Friday, December 31, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 31

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01920

December 31, 1896

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

Dear Dr. Ashford:

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

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed

Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Thursday, December 30, 2010

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

December 30, 1896

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

Dear Doctor:

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

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed
Surgeon, U. S. Army,

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 29

Attorney at [document torn]
And Notary Public

Lake Crystal, Minn., Dec 29, 1883

Surgeon General U.S.A.

Dear Sir.

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

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

Yours truly,

Lonnie Cray

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 28

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01900

December 28th, 1896

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

Dear Dr. Adams:

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

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed.

Surgeon, U.S.A.

Monday, December 27, 2010

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

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

Read more about Civil War photography

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

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


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


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

Deathbed of Lincoln by Hermann Faber

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

Civil War letters on Bottled Monsters blog

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

Letter of the Day: December 27


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

Major Gen JK Barnes

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

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

Respectfully Yr Obdt Srvt,

E.L. Gaillard

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 26

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

Dear Doctor,

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

Very truly
Yr st.
C. Wagner

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

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 25

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1122

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

Dear Dr. Huntington,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With best wishes of the season,

Sincerely yrs
H.R. Storer

Friday, December 24, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 24

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01890

Claim for services

December 24, 1896

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

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

Very respectfully,

Michael Flynn
Assistant Messenger, S. G. O.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

John Wilkes Booth's contested identity?

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

Booth descendants agree to brother's body ID tests

By Edward Colimore

Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 23, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 23

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

Dear Doctor,

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

Very truly,
Yours, &c.,

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Frederick News-Post columnist likes the Museum

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

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

Click here to read more.

Civil War images posted to Flickr

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

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

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


Letter of the Day: December 22

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1888

December 22, 1896

Mr. A. R. Harper
Ruston, La.

Dear Sir:

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

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

Very respectfully,

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

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

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

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

Fort Niobrara, Neb.
December 21st, 1896

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

Dear Doctor:

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

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

Very respectfully yours,
P. C. Fauntleroy

Monday, December 20, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 20

Improved Centrifugal Machine

December 20, 1894

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


I have the honor to report that I have examined the improved Dougherty Centrifugal Machine received on the 17th inst. I find that it is some respects superior to the old centrifugal machine made by the same firm. The number of revolutions is certainly much greater; and, as it runs by clock-work, it saves the labor of turning with the hand. If the spring is thoroughly strong, and warranted to last for several years, then I would pronounce it the better machine of the two for use in the service.

Very respectfully,

Walter Reed

Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Curator Army Medical Museum

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 19

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1104

December 19, 1895

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


I have the honor to report that Mr. Morris Downs, a Laborer in this Division of the office, died at 7 P.M., last night, and to request that another laborer be appointed as soon as possible as the services of such laborer are very much needed.

Very respectfully,

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

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 18

T. Sinclair & Son
Lithographic Establishment.
506 & 508 North St.
Philadelphia Dec. 18th 1883

Dear Sir:

In reply to your communication of the 17th inst., we have to say that the illustrations for 10,000 copies of Parts 1.2.3 Surgical volume and Parts 1 and 2 Medical volume would cost at the rate of one dollar per volume, or about $50,000 in all.

Very respectfully yours
Thos. Sinclair + Son

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

Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Fact

You might have noticed that our "Letters of the Day" frequently contain the word "inst.," which always seem to reference a date of some kind. Having confined most of my previous research to the very late 19th century/ early 20th century, this was a convention that I hadn't run across very often until I started here at NMHM. It occurred to me that some readers out there might be confused, or at least curious, as I was.

These abbreviations are common in correspondence from the Civil War era, but have (obviously) fallen out of fashion. So here goes:

"Inst." is an abbreviation for "instant", which refers to the current month or year, depending upon its context. For example, "the 17th of December, inst.," means December 17 of the current year. "The 17th, inst.," means the 17th day of the current month.

You may also see the word "ult." - an abbreviation for "ultimo" - which means the previous month or year.

Letter of the Day: December 17

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 374

December 17, 1894

Dr. Paul Gibier,
Director New York Pasteur Institute,
1-7 West 97th St.,
New York.

Dear Doctor:

In the Therapeutic Review, Vol. II., No. 4, which you were kind enough to send me a few days ago, I observe, on page 73, that “Serum is now procurable with an antitoxic power of 50,000,” at your Institute. I will thank you very much if you can send me 10 c.c. of this serum; at the same time please forward bill for the serum.

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed
Major and Surgeon, U.S. Army
Curator Army Medical Museum.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday bit 2 - Ex Libris

Here’s a bookplate based on the Museum’s photograph #Reeve 85182-82 “Avoid Pickups”. You should get 4 per 8x10 page. Write your name in the white box and glue one into your book and you should get it back, or perhaps not even have the book borrowed in the first place.


Happy holidays

Holiday bit - Sinclair and Sons stationary, blanked out for use


Letter of the Day: December 16

Beuchene Skull aka "Exploded" Skull

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1872


Mssrs Richard Kny & Co.,

17 Park Place,

New York.




Will you have the kindness to inform me at an early date of the prices at which you will furnish the following preparatioins:


Osteological Preparations, Catalogue III

p. 3. Skull disarticulated, mounted according to Beauchene, bones untied by polished metal strips, screw movement.

p. 3 Ear with two cuts, internal and median.

p. 15. Skull of monkey, mounted after Beauchene.


