Sunday, January 31, 2010

Post book review on creating a cell line

This review of THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS hy Rebecca Skloot (Crown. 369 pp. $26) is fascinating. One knows cell lines exist, but one doesn't realize that they can be tracked back to a person.

Letter of the day: January 31 (2 of 2)

Notice that the Soldier's Home, now firmly in DC, wasn't quite there in 1887.

January 31, 1887

Dear Sir:

Your letter of the 30th instant has been received. If you will have the kindness to send the man on a fair day, at an early opportunity, I shall be please to have a photograph taken of one side on an enlarged scale to show the supplementary nipple to better advantage.

Thanking you for your kind offer, I remain,
Very sincerely yours,
(Signed) John S. Billings
Surgeon U.S. Army
Curator Army Medical Museum

Byrne Major C.C.
Surgeon U.S. Army
Attending Surgeon Soldiers’ Home
Near Washington, D.C.

Letter of the day: January 31 (1 of 2)

January 31, 1887


I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of January 18th with the accompanying special surgical reports.

The bone specimen from the case of Pt. M.P. Johnson, 4th Cavalry, amputation on account of shot fracture of ankle joint, and the bullet and piece of exploded shell from the case of Pt. F.E. Sloat, 4th Cavalry, have also been received.

The Surgeon General desires me to thank you for these additions to the Museum collection.

Very truly yours,
(Signed) John S. Billings
Surgeon U.S. Army
Curator Army Medical Museum

Brown Captain Paul R.
Assistant Surgeon U.S. Army
Post Surgeon Fort Huachuca
Arizona Territory

Saturday, January 30, 2010

WRAMC campus plan debate in Post

D.C. begins to plan redevelopment of Walter Reed campus
By Lisa Rein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 30, 2010

The article contains the intriguing "District officials said Thursday night that the September 2011 closing date had been pushed back, although it is not clear to when."

Smithsonian American Art Museum has a lovely blog

It's off-topic, but the Smithsonian American Art Museum has a lovely blog.

Letter of the day: January 30

I have no idea what "This spaa is also cribriform..." but that's what the letter says.

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington City D.C.
Jany 30th 1866


About 12th September 1865, there was received from you, from Santa Fé, a cranium which has been given the number 4385, in the surgical section of the Army Medical Museum. The specimen shows a discolored surface of six inches by four over the superior anterior portion of the frontal bone. This spaa is also cribriform – No history accompanied the case, and it has been suggested it was one in which scalping had been practiced without immediately fatal results. You are earnestly desired to transmit such notes of the matter as you may possess.

Very respectfully,
Your obedt. servant,
By order of the Surgeon General
[George A. Otis]
Surgeon & Bvt. Lt. Col, U.S. Vols. Curator, A.M. Museum

Bvt Major H.E. Brown,
Assistant Surgeon U.S. Army at Hart’s Island, N.Y.H. [New York Harbor]
Care of Medl. Dir. Dept East, New York

Friday, January 29, 2010

Letter of the Day: January 29 (5 of 5)

Anyone know what Sour Ham is?

Swift and Company

Kansas City Stock Yards

Kansas City

Address All Mail To Station ‘A’




Dr. Sternberg,

Bacterialogical (sic) Dept.,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Sir:-


Referring to our favor of recent date, we enclose herewith memorandum invoice covering 2 Sour Hams, shipped [to] you.


Will appreciate a copy of your report when completed on these two hams. Shipment made at the request of Dr. D. H. White.


Yours respectfully,


Swift and Company,


Per, JAH


Letter of the Day: January 29 (4 of 5)

Numbered Correspondence 1215


January 29, 1896


Mr. Wayland F. Reynolds,

Clarksburg, W. Va.


Dear Sir:


In answer to your letter of the 28th inst., I would state that there is in this Museum a microscopic slide which contains the Lord’s prayer, 227 letters, in a space 1/294 x 1/441 of a square inch.


Very respectfully,


D.L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army,

In charge of Museum and Library Division.

Letter of the Day: January 29 (3 of 5)

Dr. Fred Pettersen


Comfort, Texas.

January 29, 1881


Surgeon General, U.S.A.

Washington, D.C.




By to-day’s mail I have forwarded a piece muscle (biceps) taken from a  girl aged 8, who died from trichinosis, the same is remarkably full with trichinae spiratis in the second stages.


