Digitization Collaborative Provides Open Access to Over 100 Years of American Medical History through the Internet Archive

The Medical Heritage Library has completed its National Endowment for the Humanities-funded initiative Medicine at Ground Level: State Medical Societies, State Medical Journals, and the Development of American Medicine, 1900-2000

Boston, MA, October 2, 2017. The Medical Heritage Library has released 3,907 state medical society journal volumes free of charge for nearly 50 state medical societies, including those for the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, through the Internet Archive (http://www.medicalheritage.org/content/state-medical-society-journals/). The journals – collectively held and digitized by Medical Heritage Library founders and principal contributors The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; the Center for the History of Medicine, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine; The New York Academy of Medicine Library; the Library and Center for Knowledge Management at the University of California at San Francisco; the National Library of Medicine of the National Institutes of Health; the Augustus C. Long Health Sciences Library at Columbia University and Columbia University Libraries; and content contributor the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland, Founding Campus, with supplemental journal content provided by the Brown University Library, the Health Sciences Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library System, and UT Southwestern Medical Center Health Sciences Digital Library and Learning Center –  consist of almost three million pages that can be searched online and downloaded in a variety of formats. State medical society journals document the transformation of American medicine at both the local and national level, serving as sites not only for scientific articles, but for medical talks, local news regarding the medical profession, pharmaceutical and device advertising, and unexpurgated musings on medicine and society throughout the 20th century.

Project supporter and former president of the American Association for the History of Medicine, Distinguished Professor of History Nancy J. Tomes, Stony Brook University, notes: “The value of this collection lies precisely in the insights state journals provide on issues of great contemporary interest. They shed light on questions at the heart of today’s policy debates: why do physicians treat specific diseases so differently in different parts of the country? Why is it such a challenge to develop and implement professional policies at the national level? How do state level developments in health insurance influence federal policy and vice versa? How do factors such as race, class, gender, and ethnicity affect therapeutic decision making? How have methods of promoting new therapies and technologies changed over time? These are issues of interest not only to historians but to political scientists, sociologists, and economists.”

The digitized collection offers unprecedented, centralized access to one of the richest resources concerning the evolution of American medicine and will open the texts to new forms of analysis in the digital humanities, such as those supporting the investigation of health trends and outcomes over time and region, as well as visualizations.

Journals were digitized between 2015 and 2017 through the National Endowment for the Humanities (grant number: PW-228226-15), with additional funding provided by the Harvard Library and the Arcadia Fund, as well as Harvard Medical School. All publications found in the collection are provided free of charge by individual journal publishers agreeing to open access for content currently under copyright. Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. For more on the NEH Office of Digital Humanities visit http://www.neh.gov/odh/.

Beyond the Internet Archive’s portal through which MHL content is delivered, the Medical Heritage Library hosts state-by-state links to the journals (http://www.medicalheritage.org/content/state-medical-society-journals/journals-by-state/) and the MHL’s advanced search interface (http://mhl.countway.harvard.edu/search/), which offers full-text, proximity, date, and language searching among other features.

 

About the Medical Heritage Library
Founded in 2010 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to digitize 30,000 medical rare books, the Medical Heritage Library (MHL) is a digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries that promotes free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine. The MHL’s goal is to provide the means by which readers and scholars across a multitude of disciplines can examine the interrelated nature of medicine and society, both to inform contemporary medicine and strengthen our understanding of the world in which we live. The MHL’s growing collection of digitized medical rare books, pamphlets, journals, and films number over 200,000, with representative works from each of the past seven centuries, all of which are available through the Internet Archive. Information about the MHL may be found on our website, www.medicalheritage.org.

 

Media Contact
Hanna Clutterbuck-Cook
medicalheritage@gmail.com

Upcoming Lecture: Weill Cornell Medicine: a “Brief” History of Cornell’s Medical School

~Post courtesy Lisa Mix, Head, Medical Center Archives Weill Cornell Medicine.

The lecture will be followed by a reception and book-signing at the Samuel J. Wood Medical Library, 1300 York Avenue.  The Cornell Store in the Library will offer a 20% discount on purchases of Dr. Gotto’s book, Weill Cornell Medicine.

