Thursday, December 31, 2009

Meanwhile, over on our Flickr site

Logbook of Woodcuts for Publications (MM 8590)
Kathleen's put up some pages I was surprised by on our Flickr site. We've had some logbooks from the 19th-century scanned, but I didn't remember that the logbook of woodcuts had the actual Civil War woodcut prints pasted into it. Very cool. These are for the Medical and Surgical History again.

It looks like we're wrapping up the year with slightly under a million views - 906,255 at the moment. Or maybe 1,165,674. We've never been quite sure of how they measure.

Army Medical Museum mention in American History


I was pleased to find the Civil War history, the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion by the Army Medical Museum on display in an exhibit on images in books, "Picturing Words: The Power of Book Illustration" by Smithsonian Institution Libraries. The exhibit is at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.


******   11th ANNUAL SESSION   ******

All interested parties are invited to apply for the


August 3 - 5

at the Indiana University School of Medicine - Northwest Dunes Medical
Professional Building 3400 Broadway Gary, Indiana 46408

NEW APPLICATION DEADLINE:       *** APRIL 15, 2010 ***

PROGRAM SPONSORS: Rocco Prosthetics & Orthotic Center (Cincinnati, OH) &
MORTECH Manufacturing (Azusa, CA).

Applications for the August 2010 INTERNATIONAL Human Cadaver Prosection Program are now being accepted.   All participants will learn human gross anatomy, radiology/medical imaging, and the art of skillful dissection of human cadavers.  The CADAVER PROGRAM is an intensive experience of "hands-on" dissection.  Participants who complete the program will receive a certificate of completion and certification for work with biohazards & blood-borne pathogens.  SPECIAL Awards will be presented. [CME Credit is offered]

Representatives from Zimmer, Inc. (Zimmer Orthopedics) will conduct an on-site surgical, orthopedic workshop, and Rocco Prosthetics will present a special prosthetic session.

The Cadaver Prosection will be held on Wednesday, August 4 and Thursday, August 5, 2010, from 7:45 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., and will include 3 evenings of preparatory work in late June (out-of-state participants need not be present for the June sessions).

NEW EVENTS for 2010 include:
Anatomy Research & Clinical Session (June)   -    Suturing Workshop* (Aug.  3rd)   -   IHCPP Reception (Aug.  3rd)
Expanded Hands-On Medical Imaging of Human Cadavers:  US, CT Scan, MRI Scan, plain x-ray (July)*

*Selection of participants to take place in mid-May

TO APPLY for this program and  DOWNLOAD the COMPLETE SUMMER EVENTS SCHEDULE, FLYER and NEW PROGRAM BROCHURE, place the web address (below) into your browser, and then scroll down and click on the AUGUST 2010 INTERNATIONAL HUMAN CADAVER PROSECTION PROGRAM link.

You need not be a medical professional or pre-medical student to participate.  All are encouraged to apply.  Prior participants have included pre-med and pre-vet, nursing, radiologic technology, mortuary science students, other undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, attorneys, lab technicians, etc.  All application materials must be received no later than APRIL 15, 2010.  Accepted applicants will receive notification in early May.  Training begins in June 2010.

For information contact:
Ernest F. Talarico, Jr., Ph.D.
Assistant Director of Medical Education & Assistant Professor of Anatomy
& Cell Biology Director, INTERNATIONAL Human Cadaver Prosection Program
TEL:  (219) 981-4356;  FAX:  (219) 980-6566
Email: (Prosection Program); (IUSM-NW)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Ophthalmologist William Holland Wilmer's legacy in two DC institutions

Here's William Holland Wilmer's plaque at National Cathedral.


We have his ophthalmoscopes. I was surprised to see his name on a post-Christmas visit to the Cathedral.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Mini Book Review: Cranioklepty: Graverobbing and the Search for Genius by Colin Dickey.


$25.95 / $30.95 Can | Non-Fiction Hardcover | 6x9 | 272 pages

September 2009

ISBN: 978-1-932961-86-7

This is an entertaining book about the posthumous history of the skulls of a few select famous people, as well as those individuals involved in keeping the skulls and parts thereof above ground. The skulls of Franz Joseph Haydn, Ludwig Beethoven, Emmanuel Swedenborg and Sir Thomas Brown are each discussed in detail. Dickey does an excellent job retelling the stories of each skull and his historical details contextualize the stories quite nicely.

Dickey claims that phrenology, the 19th century pseudoscientific belief that personality and mental ability could be determined via skull morphology, was the main reason for acquiring these skulls. While he does a good job summarizing the history of phrenology, he places an unnecessary emphasis on using it as the rationale for the collecting of famous skulls rather than the more likely rationales of some form of fetishism or for keeping a personal souvenir of a revered person (think along the lines of the purported remains of saints and religious figures).

