Friday, February 25, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 25

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

February 25, 1902

Dr. Wm. C. Mitchell
608 California Building
Denver, Col.

My Dear Doctor:

Replying to your letter of the 22nd inst. I regret to say that I have no culture of Xerosis bacillus (Neisser), nor do I know just where you can obtain a culture, but I would suggest that you address a letter to Dr. A.C. Abbott, University of Pennsylvania, either of whom would be more apt to have a culture of this organism than anyone else in the country, I think. Regretting that my letter should be so unsatisfactory,

Sincerely yours,
Walter Reed
Major & Surgeon, U.S. Army

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 24

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 02047

February 24, 1897

Captain W. C. Gorgas,
Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Fort Barrancas, Florida.

Dear Doctor:

The very small fragment of warty growth from beneath the tongue of Commissary Sergeant Kieffer, has been received and examined microscopically. While a larger piece of the tumor would have enabled us to arrive at a more positive conclusion, I feel quite safe in saying that the microscopical structure of the aforesaid small fragment is that of a mixed cell sarcoma having a dense fibrous capsule.

A slide containing two or three small sections is sent to you by this mail.

Very sincerely,
Walter Reed
Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rediscovered photographs

Today I've been stabilizing and doing some research in the Crynes Collection (OHA 143.02). This collection documents the life, and particularly the military career, of Major Sylvester F. Crynes MC, a pathologist with the 217th General Hospital during WWII.

Before donating his papers, Major Crynes' family digitized 400 35mm slide from his time in northern France during WWII. They are uniquely beautiful and I wish I could post them all, but I'll settle for a just a handful.

Letter of the Day: February 23

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 08162

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

February 23, 1905

To the Surgeon General,
U.S. Army


Referred to your endorsement of the 14th inst. I have the honor to inform you that my letter of the 9th inst. recommending the discharge of Patrick M. Kelly, Clerk, Class I, in this office, was based upon the following facts:

1st. Mr. Kelly came to this office on the morning of November 19, 1904 in an intoxicated condition, was totally incapacitated for work, and I sent him home. He remained absent until December 10, 1904, and upon his return was forgiven on his promise that the same condition would not occur again.

2nd. On the morning of February 6, 1905, Mr. Kelly reported for duty in a state of intoxication. He was again sent home and has been absent ever since that time.

Very respectfully,
C.L. Heizmann
Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum and Library Division

Col. C.L. Heizmann, Asst. Surg. Genl. U.S.A.
M.W. Bayliss, Clerk, Class IV, S.G.O.
Convis Parker, Asst. Mess., &Supt. Building

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 22

Fort Columbus, N.Y.
Feb. 22, 1895

Hoff, John Van R.
Maj. and Surgeon, U.S.A
Post Surgeon

Reports that 1st Lieut. Fremont P. Peck, Ordnance Dep't., U.S.A. was fatally injured at the Ordnance Proving Grounds, Sandy Hook, N.J., Feb 19, 1895, by the explosion of a 4 7/10 inch Hotchkiss Rapid fire gun which he was then testing, furnished an account of accident, and autopsy and states that he forwarded, by mail, to the Army Medical Museum the pieces of metal removed from Lieut. Peck's body.

Monday, February 21, 2011

New book on craniology collectors is out

The Skull Collectors: Race, Science, and America's Unburied Dead
By Ann Fabian
University Of Chicago Press (October 15, 2010)

Judging from Amazon's Look-Inside feature,while the Army Medical Museum is discussed regularly, the author did not actually use the Museum's archives, instead working from the Surgeon General's Office records in the National Archives, and correspondence transferred to the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives.

Available in the Museum's archives are Curatorial Records which cover the subject especially

OHA 13

* Curatorial Records: Incoming Correspondence (Loose), 1862-1894
* 2.5 cubic feet, 5 boxes.
* Finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Correspondence, arranged alphabetically, from the first two decades of the Museum's existence. The series ends when the Museum began a correspondence numbering system (see Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence). Includes letters sent to curators John Brinton, George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, John S. Billings, and Walter Reed. Most of the incoming correspondence from this period is currently missing.

OHA 15

* Curatorial Records: Letterbooks of the Curators, 1863-1910
* 8 cubic feet, 17 boxes.
* Finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Bound volumes of outgoing correspondence by curators John Brinton, George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, John S. Billings, Walter Reed, James Carroll, and F.F. Russell. See Curatorial Records: Outgoing Correspondence (Loose) for other outgoing correspondence that was not recorded in these books.