Antonio M. Gotto, Jr., MD, DPhil, is Dean Emeritus of Weill Cornell Medicine, and Provost for Medical Affairs Emeritus of Cornell University. From 1997-2011, Dr. Gotto was the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean at Weill Cornell and Provost for Medical Affairs at Cornell University.  During his tenure, the Medical College saw an overhaul of its curriculum; record-setting fundraising campaigns; a renaming in honor of foremost benefactors Joan and Sanford Weill; the establishment of a branch campus in Qatar and of a medical school in Tanzania; affiliation with the Houston Methodist Hospital; and the development of state-of-the-art facilities including the Weill Greenberg Center and the Belfer Research Building.

Dr. Gotto’s postgraduate work included doctoral studies at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and residency training at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.  Dr. Gotto has played a leading role in several landmark clinical trials demonstrating that cholesterol-lowering drug treatment can reduce the risk for heart disease.  A lifelong supporter of educational efforts aimed at cardiovascular risk reduction, Dr. Gotto has been National President of the American Heart Association and President of the International Atherosclerosis Society. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  Dr. Gotto has contributed more than 500 scholarly articles and books to the medical literature, and is coauthor of the Living Heart series of books that explain the origins and treatment of cardiovascular disease to the general public.  His latest book is Weill Cornell Medicine: a History of Cornell’s Medical School.

The Heberden Society, which seeks to promote an interest in the history of medicine, was founded at the medical center in 1975.  With funding from the WCMC Office of the Dean, the society sponsors a series of lectures during each academic year.

Please join us for Dr. Gotto’s lecture and the book-signing reception:

Thursday, September 28, 5:00 p.m.

Belfer Research Building, Weill Cornell Medicine

413 East 69th Street (between York and First Avenues)

New York, NY 10065

Room 204 A-C

The Center for the History of Medicine Presents: From Riding Breeches to Harvard

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

Join us for an evening discussion on the life and career of Linda Francis James Benitt, the first female graduate of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The presentation will begin by briefly exploring the context of women at Harvard at the turn of century, as well as Linda James’ life in Boston as a young student. Next, Bernice Ende, Linda’s great-niece, will share her personal insights on Linda’s life, as well how she inspired her toward ultimately becoming a “lady long rider”.

Linda Frances James was the first woman to graduate from the Harvard-M.I.T. School for Health Officers (predecessor of the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health), receiving her C.P.H. in 1917. As a young public health professional in Boston, Linda worked as a Medical Social Worker at Massachusetts General Hospital, and as the Director of the After-Care Division at the Harvard Infantile Paralysis Commission. Her professional life shifted in 1922 when she married William A. Benitt, a young attorney from Goodhue, Minnesota. The couple decided to leave their careers and become farmers on Apple Acres—a 200-acre farm in South Washington County, Minnesota. In addition to life on the farm, James remained an active advocate for education, public health, and community. A two-part blog series on Linda is available here.

Bernice Ende was raised on a Minnesota dairy farm where riding was always an integral part of her life. After pursuing a career teaching classical ballet on the west coast, Ende moved to Trego, Montana, a remote part of North West Montana where she continued teaching ballet. Her retirement in 2003 brought not a lack of activity, but rather a change in focus. Drawn back to riding, Bernice felt the pull of the open road and adventure inherent in serious riding. Her first ride in 2005 has continued into the present. Now thirteen years later, having acquired nearly 30,000 equestrian miles, she inspires and encourages female leadership with her travels. For more information on Ende, visit her website: www.endeofthetrail.com

 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017
3:30pm

Light refreshments will be served.

Minot Room, 5th Floor
Countway Library
Harvard Medical School

10 Shattuck Street, Boston MA 02115

Free and open to the public.

Registration is required. Register online now through Eventbrite or email us at ContactChom@hms.harvard.edu.

Teaching #HistSex with the MHL

~This post courtesy Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Reference Librarian, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Photo is by Kathleen J. Barker. Used with permission.

Each summer, the Massachusetts Historical Society’s Center for Teaching History hosts a series of workshops for K-12 teachers seeking to incorporate primary sources and contemporary historical scholarship into their curriculum. For the first time this year, the Center offered a three-day workshop in teaching LGBT History. As one of the Society’s reference librarians, with some background in history of sexuality research, I volunteered to spend a morning with the group sharing topic-specific research strategies. In addition to talking about the Society’s own catalog and collections, we discussed the challenges of historically-specific terminology. I introduced them to the Homosaurus, a controlled vocabulary of terms related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender lives, and we talked about the genres of material that might contain information about human sexuality: personal and family papers, visual materials, legal records, religious tracts, and medical literature.

