Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Film Screening: At Home and Over There: American Women Physicians in WWI

We are so excited to host this great Women’s History Month event! The film was produced and written by one of our own OHSU students, who spent hours conducting research in HC&A collections in the process of making this film. See below for details.

At Home and Over There tells the incredible story of American women physicians who served during the First World War despite widespread discrimination. Driven by patriotism and a desire to serve, these unsung heroines worked in hospitals, dispensaries, canteens, and ambulance units both during the war and in the years that followed. The film features the story of OHSU’s own Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy.

After the screening, stay for a Q & A with the film's producer/writer, OHSU M.D./Ph.D. student Mollie Marr, and then head to Old Library room 221 to explore archival materials used in research for the film. This film screening will not be recorded or streamed – we hope that you can join us in person for this Women’s History Month event!

Film Screening: At Home and Over There
Wednesday, March 14th, 6:00pm
Old Library Auditorium

Film presented by the American Medical Women’s Association and Raw Science Foundation

Light refreshments served

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The end of a date range

by Rachel Fellman

I've always been shy about calling myself an archivist. At first, I wasn't sure this was what I wanted to do, and then I was still a student worker. A student worker is a funny thing, like the first evolution of a Pokemon. You can already be good at what you do; you can already be ambitious, well-informed, and curious. (After all, Pikachu is a first-level Pokemon, and there's no doubt that Pikachu knows what he's doing.) But you don't have all your flair yet, or your advanced attacks, where "flair" is a job title and "advanced attacks" are health care benefits.
A Charlie Brown Christmas: "Linus, I don't understand the
true meaning of respect des fonds."

But now, I have evolved from Rachel to Raichu: I'm moving to California to become Assistant Archivist at the Charles M. Schulz Museum. I am immensely proud and excited to be an archivist working with comics, a medium I've always loved (and closely associated with my love of libraries).

The archives there is unique. It's concerned with a single person, so the collections are deep and focused, but Schulz' work has permeated American culture for decades, so there's also a breadth to the project, an absence of claustrophobia. The museum is an active part of the local community, hosting comics events, movie nights, and themed free days. My favorite of the latter is the one for February: free admission for redheads, in honor of the Little Redheaded Girl. (She's based on a real person, if you were wondering -- the head Schulz archivist interviewed her for their oral history project.)

OHSU has been a perfect place to serve out my apprenticeship. I'll miss the staff, my mentors, the collections, and the anecdotes. For the rest of my life, whenever a conversation flags, I can just apply the story of the Medical Anti-Shock Trousers. If you'd like to keep track of me, you can check the SAA Students and New Archives Professionals Section blog, which I'm editing until the end of this year, and where you'll notice I've already mentioned the trousers.

As a final note, I'd just like to add that of the Peanuts cast, Linus is the most likely to become an archivist. He's thoughtful and philosophical, and he takes good care of his blanket. More to the point, though, he recognizes that collections are there to be used, even at the expense of some degree of preservation. As archivists, we can all look up to that.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Tuesday! Join us for a book talk by author Bill Graves

Interested in the story of how OHSU became the academic health center it is today? Please join OHSU Library for a discussion with William Graves, author of Transformed: How Oregon’s Public Health University Won Independence and Healed Itself (Pacific University Press, 2016). A Q&A will follow the author’s presentation. Light morning refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2017
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.
BICC building, Room 429 (enter through the OHSU Main Library entrance on the 3rd floor)

About the book: Oregon Health & Science University seemed stuck in the backwaters of the nation’s academic health centers when Dr. Peter Kohler became its president in 1988. So Kohler and his young administrative team came up with a radical plan to help OHSU take control of its fate as a semi-independent public corporation. This remarkable story offers a case study and possible model for other public universities and academic health centers now facing the same social and economic forces that drove OHSU to transform. The book is based on countless interviews and hours of research using the unique collections in OHSU Historical Collections & Archives. 

About the author: William Graves has worked more than three decades as a daily newspaper journalist, including 23 years at The Oregonian in Portland. He is co-author of a book on education reform, Poisoned Apple, a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and Western Washington University, and a former Nieman Fellow at Harvard University.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Archival questions, archival answers?

by Rachel Fellman

There’s no single educational path into archives, though most of us do go to library school. If there were an archives degree, though, you’d really only need two classes: Exquisite Office Supplies and Making Tricky Calls. Archives is not a career to go into if you like your decisions clear and your guidance universal. A collection with 25 folders is a collection with 25 problems. Are this woman’s records likely to be covered by HIPAA? Who is the man in this photo? Do we respect the office’s original file order if it doesn’t make sense? No, hear me out: what if it sort of makes sense?