While phrenology may have had a role in the creation of large collections of some early craniologists, it does not sufficiently explain the singular thefts of opportunistic grave robbers. Admittedly some of the thieves held the then-popular belief that the shape of the skull revealed the high character of its owner, but that is flimsy evidence that they carried out their secret deeds to further the science of phrenology. Non-academic collectors of human remains still exist, even today, though phrenology is thoroughly discredited.

The stories of the skulls are interesting on their own, but the justification of ‘the search for genius’ subtitle is lacking. Overall, I recommend the book for its historical interest, but as a practicing physical anthropologist, and as such, an admittedly biased critic, I was under whelmed by the contextualization of the stories within the framework of early studies of cranial variation. Such studies, broadly referred to as craniology, were common during the mid 19th century and were part of a search for anatomical basis for intelligence, but unfortunately do little to illuminate the histories of the skulls of these famous men.

-Brian Spatola

The publisher provided the book gratis to Bottled Monsters for the purpose of review.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Contact Information: Tim Clarke, Jr., Deputy Director for Communications, (202) 782-2672,







Museum to construct new facility on U.S. Army post known as Forest Glen Annex


December 23, 2009, Washington, D.C. – The National Museum of Health and Medicine of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology will relocate to a new state-of-the-art facility in Silver Spring, Maryland, built by Costello Construction of Columbia, Maryland. The relocation is a result of the 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission decision to close Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.


“The Museum is ready for this exciting phase in our relocation,” said Adrianne Noe, Ph.D., Director of the Museum. “We’re encouraged by the warm welcome we’ve received as we engage the local and state community about the Museum’s move into Montgomery County, Maryland. And we’re especially pleased with the support we’re receiving from Ft. Detrick as we look forward to working with them on the Forest Glen Annex campus.”


Staff are actively working on prospective exhibit and interpretive plans while, at the same time, working to best integrate the Museum’s vast collections, all with an eye on maintaining and amplifying the Museum’s mission. As plans for exhibit development and public access become more certain, information will be posted to the Museum’s Web site.


The Museum’s new facility will include collections management space as well as public exhibitions and offices. A construction schedule has yet to be set but the building is scheduled to be fully functional as of September 15, 2011.


Today, a bit of history from the Forest Glen Annex is on display at the Museum. Restored to its original condition is a painting by Jack McMillen, depicting life at the hospital annex during World War II when the facility housed a major U.S. Army rehabilitation facility. The painting, entitled “Psychiatric Patients at Forest Glen,” is an incredible 7 feet by 10 feet and is hanging at the Museum near artifacts related to Major Walter Reed. 


All questions and comments may be directed to Tim Clarke, Jr., NMHM Deputy Director for Communications, phone (202) 782-2672, email


About the National Museum of Health and Medicine:




Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yakovlev collection mentioned in passing in brain dissection article

This article is quite interesting in its own right, but also mentions “Perhaps the best-known pioneer of such whole-brain sectioning is Dr. Paul Ivan Yakovlev, who built a collection of slices from hundreds of brains now kept at a facility in Washington.” The facility is our medical museum and we’re busy digitizing slides and records from the collection.


Building a Search Engine of the Brain, Slice by Slice



December 22, 2009


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Museum closed on Monday, December 21

The Federal Government in DC is closed on December 21 due to the snowstorm, so the Medical Museum will closed.

Sept 2010: European Association of Museums for the History of Medical Sciences

The 15th biannual conference of the European Association of Museums for the History of Medical Sciences (EAMHMS) will be held at the University of Copenhagen, 16–19 September, 2010.

This year's cross-disciplinary conference focuses on the challenge to museums posed by contemporary developments in medical science and technology.

The image of medicine that emerges from most museum galleries and exhibitions is still dominated by pre-modern and modern understandings of an anatomical and physiological body, and by the diagnostic and therapeutical methods and instruments used to intervene with the body at the `molar' and tangible level – limbs, organs, tissues, etc.

The rapid transition in the medical and health sciences and technologies over the last 50 years – towards a molecular understanding of human body in health and disease and the rise of a host of molecular and digital technologies for investigating and intervening with the body – is still largely absent in museum collections and exhibitions.

As a consequence, the public can rarely rely on museums to get an understanding of the development and impact of the medical and health sciences in the last 50 years. Biochemistry and molecular biology have resulted in entirely new diagnostic methods and therapeutic regimes and a flourishing biotech industry. The elucidation of the human genome and the emergence of proteomics has opened up the possibility of personalised molecular medicine. Advances in the material sciences and information technology have given rise to a innovative and highly productive medical device industry, which is radically transforming medical practices. But few museums have so far engaged seriously and in a sustained way with these and similar phenomena in the recent history of medical sciences and technologies.