 

After my presentation and a tour of the Society’s library, showcasing our own collections, the final third of the morning was spent on a research exercise in which I invited the sixteen workshop participants to search three different access tools: the Massachusetts Historical Society’s online catalog, the Digital Transgender Archive, and finally the Medical Heritage Library’s collections via the MHL’s full text search tool. My instructions were to

 

  1. Think of a research question or topic related to the history of sexuality.
  2. Brainstorm a handful of search terms (up to a dozen) related to your topic.
  3. Use these search terms in each of the three access tools.

 

To take the example search I performed for the group as a whole, we began with the question, “How did teenagers learn/think about sex in the 19th century?” Then, we brainstormed possible search terms, including:

 

  • Sex education
  • Teenager
  • Adolescent
  • Puberty
  • Family life
  • Marriage preparation
  • Premarital sex

 

Then, we performed a search in each of the three search tools listed above: the MHS catalog, the Digital Transgender Archive, and the Medical Heritage Library’s full-text search. For the Medical Heritage Library’s full-text search, we began with a broad search for “sex education” in literature published between 1800 and 1900. Because the MHL provides a full-text search, however preliminary, the search results were much different from the results in the DTA and MHS catalog and prompted fruitful conversation about how both the content of a collection and its access tools shape our approaches to finding materials.

 

The goal of this exercise was to prompt our workshop participants to think about how different types of tools produce different search results depending upon the controlled vocabularies used, the contents of the archive, and the type of search being conducted. These questions may seem basic to archivists and librarians who spend their workdays developing and using different types of search tools, but for many of our participants the discussion of historical terms and controlled vocabularies prompted them to think in entirely new ways about how to locate materials related to the history of sexuality in archival repositories and digital collections.

 

The Center for Teaching History plans to run this workshop again next summer and I look forward to expanding on this exercise, hopefully giving our participants a chance to delve into the actual items their searches uncover.

UNC’s Bullitt History of Medicine Club Lectures

~This post courtesy Dawne Lucas, Special Collections Librarian Health Sciences Library University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
The Fall semester schedule is below. All meetings will be held at noon, in HSL 527. For more information about the Bullitt History of Medicine Club, please visithttps://www.med.unc.edu/bhomc.
 
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Travis Alexander, Mellon Graduate Fellow, Department of English and Comparative Literature, UNC-Chapel Hill
“AIDS and the Americans with Disabilities Act at Quarter Century”
 
This talk will discuss the political motivations behind the Americans with Disabilities Act’s inclusion of HIV/AIDS under the banner of “disability.”
 
Travis Alexander is a Mellon Graduate Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill. His research focuses on critical race studies, queer theory, and psychoanalysis. His writing has been published, and is forthcoming in Boundary 2 and Symploke.
 
Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Noemi Tousignant, Guest lecturer, Université de Montréal
“Globalizing Measles in 1960s West Africa”
 
Is measles a single, universal disease, or many, highly localized pathologies? This is a question for historical investigation, not only into epidemiological trends but also into the politics and practices of measles research and prevention during the “vaccine era” – that is, from the end of the 1950s. I will describe in particular one of the first episodes of this history, during which West Africa was at the heart of transnational debates about the value of the new measles vaccines. Some of the first trials and mass uses of these vaccines happened in West African places, which had just acquired political independence and where measles was recently “discovered” to be a major cause of infant and child mortality. I will identify a few reasons for this, and reflect on the consequences not only for West African immunity, but also for the emergence of new ways of framing the value of African life, the severity and preventability of measles, and responsibility – at the family, state and international level – for vaccinating children.
 
Tuesday, November 7, 2017
Craig Miller, Head, Department of Vascular Services, Pardee UNC Hospital
“A Time for All Things: The Life of Michael E. DeBakey”

Call for Artifacts!

The New York Academy of Medicine is working with the Museum of the City of New York and Wellcome Collection on an exhibition based around epidemic disease in NYC for September 2018. “Germ City: Microbes, Migration, and the Metropolis” will use specific sites of disease outbreaks, and responses to contagious disease, to explore New York City’s public health history.
 
Artifacts with a New York connection are of particular interest, as are artifacts that reflect individual stories and experiences, as well as those relating to clinical and public health responses to disease.
 
