Wellcome Library Begins Harvest of MHL Content for the UK MHL

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From “American medical botany, being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts, with coloured engravings ..” (1817)

Dr Christy Henshaw, Digitisation Programme Manager for the Wellcome Library, recently announced that the Library has started to harvest Medical Heritage Library (MHL) content into the Wellcome digital library. Most of the MHL content – both UK-based and US/Canada-based – will be mirrored on the Wellcome Library website.

MHL collaborators are thrilled that the MHL content will be even more accessible to its global community of users. Unlike the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which holds copies of MHL metadata and points users to the digital objects in the Internet Archive (IA), the Wellcome Library is ingesting digital objects and metadata. The mirrored MHL content in the UK MHL provides a back up should there be any problems with MHL content in IA’s San Francisco-based repository.

The Wellcome is going slowly to begin with as it irons out various issues. There are currently 36 books available via the Wellcome player and it should be harvesting more content soon. The collection so far, largely from MHL collaborator Brandeis University, can be viewed here.

Catalog records for MHL-generated content include attribution of the contributing MHL collaborator in the “Note” field and Internet Archive (IA) digital object identifier in the “Reference number” field. This identifier can be used to trace the book back to the IA version that the Wellcome has harvested. Other metadata is drawn from the MARC records held by the IA.

For more on the Wellcome’s UK MHL initiative, see their blog post The UK MHL is on its way!

Images from the Library

americanmedicalb13bige_0645Lets have a little color this month with images for every Monday in March from Jacob Bigelow’s American medical botany, being a collection of the native medicinal plants of the United States, containing their botanical history and chemical analysis, and properties and uses in medicine, diet and the arts, with coloured engravings .. (1817)

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Digital Highlight: Addison Key Bell

It joined our collection last year but you may have missed it: our first manuscript item, the diary of Doctor Addison Key Bell*. Key Bell was born in 1861 in Georgia, son to Doctor Addison Atterbury Bell and his wife, Ida, and he died in 1909 in Madison, Georgia, where he had spent most of his active years of medical practice.

He took his medical degrees at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and at New York Medical University in New York and returned to his native Georgia to practice. Key Bell took part in the Civil War as a surgeon in the Confederate hospital in Augusta, Georgia. Key Bell was an organizing member of the Morgan County Medical Society as well as being a member of the Georgia State Medical Association and the American Medical Association.

His diary includes accounts of payments for medical services rendered, notes of addresses, and diary-like entries, including a lengthy retailing of a trip he took in 1883, leaving Madison, Georgia, “on a fast train.”

Flip through the pages of Key Bell’s diary above or follow this link to read the Diary.

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

* I would like to acknowledge the help of Bonita R. Bryan, Head of Collections Services and Matt Miller, Senior Resources Management Specialist at the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library in writing this post.

Guest Post: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

The London School of Tropical Medicine was founded by Sir Patrick Manson, the “father of tropical medicine” and

‘Two dozen anti-plague rules’ from Japanese textbook on plague, with, Pathogenic horticulture : in two parts (1905)

‘Two dozen anti-plague rules’ from Japanese textbook on plague, with, Pathogenic horticulture : in two parts (1905)

opened in 1899 at the Seaman’s Hospital in London’s Albert Dock. In 1921 the Athlone Committee recommended the creation of an institute of state medicine, which built on a proposal by the Rockefeller Foundation to develop a London-based institution that would lead the world in the promotion of public health and tropical medicine. Thus the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine was formed and granted its Royal Charter in 1924. The Library and its collections can be found in the LSHTM building in Keppel Street, Bloomsbury, built for us between 1926 and 1929.

We were the third library to send titles to the UK-MHL project for digitisation, the books included in the project reflect the School’s work on infectious diseases and its activities in public health, epidemiology, and tropical medicine. Since we started filling crates in November 2014 we have sent just under 1,000 titles from our collection, half of which are already digitised and available to view. By the end of the project, we hope to have approximately 3,000 items digitised and available to view.