The contemporary transition in medical and health science and technology towards molecularisation, miniaturisation, mediated visualisation, digitalisation and intangibilisation is a major challenge for the museum world; not only for medical museums, but also for museums of science and technology, and indeed for all kinds of museums with an interest in the human body and the methods for intervening with it, including art museums, natural history museums and museums of cultural history.

Contemporary medicine is not only a challenge to exhibition design practices and public outreach strategies but also to acquisition methodologies, collection management and collection-based research. How do museums today handle the material and visual heritage of contemporary medical and health science and technology? How do curators wield the increasing amount and kinds of intangible scientific and digital objects? Which intellectual, conceptual, and practical questions does this challenge give rise to?

The conference will address questions like (but not limited to):

+ How can an increasingly microanatomical, molecularised, invisible and intangible (mediated) human body be represented in a museum setting? Does the post-anatomical body require new kinds of museum displays?
+ How can museums make sense of contemporary molecular-based and digitalised diagnostic and thereapeutic technologies, instrumentation and investigation practices in their display practices?
+ How can museums make use of their older collections together with new acquisitions from contemporary medicine and health science and technology?
+ What is the role of the visual vs. the non-visual (hearing, smell, taste, touch) senses in curatorial practice and in the public displays of contemporary medical science and technology?
+ What can museums learn from science centers, art-science event venues etc. with respect to the public engagement with contemporary medical science and technology? And, vice versa, what can museums provide that these institutions cannot?
+ How can museums draw on bioart, `wet art' and other art forms to stimulate public engagement with the changing medical and health system?
+ How does physical representations of contemporary medicine in museum spaces relate to textual representations in print and digital representations on the web?
+ How can museums integrate emerging social web technologies (Wikipedia, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) in the build-up of medical and health exhibitions?
+ What kind of acquisition methods and policies are needed for museums to catch up with the development of contemporary medical science and technology, especially the proliferation of molecular and digital artefacts and images?
+ What kind of problems do museum encounter when they expand the acquisition domain from traditional textual, visual and tangible material objects to digital artefacts (including software, audio- and videorecordings, and digitally stored data) and non-tangible scientific objects.
+ How can participatory acquisitioning, crowd-sourcing, wiki-based methods, etc. (`museum 2.0') be employed for the preservation and curation of the contemporary medical heritage?
+ How can curatorial work in museums draw on medical research and engineering and on academic scholarship in the humanities and social sciences? And, vice versa, how can museums contribute to medical teaching and research and how can their collections stimulate the use of physical objects in the humanities and social sciences?

The conference will employ a variety of session formats. In addition to keynotes and sessions with individual presentations of current research and curatorial work there will also be discussion panels and object demonstration workshops.

We welcome submissions from a wide range of scholars and specialists – including, for example, curators in medical, science and technology museums; scholars in the history, philosophy and social studies of medicine, science and technology; scholars in science and technology studies, science communication studies, museum studies, material studies and visual culture studies; biomedical scientists and clinical specialists; medical, health and pharma industry specialists with an interest in science communication; engineers and designers in the medical device industry; artists, designers and architects with an interest in museum displays, etc.

We are especially interested in presentations that involve the use of material and visual artefacts and we therefore encourage participants to bring illustrative and evocative (tangible or non-tangible) objects for demonstration.

100-300 word proposals for presentations, demonstrations, discussion panels, etc. shall be sent before 28 February 2010 to the chair of the program committee, Thomas Soderqvist,

For further information, see or contact Thomas Soderqvist, For practical information about travel, accommodation, etc., please contact Anni Harris,, after 4 January 2010.

The 15th biannual conference of EAMHMS is hosted by Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Morbid Anatomy on TV

Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy reports she's on YouTube: "My Library (and, sadly, me), Now on You Tube.

"For those of you who've not been to the Morbid Anatomy Library yet,
this short (and embarrassing) video will give you a sense of what I'm
up to over here in Brooklyn (and maybe urge some of you to come pay a
visit!). A bit hard to watch for me, but some of you may enjoy it."

You can also see her at

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Obituary for former AFIP staff

DAVID T. ARMITAGE, 70 ; Medical officer served at Walter Reed

Matt Schudel




Washington Post  

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Dec 29: Program for Students (Grades 5-8) on Medieval Medicine

National Museum of Health and Medicine, Classroom




Students grades 5-8 (space is limited; pre-registration required; click here to download the registration form.) Students under age 15 must be accompanied by an adult.




Participate in hands-on activities to learn about the history of medieval medicine and diseases of the time. Activities will include making a plague mask, creating a mini medieval herb garden, and designing a pomander. The program will include a tour of OUTBREAK. Presented in conjunction with OUTBREAK: Plagues that Changed History, on display through January 22, 2010.