Biological Preparations, Catalogue No. V, pp. 20 and 21.


I.                    Dissected Preparations.

Mus decumanus

Columba sp.

Lacerta agilis.

Rana fortis.

Tinca vulgaris.

Bombyx mori.

Astacus fluviatilis.

Helix pomatis.


II.                  Injected preparations.

Mus decumanus.

Columba sp.

Lacerta agilis.

Rana fortis.

Tinca vulgaris.

Astacus fluviatilis.

Helix pomatis.

Hiruda medicinalis.


III.                Nerve Preparations.

Mus decumanus.

Columba sp.

Lacerta agilis.

Rana escuelenta.

Melolontha vugaris.

Hydrophilus piceus.

Astacus fluviatilis.


Very respectfully,


D.L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

In charge of Mus. and Lib. Div.



Hiruda medicinalis, nerve prep.

Helix pomatis, “ “



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Washington Post obituary for River Blindness crusader

Rene Le Berre, 78

Entomologist saved millions of Africans from river blindness

By Emma Brown

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Pictures of the disease from the MIS Library –



Letter of the Day: December 15

Subject: Army Medical School Library.

War Department,
Surgeon General's Office,
Washington, December 15, 1894.

Major Walter Reed,
Surgeon, U.S. Army,
Secretary, Army Medical School,
Washington, D.C.,


The Surgeon General has directed me as President of the Army Medical School to inform you that it is his desire that a special library should be formed and added to as opportunity affords, for the use of the Faculty and Students of the Army Medical School. While this library will contain chiefly "books of reference", works on the branches taught in the Army Medical School and the more important recent works on general medical and surgical subjects will be added. The Surgeon General has already sent to you for this purpose a number of medical works and will continue to do so; and he desires that you will suggest from time to time the names of suitable books with a view to their purchase from the medical appropriation.

It is desired that you will as soon as convenient prepare a catalogue of the Library of the Army Medical School.

Very respectfully,

Chs. H. Alden

Assistant Surgeon General, U.S. Army
President, Army Medical School

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Post says "GSA relinquishes claim to Walter Reed property"

GSA relinquishes claim to Walter Reed property
By Jonathan O'Connell
Monday, December 13, 2010; 4

This would include the AFIP Building (and its Museum space), the Rumbaugh parking garage and the hospital among others.

Letter of the Day: December 14

USA General Hospital No. 5
Frederick City Md. Dec. 14th 1862

Surgeon Brinton USA


I have learned that there is now connected with the Medical Department of the Army, an Anatomical Museum under your charge, I have a couple of dry specimens. One of the Knee Joint, the other Foetus, which I requested Surgeon Keene to inform you of , I would be pleased to have you present them to the Surgeon Gen'l from me - I prepared them while reading Medicine at Hartford Conn. I have Written my father to have them Expressed to you.

I have been some time in preparing specimens here, I should be pleased if I could be Transferred to Washington for duty under your charge, as I have a great taste for Anatomy. Please let me hear if you have received them or not + oblige.

I am your Obt Servant

H.S. Hannen
Medical Cadet, USA

Monday, December 13, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 13

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1094

War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets S.W.,
Washington, D.C., December 13, 1895

Dr. J.S. Billings,
Laboratory of Hygiene,
University of Pennsylvania,
34th and Locust Sts.,
West Philadelphia, Pa.

Dear Dr. Billings:

I herewith enclose a letter received this day from Mr. Wm. S. Bonwill, of Philadelphia, in regard to a collection of his inventions in medical and dental surgery.

Will you kindly read the letter and return it to me with any information you may have regarding the man or his offer.

Very sincerely yours,

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

My dear Dr Huntington

Dr Bonwill is a very ingenious dentist who has invented a number of instruments and devices. The best known of which is the “Dental Engine” which every dentist uses. His is somewhat cranky and appreciates himself highly. I would suggest a polite reply delivering thanks, and saying that this will be a valuable addition etc. etc.

Very truly yours
JS Billings.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 12

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1094

2009 Chestnut St.,
Philadelphia, PA.

12/12/95 – 1:30. a.m.

Dr. Billings:

Dear Dr:-

Let this be my Will and Testament so far as the present gift is concerned.

At my death or sooner if I so conclude I desire that the Army and Medical Museum at Washington D.C. shall have the large collection of models of all my Inventions in Medical and Dental Surgery for the past forty years. The collection is the largest of any individual in the Dental and perhaps Medical Profession and which have marked an era and are entirely unique.

You may hold this as your security against all others who might claim it.

I will have them systematically arranged on Tablets and with full index that each can be easily designated and the full history of invention and discovery of one man in 40 years.

Kindly reply,
I am Sincerely,

Wm. S. Bonwill

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 11 [an update from Antietam]

Gen. Hosp No. 1
Frederick, Md.
Dec. 11th, 1862

Dear Doctor:

I enclose you my notes of Specimens gathered since Antietam. They amount in all to 187.

I have worked pretty hard over them and I hope you will be satisfied. Many of them are not cleaned off – in some even the soft parts remain – simply from the fact that I did not have the time for so much labor as that would have necessitated. This work could I knew be better done in Washington + as I was anxious to get as full notes as possible I have rather devoted my time and not without result to gathering them.