There are two main collections of rare books and pamphlets: a general collection of pre-1900 items, some of which were donated and others purchased by staff on formation of the Library at the Seaman’s Hospital. A second collection was collected by Dr Richard J. Reece on smallpox and vaccination and donated by his widow. The Reece collection does not just contain works by notable vaccination physicians such as Edward Jenner, the surgeon and pioneer of smallpox vaccination, but also contains the furious outpouring of pamphlets by the 19th century’s opponents and sceptics to vaccination. Already digitised are texts by William Tebb, Alfred Wallace, and Charles Creighton. Alexander Paul, in The vaccination problem in 1903 and the impracticability of compulsion, describes the ‘conscientious objector to compulsory vaccination’ as ‘hounded from pillar to post as a free trader in smallpox’.

‘The conscientious objector’ from The vaccination problem in 1903 and the impracticability of compulsion / by Alexander Paul (1903)

‘The conscientious objector’ from The vaccination problem in 1903 and the impracticability of compulsion / by Alexander Paul (1903)

Parallels with the current debates around vaccination are not hard to find.

The School was closely associated with the British Colonial Office in its early years, and the rare book collections reflect that colonial past. There are reports and publications from AfricaIndia, and Ireland. Look out for more items to come.

Of course, there are a significant number of reports by UK local and national government on sanitation, epidemics and social conditions in Britain from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They include the social investigator Charles Booth’s analysis of the origins of poverty in London, collected through surveys and house to house visits,  Life and labour of the people in London.1 It found that up to a third of London’s inhabitants were living in poverty, documenting the changing city of the early twentieth century. The physician Sir Thomas Oliver, (1853–1942) served on a number of official enquiries into industrial disease, including those recommending the restrictions on female employment in the lead industry and the banning of damaging substances from pottery glazes. He was the editor of Dangerous trades: the historical, social, and legal aspects of industrial occupations as affecting health. Many more items from our collections on all aspects of public health are scheduled to be digitised throughout 2015, including texts by John Simon and Edwin Chadwick.

Our most popular titles so far are various volumes from  The Golden Bough, James Frazer’s seminal anthropological text examining the waning of belief in magic and witchcraft as science has replaced the old stories about how the world works. Although his evolutionary sequence is no longer accepted, he compared and synthesised a wide range of religious and magic practices.

We are excited to be able to make these texts more widely available through the Medical Heritage Library project and hope that people will find them useful for a wide variety of tasks. We would love to hear from anyone who has used any of our texts, tweet us @LSHTMLibrary.

Frontispiece from Tropical diseases : a manual of the diseases of warm climates / by Patrick Manson (1898)

Frontispiece from Tropical diseases : a manual of the diseases of warm climates / by Patrick Manson (1898)

1. Jose Harris, ‘Booth, Charles (1840–1916)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [accessed 24 Feb 2015], doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31966.

Images from the Library

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From George Shaw and James Francis Stephens’ General zoology: or, Systematic natural history (1800) (Volume 4, Part 2) and we’ll be posting images from this work every Monday this month!

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Digital Highlight: The Clue of Handwriting

"The Standard Forms of Executives" from French's "The psychology of handwriting."

“The Standard Forms of Executives” from French’s “The psychology of handwriting.”

Got a spare half hour this weekend? Want to know more about yourself? Then have a look at William L. French’s 1922 The psychology of handwriting — complete with illustrations!

Are you a tea drunkard? French can tell from the downstroke of your cursive hand. Could you be a good salesman? If your handwriting is firm, confident, and rather small, French thinks yes. And don’t hope to escape if you take pleasure in deceiving others: French can tell from the height of your letters.

Flip through the pages of French’s book below or follow this link to read The psychology of handwriting. As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Guest Post: Are the best things in life free?

We are delighted to be able to offer our readers this cross-posting from The New York Academy of Medicine blog series on Innovation in Digital Publishing.