For more information:


On the Web or call (202)782-2673 or




Tim Clarke, Jr. (Contractor, American Registry of Pathology)

Deputy Director (Communications), National Museum of Health and Medicine

6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, Building 54, Washington, D.C. 20307

Phone: (202) 782-2672 -- Mobile: (301) 814-4498 -- Fax: (202) 782-3573




NMHM on Twitter:

NMHM on Facebook:


Mailing Address: NMHM/AFIP, PO Box 59685, Washington, D.C., 20012-0685


NOTE: We may be experiencing technical difficulties with email; if you have not received a reply, call (202) 782-2672 to follow-up.


Dec 30: Scientific Illustration Using a Microscope

Winter Break Workshop: Scientific Illustration Using a Microscope




Wednesday, December 30, 2009, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.




National Museum of Health and Medicine, Classroom




Ages 15 and up (space is limited; pre-registration required; click here to download the registration form.)




Want to try your hand at scientific illustration? The museum hosts a hands-on workshop on how to use microscopes to view germs and "animalcules" and to teach you how to draw what you see. We'll be drawing with pencils but if you have a favorite media bring it along.  There will be a brief discussion of the history of illustration using microscopes, and a brief demonstration of how to use a scope.  Presented in conjunction with OUTBREAK: Plagues that Changed History, on display through January 22, 2010.






For more information:


On the Web or call (202)782-2673 or






Tim Clarke, Jr. (Contractor, American Registry of Pathology)

Deputy Director (Communications), National Museum of Health and Medicine

6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, Building 54, Washington, D.C. 20307

Phone: (202) 782-2672 -- Mobile: (301) 814-4498 -- Fax: (202) 782-3573




NMHM on Twitter:

NMHM on Facebook:


Mailing Address: NMHM/AFIP, PO Box 59685, Washington, D.C., 20012-0685


NOTE: We may be experiencing technical difficulties with email; if you have not received a reply, call (202) 782-2672 to follow-up.


Monday, December 14, 2009

NY Times article on drugs for menopause

The original article is illustrated with advertisements which the slug below doesn't mention, but which does show a usfeul side of trade literature collections.
Menopause, as Brought to You by Big Pharma
Published: December 13, 2009
Lawsuits and internal documents show how Pfizer and its predecessors promoted the idea of taking hormone drugs.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Bryn Barnard at Museum photos

Ace amateur photographer Bruce Guthrie has put up his photographs of Bryn Barnard speaking at the Museum last weekend. I couldn't make the talk, and I don't know if we recorded it. I can check if anyone would like. We may still have signed copies of his book "Outbreak" as well.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Jim Edmondson on 'Dissection' on Lopate radio show

Leonard Lopate Show / December 07, 2009

Author James Edmonson, Chief Curator of the Dittrick Medical Center and Museum at Case Western Reserve University, explains why, in the nineteenth century and into the twentieth century, medical students took pictures of themselves with the cadavers they dissected. His book Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine includes 138 rare, historic photographs that reveal a strange piece of American medical history

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dec 9: Lecture on emerging diseases

Lecture at the NMHM: Investigating Emerging Diseases

When: Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 1:00-2:00 p.m.

What: Dr. Michael Turell, a research entomologist with the Virology Division of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute on Infectious Disease, will discuss the institute's role in investigating several outbreaks including Hantavirus, Ebola, and West Nile virus.

Cost: FREE.

For more information: (202)782-2673 or


900,000 and counting

We've broken the 900,000 mark on our Flickr account. Hot dog. That's an average of about 524 views per image. But our most-viewed image?

MIS 66-9275 has 63,345 views

Dec 9: AFIP professional staff conference by Museum curator

The following lecture is presented by the National Museum of Health and Medicine


Date/Time:                   09 Dec 09/1100am


Location:                     Dart Auditorium


Speaker(s):       Franklin Damann


                        National Museum of Health and Medicine     


Title:                Human Decomposition Ecology


Details:                        The museum Curator discusses recent research exploring the regulation of human decomposition at the University of Tennessee's Anthropology Research Facility. One goal of this research is to assess the potential the microbial community to estimate time since death.



Department of Medical Education

Armed Forces Institute of Pathology

6825 16th Street, NW

Washington, DC  20306-6000

Ph:     (202) 782-2596



Friday, December 4, 2009

Jan Herman on History of Naval Medicine in World War 2

Navy Medicine in the Last Campaigns: Iwo Jima and Okinawa


The presenter is Jan Herman, M.A.

Historian of the Naval Medical Department

Special Assistant to the Navy Surgeon General



Famous brain dissected for study

The brain of Henry Molaison, who could not form memories after his brain surgery, is being dissected – you can read about it in this article - Dissection Begins on Famous Brain, By BENEDICT CAREY, December 3, 2009, and view it live here -

We have a very large brain collection in our Neuroanatomical Division.