The specimens are divided into two series 1. Bony + soft specimens 1-165 which occupy the largest part and 2. “Arterial specimens” 1-22 which how ever though mostly are not altogether arterial; but I thought it best not to make too many series for fear of confusion. The former are mostly marked by tins the latter entirely – as I had no readier means – by knotted strings.

Dr. Hewitt has furnished me a large number of specimens and many not in his own name are still from the Hospital under his charge (Gen. Hosp. No 5). He has not been able yet to give me full notes on his own personal cases + by arrangement will therefore send to you direct – numbered to correspond to my list – the histories of the following cases

5 [Danl Hartey. full amp]*
13 [Mo. Welsh. com fract of tarsus]*
14 [Chi Carney. fract of femur lower 30]*
20 [M. Dock. fr. of elbow]*
24 [Lewis Wrath. amp shouler joint]*
25 [L. Bard. resection of wrist]*
26 [J. Martin. resec. of wrist]*
27 [Jo. West. resec. of Elbow]*
28 [J. Dennison. resec of __]*
29 [Pamc. Doyle. Resec. of elbow]*
34 [Chs Schaffer. amp left ankle]*
35 [Jim Loaly. amp thight]*
36 [Clark Stillwell. amp of leg]*
40 [M. Floran. resec of condyls of femur]*
61 [H. Hanger. amputation]*
62 [Ian McQueen. amputation]*
63 [M. Henry. amp]*
64 [J. Dibbey. amputation]*
104 [Thos. Nerny. knoyout [?] amputate]*
138 [Alonzo Freeman. arterial S/1 no. 11]*
139 [Lewis Meeker “ “ “ 12]*
142 [J. OBrian. amp of the 3rd of femur]*
143 [Pat Doyle. amp of 3rd of tibia]*
144 [Kennelly. amp of lower 3rd tibia]*
148 [Shay. arterl sh. 17]*
154 [Murphy [?] “ “ 15]*
155 [Geo. Bray. artl 16]*

The rough notes I have of them may be of use in case by any accident he be not able to send his own. As yet (9 Am) I have not got from him the bones of case 155 nor the artery in case 139.

A Cadet of his Mr. Hannen of Hartford Conn. has been very industrious in his work over the specimens. Should you desire any additional aid in preparing those you have in the office for the museum he would be glad to have the work to do and as a sample of what he can do I persuaded him to send you from Hartford a muscular, arterial, + nervous preparation of a boy and also a prepared knee joint. If you like them they may be worth presentation in the museum.

Surg J. B. Lewis U.S.N. Gen. Hospital No. 6 has sent me also 4 very beautiful specimens. He likewise will send you direct the notes of cases nos. 23 [resec of Ho4 humery [?]*, 41 [No. 2 resec of elbow]*, 96 [Amp of Ho4 Tibia No. 3]*, 159 [Reice [?] Ulna no. 4]* numbered to correspond with my list.

Asst. Surg J. H. Bill USA in charge Gen Hosp No. 3 has as yet sent no but one specimen (no. 1). With notes however of several others, the specimens to accompany the notes may however be sent according to promise today + will in that case be enclosed with the others.

From our own G Hospital (Gen. Hosp. No. 1 in charge of R. J. Weir Asst Surg. USA) there are 105 specimens in all. They are credited to the operators whether ante- or past- mortem. The notes in most cases are quite complete and the credit primarily is due for this fact to the exertions of the surgeon in charge who, so far as I am aware, is the only one who has insisted and successfully on keeping up a Hospital Case Book, among all the Hospitals in this place. In this respect as in almost every other regard this Hospital as a model for every one of which I have as yet at least any knowledge.

There have been 4 deaths from Chloroform in Frederick since Antietam. One (as states in the notes to case 102) here one at No. 4 + two at No. 5. I send full notes of our own case - the only one I could obtain – and also notes of a case which was under my observation while at Eckington Hospital D.C. In neither case was any due care lacking. With the case here I send also a specimen of the chloroform used, for examination. Had the means been present, I should have done so myself. The result if it be examined I should like exceedingly to know as I have a copy of the notes. Some of it has also been sent to the maker Squibb in N. Y.

Dr. Weir has the Specimen of a case of wound of the common carotid, in which he performed Synu’s Operation for a traumatic aneurism extending from the jaw to the clavicle + from the sternocleido to the trachea which was pushed one inch to the opposite sides together with the spinal cord with the buckshot in it from the Lance Case both of which he will forward soon; as also the note of an extremely interesting operation for the ligature of the external ihac (approaching it from the inside) for a large traumatic aneurism of the femoral just below Ponpart ligament.

I enclose also (no. 160) the notes on a very curious + I believe rare malformation of the intestines in a case of Typhoid fever which also came under my observation Eckington in May last. The specimens you will find on a shelf over the clothes pegs in 2 bottles in my room at Mrs. Nisbet where I left them when ordered off from Washington.

I enclose also my bills for sundry articles purchased. The amount in all to 11.50. Had I known before I purchased the Bbl + Whiskey I should have written to you to express me one but Dr. Weir informed me you would do so a few days too late. The Whiskey through casting a good deal is the cheapest I could find in town.

Dr. Davis from Birmingham Eng. I have left to take charge of the specimens after I leave tomorrow. He is very enthusiastic in surgery and to such a degree that his object in coming to this country was simply to see the surgery of the War. Until a recent date he has done one full duty on our staff without compensation. He will I think be very efficient + is by far the best man with the best prospect of perseverancey here that I could think of.

