Friday, January 29, 2016

February 1 - 5: #ColorOurCollections week!

Have you joined in the recent coloring craze? We sure have! Next week, February 1st through 5th, we'll be celebrating #ColorOurCollections week along with special collections from all over the world. Get your colored pencils ready!

How it works:
  • We created a downloadable/printable coloring book of some of our favorite illustrations from our collections. 
  • Print the book and color away to your heart's content!
  • Share your favorites to Instagram and Twitter and tag us @OHSUHistColl, also using the #ColorOurCollections hashtag
  • We'll re-post your creations! 

On the event page, you'll also find a link to the full list of participants, many of whom have created their own awesome coloring books, so if you catch color fever, you'll be stocked up for quite a while!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Primary sources on "social hygiene" and eugenics

We recently hosted a research visit during which I was able to pull a whole host of materials on eugenics and social hygiene movements in the U.S. and Oregon in the twentieth century. The materials, as you can imagine, are at turns fascinating, disturbing, and illuminating for anyone with an interest in social history, Progressive-era movements, genetics and society, the sociology of science... the list goes on!
"A Summer of the Oregon State Survey of Mental Defect, Delinquency and Dependency," 1921
The materials that the researcher used were a mix of national-level publications and Oregon-grown surveys and reports, which were pulled from both our collections and main library holdings.

One of the more ridiculous (in my opinion) passages that I came across as I perused the texts in advance of the research appointment was in the Scientific Papers of the Second International Congress of Eugenics : Held at American Museum of Natural History, New York, September 22-28, 1921. A eugenics advocate argued that the seemingly innocuous ears of a mixed-breed rabbit could be indicative of more serious "disharmonies" present in animals (or, it is implied, humans) of mixed ancestry:
Sorry, adorable bunnies: your asymmetrical ears are a suspicious harbinger of genetic inferiority!
The passage also brought to mind the discussions of "disharmonies" in our current winter exhibit that called upon eugenics to further orthodontic practices in the early twentieth century.

 The web of pseudo-scientific theories supporting eugenics were used to justify all manner of racist immigration policies, sterilization programs, and of course political platforms such as those of the Nazi party in Germany. Though they've been thoroughly discredited today, the cultural echoes of these programs and arguments have long outlived their discussion in serious scientific circles. But don't listen to me, read more for yourself! Here are some of the main primary sources on the subject from OHSU Library and HC&A collections:


Oregon- and Portland-specific:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter 2016 Exhibit: "Lines of Disharmony: Skeletal Malocclusions and Aesthetics in the Development of American Orthodontic Practice"

Our Winter 2016 exhibit is installed! See below for our official exhibit announcement. 

Winter 2016 Exhibit
Lines of Disharmony: Skeletal Malocclusions and Aesthetics in the Development of American Orthodontic Practice
January – May 2016
OHSU Main Library, BICC Building 3rd floor

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives is pleased to announce the opening of our winter exhibit, “Lines of Disharmony: Skeletal Malocclusions and Aesthetics in the Development of American Orthodontic Practice,” curated by HC&A student assistant Sylvie Huhn.

This exhibit examines the development of orthodontics and oral surgery in the United States, specifically the corrective practices for Class I, Class II and Class III skeletal malocclusions, using rare books, artifacts, and archival materials from OHSU Historical Collections & Archives. In addition, the exhibit highlights the psychosocial stigma patients faced in regards to beauty standards and descriptions within early medical literature. 

The exhibit will be on display January – May 2016 in the OHSU Main Library, on the third floor of the Biomedical Information and Communication Center (BICC) on OHSU’s Marquam Hill campus. For a campus map, as well as customized driving, biking, and transit directions, please visit the interactive OHSU map:

For more information, please contact: | 503.494.5587

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A history of the medical school from 1940

For my last foray into writing for this blog in 2015 I want to bring you a unique history of the school that is so tied into the school's function it is hard not to chuckle a little.  The 1940 copy of Asclepia (University of Oregon Medical yearbook) contains a great history of the school written as if the school were a patient undergoing diagnosis and treatment.

The history was written by Roscoe Wilson and starts with the explanation that the school's chief complaint is "growing pains."  The history continues to provide insight into the changing functions, staffing, and scope of the educational and treatment services offered on Marquam Hill.  My favorite section is related to the fire that occurred on the medical school in May of 1919 which the author contextualizes in medical parlance as a case of "pyrexia."

According to the history:
"Dr. Robert Benson, then Professor of Pathology, went to his laboratory on the second floor and tried to save some his specimen bottles and slide boxes by throwing them into the waiting arms of medical students on the ground below.  However, many of the articles were missed and fell into the garden of an old German who lived next door and didn't like the school anyway; and for the next several weeks, he was picking pieces of pathological foetuses [sic] and tumor specimens from his potatoes."

This is immediately followed by another humorous anecdote:
"In the early days of the school, if a professor needed supplies, he simply bought them himself and sent the bill later.  Dr. (Pop) Allen was Professor of Anatomy and had bought some lab coats with large pink stripes which everybody in the department disliked.  During the fire, one of the lab technicians (name withheld) rushed in, gathered up the detested coats and threw them in the blaze."

These types of materials are great in that they provide a more anecdotal, humorous side to the history of the school then one might find by simply going through the records of the school.  This history is full of such stories and interesting tidbits.

We have a copy in our Archival Publications collections as well as our Ephemera Collection, give us a shout to research this cool, and unique view of the early school.

Till next year, dear Readers, have excellent weekend and talk to you soon!

As always,

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A very special Doernbecher visitor

As the year draws to a close and holiday celebrations of all kinds fill our calendars, I'd like to take a moment to share with you, dear readers, one of my favorite photographs in our collections. It depicts a very special visitor to what appears to be the old Doernbecher Memorial Children's Hospital, circa 1920s-1930s: 
Santa! He even brought along an adult-sized elf and a kid-sized reindeer for good measure. I sent this picture to a few colleagues when I came across it, and the consensus is, this is obviously the real Santa...

Happy Holidays, everyone!