1.5% of the collection. Photo by author. Also shown:
sunlight, the archivist's enemy.
All this is leading up to the reason you haven’t heard from us in a while: we’re (re)processing files from the office of Peter Kohler, who was president of OHSU from 1988 until 2006. Dr. Kohler was a central figure in OHSU’s history – during his tenure, the university doubled in size and employee numbers. And his collection is huge. How huge? Somewhere around 200 linear feet. Is that big by archival standards? Maybe not, but OHSU’s collections tend to be small. The Kohler records are our second-largest one. (The largest is 400 feet long, involves human remains and 98 boxes of plaster casts, and has its own room which may or may not be haunted.)

Perhaps half of the Kohler collection was already processed. Our goal now is to process the entire collection into one coherent arrangement scheme. One of the many tricky calls in archives is how much time to spend on a collection in the first place. There's a whole school of thought, called "minimal processing," that argues that we should spend very little -- no refoldering, no relabeling, no removal of paperclips or staples, just a collection hurtling as fast as possible into researchers' hands. Most archivists acknowledge the wisdom of that without taking it as gospel. We try to process quickly, but also go back and reexamine things when we can. (And usually we can't resist taking the paperclips out. They can rust!)

In this case, many of the files we've been working with had been refoldered and relabeled by previous archivists. So for this iteration of the project, the three of us (student workers and Archives Assistant) are going back through these records and doing some polishing, including bringing some of the titles in line with current practices. We're also deaccessioning some records. Plainly put, we had to remove some of the stuff to improve access to the rest.

Some of the choices were easy. There were things that were obviously too private to show researchers, or too banal to be any use to them. Want to see Dr. Kohler’s 2005 tax returns, complete with his Social Security number? Well, you can’t, because I’ve shredded them. Want to see the receipts for his car phones, back when that was a thing? A hint: you will learn more if you just type "car phone" into Google Images, and you'll also see some pictures of people who are really living.

But there were also more ambiguous calls. Most prominently, Dr. Kohler’s office saved many years of letters from patients. Some are positive, others are critical, but all of them reveal ordinary people's experiences and feelings about the hospital. Per OHSU’s records retention policy, we should be throwing them all away, and for most of the length of this project, we have. But the questions creep up. How much does an institution’s records retention policy apply to its archives? How much do we owe to the patients – to make sure their stories are told – and how much do we owe to the institution – to tell its story in full? But also: don't we owe these patients their privacy? They never gave permission for their letters to be kept forever; permission is a privilege not everyone gets. So what's more important, what's the more vital right? Being remembered, or being forgotten?

I can’t provide an upside-down answer key at the end of this post, like on a magazine quiz. Archival questions are all unanswerable; that’s why they’re so tricky. But essentially, we've come down on the side of throwing them away. The record suffers from the absence of these stories, but people suffer when institutions do things without consent, and it's part of our professional ethics to value people over paper. We value the paper because we value the people. Still, there are always ambiguities when you try to be fair to everybody, and we need to keep these things in mind when we look at records that past archivists have processed. They may look neutral, but there are always decisions behind them.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Rosenbaum History of Neurology Lecture: Dr. Jock Murray on November 7th

Please join us for our first history of medicine lecture of the 2017-2018 season:

Tuesday, November 7th, 2017, 5:00pm
Doernbecher Children's Hospital -- Miller Auditorium (11th floor)

In every decade before and after MS was named and framed in 1868, there was always an array of therapies applied to patients. Dr. Murray will explain the theoretical basis behind the numerous treatments up to the present day.

Dr. Jock Murray is a neurologist, and founder and former director of the Dalhousie MS Research Unit.  He was Dean of Medicine, and Professor of Medical Humanities. He had leadership roles as Chairman of the American College of Physicians, VP of the American Academy of Neurology, President of the American Olser Society, and President of the Canadian Neurological Society.  He is an Officer of the Order of Canada, Order of Nova Scotia and a laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.