OHA 25

* Curatorial Records: Smithsonian Correspondence, 1867-1887
* .5 cubic foot, 1 box.
* Finding aid available, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Incoming correspondence, mostly from Smithsonian Secretaries Joseph Henry and Spencer Baird, relating primarily to the exchange of specimens between the Museum and the Smithsonian. George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, and John S. Billings were curators of the Museum during this time. See Museum Records: Accession Records and Curatorial Records: Letterbooks of the Curators for related correspondence.

OHA 26

* Curatorial Records: Special Correspondence, 1862-1887
* .75 cubic foot, 2 boxes.
* No finding aid, arranged, inactive, unrestricted.
* Box 1: Correspondence relating to photography and photographic services at the Museum between 1862 and 1885. Includes correspondence of curators George A. Otis, D.L. Huntington, and John S. Billings and Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes. Box 2: Correspondence relating to the craniology collection and craniometric/anthropometric measurement at the Museum between 1862 and 1887, mostly sent to curators Otis and Billings.

Letter of the Day: February 21

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 08159

War Department,
Office of the Surgeon General,
Army medical Museum and Library,

February 21, 1905

To the Surgeon General,
U.S. Army


I have the honor to invite attention to the recent occurrence of two leaks in the ceiling of room 7 on the 3d floor of this building. These result from some obstruction to the carrying off of melted snow from the roof of the attic. The evil should be remedied at once, if possible, in order to prevent the occurrence of serious damage to the building in the future.

Very respectfully,
C.L. Heizmann
Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum and Library Division

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 20

U.S.A. General Hospital,
Davids’ Island, New York,
Feb 20th, 1863.


I send by today’s mail the histories of all the interesting surgical cases that I have been able to collect since the establishment of this Hospital, the preparation of which I undertook at the request of Surg. Simons, U.S.A. The morbid specimens accompanying the cases are few in number, owing to the fact that the man, who formerly had charge of the dead house, stole the majority of then, when he was discharged from the Hospital. Means were taken to have the man arrested, but they proved unavailing. Prof. James R. Wood, however, has some of these specimens in his museum, and I have written to him regard to them, but have received no answer. The box containing the remainder of the preparations will be expressed to you on Monday inst.

I am, General, very respectfully,
Your obedient servant,
S.W. Gross,
Surgn U.S.V.

Brig Genl. W.A. Hammond,
Surgeon General, U.S. Army

92 1046
94 1047
279 1048

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 19

Genl. Field Hospital, Bridgeport, Ala, February 19, 1864

Surgeon General U.S.A.
Washington, D.C.


I have the honor to report that I have sent today to the Army Medical Museum by Adams Express two (2) morbid specimens with histories.

Very respectfully
your obedient servant
H.T. Agler
Asst. Surgeon U.S.V.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 18

Fort Bridger Wyo.
February 18. [18]84.

Major D.L. Huntington.
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

I have this day mailed to you a microscopic specimen of some epidermas[sic] scales in a case I have diagnosed as chromophytosis.

This specimen was prepared after one application of chrysophanic acid and green soap according to Piffard in Wood's Library. I sought for the parasite withe[?] a 1/4 objective before any applications were made, but was unable to satisfy myself of its presence.

I regret that it did not occur to me to mount a slide before treatment was commenced. The slide is poorly mounted but represents the earliest specimen prepared.

To all appearances the disease which has existed since 1878 has entirely disappeared after five or six applications of the above treatment.

Will you have the kindness to forward me the results of your examination.

Very respectfully
Your obdt servt.
W.C. Shannon
Asst Surgeon, U.S.A
Post Surgeon

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Folger Shakespeare Library's medical exhibit tour tomorrow

I saw this a couple of nights ago and it's an excellent exhibit. This bit is clipped from their e-newsletter.

Good for What Ails You
Folger Exhibitions: Beyond Home Remedy
In an era before emergency rooms and HMOs, women offered vital medical care to their families and communities. This "kitchen physic" included dressing wounds, setting bones, delivering babies, administering medicine, and producing homemade remedies for a wide range of illnesses, including the much-dreaded plague. Beyond Home Remedy explores the broad scope of female medical practice in early modern England and America and sheds new light on women's contributions.

through May 14
10am to 5pm, Monday–Saturday
Listen: Kitchen Physic
Learn More: Plague Water
Learn More: A Tudor Herbal
Personal Picks
Folger Fridays: Exhibition Tour
Join Rebecca Laroche, curator of Beyond Home Remedy, for a personal tour of the exhibition, which features a broad range of items from ingredient samples for early modern medicines to Martha Washington's cookbook.

"The exhibition cracks open our conventional sense of home remedies. We have countesses and duchesses and the serving women and everyone in between," she notes.

Fri, Feb 18

Meet at the First Folio display in the Great Hall.

About the Folger

Home to the world's largest Shakespeare collection, the Folger Shakespeare Library is a major center for scholarly research; a lively venue for performances, readings, and exhibitions; and a national leader in humanities education.


Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, DC 20003

Get Directions

Plan a Visit

Public Hours:
Monday through Saturday:
10am to 5pm

Reading Room Hours:
Monday through Friday:
8:45am to 4:45pm
9am to 12pm
and 1pm to 4:30pm

Closed all Federal holidays. Become a Member Forward to a Friend(2) View the Calendar

Exhibit update. A single cell

(for those who haven't seen the exhibit, this is updated with new text written by the Human Developmental Anatomy Center staff, one of whom can be seen here).

NMHM joins History of Medicine Finding Aids Consortium

The History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine (NLM) is pleased to announce the latest release of its 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. As with the initial release the new content crawled consists of finding aids delivered as EAD, PDF and HTML from a diverse institutional cohort. NLM is the world’s largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health.


The site now indexes over 1,600 finding aids from 12 institutions.


The new content contributors are:

  • Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center, Archives and Special Collections
  • Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, Center for the History of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Boston Medical Library
  • Otis Historical Archives, National Museum of Health and Medicine
  • University of Pennsylvania Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing
  • Washington University, St. Louis School of Medicine
  • Yale University Library, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library


These institutions join the original consortium members:

  • NLM History of Medicine Division
  • Columbia University Health Sciences Library
  • Medical Archives, Johns-Hopkins University Medical Institutions
  • University of California-San Francisco
  • University of Virginia Health Sciences Library
  • Virginia Commonwealth University


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



Exhibit update. A single cell

So this is actually 2 years in the making 
it started as an concept to update the current exhibit
with some relevant current research on this old dusty
section of out of date cases cursed with this hospital blue 
i wind up using that to inspire a color pallette

its really a section of curiosities we have at the museum. 
skeletons, conjoined twins, cyclops baby and so
these specimens could and did serve as this section
of human dev anatomy
called a single cell...


there was not much info, label text, which was fine, but no supporting
information, one of my colleagues, Emily Wilson, an anthropologist in the
human developmental anatomy section had a great research topic
that dealt with the limb development, and also co wrote other areas of the exhibit, these panels
contain her
research which I believe was presented at last years Mayo Clinics Symposium.
Congratulatons to her on a great job. Here Ms. Wilson (pictured below) is preparing
the specimens for redisplay in the exhibit.
this redesign can elevate this exhibit to another level.
More to come...

Exhibit update. A single cell

Exhibit update a single cell

Today's Flickr photos have a common piece to them.


Besides being part of the New Contributed Photograph collection, there’s something in common with most of the pictures being sent up to our Flickr site today. Can you spot it?

Letter of the Day: February 17

Fort Shaw, M.T.

February 17th 1868.




I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your communication dated M.D.A. Dep’t of Dakota January 22d, 1868 stating it is the wish of the Surgeon General to secure for preservation in the army medical museum specimens of Indian Crania and Indian weapons and utensils as far as they can be procured of the different Indian Tribes; and giving directions ho these specimens are to be collected and forwarded +c.


In reference to which I would respectfully state that I shall willing lend my aid as far as possible in collecting specimens from the different Indian Tribes in this Territory.


There are no Indians residing within a radius of forty or fifty miles of this Post, the Sun River country being looked upon as neutral ground. Occasional parties of Bloods, Piegans, Pend D’Oreilles, Black Feet and other Tribes on hunting or horse stealing expeditions transverse this section of country but make no delay en route and seldom visit this Post. Nevertheless I shall not fail to avail myself of any means of communication with these Tribes with a view to secure specimens.


Actg. Asst. Surgeon Hitz has been furnished with an official copy of your communication and expresses his willingness to cooperate in securing these specimens.


Very Respectfully

Your ob’t. Servant


F.L. Town

Bre’t Lieut. Col. + Surgeon, U.S.A.


Surgeon Jno. E. Summers U.S.A.

Medical Director, Dept. of Dakota

St. Paul, Minn.

Yellow Fever and Walter Reed

This is the text for an exhibit at the Pentagon I did about two decades ago...

Yellow Fever and Walter Reed

Yellow fever is caused by a virus transmitted by a mosquito. This disease has menaced communities since before the founding of the United States. Yellow fever was first described by Joam Ferreyra Da Rosa in 1694. The origin of the term "yellow fever", however, is obscure. Some feel the name reflects the symptoms since the virus destroys liver cells and causes jaundice which is a yellowing of the skin and eyes. Others feel that the name refers to the yellow quarantine flag flown by ships carrying the disease, especially since the fever apparently travelled from Africa on slave ships which were notorious carriers of the fever.

Yellow fever has a wide variety of symptoms including headaches, backaches, nausea and fever. The most disturbing symptom is bloody vomiting which gave the disease the vivid name of "the black vomit". The disease has a fatality rate between 10 and 15% but is less virulent in children. Currently, the disease is incurable and attentive nursing and rest are the only treatments.