There are so many opportunities andif we’re honestchallenges for innovation in digital publishing it’s hard to pick one and stick with it, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do because some things are worth sticking with. Open access is the best facilitator of, and the biggest opportunity for, innovation in digital publishing. Publishing research open access means anyone in the world with an Internet connection can read it, instead of just the comparatively infinitesimal group of people who have access to a reasonably wealthy university library. Opportunities don’t get much bigger than that.

Much of the research the Wellcome Trust funds is in the biomedical sciences, but we also support research in the medical humanities. This is frequently published in monographs, and monographs now commonly have print runs in the low to mid hundreds. You won’t find these books in the public library or your local bookshop. You might find them in your university’s library if you’re lucky enough to have access. You will probably find them online but you might balk at the price. This lack of access is a problem!

Cover image for Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States 1850-2000

We believe the research we fund is outstanding, and think everyone should be able to access it (and build upon it). Accordingly, we recently extended our open-access policy to include monographs (and book chapters). The first monographs covered by this policy are only just being published open access, but initial usage data gives some indication of the opportunities open access affords. For example, Fungal Disease in Britain and the United States 1850-2000 by Aya Homei and Michael Worboys was published open access with Palgrave Macmillan in November 2013, and made freely available through PMC Bookshelf and OAPEN (as well as the publisher site and e-retailers like Amazon). So far, the free ePub version has been downloaded from Amazon 300 times. Another 600 PDF copies have been downloaded drom the publisher and repository sites, and nearly 3,000 individuals have accessed the HTML chapters. The true readership across digital platforms may be much greater yet, as the Creative Commons Attribution license (CC BY) means readers and other content providers and aggregators can share the work. Readers who prefer the printed page have also purchased hard and paperback copies from Palgrave.

Innovative open access publishing can provide avenues other than the traditional monograph or research article to disseminate research. Mosaic is a Wellcome Trust initiative that publishes longer narrative-based science journalism under the CC BY license. This license allows other platforms to take the content and republish itwith remarkable results. An article by Carl Zimmer on why we have blood types was republished on the BBC, io9, Pacific Standard, and The Independent, among others. Stories have been translated into Spanish, French, Polish, and Hungarian. The point is not just that more people read it, but that the content can be taken to the many different places where the people who are interested in this topic gather.

Images from the Library

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From George Shaw and James Francis Stephens’ General zoology: or, Systematic natural history (1800) (Volume 3, Part 2) and we’ll be posting images from this work every Monday this month!

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Digital Highlight: “Il barbiere”

Click through the pages above or follow this link to read Il barbiere (1626).

As always, for more from the Medical Heritage Library, please visit our full collection!

Now Available! Recommended Practices for Enabling Access to Manuscript and Archival Collections Containing Health Information about Individuals

Medical Heritage Library collaborators  the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine are pleased to announce the distribution of their jointly authored recommended practices to enable access to manuscript and archival collections containing health information about individuals. These recommendations are intended to alleviate many of the concerns repositories have related to collecting and preserving health services records, especially those repositories that are not affiliated with hospitals or medical schools.

The recommendations are presented in four categories: 1) Determining an Institution’s Status and Policy Needs; 2) Implementing Policy and Fostering Process Transparency; 3) Communicating the Nature of Restrictions; and 4) Describing Records to Best Enable Discovery and Access. Those who care for and provide access to records containing health information about individuals are invited to test the recommendations and provide feedback on their utility; those who use such records in their research are equally invited to comment on their scope.

Researchers who have used or are seeking access to primary sources containing health information about individuals are encouraged to share their experiences and difficulties accessing health services records. Visit the MHL’s researcher access survey site and contribute to our efforts to improve access to these important records.

For more information, please contact the Medical Heritage Library at MedicalHeritage@gmail.com.

This work was made possible through the generous funding of the Mellon Foundation through the Council for Library and Information Resources’ Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives program (2012: Private Practices, Public Health: Privacy-Aware Processing to Maximize Access to Health Collections).

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