Very respectfully

Your Obt. Servt.

Fred Pettersen


Letter of the Day: January 29 (2 of 5)

Fort Larned, Kansas

Jan. 29 1878


Surgeon General

U.S. Army




I have the honor to enclose copy of receipt issued this day to me by Post Quartermaster for one box addressed to the Army Medical Museum.


The contents are,


1)      One Golden Eagle – shot near here Dec 2, 1877. I have roughly dressed it so as to leave the plumage on the skeleton, that the curator may use it as preferred, applying salt or alum.

2)      One skull & bal. [balance] of skeleton of a male Raccoon found dead here Dec 2, 1877.

3)      I also send in behalf of Asst. Surg. W.E. Whitehead the skin & extremities of one whooping crane (I believe) shot near here in fall of 1877 – arsenic and Plaster of Paris were used.


I am, Sir, with great respect

Your Obt Servt

Francis H. Atkins

A.A. Surgeon

U.S. Army

Letter of the Day: January 29 (1 of 5)

The photographs he refers to have not been catalogued and may no longer exist. Darn it.


County Clerk’s Office

John C. Johnston,

County Clerk


Newton, Kas. Jan 29, 1885


David Flynn

Army Medical Museum

Washington City DC


Dear Sir


If you remember I was in your Department last May (1884) and you had me photographed. I am the original of Cast No 1401 Shell wound in right side of my face, Battle of Spotsylvania CH [Court House] May 10 1864. You gave me several phots. But you said if I would write you would sand me some better ones when you had more leisure to get them up. If it is not asking too much I wish you would please send me ½ doz. of each side. I had both sides of my face taken etc.


Yours Truly

John C. Johnston

Newton PO

Harvey Co.



[1 doz Photographs sent April 9, 1885]

New copy of South Africa's Adler Museum Bulletin has arrived

The world of medical museums is pretty small today, but there are still ones spread around the world. Our new copy of South Africa's Adler Museum Bulletin arrived today. Topics include disease detectives, British colonial nurses in Concentration Camps of the Anglo-Boer War, world’s first in vitro fertilisation of a gestational surrogate mother and “Do museum objects speak for themselves?” among others.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Letter of the Day: January 28

Selected by Kathleen this time.


ND [immediately following letter of January 28 1864]


Specification of jars, for Army Medical Museum


Best pure glass, ground stoppers (extra with Emory) – stopper with glass knob, as in pattern. Each stopper to be provided with a hook inside. This hook to be attached as in figure 1, & not on the bottom of stopper as in sample, the object of the change to being to gain room for suspension of object. The mouths of the jars to be as wide as possible. In case it is not possible to make stoppers to the larger jars (24 in by 10 in; 18 in by 9 in; 16 in by 8 in) then these jars must be made as in figure 2, the top edge of the jar ground level so that a plate of glass or lead may be laid over it, & tied on with bladder.


The sizes and number of the jars required by the museum are as follows


12 jars 24 inches high by 10 inches wide

12 jars 18 inches high by 9 inches wide

48 jars 16 inches high by 8 inches wide

72 jars 12 inches high by 6 inches wide

72 jars 10 inches high by 4 inches wide

144 jars 7 inches high by 2 inches wide




Gentlemen, I desire to know the price per pound at which these jars can be delivered in Washington, and also the approximate number of pounds in all. As the funds at the command of the museum are somewhat limited the number of jars ordered must depend on this information. Is the government tax included in the prices as specified?


Yrs respectfully


JH Brinton

Surgeon, USA & Curator, A.M. Museum


Mssrs Muzzey & Munro

419 Commerce St.

Philadelphia, PA







Archives staff member departs

Jasmine High has been managing the Medical Illustration Service Library since last April, and handling the quality assurance on our large scanning project. She’s leaving us for the Smithsonian’s Natural History museum and we’ll miss her.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Code of Public Local Laws, City of Baltimore, 1882

Article 4, Section 154 Laws of Maryland 1882, Chapter 166 Page 168
Any public officer of Baltimore City or Baltimore County having charge of or control over the bodies of deceased persons required to be buried at the public expense, or at the expense of any institution supported by said city or county, shall notify the chairman of the Anatomy Board, said board being composed of a demonstrator of Anatomy of each medical school in the State of Maryland, of the existence and possession of of such bodies, and shall give permission to said Anatomy Board through its chairman or to any physician or surgeon of the State of Maryland, upon his request made therefore, to take such bodies within forty-eight hours after death, to be given by him, used within the State for the advancement of Medical Science ...