In conclusion I think I have learned a great deal even from the very oftentimes cursory examinations I have made of the specimens and if I have satisfied yourself and the Surgeon General in my labors I am amply repaid.

My transfer to West Philadelphia is the most agreeable change possible + the greatest favor I could ask + if you have done aught to aid it let me give you my hearty thanks.-

Very Respectfully
You Obt Svt
Friend + old pupil
W.W. Keen,
Act Asst Surg, USA

[To] John H. Brinton, M.D.
Surgeon U.S.N.
Curator Nat Med Army Museum
Washington, D.C.

*Indicates notes written on the letter, with red pen in a different had, presumably added upon receipt of specimens

Friday, December 10, 2010

Civil War photos slowly be added to Flickr

I’m posting about three pictures a day to Flickr from the Contributed Photographs collection. Many of these images are from the Civil War -

Letter of the Day: December 10

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01090

K/T 7

Department of State,

December 10, 1895.

The Honorable
The Secretary of War.

I have the honor to transmit for the information of the Surgeon General of the Army a memorandum with enclosures, furnished by the Norwegian War Department relating to military hospital equipment in Norway.

I have the honor to be, Sir,
Your obedient servant,

Richard Clury

Enclosures in No. 91, November 27, 1895, from our Minister to Sweden and Norway.


1st Endorsement
War Department, Surgeon General’s Office.
December 11, 1895.

Respectfully referred to LIEUTENANT COLONIAL D.L. HUNTINGTON, Deputy Surgeon Genera;, U. S. Army, in charge of Museum and Library Division, who will please prepare a letter of acknowledgement.

Geo. M. Sternberg
Surgeon General, U. S. Army.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Michelle and Megan 12/09/10

Hi! It’s Michelle and Megan again. We are starting a project on the development and anomalies of the eye. So far we have researched how the eye develops.

The eye starts off as a tiny groove in the folds of the brain tissue. Later, as the folds become the forebrain, the groove turns into a bump, known as the optic vesicle. The optic vesicle is connected to the forebrain by a thin hollow tube, called the optic stalk, which allows the brain to send messages to the eye. The optic vesicle then comes into contact with a layer of the skin known as ectoderm. The ectoderm thickens and moves inward to form the lens vesicle. Meanwhile, the optic vesicle also moves inward to begin forming the two layers of the retina, which later join together. The lens vesicle then increases in length and small fibers are formed connecting the lens to the retina. The thin membrane that covers the lens disappears to provide communication between the two chambers of the eye. The cornea is formed by the combination of a layer of the ectoderm, stroma and epithelial layer. A groove in the back of the optic vesicle allows the hyaloid artery to enter the eye. Later, the hyaloid artery disappears leaving behind a hollow path known as the hyaloid canal, and the optic stalk’s walls grow from an increase in fibers turning the optic stalk into the optic nerve.

TODAY: Lunchtime Talk with Author Arthur Ainsberg

Lunchtime Talk with Author Arthur Ainsberg, “Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle”

December 9, 2010, 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

National Museum of Health and Medicine
6900 Georgia Avenue NW
Building 54 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Washington, DC 20307

In “Breakthrough,” authors Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg tell the true story of the invention of insulin, one of the most important medical advances of the 20th century. Ainsberg will talk about this fascinating tale of Nobel prize-winning research, and the brave little girl who risked everything for the groundbreaking experiment that saved not only her life but the lives of countless others.

Letter of the Day: December 9 [mystery diagnosis, part 2]

December 9, 1896

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

Dear Doctor:

I have examined the two slides from the case of gonorrhoea referred to in your letter of December 2nd, and have been unable to discover either gonococcus [sic], or any other microorganism. I may say that this is the first time that I have ever examined urethral pus without finding some variety of bacteria present. There are, however, certain bodies with faintly stained protoplasm, and deeply stained round nuclei (with methylene blue), which do not appear to be any variety of leucocyte [sic] known to me. This body may contain from 1 to 5 deeply stained rounded masses. I am at quite a loss to say what these bodies are, unless they belong to some variety of animal parasite. I will, therefore ask you, if the patient is still under your care, to send me a half-dozen more cover slips made with urethral pus, and also a small quantity of his morning's urine. If you have any formaline I would suggest that you add about three drops of formaline to the urine so that it will not undergo decomposition in transit. I am curious to see whether I can find the same bodies in the sedimented urine.

Very sincerely yours,

Walter Reed
Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 8

Smithsonian Institution, Dec. 8, 1869.


Dr. Geo: A. Otis;

Army Medical Museum


Dear Sir:


A gentleman in New York has offered us a Series of valuable Indian relics provided we can obtain for him a collection of the “Photographs of injuries to bones, and other surgical illustrations,” prepared under the direction of the Army “Medical Museum.” If you can furnish us with such a collection you will place us under an obligation which we shall be happy to reciprocate, as the series of relics offered contains many objects that we earnestly desire to posses.


Your obdt. Servant

Joseph Henry

Secty Smithn. Instn.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 7 ( 2 of 2)

A.M.M. 6579 Section I


Santa Fe, N.M.

December 7th 1875


Surgeon General U.S.A.

Washington, D.C.




I have the honor to inform you that I have this day delivered the remains of the hands of Srgt. Wm. Summers Co. “I” 15th Infy, for the Army Medical Museum, to Capt. J. H. Belcher Asst Quarter-Master Santa Fe, N.M. for transportation.


