry Barnum, 12th New York. He received this wound on July 1, 1862 at the battle of Malvern Hill. Photograph by William Bell in August, 1865. (SP93)

Deathbed of Lincoln by Hermann Faber

Sketch of Abraham Lincoln's death bed done by Hermann Faber, and approved for accuracy by Surgeon General J. K. Barnes. The original is on display in the Museum.

Civil War letters on Bottled Monsters blog

Transcribed letters that have been tagged with "Civil War" can be read here.

Letter of the Day: December 27


Richmond Medical Journal,
Richmond, Va., Dec. 27th 1866,

Major Gen JK Barnes

Dear Sir - On returning home, I devote a portion of my earliest leisure to thanking you and (through your self) the officers immediately around you for courtesies extended to me in Washington, such polite attention has been fully and pleasurably appreciated.

The Museum is a monument of scientific research and most successful labor - For Professional and (and Editorial) reasons, I should be glad to indicate the features and subjects (past and prospective)of greatest interest and, with the necessary faits allowed in my profession, I will, if it be acceptable, comprehensively allude to the gigantic labours characterizing all departments of the Museum and offering, to all scientifically interested, material for profitable study and reformations. I desire it to be understood that, in this manifestation of what is being done and has been done by you , for the practical improvement and development of medical science, I am actuated by professional motives exclusively - I seek the good of the profession and will irrespectively of all other objects -

Respectfully Yr Obdt Srvt,

E.L. Gaillard

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 26

Hammond General Hospital
Point Lookout, Md.,
Decem. 26th 1862

Dear Doctor,

I am very desirous to furnish cases + any information for the Surgical History of the War, that may be in my power. I am having notes of all cases of gun shot wounds that are of interest taken, + the cases written out carefully. If you have any suggestions or instructions to give it will afford me great pleasure to carry them out.

Very truly
Yr st.
C. Wagner

Dr. J.H. Brinton
Surg. US Vols.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 25

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1122

58 Washington St
Newport, R.I.
25 Dec. 1895

Dear Dr. Huntington,

I have received [?] German Swiss list. As [? ? ?] :

Dr. Charles Albert. Do you know his locality, + dates of birth + death?

Scholae Regiae Chirurg. 1775.
In one of my specimens of this, there is upon the book which rests against the column: L. VERO CONT | Q VIXAN and nine medals with the vase. In another, upon the book: XP (in monogram [?]) BR MUTAE | BQ VIXIT.D and nineteen medals. Which is yours? And what the explanation of these inscriptions? In both of mine the female leans her right arm on pedestal, and has wreath in right hand and roll in left. You give the contrary.

The 1690 medal was new to me. There is another of that date, but quite different.

Verein Deutscher Aerzte in Paris. You have “Gegrundad”. Is it not gegrundet? Is the Nunquam otiosus in quotations, as you give it?

Apoticaires et Epiciers. You say mortar + pestle “surrounded” by a crown. Did you mean this, or surmounted? There is another medal, somewhat similar.

Vaccination. Petit-Mangin. Is all with the wreath struck? or engraved?

Cholera. H. Ponscarme. Is the inscr. On tablet struck? or engraved?

Dr. F Chabaud. Is field of rev. struck? or engraved? I enclose rubbing of own of my own (silver) with obv. apparently similar, save CAQUE F. + with reverse save field, seemingly identical. These struck fields I presume to be separate, + inserted into the body of the medal. You say “bust” on obverse, mine has only head.

Emmerez. Dirigit [?] ut Prosit. Is it “Pharmacopoea” as you have it, or Pharmacopoea? At right, is there YCR in monogram, or is your Baron Pare? + is there any date in exergue?

With best wishes of the season,

Sincerely yrs
H.R. Storer

Friday, December 24, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 24

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01890

Claim for services

December 24, 1896

Lieut. Colonial D. L. Huntington,
Deputy Surgeon General, U. S. Army,
In charge of Museum and Library Division,
Surgeon General's Office

Sir: In regard to the claim of Dr. D. Percy Hickling for $92.00 for services rendered myself and family, I beg leave to make the following statement: For any services rendered my family I have paid Dr. Hickling and hold his receipts. For the treatment of myself I must refuse to to pay anything whatever, for the reason that his treatment has not only not benefited me, but, on the contrary, has retarded my recovery, and that I am still, at the present day, more than a year after the injury suffering serious inconvenience from his improper treatment.

Very respectfully,

Michael Flynn
Assistant Messenger, S. G. O.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

John Wilkes Booth's contested identity?

Here's an article that mentions specimens held in the Museum - Navy medical historian Jan Herman will appear on Brad Meltzer's Decoded tonight at 10 pm on the History Channel to discuss it

Booth descendants agree to brother's body ID tests

By Edward Colimore

Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 23, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 23

Hammond General Hospital
Point Lookout, Md.
December 23rd, 1862

Dear Doctor,

Your letter requesting me to preserve specimens for the Museum has been rec'd. I received last week eleven hundred wounded, I have already performed a number of interesting operations, resections, amputations etc[?] - I have more in prospect - the specimens in each case has been preserved- I intend keeping them until the results in each case is known. I would suggest that yyou have a circular issued giving us instructions as to the manner of preparing them whether wet or dry - rest assured I will do all in my power to enrich you collection.