Walter Reed was born in Virginia in 1851. In 1869, Reed graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in medicine and 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. 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 was the first man to prove the mechanics of infection of yellow fever. Prior to his work, several novel ideas had been considered.

For instance, Benjamin Rush, the noted Philadelphia physician, believed the disease was caused by rotten coffee. Others held that "miasmas" or bad airs were the cause. However, throughout the century, glimpses of the true means of transmission had been noted. In 188 Dr. Josiah C. Nott of Alabama suggested that mosquitoes might be the vector or carrier of the disease. Carlos Juan Finlay of Cuba strongly advanced this idea although current theory held that "fomites" or household articles were somehow infected with the disease.

In 1899 during the wake of the Spanish-American War, Reed headed a team investigating the cause of yellow fever. The team, composed of Dr. James Carroll (also of the Army Medical Museum), Dr. Aristides Agramonte and Dr. Jesse Lazear, convened at Columbia Barracks near Havana, Cuba. Their first accomplishment was to quickly rule out a recently-proposed bacterial theory. Then, using volunteers, the team tested the fomite theory with articles fouled with the effusions from yellow fever victims. This theory, too, was proven wrong. After a prison outbreak when one prisoner was infected and died but the eight other prisoners were not infected, researchers could not suggest a method of transmission other than mosquitoes. Finlay had provided mosquitoes for testing and Dr. Lazear began experiments with them. By having a mosquito bite them, Lazear successfully infected Dr. Carroll and a volunteer soldier named Dean in August. Lazear may have been testing his theory on himself for he was infected and died on September 25, 1900. Lazear's notebooks enabled Reed to study the data Lazear compiled. Reed realized that the Aedes aegypti mosquito carried yellow fever but only under certain conditions. The 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. This discovery enabled the United States to essentially eradicate yellow fever within its borders after one last epidemic in New Orleans in 1905. 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. Yellow fever is still prevalent in tropical climes due to both a different mosquito vector, the Haemagogus spegazzinii and the fact that jungle yellow fever, as it is occasionally known, can live in monkeys as well as human hosts.

Object List:

Two Reed medals (M-900 00682, ASTM medal; M-900 00683, Congressional medal) Text: Medals awarded to Walter Reed for his work on yellow fever by Congress and the American Society of Tropical Medicine. M-900 00683; M-900 00682.

Photo of Reed at 25 (NCP 876 Text: Reed at age 25. NCP #876

OHA 309 Sontag - Detachment of the Hospital Corps

Sontag volunteers photo. Text: Soldiers who volunteered for yellow fever experiments. Sontag Collection.

Reed microscope (M-030 00420) Text: Microscope used by Reed. M-030 00420.

Mosquito drawing

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Link Love from the Medical Heritage Library

NMHM, NCP 3280

For those of you who haven't heard, the Medical Heritage Library is a collaborative, digital curation project among some of the leading medical libraries, National Library of Medicine, The Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine (Harvard), The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library (Yale), The Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library (Columbia), and the New York Public Library. They "promote free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine."

A friend and colleague of mine works for the team at the MHL and we chat often about the unique world of medical archives. She gave us a shout-out today on their blog: Digital Connections: The Otis Historical Archives, highlighting some of her favorite images from the NMHM flickr site.

Letter of the Day: February 16

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 07315

War Department,
Office of the Surgeon General,
Army medical Museum and Library,


February 16, 1904

To the Surgeon General,
U.S. Army


I have the honor to request that two (2) hospital blankets be furnished for use in the X-ray room of the Army Medical School, to protect X-ray subjects against the cold atmosphere of the room.

Very respectfully,
C.L. Heizmann
Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum and Library Division

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 15

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 05770

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

February 15, 1902

Messers Eimer & Amend,
205-211 Third Ave.,
New York, N.Y.


Please forward at your earliest convenience, with bill, a "Complete Haemocytometer Set" of Dr. Oliver, referred to on page 31 of you pamphlet, "The Tintometer".

I hope you have received the Oliver's Haemoglobinometer set ion case returned to you on the 7th inst. for examination and repair, and that you will be able to return it at an early date.

Very respectfully,
Water Reed
Major & Surgeon, U.S. Army

Monday, February 14, 2011

Michelle and Megan

Hi guys! A lot has happened since we last posted on this site. We have been at the warehouse, and labeled jars and packaged dental models in preparation of HDACs new location. We also completed our research on eye development and eye anomalies. This past weekend, NMHM hosted a Valentine's Day program, which included a scavenger hunt, a lot of arts and crafts, and a heart dissection. It was very fun and everyone who came seemed to have had a great time! Currently, we're learning how to use NetObjects in order to create web pages. It's very interesting. We are about to start 3D modeling, which we are extremely excited about.

