Sunday, August 30, 2009

Commercialism, merchandising and the role of a museum

This is an interesting article - Kennicott's got a good perspective on the issue. As someone who's interested in popular culture, I personally feel that more could be done. He cites the National Portrait Gallery as a good example of an institution that let time decide some issues... however, they're way behind in collecting movie posters as a result, even though they were some of the most evocative images of artists of the 20th century. Read the article and let us know what you think in the comments.

Artifact or Artifice?
If Simon, Randy and Paula's Desk Sits in the Smithsonian, Is the Institution Performing Its Proper Role in Chronicling Our Culture?

By Philip Kennicott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 30, 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

NY Times op-ed on Sigmund Freud's visit to the US

Here's an interesting bit on the history of medicine...

Freud’s Adirondack Vacation
Published: August 29, 2009
How an invitation from a prominent American scientist 100 years ago gave psychoanalysis its start in the United States.

Friday, August 28, 2009

PR: Eä - Journal of Medical Humanities & Social Studies of Science and Technology

This email came through the Caduceus history of medicine list today - I took a very quick look at the TOC for the first issue and it looks like they've got a good selection on South American history especially Argentina.

 Dear friends,

It is our great pleasure to inform you about the publication of Vol. 1 Nº 1 of Eä – Journal of Medical Humanities & Social Studies of Science and Technology (ISSN 1852-4680), a periodical electronic journal in an interactive format publishing papers on Medical Humanities and Social Studies of Science and Technology. The journal is available at the URL

The journal aims to be in the junction between academic excellence and the development of the new technologies of information and social networks. The journal gathers a prestigious editorial committee, is peer reviewed by international referees and meets the requirements of periodical publications indexes. Eä publishes three issues a year (April, August, and December). It is presented in Spanish and English, and accepts texts in Spanish, English, Portuguese and French, reaching global impact. This publication has been created under the Web 2.0 paradigm, with a dynamic layout that promotes user-reader's interaction between them and with the website.

We invite you to go through the contents of this first issue and we wait for your comments and suggestions in order to improve this journal. Next deadline for submitting papers to be published in Vol. 1 Nº 2 (December 2009) will be October 1st. We invite you to help us by spreading this initiative among your colleagues, and we also invite you to submit papers for publication for our next issue. You may find information for authors in the following link: or you can send us an e-mail to

Yours sincerely,

Jaime Elías Bortz, Academic Director

Gabriela Mijal Bortz, Editorial Director

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bert Hansen's book on mass media images reviewed in today's Times

This article -


When a Doctor Is More, and Less, Than a Healer


August 25, 2009


Reviews Bert’s new book -



A History of Mass Media Images and Popular Attitudes in America. By Bert Hansen. Rutgers University Press. 348 pages. $37.95.


-which I thought was excellent. We have a copy in the Museum.

1957 influenza epidemic

Today's Washington Post has a large article on the 1957 influenza epidemic. We've got a selection of photographs from this, mostly involved with diagnosing it in Japan, on our website.

4-volume book set of historical Ophthalmology photographs donated

Dr. Stanley Burns, a longtime friend of the Museum, donated his latest publication yesterday – a 4-volume book set of historical ophthalmology photographs. It’s only been out for two weeks and we’re quite pleased to get it. Dr. Burns has one of the largest private collections of history of medicine photographs and opens it for use as the Burns Archive in New York City. This is the 6th set of historical medical photographs that he’s published , and its formal title is Ophthalmology A Photographic History 1845-1945, Selections from the Burns Archive.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Noteworthy Pathologists

I've been processing a collection called the Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology. I expected to be thoroughly bored with the material and have been pleasantly surprised that I find a lot of it interesting. Like this photograph of pathologists gathered in Holland in 1934 that I came across today.

OK, it's a bunch of people in a photo. What makes this so remarkable is a letter that accompanied it to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology where the sender writes, "It probably represents the last time that some of the great giants of pathology of the early part of the 20th century ever came together. Only a few attended the Third Congress in Stockholm in 1937 and then came the War. By the time of resumption of meetings in 1950 most of them were gone."

The records even include a chart of names of some of the attendees.

Ben Gage, art handler, blogs about moving museum piece

Ben Gage put this link in a comment, but I'll highlight it on the main blog as it's an interesting side of museums that most people don't have to consider -

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

National Museum of Health and Medicine: Walter Reed Army Hospital

More Nursing Materials in the Archives

At a "junque" store in Tennessee Mike found some materials which belonged to Mary Charles Green Carter, who graduated from the School of Nursing at St. Mary's Memorial Hospital in 1956:  photos, a diploma, a Tennessee state nursing license, and a certificate showing three months' completion at Eastern State Hospital in Knoxville. We're going to scan these and add them to the NCP collection. In our line of work it's not always possible to put faces to names and names to faces. This tiny collection is a real treat because we have both.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Conventions of Display: Cultures of Exhibition in Twentieth-Century Medicine. NLM History of Medicine Summer of Seminars

Miriam and I spoke at the same panel at the History of Medicine meetings, so I can tell you she's looking at some interesting material here. We hope to provide her with more, based on the Museum and AFIP's experiences with traveling exhibits.