"A Note on Experimental Cranioplasty"

This paper is pretty neat. Written by a military surgeon, Paul Wegeforth, from the Army Neuro-surgical Laboratory at John's Hopkins Medical School in 1919, it talks about reconstruction of the skull after traumatic injury on the battlefield. Some amazing, pioneering techniques.

Have you seen this man?

Have you seen this man? Found this image tucked in an envelope in the Carnegie Reprint collection. The name is tough to read and we don't seem to have any papers associated. But great picture. Its from a photography studio in Boston.

Med School

An anatomy class handbook and grade sheet from the University of Toronto, 1892. It's not shown here, but the only thing in bold inside the green-ish pamphlet is something like "No tobacco permitted in the dissection room." For anyone that has looked through Blast Book's Dissection pictures, Toronto seems pretty advanced in that respect.

From the HDAC reprint collection

Yes, the Alexander Graham Bell. Apparently he was into eugenics after realizing that children of deaf couples were more likely to be deaf too.

Letter of the Day: January 27 UPDATED


Six months after the establishment of the Museum, Civil War hospital doctors were saving material for it.


U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1,

Frederick, MD., Jany 27 1863




I will endeavor to  pl[ea]s[e] also [illegible] to take Davis place & at any rate the specimens “shall be preserved”. Enclosed please find corrected bill.




R.F. Weir

Asst Surgeon, USA


Dr. J.H. Brinton, USA

Surg. Gen’l Office

Washington, DC


Curiosity over this letter leads me to transcribe the earlier one:


U.S.A. General Hospital No. 1,

Frederick, MD., January 25 1863




Enclosed find your vouchers for expenditures for whiskey to preserve pathological specimens. Will you please have them settled as the money had been advanced by Dr. Davis who has recently left for England & me, heir to bones & [illegible – whiskey?] collections. When may we expect to see the new Catalogue[?]




R.F. Weir

Asst Surgeon, USA


Dr. J.H. Brinton, USA

Surg. Gen’l Office

Washington, DC


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Letter of the day: January 26th

The Museum’s eventual transformation into a pathology institute is foreshadowed…


Numbered Correspondence 1956


January 26, 1897


Captain John L. Phillips,

Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Fort Walla Walla, Wash.


Dear Doctor:


The specimen of testicle referred to in your letter of January 9th has been embedded and examined microscopically, with the following result: Marked fibroid thickening of the normal covering of the testicle together with such extensive interstitial change in the structure of the testicle proper as to render it extremely difficult to even make out any of the remains of the spermatic tubules, which are here and there seen as narrow crevices lined by low epithelium. The diagnosis, therefore, would be chronic interstitial orchitis, which may have had a syphilititic origin. There is no appearance, whatever, of any malignant disease.


A slide will be forwarded by to-day’s mail.


Very sincerely yours,


Walter Reed


Surgeon, U.S. Army,


Monday, January 25, 2010

...and what are we doing?

Anyone have any idea why our Flickr account got 26,000 hits last Friday?

Stats for: Your account
← Friday, Jan 22 2010 →

Your most viewed photos and videos
Visits %
Photos and Videos 20,917 78%
Photostream 2,244 8%
Sets 3,448 12%
Collections 0 0%

Why we do this

Today we got an email in the archives from a man in California who found pictures of his mother, a World War 2 nurse, on our Flickr page. His mother's 87th birthday is coming soon and he wants to print one of the photos for her. He said he's not sure she knows these photos exist.

So many of our images have no or very little information, but in this case his mother's name was spelled out in the caption to all four!!! photos of her. I have often said to myself, as I am posting this kind of detail, that someone is going to be trolling the internet, looking for their mom or dad, and may very well find one of the things we've tossed up there.

It's exactly this reason that we do what we do, with the hope that we're the connection between today and yesterday. Have I said I love my job?

Letter of the day: January 25

This letter followed immediately after one thanking a Colonel C. Sutherland for his donation of two Indian arrowheads.


