National Endowment for the Humanities Awards New York Academy of Medicine Library with Digital Projects for the Public Discovery Grant

Interactive digital “Biography of a Book” project brings to life the creation, use and collection of key historic texts in the Academy Library’s rare book collections

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded The New York Academy of Medicine Library $30,000 through its Humanities Digital Projects for the Public Discovery Grant program to support the development of its interactive digital “Biography of a Book” project. This innovative project aims to tell the individual and collective stories of books, ranging from the survival of one of only two extant medieval copies of an ancient Roman cookbook, to a twentieth century re-imagining of a classic work of Renaissance anatomy. Continue reading

The John K. Lattimer Lecture: “The Marrow of Tragedy: Disease and Diversity in Civil War Medicine”

Please join The New York Academy of Medicine (1216 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street, New York, NY 10029) on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 at 6:00PM-7:30PM for Margaret Humphreys’ John K. Lattimer Lecture.

Health care in the U.S. Civil War is often depicted as gruesome, with amputations (sans anesthesia) as the centerpiece of horror. In actuality, hospitals could be sites of healing, although there were significant differences between North and South. In this lecture, Margaret Humphreys highlights the variations among medical loci during the war, an analysis that illustrates the aspects of “good health care” that made a difference in the survival of Civil War patients. Continue reading

Blood Transfusion: 350 Years

Richard Lower (1631–1691), anatomist. Oil painting by Jacob Huysmans. Iconographic Collections, Wellcome Library, London, accessed through Wellcome Images, https://wellcomeimages.org/indexplus/image/M0007626.html.

Richard Lower (1631–1691), anatomist. Oil painting by Jacob Huysmans.

Three hundred and fifty years ago, on December 17, 1666, the Philosophical Transactions published the first account of blood transfusion, in the form of a letter from physician Richard Lower to chemist Robert Boyle.i Lower’s experiments transfused blood from one dog to another. The article provided his methods, specifying where the arteries and veins were to be cut, how the quill was to be inserted that formed the blood’s conduit between animals, and many other details of the operation. Continue reading

Cartes-de-Visite Collection: A Glimpse into the Data

Carte-de-visite of Emily Blackwell (1826-1910), English born physician. Photograph by W. Kurtz.

Carte-de-visite of Emily Blackwell (1826-1910), English-born physician. Photograph by W. Kurtz.

The New York Academy of Medicine Library  has digitized our collection of cartes de visite, small inexpensive photographs mounted on cards that became popular during the second part of the 19th century, through the Metropolitan New York Library Council’s (METRO) Culture in Transit: Digitizing and Democratizing New York’s Cultural Heritage grant.  The grant allows METRO to send a mobile scanning unit to libraries and cultural institutions around the city to digitize small collections and make them available through METRO’s digital portal  and the Digital Public Library of America .

Our collection consists of 223 late 19th– and early 20th-century photographs of national and international figures in medicine and public health.  This collection contains portraits both of lesser-known individuals and of famous New York physicians, such as Abraham Jacobi, Lewis Albert Sayre, Willard Parker, Stephen Smith, Emily Blackwell, and Valentine Mott. It also includes many with international reputations: Robert Koch, Louis Pasteur, Hermann von Helmholtz, Rudolf Virchow, and others.

 

Names of Subjects in Collection

Names of Subjects in Collection

Exploring the metadata of the collection provides a glimpse into the richness and surprises of the collection.  We identified most of the subjects, but there are three subjects that we only have the last name and one subject that is completely unknown. You can learn more about these subjects on our blog.

The majority of the subjects are physicians, but there is one lawyer and politician, John Van Buren, an American. There is also a carte of Celine B. (Mrs. Alexander) Hosack, widow of Dr. Alexander Eddy Hosack.  The auditorium at the Academy is named for Dr. Hosack to commemorate her generous bequest to the Academy’s finances in the 1880s.  There are only four women in the collection:

The subjects of the collection represented countries in Europe and North America.  Five of the most frequent are:

  • American 32% (71 cartes de visite)
  • German 25% (55 cartes de visite)
  • English/British 9% (20 cartes de visite)
  • Austrian 8% (18 cartes de visite)
  • French 6%) (13 cartes de visite)

There are also Bavarian, Canadian, Czech, Hungarian, Irish, Prussian, Scottish and Swiss subjects in the collection.