History of Medicine Division
Summer of Seminars
Thursday, August 27, 2009, 2-3:30pm
NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A, NLM
Bethesda, MD

Conventions of Display: Cultures of Exhibition in Twentieth-Century

Miriam Posner
Yale University

Most medical historians have heard of anatomical museums and displays of
anomalies in earlier eras. Few are aware, however, that exhibition has
also been a crucial component of twentieth-century medicine. The
prominence of exhibition in medicine suggests that historians should
refine their notions of how medical ideas are communicated to
accommodate this lively and interactive culture.

The next History of Medicine Division seminar will be held on Wednesday,
September 9, 2-3:30pm, in the NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A. In
conjunction with NLM's newest travelling exhibit, "The Literature of
Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and 'The Yellow Wall-Paper,'"
Helen Horowitz of Smith College will speak on "Underneath the Whirls:
Rethinking Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Sex, Nervous Breakdown, and S. Weir

All are Welcome

Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities
who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen
Greenberg at (301-435-4995), e-mail, or the
Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).

Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised
to consult the NLM Visitors and Security website:

Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD
Coordinator of Public Services
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health and Human Services

Korean War ballistics studies

There are now 921 items across Historical, Anatomical and Archives divisions related to Korean War ballistics research, searchable (in our internal EMU database) under the keyword phrase “Korean War Ballistics.”  These various research projects are detailed in the OTSG publication “Wound Ballistics in World War II supplemented by experiences in the Korean War.”


This includes all the historic armored vest material on display to the public.

AFIP's CWIP & metal frag programs

The Pentagon News  Broadcast featuring AFIP’s collaboration with the Combat Wound Initiative Program and interviews with Dr. Izadjoo, COL Stojodinovic and Adonnis on the Pentagon Channel .


You can also visit the link and click on the “Around the Services” broadcast for 19 August 2009 “Infection Collection - Scientists collect bacteria from wounded warriors for healing research.” 


Monday, August 17, 2009

Government Printing Office (GPO) Military History Update features WRAMC book

GPO U.S. Bookstore logo

New Military History Publications

Issue #130 - August 2009



1. Walter Reed Army Medical Center Centennial: A Pictorial History, 1909-2009 (Hardcover)

Description: Provides A profusely illustrated history covering the full range of
Walter Reed Army Medical Center's activities in service to the Army
and the Nation. Some photographs are in color.

Year/Pages: 2009: 293 p. ; ill.

Stock #: 008-000-01020-0

U.S. Price: $35.00 Add To Cart

International Price: $49.00


Prices and availability are subject to change. In addition to online, orders may be submitted via telephone, fax (202-512-2104), email, and postal mail. Contact the GPO Contact Center between 8:00 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., EST at 1-866-512-1800 (Toll-free) or 202-512-1800 (DC Metro area only) to place or inquire about orders. When placing an order via phone, please refer to processing code 3378. Send email orders to Send mail orders to: U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 979050, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000.


U.S. Government Printing Office · 732 N. Capitol Street, NW · Washington, DC 20401


This announcement was sent out to AFIP staff last week; I've posted it here in light of today's Washington Post story - "Pathology Institute Defends Its Turf: We're Still Open, New Firm Is Told," By Steve Vogel, Washington Post Staff Writer, Monday, August 17, 2009.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009 11:31 AM

AFIP's Pathology Consultative Services Remain Fully Functional
The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, AFIP, is open for business and
absolutely will continue to receive and process pathology consultation
cases in our AFIP laboratories. The AFIP proudly continues to serve our
beneficiaries and customers as we have done ever since our founding in
Unfortunately, it has come to the attention of the AFIP that some
contributors are confused and under the false impression that the AFIP
will no longer be accepting cases for consultation after August 2009 or
that the AFIP has already transitioned into another organization.
This is not the case - the AFIP has not closed. We want to assure you
that the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology and its AFIP labs are still
operational and located at 6825 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC, on the
campus of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The AFIP will continue to support and enhance the health and well being
of the Department of Defense, Veterans Administration, other
Governmental Agencies, and the civilian medical community. The AFIP
continues to serve by providing medical, veterinary, and dental
expertise in pathology in diagnostic consultation, education, and
Looking toward the future years, the Department of Defense is in the
process of establishing an organization called the Joint Pathology
Center (JPC) which will succeed the AFIP when the AFIP is disestablished
in accordance with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process in
September 2011. The JPC, in accordance with Section 722 of Public Law
110-181, will function as the reference center in pathology for the
Federal Government and will, at a minimum, provide pathology services to
the military healthcare system, Department of Veterans Affairs, and
other federal agencies.
The AFIP and other leaders in military healthcare are committed to
ensuring that DoD continues to have a one-stop shop for pathology
consultation and that the transition from the AFIP to the JPC in terms
of services will be transparent and seamless to our beneficiaries and
There should be no decrement in pathology consultative services as the
AFIP transitions to the JPC by 2011. We will keep you updated on this
process over the next several years.
So, please rest assured that the AFIP is open and definitely continues
to accept military, Veterans Affairs, and civilian cases in all
pathology departments and that the AFIP is committed to maintaining its
tradition of pathology consultative services, education and research.