Very truly,
Yours, &c.,

C. Wagner
Asst. Surg., U.S.A.

[To] Dr. J. H. Brinton
See above

Contextual Note: Hammond General Hospital was built in 1862 to care for Union soldiers wounded during the Civil War. It was built on the site of the Point Lookout lighthouse, which was constructed in 1825 to warn ships away from the shoals and mark the entrance of the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay. A few months after today’s letter was written, the first Confederate prisoners were assigned to the hospital and its ground were expanded, transforming the site into Camp Hoffman, the largest prison camp of the Civil War. Conditions in the camp were terrible and by 1864 the prison, with an original capacity of 10,000, had a population that exceeded 20,000 men. The suffering of the prisoners, primarily enlisted men, was terrible as the ground became filthy, the wells became contaminated and inadequate tents and blankets caused death from exposure. By the end of the war between 3,000 and 8,000 men had died at the camp and were buried on the lighthouse grounds.

The terrible conditions of Camp Hoffman are still felt today. Point Lookout State Park now encompasses the camp and lighthouse , which is considered to be the “most haunted” lighthouse in America. The Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society holds nighttime "paranormal investigations" to raise funds for preservation and restoration activities and the site has been featured on segments of Mystery Hunters, Weird Travels and Haunted Lighthouses.

Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Point Lookout Lighthouse Preservation Society, Maryland Online Encyclopedia, Lighthouse Friends

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frederick News-Post columnist likes the Museum

Anna O'Brien: The Hoof Beat
A medical history primer
Originally published December 22, 2010

Last week, I visited the National Museum of Health and Medicine in D.C. I love those types of museums; you know, where there are antique glass jars filled with unknown carcinogenic liquid surrounding internal organs or long-forgotten severed limbs. In my humble opinion, a museum is just not a museum unless it's got a jar containing Siamese twins. To my delight, the National Museum of Health and Medicine does indeed have a set.

Click here to read more.

Civil War images posted to Flickr

I'm posting all the Civil War pictures from the Contributed Photograph collection to Flickr, in numerical order, unless we've already put them online there in the past. However we're missing large parts of the collection for various reasons, so if there's a gap between CP 543 and CP 572, it's because we no longer have the intervening 29 photographs.

Most of these photographs have never been seen by the general public. I think the level of interest shown in the largely anonymous photographs recently donated to the Library of Congress shows that there is an interest in seeing the people that fought 150 years ago.

Some of the pictures are disturbing due to either violence or exposed genitalia, and I’ve thought twice about posting them. The Flickr site is open to anyone and photographs of genitals are not something everyone wants to see. However, the first hernia picture we have was by Dr. Reed Bontecou, one of the more famous Civil War medical photographers (or it was commissioned by him). Additionally, due to the draft and volunteerism, not everyone who fought in the Civil War was young and healthy, and problems like hernias resulted, but were less easily treated surgically than they are now. Finally, as we get a little farther along in the series of Civil War pictures, there will be many gruesome physical injuries with exposed viscera, and they should be just as troublesome to modern viewers. When I get done with these pictures, I’ll work through the 400 Surgical Photographs that the museum published between 1862 and 1881.


Letter of the Day: December 22

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1888

December 22, 1896

Mr. A. R. Harper
Ruston, La.

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 15th inst., with photograph of human monster has been referred to me by the Smithsonian Institution. If you will forward it for inspection, I will examine it and let you know what its value to the Museum would be. I will add, however, that under no circumstances, it is worth more than $12.00 to $15.00, as such specimens are not rare.

Should you decide to forward it, you may send it properly boxed by Adams Express, which has authority to receive and forward it and collect freight charges here. Address: Army Medical Museum, Cor. 7th and B Sts., S.W., Washington, D.C.

Very respectfully,

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

[the photograph was kept as CP 2276, but is now missing]

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 21 [mystery diagnosis, part 3]

Fort Niobrara, Neb.
December 21st, 1896

Major Walter Reed
Surgeon U.S. Army
Curator Army Medical Museum
Washington, D.C.

Dear Doctor:

Your letter of the 9th of December in reference to slides, from a gonorrhoea case, which I had sent you was duly received. There has been considerable delay in getting other specimens as you directed as the party was away from fort. I send you by this mail slides + a specimen of morning urine to which I added a little chloroform - not having any formaline. he was directed to stop using a Sol I-2000Mn O4 for three days before attempting to spread the slides. He writes the discharge had decreased very much since I last saw him: so I am afraid the specimens sent are apt to be of little value.

The patient still denies exposure to specific contagion + declares discharge due to irritation by drink + cold and excitement of dancing + adds that at no time he did not know what he was doing.

Very respectfully yours,
P. C. Fauntleroy