Letter of the Day: February 14

Cincinnati, Ohio
Feby 14th 1864


After the Battle of Chickamauga and Mission Ridge [sic, Missionary Ridge] I collected quite an interesting number of osseus specimens intending to for[war]d them to Washington as soon as my report was ready to accompany them, but my regiment having reenlisted I sent them to this place intending to label them and send my report with them as I would have ample time to do so while here.

This however I understand has been frustrated by, the maliciousness of one of the Sanitary Com- Gentlemen who telegraphed to Nashville to have the box stopped. Amongst the specimens was a case-knife which had been driven thro [sic] the trochanter of a friend of his by a canister shot, which he wished to obtain for himself, this I refused him, hence his actions. I expended a great deal of labor on these specimens and would like to have has the opportunity of giving the history of them.

I understand the box has been sent to the Museum and if so if you will send them to me by Express I will label them properly and return them. If the have not reached you I will endeavor to trace them out.

The box was labeled Rev. Wm Hally, Cin'ti, Ohio who was the agent of Sanitary [Ohio] and a friend of mine.

Very respectfully
You Obt Sevt
A. McMahon
Surgeon 64th O[hio].V[olunteer].I[nfantry]

Surg. Brinton, U.S.A.

Der Mensch als Industriepalast. Reminds me of the David Macaulay exhibit

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 13

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 07319

War Department,
Office of the Surgeon General,
Army medical Museum and Library,

February 13, 1904

Capt. Harry M. Hallock
Asst. Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Fort Porter, N.Y.


I have read with great interest your report of the finding of Taenia nana in your command and beg to congratulate you upon your painstaking work. You are almost the first in this country, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is about to issue a bulletin upon the subject, reporting five cases at the Government Insane Asylum. Perhaps you have a paper prepared for publication in one of the journals; I hope so because I would like to see you gain precedence.

I write especially to ask if you will do me the favor to send me some materials containing the ova for demonstration at the Army Medical school? If you could send me a significant number of worms to give each member of the class a specimen they would be greatly appreciated. I trust you may be able to send me some ova at least. May I suggest that you try to obtain them by washing the stool several times in a large quantity of water, pouring off the supernatant portion and retaining the sediment? In this way most of the fecal matter will be poured off while the worms and ova will sink to the bottom. Then preserve them in equal parts glycerine [sic], alcohol, and water.

Yours very truly,
James Carroll
1st Lieut. Asst. Surgeon, U.S.A.
Curator, Army Medical Museum.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 12

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 02038

February 12, 1897

Dr. E.T. Duke,
Cumberland, Md.

Dear Sir:

Referring to your letter of February 11th, I beg to state that the work of this department is confined to the bacteriological and pathological study of the tissues of the body, and hence, regret to say that this office cannot furnish the therapeutic advice called for.

Very respectfully,
Walter Reed
Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Met's following in our footsteps

Ok, maybe not, but this is an interesting article about Museums and technology.


February 11, 2011

The Met’s Virtual Expansion Plans



Dart Scrapbook finding aid now online

Archives intern Sara Gonzales has written a finding aid for the recent donation of a scrapbook owned by AFIP director Raymond Dart.

Letter of the Day: February 11

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 02038

E.T. Duke, M.D.
Cumberland, Md.

Cumberland Md
Feb 11th 1897

Major Walter Reed U.S.A.
Washington, D.C.

My dear Doctor

Presuming on your kindness extended to me in Washington two years ago, I write to ask you about a case in my practice which I thought you could help me with. My patient sustained a gunshot wound of the right knee, at a very close range. The tissues were severely lacerated, and for a considerable space above the knee-joint the skin was burned with powder. The injury to the knee has done well after two months treatment, but the burned area refuses to heal. Thinking your experience in the Army might give me some light on the case I take the liberty of addressing you.

Respectfully yours,
E. T. Duke

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Today's most popular photo on our Flickr page?

This picture which was put up almost 2 years ago has gotten about 700 hits today, or about 1/3 of its 'lifetime' views. What gives?

Letter of the Day: February 10

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 5759

War Department
Surgeon General's Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library
Corner of 7th and B Streets SW
Washington, February 10, 1902

39 Rue Madame
Paris, France

Dear Sir:

Please purchase for this Museum of A. Montaudon, 56 Rue de Vaugirard, Paris, the following anatomical preparations referred to in "Classic Anatomy of Dr. Auzoux, p.16.

No. 69. - brain of chimpanzee
No.77. - brain of horse.

Please see that they are properly packed and receive, pay for and forward them to this Museum with separate bill in the usual manner.