We would be grateful for information about specific artifacts and/or details of relevant catalogs or collections. Thanks to those who have already responded to our call, and I look forward to discovering other relevant materials.

NLM Book Symposium

~This post courtesy Stephen Greenberg, Head, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts, History of Medicine Division.

You are cordially invited to a public symposium to mark the recent publication of Images of America: US National Library of Medicine, and the simultaneous availability via NLM Digital Collections of the complete book at:

https://collections.nlm.nih.gov/ImagesofAmericaNLM

and original versions of the 170+ images which appear in the book in black and white:

https://go.usa.gov/xNfnw

Learn more about this new, publicly-available publication here:

https://www.nlm.nih.gov/news/illustrated-history-nlm-published-2017.html.

The symposium will be a part of the NLM History of Medicine Lecture Series and will take place next Thursday, July 13, 2016, from 2:30pm to 4pm in Lipsett Amphitheater on the first floor of the NIH Clnical Center, Building 10, on the NIH Campus in Bethesda, MD.

If you cannot join us onsite, you can watch the proceedings via NIH Videocasting: https://videocast.nih.gov/. You can also participate in the proceedings via Twitter by following #NLMHistTalk.

Sign language interpretation is provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate may contact Stephen J. Greenberg  at 301-827-4577, or by email at stephen.greenberg@nih.gov, 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:

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/about/visitor.html

Sponsored by:
NLM’s History of Medicine Division
Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, Chief

Event contact:
Stephen J. Greenberg, MSLS, PhD

Head, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine, NIH
301-827-4577
stephen.greenberg@nih.gov

Medicine in World War I Online Exhibit

In commemoration of the centennial of America’s entry into World War I in April 1917 through to the Armistice in November 1918, partner institutions contributing to the Medical Heritage Library have developed this collaborative online exhibit on medicine, surgery, and nursing in the war, with texts and images drawn from the digital corpus of the MHL. A significant amount of professional medical and surgical literature was produced even as the conflict continued to rage, and many personal narratives of physicians and nurses and histories of hospitals and army medical units were also published in the years immediately after the war.  A selection of this material is incorporated into the exhibit.

Medicine in World War I is divided into several broad categories: common diseases of the battlefield and camps; injuries and prosthetic devices; shell-shock and stress; military nursing; and the Spanish influenza epidemic.   There are also sections of bibliographic references with links to items in the Medical Heritage Library and a short list of other exhibits devoted to World War I and medicine.

The real history behind the look of “Wonder Woman”s Dr. Poison

~Courtesy Michael Rhode, Archivist / Curator, US Navy BUMED Communications Directorate (M09B7) Office of Medical History

The new Wonder Woman movie has a long-standing villain named Dr. Poison who is developing a super poison gas to reverse Germany’s imminent loss of the Great War. Elena Anaya’s character is shown with a porcelain mask over the lower quadrant of the left side of her face… Read the rest of Michael’s post here!

Heart’s Ease

~Courtesy Chrissie Perella and Beth Lander, MLS, College Librarian, Historical Medical Library.

What is a recipe?  Is it instructions from which one can prepare a meal, a snack, a dessert?  Or is it how to mix the best cocktail?  Or how to cure acne?  Or how to care for a bee sting?  What other knowledge does one need to properly take advantage of the advice in a recipe?  Recipes found in medical books are no different than ones found in food cookbooks; it’s just that the desired outcome is different than a crowd-pleasing cake.

The Historical Medical Library holds over 20 manuscript recipe (or “receipt”) books, dating from the 17thcentury up through the early 20th century.  The majority of our recipe books are medical in nature, but many include food, drink, and household cleaning recipes as well.  I’ve even seen recipes for ink in a couple of our 19th century books.

However, the recipe book I’ve chosen to look at for The Recipes Project’s virtual conversation does not contain any ‘extras’ – it is filled with strictly medicinal concoctions.  MSS 2/258 (Lancaster County recipe book) is dated to circa 1854 and attributed to an unknown physician from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I chose this particular book because I found it interesting that no food, drink, or household cleaning recipes are included.  Other unusual features are a table of weights; a conversion table for liquid measures; a summary of “Doses of medicines for the different ages;” a chart of pulse rates, categorized by age; and my favorite, “The regulation of doses of Laudanum for Children.”

