Margaret Humphreys to Speak on African Americans in Civil War Medicine

You are cordially invited to attend a lecture by the distinguished historian and professor Dr. Margaret Humphreys titled “African Americans in Civil War Medicine”. Many histories have been written about medical care during the Civil War, but the participation and contributions of African Americans as nurses, surgeons, and hospital workers has often been overlooked. The event will be held on May 10, 2017 at 5:30 PM at the Knowledge Center of the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences located at 701 West 168 Street (Fort Washington Avenue) on the Columbia University Medical Center campus. Continue reading

Congratulations to UCSF and Partners!

NEH awards leading San Francisco institutions $315,000 to digitize AIDS archives

The Archives and Special Collections department of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Library, in collaboration with the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender (GLBT) Historical Society, has been awarded a $315,000 implementation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The collaborating institutions will digitize about 127,000 pages from 49 archival collections related to the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay Area and make them widely accessible to the public online. In the process, collections whose components had been placed in different archives for various reasons will be digitally reunited, facilitating access for researchers outside the Bay Area. Continue reading

Founding Gallaudet: Origins and Activism

~This post courtesy of Katie Healey and Caroline Lieffers, doctoral students in Yale’s Program for the History of Science and Medicine, with additions by Melissa Grafe, John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History, Head of the Medical Historical Library.

Title page of An Address in Behalf of the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind by Edward M. Gallaudet, 1858.

Title page of An Address in Behalf of the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind by Edward M. Gallaudet, 1858.

In 1856, Amos Kendall, former postmaster general of the United States, became guardian to several deaf children. Concerned by their limited educational prospects, he donated two acres of his estate in the capital to establish the Columbia Institution for the Instruction of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind, to be run by Edward Miner Gallaudet. The blind students were soon moved to a separate school in Baltimore. Not satisfied with just secondary education, Kendall convinced Congress to grant the school the authority to award college degrees. In 1864, President Lincoln signed the college’s charter and President Grant signed the diplomas of its first graduates, establishing a tradition of presidential signatures that continues on its diplomas today. The college was renamed Gallaudet College in 1894, in honor of Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, and became Gallaudet University in 1986. Continue reading

Upcoming WWI Exhibit Opening at the UCSF Library

Recruitment poster.

Recruitment poster.

~This post courtesy Polina Ilieva, Head of Archives and Special Collections, University of California, San Francisco.

Save the date for the upcoming UCSF Archives exhibit: a Centennial Commemoration of WWI featuring UCSF’s role in the Great War, April 12, 2017 – April 2018 on the main floor of the UCSF Library at Parnassus. Continue reading

From Farmer’s Daughter to Physician: The Advocacy, Activism, and Legacy of Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter and her Contemporaries

Portrait photograph of Mary B. Ritter.

Mary Bennett Ritter.

~This post courtesy Andra Langoussis Pham, Records Management Assistant, Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

The Archives for Women in Medicine is pleased to present a talk by Dr. Gesa Kirsch who will discuss Dr. Mary Bennett Ritter, an early 20th-century woman physician, her cohort of Western women physicians, and the role of the Woman’s Medical Journal in creating and sustaining a large professional network of early women physicians. This lecture will speak directly to Dr. Ritter’s life and leadership and why this story is worthy of restoring to medical and women’s history. Continue reading

Guest Post: The Impact of Tuberculosis on Adults as Measured by Philadelphia’s Vital Statistics

Today we are pleased to feature five guest posts from Tom Ewing’s Virginia Tech Introduction to Data in Social Context class! This final post is from E. Thomas Ewing and Nicholas Bolin.