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

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

19th century medical photographs with mirrors

Øystein Horgmo has written an interesting blog post about pictures from the Museum at "Mirror of the Body":

Until he asked about these types of photographs, my eye had glided over them.

Today's new collection

Material is flowing into the Museum as the AFIP and Walter Reed both prepare to close. Today we collected 54 boxes, or 184 bound volumes of Walter Reed General Hospital Autopsies (2011.0005, OHA 354.7) which date from 1917 through 1965. That presumably covers 4 wars – World War 1, World War 2, Korea and Vietnam.

Letter of the Day: February 9

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 03681

War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library
Corner of 7th and B Streets SW

February 9, 1899.

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S.A.
Washington, D.C.


I have the honor to inform you that the bacteriological examination of 2 cans of roast beef (Wilson & Co. & Armour & Co.), which were opened in your presences in this Laboratory on the afternoon of January 30, shows that the contents of both were sterile. No growth has occurred on any of the plates made therefrom.

Very respectfully,
Walter Reed,
Major & Surgeon, U.S.A.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 8

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 09196

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

February 8, 1906

Prof. Wm Gary Calkins,
Department of Biology, Columbia University,
New York City

Dear Doctor Calkins:
I am sending you, by mail, to-day, a specimen of Taenia nana as I promised. These birds are so scarce that I cannot send you more than one, as I have only about a half dozen in all. I do not recall whether I promised you anything else or not; if I did kindly let me know and I will see that you get it.

With kind regards, I am,

Yours very truly,
James Carroll
1st Lieut., Asst. Surgeon, U.S.A.
Curator, Army Medical Museum

Monday, February 7, 2011

U.S. Hospital Ship, the Ernestine Koranda

The Ernestine Koranda

Verso of the photograph, includes signatures of what we presume to be her crew.
Whenever we have a new donation, no matter how small or large it is, it is accessioned and catalogued into the Museum’s collection database. Today I’ve been working with a photograph of the World War, II hospital ship, the Ernestine Koranda. She was named for the real-life Ernestine Koranda, an Army nurse who was deployed to Papua, New Guinea during the war. Koranda died tragically en route to Australia when her plane crashed, not long before her wedding, planned for Christmas 1943. The Ernestine Koranda was named for Lieutenant Nurse Koranda before the end of the war, one of a small number of service personnel to be honored in this way.

Ernestine Koranda’s personal papers and photographs can be found online at the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS).

Ernestine Koranda, MHS

The NMHM has quite a few examples of hospital ships in our collections. Here are a few of my favorites:

US Hospital Ship, the "D.J. January," was used on Ohio and Mississippi Rivers from 1862 - 65. Photograph of model at Army Medical Museum constructed for Centennial Exposition 1876 at Philadelphia.

U. S. Army Hospital Ship, Marigold: "Men Sunning on the Deck." [The Marigold, aka Old North State, President Van Buren, President Fillmore, was first deployed during World War, II on 07/19/44, bound for Italy.]

"(SE4-Dec.17) Casualty Evacuated - Yanks load a wounded GI [?] aboard a landing barge at Hungnam for transport to a waiting hospital ship in the harbor of the northeastern Korean evacuation port. UN [United Nations?] defense forces were compressed into a tight perimeter around Hungnam today as Chinese Reds pressed toward the escape beachhead. (APWirephoto) [Associated Press?] (jdc11305stf-md) 1950.

"Number 43. Taking wounded on board U.S. Hospital Ship 'Relief' from hospital at Siboney - Siege of Santiago, Cuba." [This USS Relief, pictured here, was constructed in 1895-96, commissioned in 1908, decommissioned in 1910, and sold into merchant service in 1919. her fate is unknown.]

Ham the chimp featured on blog

Journalist Henry Nicholls has written in telling us that he’s written about Ham the space chimp:


Years after I came to see Ham the chimp, I did some stuff with the material I collected to mark the 50th anniversary of his flight.



I am on this week’s Guardian Science podcast -


I’ve also written up things in more detail on my blog -


Letter of the Day: February 7

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 05756

War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library
Corner of 7th and B Streets SW

February 7, 1902

205-211 Third Ave.
New York, N.Y.


I herewith return to you, by express, an Oliver’s haemoglobinometer, purchased of you some years ago, but which has never been used. On opening it the capillary measuring pipette was found broken. Evidently on packing the case, it was found that the blood-cell E (see drawing of case on p.30 of “The Tintometer”) was too large for its assigned place, and was therefore stuck in with B, thus displacing the capillary pipette, which was packed over the candles with the needle and worsted, and broken on closing the case.

No measured blue cover glass for the blood-cell was in the case.

There were 3 riders in the case, all of 0.25. I think there should be one of 0.25 and one of 0.5.