Very Respectfully

Your obedient serant,

T.A. McParlin

Surgeon U.S.A.

Letter of the Day: December 7 (1 of 2)

Vicksburg, Miss.

Dec 7 1868


Dear Col.


I have collected more than three hundred specimens, some of which are valuable, while others, I fear, may be deemed quite worthless. The pottery is fragile and the skulls are exceedingly frail, and though I have packed these articles which much care I am unwilling to forward them to you as ordinary freight without first asking your advice. While some of them may go safe enough I feel that others should be intrusted (sic) to the care of an express agent.


The field of observation in this valey (sic) is exceedingly large and I find I have only just broken ground. I feel assured of being able to make many and very valuable discoveries even with the means at my disposal. I have thus far procured details of soldiers and have expended about eighteen dollars. I think I could use five hundred to advantage. The fifty has not been received.


Very Respectfully

Yours +c

Eben Swift

Surg U.S.A.


To Geo. A. Otis

Bt. Lt. Col. + A. Surg U.S.A.

Curator Army Med + Surg. Museum

Washington D.C.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 6

U.S. Army General Hospital,

McKim’s Mansion, Baltimore, Dec 6 1862


Surgeon Brinton U.S.A.




I send to day per Express a box of specimens (dry). I have but 2 wet specimens, and I will send them when I get enough to make it an object. Most, if not all the specimens from the National Hospital have no name attached to them by which to designate the operator. But in Dr. Bartholon’s [?] time he performed all the operations himself. The specimens for this hospital are by myself. Those for the other places are also appropriately marked. I waited for my boxes to mount the dry specimens, but as they did not arrive I was unwilling to keep you without the preparations any longer. I shall be pleased to take particular pains in the future to collect every specimen that can be collected. No history can be obtained relative to the bones contained in a single package from the National.


Very  respectfully,

Your obedient Servant,

Lavington Quick

Surg. U.S.A.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 5

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1843

War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum And Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets S.W.,
Washington, D.C., December 5, 1896.

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


I have the honor to request authority to purchase for deposit in the Army Medical Museum:

1 Bianchi’s Phonendoscope modified by Baruch, Est. cost. $5.00 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

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Museum a fave of Get Religion and exhibit featured in military newspaper

December 3, 2010

Posted by Mollie, Get December 3 2010

"Of all the Smithsonians, my favorites are the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of Health and Medicine (or as I call it, the Museum of Medical Oddities)."

We're not part of the Smithsonian, but otherwise, thanks Mollie.

Exhibits at Walter Reed examine the war on terrorism

By Chelsea Place Pentagram Staff Writer

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Letter of the Day: December 4

United States Engineer Office,
Explorations and Surveys West of the 100th Meridian,
Washington, D.C., Dec. 4th, 1874

Dr Geo. Otis U.S.A.

Dear Sir

May I trespass on your kindness + ask you to have prepared for me as soon as possible a list of the Crania + skeletons collected by this expedition [ie Wheeler’s] + forwarded to the “Museum.” I would like also the diameters of the Crania + mention of any anatomical peculiarities +c. If I remember aright there was one skeleton which showed evidence of Pott’s disease. I am about preparing a Catalogue of our Crania + require the desired information for this purpose.

Very Truly yours

H.C. Yarrow

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center that might have been

Here's a look at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center that might have been - all of these buildings were eventually built, oddly enough, between the 1920s and 1971. They looked different of course - let me know if there's any interest in the built versions.

Reeve 0002723 (proposed Army Medical Museum, ca. 1917)
REEVE 0002723
Army Medical Center. Army Medical Museum (sketch) proposed, ca 1917. [Architectural drawing.]

REEVE 0002897
Army Medical Center Chapel. Sketch (proposed). ca. World War 1

Reeve 003121A
Reeve 003121A
Sketch of Army Medical School (proposed). Alaska Avenue Elevation. [Walter Reed General Hospital (Washington, D.C.). Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Architectural drawing.]

REEVE 0003146
Sketch of Army Medical Center. Nurses quarters training school. [Walter Reed General Hospital(Washington, D.C.). Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Architectural drawing.]

Letter of the Day: December 3

Fort Logan, Col.
Dec. 3rd 1896

My dear Doctor

I have recently made a number of examinations of the blood of a patient who has a peculiar form of fever, and think I have discovered the Plasmodium in every instance.

I send you by to-days mail, two slides satined Chinzinsky's method, which I wish you would kindly take a look at when you have the time, and let me know whether or not there are any Plasmodia to be sure.

Very sincerely yours,
R. W. Johnson

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ketcham and Hotchkiss' Navy cartoon posters from World War 2

Courtesy of the US Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the National Museum of Health and Medicine has scans of these Navy posters from World War 2.

One is by Dennis the Menace creator Hank Ketcham -


The rest are by Hotchkiss -








Michelle and Megan Blog 12/2/10

Hello! We hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday! Before the holiday, we moved around furniture and began alphabetizing books in preparation for HDAC’s move to its new location. It was tedious, but I am now extremely proud to be able to see what we have accomplished. We also experimented with drawing using watercolors. (This was for the FABER hour held every Thursday at noon). Our ‘task’ was to draw a skull. I found this challenging, and it took us a bit of time to get the hang of it, and we still have much to learn. We have gained a whole new level of respect for hand-drawn models!