The social impact of tuberculosis in the late nineteenth century was distinguished by the relatively high mortality rate among adult populations. This social impact can be graphically illustrated in a chart showing the relative number of deaths over a six year period in the city of Philadelphia due to the ten most common causes for the adult population, aged 20-50 years. Of these causes, tuberculosis accounts for nearly half — or the same number of the other nine causes combined. Of the approximately 33,000 adult deaths from all causes in this six year period, tuberculosis accounted for more than one-third (35.8%), more than three times as many deaths as other leading causes (typhoid fever, pneumonia, and accidents and injuries). As this graph suggests, the vital statistics collected and analyzed by government agencies, preserved by medical libraries in published form, and now widely accessible through the Medical Heritage Library in digital form are both an excellent source of data for analysis with modern tools and a basis for thinking about the ways that public officials used statistical analysis to identify health concerns and recommend appropriate policies. Continue reading

Guest Post: Tuberculosis in California: A Statistical Analysis From 1880-1910

Today we are pleased to feature five guest posts from students in Tom Ewing’s Virginia Tech Introduction to Data in Social Context class! This post is from Jack Fleisher, Jae Ha, Joey Hammel.

We chose to explore tuberculosis in California because of a few interesting characteristics. One of these characteristics was the phenomenon of California being seen as a beacon of health and longevity in the late 1800s, and as a result, attracting many individuals sick with tuberculosis thinking that moving there was their best hope to recover and alleviate their disease.  We suspected that this would drive up the tuberculosis rates as the increase in the population of those previously diagnosed would raise the death rate above where it would be for the Californian-born population.   Continue reading

Guest Post: Tuberculosis in Boston: The Impact of Socioeconomic Factors

Today we are pleased to feature five guest posts from students in Tom Ewing’s Virginia Tech Introduction to Data in Social Context class! This post is from Brian Yuhas, Claire Ko, Emma Rhodes.

The discussion of socioeconomic factors and their impact on tuberculosis came about as a result of our inadequate knowledge of the disease and our wish to delve deeper into how this disease influenced everyday life in the 1890s. Our research focused on whether economic status had an apparent effect on the deaths that occurred in Boston due to tuberculosis in the late nineteenth century. Did similar population densities have the same tuberculosis rates among different classes? Did wards with higher tax revenue experience higher or lower tuberculosis death rates? Through the 1890s Vital Statistics report for Boston, we were able to come to some conclusions about the correlation between wealth and likelihood of death due to tuberculosis in the city. Continue reading

Guest Post: The Experiments of Dr. Robert Koch: A Reconsideration of the Scientific Method for Evaluating Treatments for Tuberculosis

Today we are pleased to feature five guest posts from students in Tom Ewing’s Virginia Tech Introduction to Data in Social Context class! This post is from Christian Averill, Robbie D’Amato, Nathan Gibson, and Jonathan Silbaugh.

During the nineteenth century, a widespread desire for a cure for tuberculosis prompted intense interest in any claims of a medical breakthrough in diagnosing and treating this disease. When German physician Robert Koch announced in 1882 that he had discovered that the cause of the disease was a bacillus known as M. Tuberculosis, his discovery was widely celebrated as a major medical breakthrough. Eight years later, however, his claims to have discovered a cure for tuberculosis aroused more substantive questions about the veracity of his claims as well as the methods, findings, and analysis advanced to support these claims. This post examines some of the evidence involved in this discussion with the goal of evaluating Koch’s claims relative to standard procedures used now to discover, test, and approve cures. Continue reading

Guest Post: “Phthisiophobia”: The Tuberculosis Clinic in New York City and Popular Anxieties about Public Health Dangers

Today we are pleased to feature five guest posts from students in Tom Ewing’s Virginia Tech Introduction to Data in Social Context class! The first is from Allyson Manhart, Andrew Pregnall, and Harshitha Narayanan.


TB_Infirmary_OpenToPatientsAt the beginning of the twentieth century the Treasury Department of the United States classified pulmonary tuberculosis as a “dangerously contagious disease” which meant that any immigrant found to have tuberculosis coming to the United States would be denied entrance. The ban led to a swift reaction from the physicians of the New York Academy of Medicine, many of whom argued that the ban created unnecessary fear of those with tuberculosis.
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