The Navy’s Bureau of Medicine and Surgery’s Office of Medical History is uploading their 1000th item to the Medical Heritage Library. Oddly enough, the item, a logbook from Dr. James Ambler, is not medical. Instead it documents polar weather conditions.
In 1883, Lieutenants Giles B. Harber and William H. Schuetze journeyed to Siberia’s Lena Delta to retrieve the bodies and personal effects of the crew of USS Jeannette, an ill-fated expedition to the North Pole. Among the remains was the body of Passed Assistant Surgeon James Markham Ambler (1848-1881), his personal journal and a logbook of atmospheric conditions that he maintained throughout the expedition (1879-1881). One hundred and thirty years later, Dr. Ambler’s journal and weather observations, in the respective collections of the National Archives (NARA) and the Bureau of Medicine (BUMED), are to be used in the “Old Weather” project headed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and NARA. BUMED’s historians brought the logbook to NARA which photographed it in 2012. Volunteers at the “Old Weather” project, which uses Navy logs to track climate, should soon finish the official deck logs and be able to work on transcribing Ambler’s log.
Two versions of “Atmospheric Observations on board U.S. Arctic Steamer Jeannette, 1879-1881″ are being uploaded for use in different viewers - the double page where a reader can see the entire page for the day is here and the single page version, which may work better on tablets, is here.
For all of the items uploaded by BUMED, click here.
Adding to the value of items in the MHL, a full-text search of the interiors of publications is provided by Harvard University’s Countway Library. Updated once a month, this feature can be used at the MHL homepage here!