Harvard's Comparative Zoology Museum

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dec 5: The Art and Science of "OUTBREAK: Plagues that Changed History"

The Art and Science of "OUTBREAK: Plagues that Changed History"
with the artist Bryn Barnard

When: Saturday, December 5, 2009, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (Feel free to drop in; no reservations required.)

What: Bryn Barnard, author and artist of "OUTBREAK," will host three exciting programs on Saturday, December 5, 2009, including an illustration workshop and a special session aimed at younger audiences. Free, open to the public, no reservations required. See the schedule below for more details. Questions? Call (202) 782-2673 or email

Schedule: (Come for one program, or stay for the whole day!):
10:00 a.m.: Writing and Illustrating Demonstration: Bryn Barnard will explain how he combined history, science, and art to create “OUTBREAK.” Listen as he reveals how he evolved as an illustrator working on projects as wide-ranging as illustrations for science-fiction paperbacks to working for National Geographic and eventually to writing and illustrating his own non-fiction science history books. Barnard will discuss the writing and illustration process, from researching topics through the important editorial stage, and finally discuss the place of the illustrator in the world of writing.

11:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.: Book Signing (limited quantity of books available for sale in the Museum gift shop)

1:00 p.m.: “OUTBREAK: Plagues That Changed History”—Join Bryn Barnard for a discussion about several diseases represented in his book, including the plague, cholera, tuberculosis, and toxoplasmosis.

2:15 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.: Book Signing and Coffee Break with the Artist

3:00 p.m.: Family Program: Children will enjoy this special presentation on illustrating science books, including a demonstration by the artist! Presentation will be followed by a book signing.



Dec 9: Lecture at the NMHM: Investigating Emerging Diseases

Lecture at the NMHM: Investigating Emerging Diseases

When: Wednesday, December 9, 2009, 1:00-2:00 p.m.

What: Dr. Michael Turell, a research entomologist with the Virology Division of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute on Infectious Disease, will discuss the institute's role in investigating several outbreaks including Hantavirus, Ebola, and West Nile virus.

Cost: FREE.

For more information: (202)782-2673 or


Suraci photo album

We have the Alfred J. Suraci (1911-1993) Collection in the archives, which includes the papers and two photograph albums Dr. Suraci made of his World War 2 patients at Northington General Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Later Dr. Suraci was the chief of plastic surgery at Providence Hospital, Prince George's Doctor's Hospital, and Sibley Memorial Hospital. Here are scans of the cover of one of the albums and a title page.



Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Can we make 1,000,000 Flickr views in 2009?

We're at 898,380 photostream views now. Or 1,149,005 photos and video views. I'm not sure what the difference is, but anyone who wants to help push our Flickr views over 1 million will be appreciated. Since we've figured out how to email pictures to the site, I'm sure there will be more to view.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Painting by Samuel Bookatz in Museum

There's an obituary for Samuel Bookatz in today's Washington Post - in our collection is an oil portrait of Ross T. McIntire, Franklin D. Roosevelt's physician, by Samuel Bookatz (1942).

Now that I'm at home, I can post the pictures.

Samuel Bookatz with McIntire painting
Bookatz at the Medical Museum in 1990, cleaning up the paperwork on the painting.

Ross T. McIntire, US Navy Surgeon General
A bad snapshot of the painting.

Dec 5: Book illustrator at Medical Museum



The Art and Science of "OUTBREAK: Plagues that Changed History" with the artist Bryn Barnard




Saturday, December 5, 2009, 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (Feel free to drop in; no reservations required.)




Bryn Barnard, author and artist of "OUTBREAK: Plagues that Changed History," (on exhibit through Jan 22, 2010 at NMHM) will host three exciting programs on Saturday, December 5, 2009, including an illustration workshop and a special session aimed at younger audiences. Free, open to the public, no reservations required.


See the schedule online at for more details. Questions? Call (202) 782-2673 or email




National Museum of Health and Medicine, on the campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center

6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, Building 54, Washington, D.C. 20307  (Enter at Elder St., NW)

Adults must present photo identification to gain entry to Walter Reed.




(202) 782-2673 or email



"Forever Forward" patch

I'm going to try this again, this time including the image.

From our researcher Mike Lemish, whose book on military working dogs in Vietnam is due out in January:



This is the 4” patch that will accompany the book, which should be out by mid-January, at the latest (I hope!):





Sunday, November 29, 2009

Museum souvenier DIY repost

Should you be looking to make … distinctive… holiday gifts, you can use the Museum’s public domain photos on Flickr and a printing company like Zazzle or Café Press.

Here’s how you do it.

Go to the Medical Museum flickr site. Look through the photos and select the one you like. There's roughly 1600 photographs in the account.