A majority of the subjects were photographed in America and Germany. Thirty-six percent of the photographs were taken in New York, 10% in Berlin, 10% in Vienna, and 9% in London to round out the top studio locations.  The most frequent photographers in the collection were:

  • Barraud & Jerrard 23% (17 cartes de visite)
  • Rockwood & Co. 21% (16 cartes de visite)
  • Falk 21% (16 cartes de visite)
  • Mora 20% (15 cartes de visite)
  • Kurtz 15% (11 cartes de visite)

 

Photographers or Studio Names in the Collection

Photographers or Studio Names in the Collection

We are still exploring the data of the collection, but wanted to provide a quick glimpse into what we’ve found thus far.  We are thrilled to share our entire collection on the Digital Culture website. You can view the front and back of each carte, and find out brief information about the physicians and scientists pictured. View all of the Academy Library’s digitized collections.

This post was co-authored with Arlene Shaner, MA, MLS. She is Historical Collections Librarian in the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room of the New York Academy of Medicine Library, where she has been on the staff since January of 2001.

New to the MHL!

Lots of state medical journals, that’s what’s new around here!

Check out:

And we also have a ton of new monographs:

And as always, check out our full collection for more!

Medical Heritage Library Awarded NEH Grant for Digitization of State Medical Society Journals, 1900 – 2000

The Medical Heritage Library (MHL), a digital resource on the history of medicine and health developed by an international consortium of cultural heritage repositories, has received funding in the amount of $275,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its proposal “Medicine at Ground Level: State Medical Societies, State Medical Journals, and the Development of American Medicine and Society.“ Additional funding has been provided by the Harvard Library.

The project, led by the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine, will create a substantial digital collection of American state medical society journals, digitizing 117 titles from 46 states, from 1900 to 2000, comprising 2,500,369 pages in 3,579 volumes. State medical society journal publishers agreed to provide free and open access to journal content currently under copyright. Once digitized, journals will join the more than 75,000 monographs, serials, pamphlets, and films now freely available in the MHL collection in the Internet Archive.  State medical society journals will provide additional context for the rare and historical American medical periodicals digitized during the recently completed NEH project, Expanding the Medical Heritage Library: Preserving and Providing Online Access to Historical Medical Periodicals. Full text search is available through the MHL website. MHL holdings can also be accessed through DPLA (dp.la), and the Wellcome Library’s UK-MHL.

Five preeminent medical libraries, including three founding members of the MHL, are collaborating on this project: The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University; the Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health at The New York Academy of Medicine; the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland, the Founding Campus (UMB); and the Library and Center for Knowledge Management at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

State medical society journals document the transformation of American medicine in the twentieth century at both the local and national level. The journals have served as sites not only for scientific articles, but for medical talks (and, often, accounts of discussions following the talks), local news regarding sites of medical care and the medical profession, advertisements, and unexpurgated musings on medicine and society throughout the 20th century. When digitized and searchable as a single, comprehensive body of material, this collection will be a known universe, able to support a limitless array of historical queries, including those framed geographically and/or temporally, offering new ways to examine and depict the evolution of medicine and the relationship between medicine and society.

Project supporter and former president of the American Association for the History of Medicine, 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.

Not only will the state journals be of great use to researchers, but they also will be a great boon to teachers. I can easily imagine using the collection to engage medical students, residents, and practicing physicians in the conduct of historical research.”

Digitization will begin in August 2015; the project will be completed in April 2017.

About the Medical Heritage Library:

The MHL (www.medicalheritage.org) is a content centered digital community supporting research, education, and dialog that enables the history of medicine to contribute to a deeper understanding of human health and society. It serves as the point of access to a valuable body of quality curated digital materials and to the broader digital and nondigital holdings of its members. It was established in 2010 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to digitize 30,000 medical rare books. For more about the Medical Heritage Library, its holdings, projects, advisors, and collaborators, and how you can participate, see http://www.medicalheritage.org/.