January 25, 1869




It appears to me right that the contributors to the section of Indian Curiosities etc., should be notified of the transfer of their donations to the Smithsonian Institution, and I would therefore respectfully submit the enclosed “Memorandum,”  and suggest that it be printed, or some modification of it, and distributed in the form, if you approve, of the Memorandum of Sept. 1868.


Very respectfully,

Your obd’t servant,

[George A. Otis]

Ass’t Surgeon, U.S.A.

Curator, A.M.M.


Bvt. Brig Gen’l C.H. Crane,

Ass’t Surg. General, US Army

NY Times expose on medical radiation injuries

In the past, we've posted pictures of radiation burns from the early years of the 20th century here and on our Flickr site. The NY Times reports that a century later, this is still an ongoing problem:
Radiation Offers New Cures, and Ways to Do Harm
Published: January 24, 2010
While new technology saves the lives of countless cancer patients, errors can lead to unspeakable pain and death.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Brunswig Mausoleum, Metairie Cemetery, New Orleans

Lucien Napoleon Brunswig (1854-1943) donated the School of Pharmacy at USC. He moved to Los Angeles in 1903 and became a partner in a local drug company. In 1907 he bought out his partner and created the Brunswig Drug Company with branches in Phoenix, Tucson, and San Diego. Among the company's earliest buildings are three that are still standing on the west side of Main Street, across from the Pico House at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument (Los Angeles). He also owned the Brunswig Building on 2nd Street, which was demolished in 1968. Lucien Napoleon Brunswig became the city's largest wholesale drug supplier. He sold commercial medications and patent medicines that he invented himself and supplied to many city pharmacies.

I have no idea why he's buried in New Orleans and not Los Angeles.

Follow the picture to close-ups of the two statues flanking the door.

Some things never change

From our military working dog expert, Mike Lemish:

The same issue about getting dog food distributed properly was a big problem in Vietnam - now 40 years later they (the military) still have the same problem in Afghanistan. Go figure - some things never change.

Letter of the day: January 24

Received wisdom has the Medical Museum collecting American Indian remains, and later transferring them to the Smithsonian, but this form letter shows that material went both ways.

Smithsonian Institution
U.S. National Museum
Washington City, Jan. 24, 1878


In accordance with the arrangement between the Smithsonian Institution and the Army Medical Museum, I have the honor to transmit the collections mentioned below,t he receipt of which please acknowledge.

Very respectfully, yours,

Spencer F. Baird
Asst. Secretary S.I.

Collection human bones from Indian graves in Santa Barbara Col, Col., gathered in 1875 by the expedition of Lt. Geo. M. Wheeler.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Covetousness, a deadly sin

Medical ephemera
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
These would fit so nice and neatly in our GMPI (General Medical Products Information) collection. I had a serious case of envy. From the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Goddess of Evils

Goddess of Evils
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
Lest you think we're fixated on STDs... We also think highly of alternative and complementary medicine. From the voodoo section at the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.

Theater of War

Because I forgot to turn off my alarm yesterday, I was treated to an early-morning segment on NPR called Metro Connection. It was about a DOD program called Theater of War, in which plays of the ancient Greeks are used to make connections with today's soldiers. One of the venues is Walter Reed. You can listen to the segment at

Letter of the day: January 23

Sternberg is known as one of the fathers of bacteriology and became the Surgeon General himself. Steve Hill of our staff also notes, "10th Cavalry was one of the two all-black cavalry regiments (Buffalo Soldiers) created shortly after Civil War."

Fort Riley, Kansas
Jan: 23rd, 1868


I have the honor to send herewith for microscopic examination (if desired) the kidneys of Pvt: James Garrode Co “G” 10th U.S. Cavalry, who died at this hospital of Brights disease on the 19th inst:

I have a full record of this case, which I will transmit with my next monthly report of Sick and Wounded.

I also transmit a fibrous polypus, removed from the pharynx of Pvt David Young Co “K” 10 US Cavalry.

Very respectfully
Your obt: servt

G.M. Sternberg

Asst. Surg: & Bvt. Maj
US Army

Bvt. Maj. Genl. J.K. Barnes
Surgeon Genl: US Army
Washington, DC

[an accompanying note written on the reverse says “Receipt acknowledged 1-30-68, and statement that kidneys were too much decomposed and were thrown away. Request for history of polypus.]