Letter of the Day: December 2 [mystery diagnosis, part 1]

Fort Niobrara, Neb.
December 2nd, 1896

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

Dear Doctor:

I send you two slides from a gonorhoral [sic] case in which I have been unable to find either the active or latent form of the gonocaccus. I shall be very much obliged if you will take the trouble to examine them + let me know what is in there.

The patient had a severe attack of specific urethritis cystitis of which he was said to have been cured about six months ago. He denies exposure to specific contagion: says discharge began some two weeks ago after exposure to very severe weather on a trip to + from an Indian Reservation. The discharge has been continuous since his return.

Very respectfully,
P. C. Fauntleroy

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Talk and Book Signing with Author of "Breakthrough" on the Discovery of Insulin--12/9, 12pm FREE !




Lunchtime Talk and Book Signing with Author of

 "Breakthrough” on the Discovery of Insulin



Lunchtime Talk and Book Signing with Author Arthur Ainsberg of "Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle"


When: Thursday, December 9, 2010, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.


What: In "Breakthrough," authors Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg tell the true story of the invention of insulin, one of the most important medical advances of the 20th century. Ainsberg will talk about this fascinating tale of Nobel prize-winning research, and the brave little girl who risked everything for the groundbreaking experiment that saved not only her life but the lives of countless others.


Where: Russell Auditorium, in the Museum, Bldg 54 on WRAMC campus


Note: Books will be on sale in the lobby before and after the program ($25 each, cash or check only).  Proceeds to benefit the AFIP MWR.


Cost: FREE!


Questions? Call (202) 782-2673 or e-mail




Letter of the Day: December 1

David’s Island N.Y. Harbor

Dec. 1. 1872




Your communication of June 25th 1872, requesting the pathological specimen in the case of Pvt. Burroughs Co F. 7th Inf was not received until to day, it having been send to Fort Buford – thence misdirected to Fort Shaw, again forwarded to Fort Buford and finally sent from that post to me through the Surgeon-General’s Office.


In reply I would respectfully state that the pathological specimen in question, after having been dissected by Dr. Barbour and myself was retained some days while we endeavored to find a jar at once suitable for its preservation and safe transportation. The specimen being large we did not succeed and finally disposed of it by burying on the prairie at some distance from the post. It would now be impractical to recover it.


Very respectfully

Your Obedient servant

W. Matthews

Asst Surg. U.S. Army


Asst Surg Geo A. Otis. U.S.A.

Curator A.M.M.

Washington. D.C.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 30

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01842

Dr. Jay Perkins,
78 Broad Street,
Providence, R.I.

Nov. 30, 1896

Dear Sir:-

In an editorial in the Journal of the Am. Med. Assoc. reference is made to work done by you in regard to the Serum Diagnosis of Typhoid fever. I am now working up this subject for a medical society here and if you have written any thing which has been printed on this subject in any medical journals or publication of the sort[?], would you be kind enough to give me references to them? Or if nothing has been published would it be troubling


you too much to give me your opinion as to the value of the test. Thanking you in advance for any attention given to this I remain

Yours truly,
Jay Perkins

To Dr. Walter Reed
U.S. Army

Monday, November 29, 2010

Evacuation in military medicine article in Wash Post


U.S. strategy for treating troops wounded in Afghanistan, Iraq: Keep them moving

By David Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 27, 2010


Museum collections continue to have relevance due to Dr. Taubenberger

Dr. Jeffrey Taubenberger was on the staff of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology when he did groundbreaking work on deducing the genetic code of influenza, using stored tissue samples collected by the Medical Museum in 1918. He’s gone back to one of those samples to make another exciting discovery.

Here’s the initial Wired story -

From 1918 Autopsy, A First Glimpse of Sickle Cell — and a Warning


-an NPR followup -

92 Years Later, A Sickle-Cell Surprise

by NPR Weekend Edition Sunday November 28, 2010


-and finally the original short report –

 Sheng Z-M, Chertow DS, Morens D, Taubenberger J. Fatal 1918 pneumonia case complicated by erythrocyte sickling [letter]. Emerg Infect Dis. 2010 Dec;



Letter of the Day: November 29

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 01057

November 29, 1895

Mr. Ed Frossard
108 East 14th St.,
New York

Dear Sir:

Of the medals enumerated in your letter of the 23rd inst. I should like to examine the following which are not in this collection:

No. 1. Acrel.
" 2. Berzelius.
" 3. Flosser.
" 4. Hess.
" 5. Kreysig.
" 6. Linnaeus.
No. 8. Ros. A. Rosenstein.
" 9. Rudolphi.
" 10. Thunberg.
" 11. Fingsladius.
" 13. Hortus medicus.

If you have not yet disposed of the Fortunius Licetus medal referred to in your letter of Oct. 16th, I will take it at the price offered by you, viz., $33.60.

Very respectfully,

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 28

Fort D.A. Russell, Wyoming
November 28 1874

Asst. Surgeon Geo. A. Otis, USA.
Curator Army Med. Museum.
Surgeon General’s Office
Washington, DC


In reply to your communication of the 11th I have to state that the pathological specimen in the case of Private James Cassidy recorded in the monthly report of this post for March 1874, was carefully preserved by my predecessor, Surgeon John F. Randolph, USA, for transmission to the Army Medical Museum. Through the carelessness of one of the hospital attendants it was lost, and all efforts to recover it have proved unavailing.