Click on it and then on the top of the photo, click on ‘all sizes’. Select ‘download’ for the large size which will save it to your harddrive.

For Zazzle, where I’ve been experimenting, go to and establish an account. Click on ‘create a product’ and pick a product. Click on ‘add an image’ and then pull the picture off your harddrive. Position it on the product until you like it. You can add multiple images or text to some products. You can also make multiple products using the same image which will have been stored in your account under ‘my images.’

Click on either ‘add to my cart’ or ‘post for sale’ when you’re happy with the way it looks.

Pay them and do what you will with the finished product. They can be a bit cranky when it comes to publishing stamps and wouldn’t let my Civil War surgery experiment go out to the world, although they sold me the stamps.

Have fun. Let me know if you do anything particularly interesting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Mail for Heroes

From today's Stripe, the Walter Reed newspaper:

The American Red Cross again is sponsoring a national "Holiday Mail for Heroes" campaign to receive and distribute holiday cards to service members, veterans, and their families in the United States and abroad. The card campaign includes those working and receiving care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc. will partner for the third year to provide screening of all mail sent to the following P.O. Box address:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

People should not send cards to Walter Reed unless they are addressed to a specific wounded warrior. Due to security reasons, Walter Reed cannot accept generic mail. Cards should be postmarked not later than December 7 to reach service members recovering at Walter Reed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yellow Fever vaccine

I heard on NPR this morning that millions of yellow fever vaccines, about 12 million actually, are now being offered in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Benin. According to the World Health Organization, since 2007 a total of 29 million people have been protected through mass vaccinations conducted in other African countries.  We have in our Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology some records of Max Theiler, who received a Nobel Prize in 1951 for his development of an effective vaccine against the disease.


The Journal of Experimental Medicine published an article in 2007 about Max Theiler and his years-long efforts to develop a vaccine. The first field trial in Brazil in 1938 proved to be highly successful and since then, more than 400 million doses have been shown to be safe and effective. The vaccine is still produced the same way as Theiler developed it in 1938: by passing the virus through chicken embryos.


Theiler won the Nobel Prize after just four nominations. The first time was in 1937 for his work on yellow fever in mice. The committee wasn't impressed. In 1948 the second nomination came from Albert Sabin (later of polio vaccine fame). The committee was a little more impressed but said Theiler's work would be prize-worthy if someone could show it was he and not his colleague Wray Lloyd who had conceived of and planned the work. The committee accepted the documentation that was produced and said good job, but gave the prize to Paul Müller for his work on DDT.


1950 produced another nomination. The committee said really good job this time but gave the prize to three other researchers for their discoveries on hormones of the adrenal cortex.


In 1951, on the very last day that prize nominations were being accepted for the year, the chairman of the committee, Hilding Bergstrand,  slid in his recommendation for Theiler under the wire. Theiler was in competition with Selman Waksman for his discovery of streptomycin. Can't you see the committee holding yellow fever vaccine in one hand and streptomycin in the other, weighing them against each other? To Theiler's advantage, not only did Bergstrand do the nominating, he also did the evaluating. Fourth time was the charm, and Theiler won the only Nobel Prize ever awarded for a vaccine. Waksman won the following year but it had taken him 39 nominations over six years.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mologne House

Mologne House
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
The Walter Reed Society is selling their annual ornament to further their mission to aid soldiers and their families. This photo of the Mologne House is on this year's ornament, which sells for $15. You can call the Society's office at (202) 782-6607.

(what Kathleen didn't say was that the WRS saw her photograph in the WRAMC History book and asked her if they could use it, and she kindly said yes - Mike)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dr. John H. Brinton

Dr. John H. Brinton
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
I finally got a shot of this portrait of John Hill Brinton, which lives at the National Gallery of Art. We're just letting them borrow it.

Marine Biologists

I just found this while looking for something else. That's usually the way it is around here. It's from the BUMED (U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine) collection that we scanned. It has to be under copyright, so hopefully someone will tell us who the cartoonist is.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reeve 035097

Reeve 035097
Originally uploaded by otisarchives1

I just uploaded several medical illustrations of empyema on our Flickr page. I came across at least a couple of dozen of them today and this is the first installment.