Friday, January 22, 2010

That Old-Time Gonorrhea Treatment

Those of you who follow our Flickr account know we have a special place in our hearts for STDs. Prophylactics, propaganda, you name it; if it has to do with a social disease, we do our best to publish it.

I went to a dusty, off-the-beaten-track museum in New Orleans last weekend - the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. I have a lot of very neat stuff from there, but have to lead off with A Safe and Speedy Remedy for the Cure of Gonorrhea and Gleet. I have never heard of Gleet.

Letter of the day: January 22nd

Here’s a letter showing both how the Museum expanded its interests and influences after the Civil War, and how the photographic collection grew. By the way, this was a very rare operation even through the Civil War. When a surgeon performed one, the case was named after him.


Surgeon General’s Office

Washington City, DC

January 22nd, 1868




I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the reception of your interesting letter of the 20th inst. A photograph of the patient on whom you operated eighteen years ago, and who has so long survived so dreadful a mutilation, would be a very interesting addition to our collection. In a few days, I will send you a picture we have secured of Dr. Morton’s patient taken nearly a year after the photograph from which the plate in Circular No. 7 S.G.O., 1867, was copied.


I should be glad to secure a picture of your patient of about the same size. The expence (sic) will be defrayed from the Army Medical Museum Fund.


Please instruct the photographer to print four or five copies and to send them with the negative to me at the Army Medical Museum, No. 454, Tenth Street, Washington, together with the bill.


The Surgeon General is much gratified that you and other surgeons of practical experience, in the operation of amputation at the hip-joint, commend the report he has published on the subject.


I am, Doctor,

Very respectfully,

Your obt. servant,

By order of the Surgeon General:


[George A. Otis]

Ass’t Surgeon, U.S.A.

Curator Army Medical Museum


Dr. Washington T. Duffee

N.E. corner of 18th & Wallace Sts.

Philadelphia, Penna



Thursday, January 21, 2010

Web 2.0? Laughing through my tears

This article appeared in the NY Times today:

Aid Urged for Groups Fighting Internet Censors
Published: January 21, 2010
Five United States senators want the government to move ahead with plans to provide $45 million to help people in other countries evade Web restrictions.

This paragraph could easily have "Walter Reed medical center" substituted in for "China and Iran":

But in the online age the nature of censorship has changed, and regimes like those in China and Iran often deny their populations access to Web news outlets and sites like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

...although we can get to Google. Not Youtube, or blogs though.

Orthopedic surgery book mentioned in Post based on Museum photographs

In a good article about the difference between military and other types of emergency surgery, Surgeon seeks to prevent 'unnecessary amputations' in Haiti's earthquake zone
by David Brown, Washington Post January 21, 2010, cites Orthopaedic Injuries of the Civil War. This book was written by Julian Kuz, an orthopedic surgeon, and is illustrated with photographs of wounded soldiers from the Museum's collection.

Letter of the day: Jan 21st

Embryology was a new science in 1905 – and the museum was apparently back in the business of taking ‘bottled monsters. Liz Lockett of our embryology collection notes that embryology dates from the 17th century, but the large systematic collections were done at the turn of the twentieth century.


Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 8084


January 21, 1905


Dr. J. J. Repetti,

404 Seward Square, S.E.

Washington, D. C.


Dear Sir:


I am directed by the Surgeon General to express his thanks for the specimen of monstrous foetus received from you on this day. It will be added to the collections with a properly inscribed card.


Will you have the further kindness to furnish the Museum with a history of the case?


Very respectfully,


C.L. Heinzmann

Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.

In charge of Museum & Library Division

Letter of the day: Jan 20th

The Museum has an extensive numismatics collection – this letter shows how it was built up.

January 20, 1897

Dr. H. R. Storer,

Newport, R. I.

Dear Doctor:

Your letter of the 17th inst. Has been received. I shall be glad to purchase the medals you offer at the prices quoted, viz:

Rokitansky, 6.10
Howard, Am. Jour. Num., 687, .35
“ “ “ 689, .35
“ “ “ “ 726, .50

You may send them by Adams Express, freight to be paid here. We have Howard, Am. Jour. Num., #688.

The famine, Germany (Danket dem Herrn) seems to be identical with Pfeiffer u. Ruland #157, but ours has “Ps. 116,” and I can notice no defacement.