I am, Sir,
Very Respectfully Yrs,
R.M. O’Reilly
Asst Surgeon, USA
Post Surgeon

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 27

27 November 1957

[To] Assistant Chief, Medical Illustration Service

[From] Curator, Medical Museum

[Subject] Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association

Request that application be made for the presentation of the following exhibit at the Annual Meeting of the American Urological Association, to be held in the Hotel Roosevelt, New Orleans, Louisiana, 28 April – 1 May 1958:

a. Exhibit title: Some Contributions of Dr. Hugh H. Young to Operative Urology.

b. Exhibitor’s name: Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Col. H. W. Coddington, Curator and Helen R. Purtle, and the Instrument Collection Committee of the American Urological Association, Dr. Edward E. Ferguson, Chairman, Washington, D.C.

c. Description: This exhibit shows some of the instruments devised by Dr. Young with a brief biographical introduction.

d. Space requirement: Four, 4’ x 5’ panels (already constructed).

H. W. Coddington
Colonel, MSC, USA
Curator, Medical Museum

Friday, November 26, 2010

Letter of the Day: November 26

N.R. Moseley,
Surgeon U.S.V., in charge
U.S. General Hospital “Emory,”
Washington, D.C. Novr. 26th, 1864.


I have the honor to transmit herewith One Pathological Specimen accompanied by Medical History.

Very Respectfully
Your Obedt Servt
NW. Moseley
Surgeon U.S.V.
In Charge

Brig. Genl J.K. Barnes
Surgeon General U.S.A.
Washington D.C.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


REEVE 0015201 Thanksgiving dinner. Dinner served by Headquarters Troop 32nd Div. [Division] on Thanksgiving Day. The soldier in the picture is Sgt. [Sergeant] Robert B. Craik. Chateau Letellier, near Consdorf, Luxembourg, France. [Food and drink. United States. Army. Signal Corps.] World War 1.

Reeve 11325
REEVE 0011325 American Red Cross. Paris, France. Menu of Thanksgiving dinner. Original Signal Corps caption - Thanksgiving Dinner. Paris, France. Menu of Dinner given by the District of Paris Chapter of the ARC to men of the hospitals in Paris. [Food and drink.]


NCP 3457
NCP 3457 Thanksgiving dinner on the USS Repose at Inchon, Korea, in 1952. It is unlikely that this nurse found time to eat turkey that day. also in collection as MIS 09-5085-29 Inchon, Korea: Aboard USS Repose Thanksgiving Day. Lieutenant Junior Grade Weece Wood, Nurse Corps, U.S. Navy, assists Private 1st Class Jack W. Newman, U.S. Marine Corps, with his holiday dinner. [Wounds and injuries.][Korean War.][Food and drink.][Hospital ships. Transport of sick and wounded.][Scene.] Repose (AH-16) Folder 2 11/27/1952; USN 449212; U.S. Navy BUMED Library and Archives

MIS 09-5085-30 Inchon, Korea: Aboard USS Repose Thanksgiving Day. Corporal Richard R. Hollander, U.S. Marine Corps, is assisted with his dinner by Lieutenant Junior Grade Caldie Green (Nurse Corps) U.S. Navy. [Wounds and injuries.][Korean War.][Food and drink.][Hospital ships. Transport of sick and wounded.][Scene.] Repose (AH-16) Folder 2; 11/27/1952; USN 449213; U.S. Navy BUMED Library and Archives

NCP 006067 Thanksgiving. [Kitchen employees.] [Dietitians.]

...and a curiosity...

NCP 6472 New York, Nov. [November] 22-Crash victim given plasma. An unidentified doctor crawls into wreckage of two Long Island rail road trains here tonight to provide plasma for a victim pinned in the twisted jumble of steel. Trains bound from Manhattan to Long Island points, crowded with Thanksgiving Eve commuters, crashed in the Kew Gardens section of Queens. (APWirephoto) (See wire story) (OB42205stf) 50.

Letter of the Day: November 25

620 F. St.
Tuesday Nov. 25th [1884]

My dear Doctor-

I have been looking over my Husband’s private letters but find none of the correspondence of which you spoke. Indeed I may say there is none of this scientific correspondence among the letters I have.

They are from many people and on divers subjects but with the exception of a few from Dr. Maddox on photo-micrographs, and some from Gen’l Cox on microscopic work and one or two from a German Doctor (Munnich the name I think) they are all more or less private letters.

I can send you the list of his library books and I think it is complete. Also a list of the various Societies he belonged to. But as to Diplomas or Certificates I can find nothing. I have one or two medals conferred upon him and all of his commissions.

I fancy you will find all of the letters you spoke of in his “letter book” at the office and as for the Diplomas +c if they are at the office, do you not think I ought to have them?

I have looked over the pamphlets and have quite a number ready to send you, if you will be so good as to dispose of them.

The other bound books I think you have a list of and I can send them to you at any time whenever you may want them.

With kindest regards,
Yours very truly
Blanche Woodward

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Early 1960s Civil Defense Medical Kits

The museum surfaced yesterday in 'John Kelly's Washington' in the Washington Post (November 23, 2010). The column mentions the transfer of a cache of Civil Defense medical kits to the museum from the U.S. Senate about a year ago. They were found by Heather Moore, photo historian at the Senate, in a storage space at the Russell Senate Office Building that was under renovation. The kits are assembled in cardboard boxes that, while dusty, remain in excellent condition.