A new rubber ball on the mixing pipette is also needed.

Please have the case and its contents carefully examined and properly and safely arranged and returned to this office as soon as possible.

Very respectfully,
Walter Reed
Major & Surgeon, U.S.A.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 6

[This letter was written in reply to a request that Carroll attend and present a paper to the Louisiana State Medical Society]

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 09190

To 1st Lieut. James Carroll,
Assistant Surgeon, U.S.A.,
Washington, D.C., for remark
S. G. O.
Feb. 5, 1906

2d Indorsement [sic],
Surgeon General’s Office,
Army medical Museum
February 6, 1906

Respectfully returned to the SURGEON GENERAL, U.S. ARMY.

This matter was broached to me on January 2d at New Orleans, and I then expressed my willingness to come, provided it would be agreeable to the Surgeon General.

I am quite willing to prepare an address for the occasion, because an opportunity will be afforded to present the facts and arguments in a forcible manner where they will do the greatest good. The future safety of the United States from yellow fever depends largely upon the readiness of the physicians of Louisiana to recognize and declare the disease upon its first appearance among them. The importance of the subject to the Army and to the country at large is my reason for consenting to participate.

James Carroll
1st Lieut., Asst. Surgeon, U.S.A.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 5

Cox Le
Army Agents Chary xLondon

The Curator
Dear Sir

I desire to apply to you as I am engaged on a N. Zd [New Zealand] book for any printed information or plates regarding 2 dried N.Z Heads I learn you have.

My informant by a curator of a museum out there.

This information I seek [?] is noted as
Int Bureau Ethnology No 4. 1886 Smithsonian Lw.

Should I apply there

Besides New Zealand war[es?] I have had S. African[.] I would like to know if I gave a good exchange in Zulus Lc Y J might offer for 2nd N. Z of yours.

I must ask you to excuse me if I trouble you[?] I shd [should] be pleased with any notice of this

I am
Yrs Respectfully

H.G. Robley

Friday, February 4, 2011

Letter of the Day: February 4

U.S. National Museum Cafe
Washington D.C. Feb 4th 1887

Lieutenant Col. J.S. Billings, Surg. U.S. Army.
Army Medical Museum, Washington, D.C.


I respectfully apply for the privilege of being Caterer to the new Army Medical Museum Building.

In support of this application I beg leave to refer to Prof. G.B. Goode, Asst. Director U.S. Nat. Museum

I have for the last five years successfully conducted a Cafe at the Nat. Museum, which, was established under the authority of the Hon. Prof. S.F. Baird, Director of the institution, and is located at the left of east entrance of the Museum Building.

Very respectfully,
John Linden

Thursday, February 3, 2011

PR: Exhibition of NY's Civil War Soldiers in rare photographs

Merchant’s House Museum

29 East Fourth Street, NYC 10003   212-777-1089   Fax 212-777-1104


Exhibition: New York’s Civil War Soldiers –

Photographs of Dr. R. B. Bontecou, Words of Walt Whitman


Thursday, April 14, through Monday, July 31, 2011


NEW YORK – February 3, 2011 – In April 2011, 150 years after the start of the American Civil War (1861-1865), the Merchant’s House Museum, in partnership with The Burns Archive and the release of Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography, by R.B. Bontecou, will present an exhibition of medical photographs of wounded New York soldiers by army surgeon and native New Yorker Dr. Reed B. Bontecou. The more-than 100 images of human ruination will be captioned with quotations from Walt Whitman’s 1882 memoir, Specimen Days, in which he recounts his own horrifying experience as a volunteer nurse. According to Whitman, “The real war will never get in the books.”

     Bontecou’s graphic portraits of the wounded – on display for the first time since the 19th century, when they became national icons during the 1876 Centennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia – make vivid the intensely human tragedy of the Civil War, a war fought on our own soil, citizen against citizen, and highlight sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families.

     The exhibition will also feature historic photographs of New York regiments;  New York provided more soldiers than any other state (nearly half a million) and sustained the greatest number of casualties, winning 382 Congressional Medals of Honor. An image of Dr. Mary Walker, the only woman to receive the Medal of Honor, will be on display.  A Civil War surgical operating set, memorabilia of Dr. Bontecou, first-edition books on New York in the war, and rare newspapers will also be shown.

    The Bontecou images are from the collection of Dr. Stanley B. Burns, The Burns Archive.  Dr. Burns’s new book, Shooting Soldiers: Civil War Medical Photography, by R.B. Bontecou, showcases Bontecou’s stirring photographs – which go beyond the mere presentation of their intended subject, the patient’s wound, to rival the work of portrait photographers like Matthew Brady.


