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.


Monday, October 19, 2009

More Agent Orange news

Maybe you remember that I wrote about the link between the Vietnam War's use of Agent Orange and diabetes. Well, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki just added three new ailments to the list: hairy-cell leukemia and other B-cell leukemias, Parkinson's disease, and ischemic heart disease. Thanks to a recent National Academy of Science's report, there's enough evidence to make the presumption that if you're a Vietnam vet and have these, you don't have to jump through 1000 hoops to receive services. These latest three, which will probably be official early next year, join this infamous list:

Acute and subacute transient peripheral neuropathy
AL amyloidosis
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Diabetes Mellitus (type 2)
Hodgkin's disease
Multiple myeloma
Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Prophyria cutanea tarda
Prostate cancer
Respiratory cancer
Soft tissue sarcoma other than osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, Kaposi's sarcoma or mesothelioma

Here's a link to the Washington Post article about Agent Orange and the new diseases.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Morbid Anatomy in Time Out New York

Joanna Ebenstein has an article profiling her in Time Out New York. She's the force behind which has said kind things about us in the past. There's a lot of pictures on the website.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog tip - Civil War Medicine (and Writing)

Steven Solomon, our former public affairs officer, pointed out this Civil War Medicine (and Writing) blog to me today. At my first quick glance, the author Jim Schmidt has a couple of posts about the Medical Museum - one on the Museum proper and another new one on Doctor (and photographer) Reed Bontecou which is the one Steven pointed out. Besides Blair's articles mentioned therein (I think I'm a co-author on the 2nd), anyone interested in Civil War medical photography might want to check out this Shooting Soldiers article.

Trade literature additions

A couple of weeks ago, I personally bought a few pieces of 1950s trade lit for the collection - these pharmaceutical ads are all blotters for fountain pens. They're filed under companies' names now. They're not exciting, but the price at the flea market was right, and now perhaps someone will use them. Blotters, Phedrol, Agarol, Alcaroid... all gone.

Phedros blotter
Blotter - Phedros eases spasmodic and irritating bronchial coughs due to colds.

Agarol blotter
Blotter - Agarol for Constipation, William E Warner & Co.

Alcaroid blotter
Blotter - Alcaroid, an effective alkalizer and digestant, American Ferment Company.
[American Ferment Company? An honest name at least.]

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dr. Paul Cannon's vision of the future

Paul Roberts Cannon is another name on the list of Noteworthy Pathologists. He received the Golden Cane Award (a kind of interesting story I'll tell another time) in 1965 and we have his handwritten notes for his acceptance speech. He led off with paraphrasing what Jack Benny said when Benny received the Eleanor Roosevelt Award: "Modesty should force him to say that he didn't deserve it. But he couldn't do that because he also had arthritis and he didn't deserve that either."

But he ended with his vision of the future. I think he'd be pretty disappointed to see what little progress has been made.
--Vaccinations for leukemia and cancer
--Control of population explosion
--Control of atherogenic elements [having to do with cardiac disease, if I read Google correctly]
--Control of air pollution
--Control of water pollution
--Control of factors of mental health

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another museum selling collections to pay bills

Widow of Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum founder works to save husband's legacy

By Joan Mazzolini, The Plain Dealer

October 05, 2009, 6:29PM


This was a bit of a surprise* when it was pointed out to me, but I'll be there.

National Archives
9th and Penn Ave, NW
Tuesday, October 27, at 11 A.M.
Room G-24, Research Center (Enter on Pennsylvania Avenue)
Civil War Medicine
Archives specialist Rebecca Sharp and reference librarian Nancy Wing discuss The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 1861–1865. This published source contains details of Civil War medical and surgical procedures, and information about individual patients. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, in Lecture Room B, on Thursday, October 29, at 11 a.m.)

This one looks relevant too:

Tuesday, October 6, at 11 A.M.
Room G-24, Research Center (Enter on Pennsylvania Avenue)
Documenting Death in the Civil War
John Deeben, genealogy archives specialist at the National Archives, explores death records created during and after the Civil War by the War Department, examining how they documented personal circumstances of soldiers’ deaths in various situations, including the battlefield and military hospitals and prisons. (This lecture will be repeated at the National Archives at College Park, MD, in Lecture Room B, on Thursday, October 8, at 11 a.m.)

*The Army Medical Museum (ie us) wrote the book and we retain original records and specimens that were used to compile it.**

**We also scanned it for you all.

More good stuff from the Registry

I finally got back to work on the Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology and today found some letters.

James Carroll was a Major in the Army who worked with Walter Reed on his yellow fever research. He volunteered to be bitten by a mosquito that had previously bitten three others who had yellow fever. He contracted the disease and several years later died of cardiac disease that was attributed to his bout of yellow fever.

Here's a letter from the President of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, petitioning a Congressman to grant a special pension to Carroll's widow.

Page 1

Page 2

And here is the Congressman's reply.

Maybe I'm missing something, but I thought being a Major in the Army meant you were in military service to your country.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Red Cross selling items from Archives to close budget gap

The NY Times has the story today -

Red Cross to Auction Off Little Pieces of Its History
Published: October 3, 2009
To help address a $50 million budget deficit, the American Red Cross will sell some of the memorabilia it has squirreled away over many years.

This is a trend we're seeing more and more of.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Garfield autopsy letter

I just scanned this letter, written by the surgeon (D.W. Bliss, but the signature doesn't look like "Bliss" to me) who performed President James Garfield's autopsy, where he certifies that the bullet shown with the letter was taken from the body of the president. Thought you might like to see it.