“Table of weights adopted by the Pharmacopoeias” and table of “Liquid measure.”

“Doses of medicines for the different ages”

“The regulation of doses of Laudanum for Children” and “Pulse.”

The second section of MSS 2/258 reminds me strongly of student lecture notes.  The next 5 pages include explanatory paragraphs about topics such as the circulatory system, irritation or inflammation, and “The Dangerous effect of bleeding.”

 

It is dangerous to bleed a person immediately after receiving a fall in such accidents a shock is given to the great nervous centres, which bleeding would augment or bring on the fate of the patient, if it be employed before reaction has taken place. D.mm.m.ii.164-5

The Dangerous effect of bleeding.

Following the notes are recipes from both botanical and eclectic medical sources, which are often cited.  One of my favorite citations is for a recipe for plasters: “This is the recipe of the plaster so long kept secret and remaining in the family of Doctor and Mrs. Carpenter.”

One has to wonder how our physician was able to get the secret plaster recipe from Dr. Carpenter.  Another recipe in the book caught my eye because of its name: “Heart’s Ease.”  I was curious to see whether this was some sort of tonic or tea, and if it was for what we may term depression/heartache/etc.  I found some familiar ingredients (not ALL uses are enumerated here): valerian, used for insomnia as well as depression and conditions related to stress; saffron, for insomnia and depression; bergamot, used in aromatherapy to reduce anxiety; and the all-powerful lavender, useful for insomnia, depression, anxiety, and fatigue.  Surprisingly, aloe

s socotrine is listed; it is described in Boericke’s Materia Medica (1901) as

An excellent remedy to aid in re-establishing physiological equilibrium after much dosing, where disease and drug symptoms are much mixed. There is no remedy richer in symptoms of portal congestion and none that has given better clinical results, both for the primary pathological condition and secondary phenomena. Bad effects from sedentary life or habits. Especially suitable to lymphatic and hypochondriacal patients. The rectal symptoms usually determine the choice. Adapted to weary people, the aged, and phlegmatic, old beer-drinkers. Dissatisfied and angry about himself, alternating with lumbago. Heat internally and externally. Has been used successfully in the treatment of consumption by giving the pure juice.

Also listed is “Musk – best common” which is apparently good for stroke, coma, nerve problems, seizures (convulsions), heart pains, and sores.

Well, it was fairly clear to me that either calming and soothing tinctures, teas, and tonics have greatly changed over the past 150 years or so, or I was way off on what this concoction was used for.  It turns out that “heart’s ease” is not meant to relieve anxiety, sadness, or anything like that, but for “the treatment of diseases of the heart palpitations.”  The tincture is described as a “stimulating antispasmodic.”  A stimulating antispasmodic works to prevent or calm spasms by stimulating the higher nervous system.

Recipes like the one above, and recipe books like MSS 2/258, can tell us much about the time in which they were written – what ingredients were familiar and available to the author, what medical or natural philosophy books the author studied or referenced, what ailments were common or considered important to know how to treat, and sometimes even short case studies about the effectiveness of a particular treatment.

What I find most fascinating, perhaps, about many of the Library’s recipe books is that they are non-discriminatory when it comes to choosing recipes: a treatment for kidney stones will be followed by a recipe for roast mutton; something to stop the flux will be followed by hair tonic.  But MSS 2/258 is different in that it includes only medical recipes.  The nature of the book is more formal and less chatty than some in the collection: I’m thinking specifically of MSS 2/351, (Elizabeth Paschall Coates receipt book), which includes notes like this in recipes:

“Susannah Fowler an old Acquaintance of mine from her Childhood & a person of Good Reputation had a verry bad fellon Coming on her finger. . . this She Says was practised by a woman as a very Grate Secret I Dispersd one for our Girl Rose in 6 or 8 Dressings. . .”

While we know a bit about Elizabeth Paschall Coates, we know nothing about our Lancaster County physician.  Where did he attend medical school?  Did he have his own practice or did he work in a hospital?  The way his recipe book is laid out and the contents it includes suggest that he was a meticulous, thorough person, and therefore was probably a decent doctor.  Perhaps he didn’t include food, drink, or household cleaning recipes because he liked everything well organized and in its place – do recipes for bread, punches, or inks belong with medicines?

Even in strictly medical recipe books one will find many answers to the question “What is a recipe?” and perhaps more questions, as well.