Another one of those weird coincidences

Yesterday I received a question about a Dr. Trudeau who practiced from about 1830-1877 (who, it turned out, we don't have any information about). Out of curiosity and because we have the massive Vorwald Collection that includes tuberculosis research done at the Trudeau Foundation at the Saranac Laboratories in New York, I Googled the name and dates and found this entry on Wikipedia:

Edward Livingston] Trudeau had two sons, Edward Livingston Trudeau Jr., who died of tuberculosis, and Francis B. Trudeau, who succeeded his father at the sanatorium as director until 1954. Francis B. Trudeau's son, Francis Trudeau, Jr. is the father of cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

Where the coincidence comes in is that we have
original art for the April 21 and 22, 2004 Doonesbury comic strips, which of course are done by Garry Trudeau.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good advice during this flu season

Some helpful advice I found while searching for images in the Archives -


Jasmine High, MA

Archives Technician

Otis Historical Archives

National Museum of Health and Medicine

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Graphic Tales of Cancer in America


I'll be lecturing on this on Sunday, November 22 at 10 am at the History of Science Society meeting. If you're planning on being there, stop in and say hello. - Mike

Otis Archives' Flickr image used to make art

Joanna of Morbid Anatomy pointed out that Tanya Johnston used some images from the Ball Collection on the Archives' Flickr site to make a piece of artwork. Cool! That's what public domain is all about.

To see it, click through the link to her site, click on illustration at the top, and then click on the right arrow to get to the second page of illustrations. It's the bit with all the eyes in the middle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Only a pathologist

Who else would make art based on a house fly's intestinal parasite?

On defining a psychiatric disease

Op-Ed Contributor

The Short Life of a Diagnosis


Published: November 10, 2009


Asperger syndrome and autism should be thoroughly tested before being lumped together in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Dissection makes Amazon's Top 10 for 2009 in Science

Dissection, based on works from a medical museum, has made Amazon's Top Ten Best Books of 2009 in Science, Editor's Picks.

Medical challenge coin challenge

Challenge coins have been proliferating in recent years, due to decreasing costs among other reasons.

Information can be found in this article -


We have an extremely large, but not well-catalogued, numismatics collection occupying a couple of safes in Historical Collections. To better position the Museum for the long-term addition of these to the numismatics collection, I’ve proposed that we scan the ones that people have on their desks, and record who was giving the coin out and when. I did the ones on my desk this morning


Friday, November 6, 2009

Einstein correspondence

This week, or maybe it was last week, I found two letters that were signed by A. Einstein. I think they may have been form letters because they were addressed to Dear Friend, but it looks like the signatures are original. Maybe an expert out there can make a guess.

James Carroll turns up again

I think I wrote about James Carroll, who volunteered to be bitten by a mosquito carrying yellow fever. He contracted the disease which had long-term effects on his health and when he died, several years later, his widow was unsuccessful in securing a government pension.
His name turned up again just now. We got a request for some information on a soldier wounded at Little Big Horn, which led me to pull the accession file that includes an article written about skeletal remains at the battlefield. There's a photograph of a skull and the caption says it was discovered by hospital steward James Carroll of Fort Custer, in 1886. Could this be the same man?
Sure seems like it. The James Carroll who died of the effects of yellow fever was at Fort Custer during this time and was later assigned to be Walter Reed's assistant when Surgeon General George Sternberg chose Reed to teach Clinical and Military Microscopy at the US Army Medical School. Reed and Carroll served together again on the US Army Board which pursued scientific investigation of infectious diseases in Cuba.
I'm always amazed at these coincidences. Even today, those two places are huge distances apart and what are the odds, I wonder...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

International Museum of Surgical Science featured

I visited the International Museum of Surgical Science about a decade ago. They've got some neat collections and were headquartered in an old mansion near the lake in Chicago. Here's a pictorial on them. Note that the collection isn't all surgery - there's an iron lung and patent medicines shown in the photos.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Have you ever heard of the Isthmian Canal?

My education is sorely lacking. I never heard the Panama Canal referred to as the Isthmian Canal, but saw a reference to it today when I went through a truly fascinating set of lantern slides from the William Gorgas era of the Canal. Here are two of several dozen that date from about 1902 to 1914. I wish I could scan them all.

This first one is a lovely hand-tinted lantern slide of Spanish laborers.

This second one is a chart (table?) showing a marked decrease in fatalities from various diseases, supposedly when sanitary measures were put in place- such as covering food, digging drainage ditches, oiling still bodies of water, etc. Note the Americans giving themselves a big old pat on the back.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Lecture on Smithsonian's Arts and Industries Building

The Army Medical Museum and Library building, demolished in 1968, had the same architect. - Mike

The Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians

proudly presents

What's New in What We Know About the Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building

Panel Discussion led by Cynthia Field, Emeritus Architectural Historian, Smithsonian Institution

Monday, November 9, 2009

Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives

6:30 P.M. - light refreshments, 7:00 P.M. - lecture

Five years ago, Cynthia Field thought she told us everything there was to know about Adolf Cluss and his fascinating masterwork, the Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building. That was then, and this is now. Join us to hear from Dr. Field and the Smithsonian team who have been studying the building in ever greater detail. They will present findings so new they have only just been learned using sophisticated analyses as well as old fashioned research.