NLM History of Medicine Summer of Seminars

History of Medicine Division
Summer of Seminars
Thursday, August 13, 2009, 2-3:30pm
NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A, NLM
Bethesda, MD

"Poster Children and the Construction of American International

Julia F. Irwin
Yale University

Throughout the twentieth century, American public health and medical
philanthropies relied on images of children to raise funds and awareness
for their international health and social welfare interventions. Such
images evoked innocence and vulnerability, but also promise and
possibility. Because of this combination of traits, representations of
children proved quite valuable for reformers trying to garner domestic
support for overseas assistance projects. They suggested, moreover, that
Americans had a moral obligation to share their biomedical, scientific,
and financial assets with the world. In a period in which the United
States was consolidating its political and economic influence in the
world to become a global power, these projections of altruistic American
internationalism carried important cultural weight.

The final HMD "Summer of Seminars" program will be held on Thursday,
August 27, 2-3:30pm, in the NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A. Miriam Posner
(Yale University) will speak on "Conventions of Display: Cultures of
Exhibition in Twentieth-Century Medicine."

All are Welcome

Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities
who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen
Greenberg at (301-435-4995), e-mail, or the
Federal Relay (1-800-877-8339).

Due to current security measures at NIH, off-campus visitors are advised
to consult the NLM Visitors and Security website:

Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD
Coordinator of Public Services
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
Department of Health and Human Services

Friday, August 14, 2009

How good we have it

For all of the problems computers can give us, consider this. I've been processing a collection called the Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology, a compilation of personal papers, lab experiments, photos, correspondence, and so on of pathologists of note. Among them is Esmond R. Long, who published A History of Pathology in 1928 and A History of American Pathology in 1962 (among other books). In a letter to his publisher about the expected size of a new book, he asks if the publisher wants the Notes at the end of each chapter or at the end of the book. He wants the publisher to, "Please decide now, so that I can number the pages accordingly." For us, in our cut-and-paste world and automatic renumbering, not a big deal, but for his 400-page book, I'd say it would be a pretty big inconvenience.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Peter Parker painting collection online

Check out Yale's collection of clinical portraits commissioned by Peter Parker, which they've put online. These paintings were done in China by Lam Qua in the early 19th century. I'd seen a few reproduced before, but this is a very nice presentation of the whole collection.

Thanks to Masteribid for the tip.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

1336 new records added to EMU catalogue

Kathleen changed the Ball Ophthalmic Museum finding aid that she’d recently revised into a spreadsheet and we imported it into our EMU catalogue today. 1336 new records exist now.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cigars? Cigarettes? Gross photo?

The Washington Post is reporting that the US is going to follow the lead of Canada and other countries by putting graphic photographs of the damages caused by cigarettes on packaging. I'm glad to say that we've got a sample of Canada's packaging from some years ago - collected by Ass't Director for Collections Jim Connor, I think. I'm sure we'd be glad to get the US versions to complement it, if anyone reading this is a local smoker.

Roughly 1600 new records added to our EMU catalogue today

Jasmine converted the list of folders in the AFIP Historical Files to a spreadsheet and we imported them today. If you search on the title, you’ll get the folder title. A sample would be - Institutional Records of Afip or Museum - folder - Davis, Harry A. (1875-1951); Entomologist with AFIP  [AFIP Historical Files]  - Active - AFIP Box 55.


Hopefully we’ll get the catalogue open to the general public in 2010.

In the meantime, the existing finding aid is still online.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Another excellent cancer article in NY Times

Their series on the modern history of cancer continues.

Forty Years' War
Lack of Study Volunteers Hobbles Cancer Fight
Published: August 3, 2009
In the war on cancer, a major hurdle involves finding cancer patients willing to participate in clinical trials.

Michael Kimmelman on viewing art in a museum

We're not exactly an art museum, although we do have some pieces of art on the walls, but this article speaks to most museum experiences, I think, as it addresses the question of how does one view objects in a museum?

At Louvre, Many Stop to Snap but Few Stay to Focus
Published: August 3, 2009
Watching people look at art rekindles a question: What exactly are we looking for when we wander museums?