About the Merchant’s House Museum
Celebrating Our 75th Year as Museum (1936-2011)

The Merchant's House Museum is New York City's only family home preserved intact — inside and out — from the mid-19th century.  Home to a prosperous merchant-class family and their staff of four (mostly Irish) servants for almost 100 years, it is complete with the family's original furnishings and personal possessions, offering a rare and intimate glimpse of domestic life from 1835-1865.

       “Not so much a museum as a raw slice of history” AVENUE Magazine

About the Burns Archive

In addition to being an internationally distinguished author, curator, historian, collector, publisher, and archivist, Dr. Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS, is a New York City ophthalmologist and Clinical Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center. In 1975 he began collecting historic photography. In 1977 he founded The Burns Archive to share his discoveries and began his writing and publishing career. Dr. Burns’ collection of vintage photographs (1840-1950) has been generally recognized as the most important private comprehensive collection of early photography. It has been showcased in numerous national media venues worldwide. Artists, researchers and historians can access the one million+ photographs. The images have been the source of numerous Hollywood feature films, documentaries and museum exhibitions. Dr. Burns has authored forty photo-historical texts and curated more than fifty photographic exhibitions. He has been a founding donor of photography collections, including the J.P. Getty Museum and The Bronx Museum of the Arts. He spends his time lecturing, creating exhibits, and writing books on underappreciated areas of history and photography.


# # #



Eva Ulz

Education & Communications Manager


Merchant's House Museum

29 East Fourth Street, NYC 10003

tel: 212-777-1089 x303   fax: 212-777-1104


Letter of the Day: February 3

All communications to this Office should be addressed " To the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, Washington, D.C."

Subject: Peruvian Skulls.

War Department
Surgeon General's Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner of 7th and B Streets S.W.,

Washington, D.C. February 3, 1896

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


I have the honor to request authority to have prepared for this Museum nineteen facsimiles of ancient Peruvian skulls showing trephining, at a cost of $5.00 each, total of $95.00, to be paid for from the Museum appropriation.

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Process Exhibit Design, Steps 1-4

Everyone has their own, in my process, I site visit, do sketches take measurements, and photos.
from that comes a 2 d drawing. then the first rendering is after setting the scene.
here is the first scene rendering of the Museum Lobby, NMHM, Washington DC 2011.

Rendered using cinema 4-d 11.5

at this time Im also working on the design concept, but it helps to have accurate to scale renderings

Next adding props

more staging, 
Cheers!, Navjeet Singh, Exhibits Designer

Australian Newcastle Medical Museum featured in newspaper

Spine-tingling artefacts

February 2, 2011


Greco-Roman medicine featured in newspaper

Ship wreck reveals ancient secrets of medicine

By Adrian Higgins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 1, 2011; E06


Letter of the Day: February 2 (Jackson collection)

Hospital 11th P.V. [Pennsylvania Volunteers?]
Feb. 2nd 1862

Capt Wilson, Q.M.


I examined the Bread supplied the hospital of the 11th P.V. and find it sour and imperfectly baked – unfit for well soldiers, much more so for sick ones.

I have the honor etc etc
RMS Jackson

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Return of Donna White

Donna White has returned from retirement to run the administrative needs of the Museum until we move in September. Welcome back, Donna.

Letter of the Day: February 1

Lewis Darling, Jr., M.D.
Lawrenceville, Tioga Co., Pa., Feb 1st, 1884

To the Surgeon General of the US Army

Dear Sir.

Yesterday I amputated an Arm for Mathias L. Holbert, late a private in the 124th N. York Vol.- He received a gun shot would of the right Elbow Joint, in the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 3 1863. He was taken to Carver US. Genl Hospital in Washington, the under Charge of Surg. O.A. Judson US. Vol. The Elbow Joint was Re-Sected + the soldier carried the limb in a sling for 3 years before it entirely healed up. He has never seen the time since he was wounded that the limb did not give him Trouble. Several times his life has been endangered from the high degree of inflammatory action excited. For the past two months he has suffered greatly with it, + two weeks ago I opened into the artificial joint + evacuated more than a pint of filthy pus, blood + serum. It became imperative to remove the arm in the interest of life, as well as comfort.

The history of his case is among the records probably on file in your office- And I thought you would direct that the bones of the arm showing the result of the process of repair after resection, be sent to the Army Medical Museum for preservation.

If you disired [sic] me to prepared [?] the Specimen and forward to your office at government expense, please notify me at once and I will do so-

Yours Very Respectfully
L. Darling, Jr., M.D.

Mr. Holbert is a poor man and he disires [sic] me to enquire of you if the government he served faithfully, and for which he has suffered so long, would not pay the expense of his sickness and surgical bills. It seems to me it would be only Justice to him, as he was only one of many victims of Conservative [?] Surgery, that is its results has proven so unsatisfactory.