The panel will consist of three Smithsonian members: Cynthia Field, now Emeritus Architectural Historian for the Smithsonian; Sharon Park, Associate Director, Architectural History and Historic Preservation; and Christopher Lethbridge, Project Manager. They will be joined on the panel by two members of the Washington office of Ewing-Cole who worked on the historic structures report: Gretchen Pfaehler, Managing Principal, and Cristina Radu, Architectural Historian.

After a brief reminder of the important historical information, Park and Lethbridge will discuss the sustainability aspects their studies have revealed and consultants Pfaehler and Radu will tell us their findings about the use of materials in the building.

Their work will elucidate the structure we have come to regard as one of Washington's grandest buildings. All the members of the panel will answer questions following the presentations.

The discussion takes place at The Charles Sumner School Museum and Archives,

1201 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC. Reservations are not required.

$10.00 for Latrobe Chapter Members and full-time students (with ID), $18.00 for non-members.

For general information, please see the Latrobe Chapter website at, or contact Caroline Mesrobian Hickman at (202) 363-1519 or

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You never know where your name will turn up

I'm mentioned in an article here.

 This turns out to be about the Kennedy Assassination.

The 1997 report I wrote that the article mentions is online here.

The original Finck report was scanned this past year and we put it online here.

84 Charing Cross Road

I watched 84 Charing Cross Road last week so imagine my pleasure when I came across a folder in the Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology that holds correspondence, invoices, and customs forms for book purchases, mostly from Europe. The correspondence is between Dr. Esmond Long and booksellers in London, Florence, Amsterdam, Paris, Leipzig, Berlin, and Zurich in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

One letter from R. Lier & Co. in Florence says they're sending him the book he ordered and, "As we have not had the pleasure to do business for you other times, we should appreciate very much your kind remittance by cheque soon. We take advantage of this opportunity to send you, under separate cover, our last Bull. XI on Anatomia and Chirurgia in the hope that you will find in same something interesting. Please believe us." I don't know what that last sentence means, but I like it, and think about getting something in the mail you have not yet paid for.

Some of the names of the bookstores are Emile Nourry Librarie Ancienne (Paris); Libreria Antiquaria Editrice (Florence); and Buchhandler und Antiquar (Leipzig). I think they'd be great places to poke around in.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What was 'black tongue?'

We got a research inquiry today asking ‘what was ‘black tongue’ which threw me for a moment as I’d never heard of it. Fortunately my predecessors recorded information about it.

Black Tongue was a common name for erysipelas – see the two attached documents from the Medical & Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion (3rd Surgical vol.) in the footnote starting on the first page. gives an overview and you can see why it would be a dangerous disease before antibiotics.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Latest Flickr statistics

1,625 items - 885,625 views.

This mustard gas testing shot has been popular lately:

NCP 1057

We're working on a project to get many 700,000 images we currently have scanned online for searching and use (although as many as 50,000 of those are book pages we've already loaded onto Internet Archive). Stay tuned for more details.

Clubfoot treatment developer dies

Fascinating article here on Ignacio Ponseti and his development of non-surgical treatment for clubfoot, which took fifty years to become widespread.

Ignacio Ponseti, Hero to Many With Clubfoot, Dies at 95
Published: October 24, 2009

Photographic coverage of military war dead at Dover

Here's a good article from the Washington Post about changes in media coverage of the arrival of military dead to Dover Air Force Base -

With ban over, who should cover the fallen at Dover?
Few in media choosing to capture events, but military posts pictures

By Christian Davenport
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 24, 2009

- after the fallen soldiers arrive, they're examined by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner which is part of AFIP (until BRAC finishes)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oct 26: Museum on History Channel's Death Masks

 I think I was interviewed for this about Lincoln and the Civil War and they filmed in the archives with spooky blue lighting - Mike


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bring your kids! Halloween at the Medical Museum, Sat. 10/31, 10am-1pm

Halloween at the Medical Museum


MCSO02952_0000[1]When: Saturday, October 31, 2009, 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.


Where: The National Museum of Health and Medicine

Building 54


What: The National Museum of Health and Medicine and Family Magazine will host family-friendly Halloween activities for ages 5 and up. Children will be able to participate in a costume contest (with prizes!) and make skeleton crafts (a dancing macaroni skeleton, a medieval plague mask, and a skeleton wall hanging) as well as join in a Halloween-themed family yoga demonstration by Shakti Yoga.


Cost: FREE


Photo ID required.


For more information: or (202) 782-2673



Outbreak: Plagues That Changed History


On Exhibit October 31, 2009 – January 22, 2010


OUTBREAK is the story of epidemics that changed human society. Learn how diseases such as smallpox, cholera and yellow fever shaped our history, our culture and our civilization. Featuring the art of Bryn Barnard.