Survival supplies furnished by Office of Civil Defense, Department of Defense, Medical Kit C, 300-325 Shelter Occupants [ca. 1963]

They at once are a fine complement to our Civil Defense and Cold War-era collections and also represent the interesting additions to the collection that are (re)discovered in one way or another. That medical material culture tucked away, hidden, and forgotten in rafters, attics, storage lockers and drawers.

Kelly's story, "No negative fallout from these shelters," is here:

Dangers of dental radiation and medical technology in Times

Radiation Worries for Children in Dentists’ Chairs

November 22, 2010



Peek into the Archives: Contributed Photographs collection

The "Contributed Photographs" collection, as it came to be known, consists of photographs donated or contributed to the Museum.  Photographs arriving during and after the war were usually added to the Surgical Section and numbered like the bones were.  Many photographs were sent by doctors who wished to see their cases included in the History.  Doctors such as Reed Bontecou of Harewood Hospital in Washington, J.C. McKee of Lincoln General Hospital in Washington (who also provided surplus photographic equipment after the Museum's burglary), and J.H. Armsby of Ira Harris General Hospital in Albany, New York, contributed dozens of photographs at the end of the war.  They received photographs from the Museum in exchange.  Most of the photographs given to the Museum were albumen prints, but infrequently a tintype (a photograph printed on thin metal) was donated.  (Otis to Lyster, May 11, 1866)  Tintypes were never as popular as other photographs.  (Welling, p. 117)  Their dark background made medical subjects harder to see and reproduce in print. 


          Otis frequently wrote to surgeons requesting a photograph of a specific case which he would then have engraved for the History.  He also wrote to patients asking them to have their wound photographed.  Otis wrote to Charles Lapham, who had been with Co. K of the 1st Vermont Cavalry:



                   The interesting report of your case, which is recorded

          in this office, leads me to desire to possess if possible, a

          photograph which shall farther illustrate it.  The Surgeon

          General possesses photographs of a number of the very rare

          cases in which patients have survived after the very grave

          mutilation of the removal of both thighs, and has instructed

          me to request you to have a photograph prepared, the expense

          to be defrayed by this office.

                   It would be well to have two pictures taken: one

                   representing the stumps, the other the appearance with

          artificial limbs attached.

                   The photographer might take two or three prints of each

          to be retained by you, and then should forward the

          negatives, carefully packed to this office, by express,

          enclosing at the same time the bill for his services.

                   I enclose copies of a photograph of the size desired. 

          (Otis to Lapham, May 25, 1865)


Lapham had the work done and two photographs were added to the collection.


          Otis commissioned physicians such as E.D. Hudson of New York City to take photographs for him.  Writing to Hudson, Otis said "I am anxious to obtain photographs of double amputations of the thigh or leg and of other cases of unusual interest, and am willing to pay for such.  I hereby authorize you to have photographs taken of cases of especial interest.  As near as may be they should be uniform in size with those taken at the Army Medical Museum, of some of which you have copies."  In the same letter, Otis sent a list of soldiers who had survived the operation of the excision of their humerus.  Hudson, a maker of prosthetics, undoubtedly appreciated Otis' fulfilling his request for the names.  Otis and Hudson's arrangements to look out for each others interests, resulted in striking photographs such as the two of Columbus Rush, a young Confederate from Georgia who lost both legs. (Otis to Hudson, February 7, 1866)  Otis and Hudson cooperated so closely that Hudson was able to display his prosthetics in the Medical Department's exhibit at the Centennial fair.  (Otis to Hudson, March 8, 1876)


          For many years, these photographs received a Surgical Section number and were bound in volumes labeled Photographs of Surgical Cases. (Otis to Washburne, April 4, 1866)  The photographs donated to the Museum were often rephototographed to be included in the Surgical Photograph series.  Roland Ward's plastic surgery after the destruction of his lower jaw (SP 167-170, 186) is an example.  Columbus Rush's photograph, in which he demonstrates his Hudson-made artificial legs, was copied and sent out as part of the series.  Otis also purchased photographs from studios, buying "two dozen of the war views for the Museum" from E. & H.T. Anthony & Co.  (Otis to Anthony, September 25, 1865)


          Contributors of photographs like Hudson also used the pictures themselves.  Dr. Gurdon Buck is particularly noteworthy for his use of photographs.  He had engravings made of "before and after" photographs for his 1876 text on plastic surgery, Contributions to Reparative Surgery.  In the engravings, Buck used drawn lines to explain his operation.  Buck deposited a set of his photographs in the Army Medical Museum soon after the end of the war. 


          About 1876, as photographs of many sizes and from many people continued to arrive, the collection was removed from the Surgical Section and named the Contributed Photographs.  Otis no longer had the photographs bound in albums.  All of the photographs were renumbered from the beginning in red ink with the identifying "Cont. Photo." or the initials "C.P."6  Some of the best photographs were copied in the Museum and published as part of the Surgical Photograph series.  Others were engraved for the History.  Some photographs almost certainly taken by the Museum such as the one of Neil Wicks, probably by Bell,7 were added to the collection after the original negatives disappeared.  Unfortunately, many photographs were given away by Daniel Lamb in 1915 including scores to Reed Bontecou's son. 


6  These abbreviations never stood for "contract photograph" as has been surmised by earlier authors.

7 The photograph is listed in a logbook of Museum stereographs (MM 8797), p. 20, Curatorial Records: AMM Collection Logbooks, Box 18.