Very sincerely,

D. L. Huntington

Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army

In charge of Museum and Library Division

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Louisville history of medicine and science meeting



The 12th annual meeting of the Southern Association for the History of Medicine and Science-SAHMS- will be held in Louisville, KY March 5-6, 2010. There will be over 70 papers presented in these two days, along with a tour of the first U.S. Marine Hospital built on an inland waterway. Registration for all students is only $75.00. All meeting, registration, and hotel information can be found at:


Please share this information with your faculty and graduate students.


Thank you for your assistance.


Jonathon Erlen, Ph.D.

SAHMS Program Committee

History of Medicine

University of Pittsburgh


Times on Web 2.0-influenced museums

Published: January 20, 2010
New online ventures let users be curators.
Some of us would like to try more of this... however, we are blocked from Flickr, Youtube and blogs and similar sites, so, probably not.

Julie Brown speaks at NLM

Julie's done a lot of research in the Museum over the years.

History of Medicine Division Seminar
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 2-3:30pm
NLM Visitor Center, Bldg 38A
Bethesda, MD

"Health and Medicine on Display: International Expositions in the United
States, 1876-1904."

Julie K. Brown
Independent Scholar

International expositions, with their massive assembling of exhibits and
audiences, were the media events of their time. In transmitting a new
culture of visibility that merged information, entertainment, and
commerce, they provided a unique opportunity for the public to become
aware of various social and technological advances. This presentation
examines how international expositions, through their exhibits and
infrastructures, sought to demonstrate innovations in applied health and
medical practice.

All are welcome.

Note: The next history of medicine seminar will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2010 at 2-3:30pm in the NLM's Lister Hill Auditorium. In aspecial program celebrating African American History Month, NIH scholar Sheena Morrison will speak on "Nothing to Work with but Cleanliness: The Training of African American Midwives in the South."

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


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letter of the day? January 19

Stealing the idea from another museum’s blog - - it seems like it might be interesting to look at 150 years of museum history, one day at a time by transcribing letters in the collection. Here’s one from 101 years ago, showing that ordering office supplies never gets any easier. This is page 1 of Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 3629.



Washington, January 19, 1899


Bausch & Lomb Optical Co.

Rochester, N.Y.




I have received through the Medical Purveyor at New York, 4 dozen stender dishes, Cat. No. 4075, D. They are altogether too small for our purpose and I have this day returned them to you, by express, to be exchanged for 4 dozen No. 4075 B. If you will examine your Catalogue you will see that the illustrations of No. 4075 do not at all agree with the figures given as to sizes and proportions, an error which misled us in ordering the goods.


 Very respectfully,


Walter Reed

Major & Surgeon, U.S.A.



B&L sent the correct order a week later.

Monday, January 18, 2010

St Roch's cemetery gate

St Roch gate
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
On a visit to New Orleans this weekend, I saw mention of a cemetery founded by a priest in thanksgiving for his parishioners being spared death by yellow fever. Apparently those interred here died of something other than yellow fever. Well, I had to go see this place and thought I finally found somewhere that Joanna of Morbid Anatomy had not been. No. Not only did she beat me there, she got pictures of the discarded prosthetics room with the gate open; I had to make do shooting through the bars. Follow this picture back to the rest I've posted on my flickr page.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Finds from the Carnegie Reprints

Found an article called "Irrational Elements in Some Theories of Life" by C. P. Raven, 1956. Its opening paragraphs really struck me.

"One of the starting points of modern (study of significance) is the recognition that the words of everyday language for each person are charged with a complex of 'meanings', and that part of this complex of meanings, of emotional and volitional elements, is taken over in the language of science.

As the progress of science is entirely dependent on the mutual understanding between people working in the same field, it is important at least to recognize these irrational elements in our scientific thinking, and were possible to eliminate them..."

So much information is presented to us these days from so many sources, how often do we stop to think about the "emotional and volitional elements" that had probably colored what was said?