About the NEH/Digital Humanities Program:

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/.

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.

Guest Post: Digital Publishing – Communities

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.

The overwhelming tendency toward openness in digital networks presents both opportunities and challenges for contemporary scholarship, and in particular for the traditional structures that have facilitated and disseminated scholarship such as membership-based scholarly societies. Some of the challenges are obvious, and have been discussed in many other fora. The increasing demand for free access to products around which revenue models have long been built, for instance, challenges organizations to reinvent their fundamental orientation toward their stakeholders. For scholars, the network’s openness presents an increasing potential for information overload and an increasing difficulty in finding the right texts, the right connections, the right conversations at the right time.

All of these challenges are of course balanced by opportunities, however, as the network also presents the possibility of greatly improved access to scholarship and more fluid channels for ongoing communication and discovery amongst scholars. These opportunities suggest that an important role for scholarly societies will be in facilitating their members’ participation in these networks, helping to create new community-based platforms and systems through which their members can best carry out their work. Insofar as scholarship has always been a conversation—if one often conducted at a most glacial pace—the chief value for scholars should come in the ability to be full participants in that conversation: not simply getting access to the work that other scholars produce, but also having the ability to get their work into circulation, in the same networks as the work that inspired it, and the work that it will inspire. For this reason, the value of joining a scholarly society in the age of the network is less in getting access to content the society produces (the convention, the journal) than in the ability to participate.

However, this opportunity points toward a deeper, underlying challenge, for societies and scholars alike: building and maintaining communities that inspire and sustain participation. This is nowhere near as easy as it may sound. And it’s not just a matter of the “if you build it, they won’t necessarily come” problem; problems can creep up even when they do come. Take Twitter, for instance, which developed a substantial and enthusiastic academic user base over a period of a few years. Recently, however, many scholars and writers who were once very active and engaged on Twitter have begun withdrawing. Perhaps the drop-off is part of an inevitable evaporative social cooling effect. Perhaps at some point, Twitter’s bigness crossed a threshold into too-big. Whatever the causes, there is an increasing discomfort among many with the feeling that conversations once being held on one’s front porch are suddenly taking place in the street and that discussions have given way to an unfortunate “reign of opinion,” an increasing sense of the personal costs involved in maintaining the level of “ambient intimacy”that Twitter requires and a growing feeling that “a life spent on Twitter is a death by a thousand emotional microtransactions.”

Gartner Hype Cycle, by Jeremy Kemp. Shared under CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

What is crucial to note is that in none of these cases is the problem predominantly one of network structure. If we have reached a “trough of disillusionment” in the Twitter hype cycle, it’s not the fault of the technology, but of the social systems and interactions that have developed around it. If we are going to take full advantage of the affordances that digital networks provide—facilitating forms of scholarly communication from those as seemingly simple as the tweet to those as complex as the journal article, the monograph, and their born-digital descendants—we must focus as much on the social challenges that these networks raise as we do on the technical or financial challenges. To say, however, that we need to focus on building community—or more accurately, building communities—is not to say that we need to develop and enforce the sort of norms of “civility” that have been used to discipline crucial forms of protest. Rather, we need to foster the kinds of communication and connection that will enable a richly conceived panoply of communities of practice, as they long have in print, to work in engaged, ongoing dissensus without reverting to silence.

MHL Partners Talk Publishing Innovation

The Wellcome Trust and The New York Academy of Medicine co-sponsored a panel at the recent American Historical Association meeting in New York City. The panel discussion aimed to explore (broadly!) the possibilities and challenges of the creation and publishing of research in an digital environment.

The panel was chaired by Stephen Robertson of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media; as one might imagine, it was enthusiastically Tweeted by those present. In case you happened to miss it (like me!), here’s the Storified version, courtesy of NYAM.

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