Preserving poster sessions

I was given a couple of cds of AFIP poster sessions by the IT department guy who puts them together. I got 83 attached to the online catalogue today – barely catalogued themselves, but still findable, and not dependent on cd technology, or the hard drive of one computer.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Morphine and PTSD

An interesting article in the Post looks at a new claim that morphine can prevent PTSD. "Morphine found to help stave off PTSD in wounded troops," By David Brown, Thursday, January 14, 2010.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Article link: Fort Detrick to inherit medical museum

Fort Detrick to inherit medical museum
Originally published January 12, 2010

By Megan Eckstein
News-Post Staff

Fort Detrick will bring a renowned medical museum under its control, as the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington prepares to close and scatters its resources to local military installations....

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Lexie Lord's 'Condom Nation' reviewed by Post

Alexandra Lord was the US Public Health Service Historian after John Parascandola, and there must be something about that position, because they both wrote books about sexually-transmitted disease education. Lexie's is reviewed in today's Washington Post -

Book review: Susan Jacoby reviews 'Condom Nation' by Alexandra Lord
By Susan Jacoby
Sunday, January 10, 2010

The U.S. Government's Sex Education Campaign From World War I to the Internet
By Alexandra M. Lord
Johns Hopkins Univ. 224 pp. $40

One slight note about the review - there seems to be some confusion about the various Surgeon Generals. There are four SGs in the US government - Army, Navy, Air Force and Public Health Service. The article is illustrated by a poster from the US Navy, a poster by the US Army is quoted in the review, and the book itself is on the PHS Surgeon General of course.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Primate Researcher Bluntschli

Emmy was organizing our bio-files this week and made some fun finds. These are from the Bluntschli file. The photo on the left is a post card from his travels in Madagascar around the turn of the last century. Dr Bluntschli did some seminal work in describing the primates and other animals there. He clearly had a great sense of humor. Many of the specimens can be found at the American Museum of Natural History.

Kindred embryology notebook

From the Kindred notebook. An interesting end of career project. For all you students out there this is a great example of what a lab notebook should look like.

(this notebook was discovered mixed in with Registry of Noteworthy Pathology records by Ass't Archivist Stocker, and we've housed it in the Human Developmental Anatomy Center for researchers - Mike Rhode)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Addition to the Archives

While cleaning out boxes that hadn’t been looked at in a while, I found a 2-ring binder of notes and drawings done by James E. Kindred in 1959. He was a Ph.D. in the Anatomy Department at the University of Virginia and the binder is a record of some studies on vestigial tail (embryology). This is a kind of find we call “Found in Collection.” When I googled his name to find out more about him, it looks like he had a long career: I found articles published as early as 1929. If his name rings a bell, please let us know.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Miscellaneous Articles, Chiefly Interesting as Curiosities

I’ve been busy uploading PDFs of our scanned curatorial logbooks to our in-house database (and to a lesser extent to the Internet Archive, although they will all be eventually put there too), and came across a few entries in the logbook with the above title. I mean, how could you not open this one up for a look, with a title like that?


“One foot of submarine telegraph cable. It is made of copper wire, coated with gutta-percha cased in tarred [coke?] and spirally wrapped with twelve strands of iron wire in one layer. Believed to have been laid by the Rebels between forts Gregg and Sumter and Charleston, and to have been contributed by Acting Assistant Surgeon H.K. Neff.”


“Four arrows pulled from the bodies of men slain in the massacre at Ft. Phillip Kearney December 1866. The one with a head is an ordinary hunting, showing that they are also sometimes used in war. Contributed by Bvt. Lt. Col. H.S. Schell, Asst. Surg. USA.”


“A crudely fashioned strap, two inches wide made of Army cloth and fastened with two buckles, which was successfully used by a malingerer to induce atrophy of the right leg. Private Ira A. Davidson. E. 13 Connecticut at Knight U.S.A. General Hospital, New Haven, Connecticut.”


“A carved soapstone pipe from the West Coast of America. Presented by Mr. J.B. McGuire.”





Saturday, January 2, 2010

Good summary of influenza response in NY Times

The Museum had an epidemiologist from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research speaking last month, and he noted that if you prevent an epidemic, you never know. His example was West Nile Fever - he said that if you had completely fogged New York City the first year it showed up, and killed all mosquitoes, it wouldn't be established in the US -- but would the political cost have been possible to do that? Especially since one would never have seen the following year's hysteria?

U.S. Reaction to Swine Flu: Apt and Lucky
Published: January 2, 2010
Medical experts have found that a series of rapid but conservative decisions by federal officials worked out better than many had dared hope.