Friday, May 22, 2015

OHSU Library receives LSTA grant funding

With a grant through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), OHSU Library will digitize rare and unique collections on public health in Oregon, and provide open access to the scientific data they contain. 

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives, the special collections department of OHSU Library, holds extensive 19th-20th century materials on public health in Oregon, including manuscripts, photographs, publications, maps, and more. Historians, journalists, and health professionals have long consulted these materials for research on the history of public health. However, the statistics and other quantitative information contained in these analog materials are largely hidden to patrons in data-driven fields such as epidemiology, environmental science, and bioinformatics. Patrons in these fields seek to re-use and re-interpret this historical data for research and education today. This legacy data has potential to be of great benefit to these users and the communities they serve. 

Among the collections selected for this project are death records, public health surveys, Oregon’s earliest medical journals, photographs, and institutional records . Many of the records deal with historically under-represented groups such as minorities, women, rural populations, and the disabled. OHSU Library will provide the public with a robust, online resource for accessing both the digitized materials and the data they contain.

The project partners OHSU Historical Collections & Archives with the OHSU Ontology Development Group, as part of the library’s efforts to develop innovative data services. The project director is Maija Anderson, Head of Historical Collections & Archives. The project team includes Max Johnson, University Archivist; Shahim Essaid, Research Associate with the Ontology Development Group; and student assistants Sherra Hopkins and Rachel Blume. 

OHSU Library is honored to be able to provide scholars, students, researchers, and the public with ready access to these materials, which have the potential to help improve public health in Oregon today. This project is supported in whole by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library.

Center for Women's Health Edit-a-thon: Outreach, Advocacy, and Campus Support

[OHSU Photography]
Dear Readers,
HC&A was invited to participate in the Center for Women's Health Edit-a-thon by Katharine Hart, which took place in the BICC Gallery on May 12th.  I received the request to potentially show off some archival materials related to women's health during this event which was designed to give people with experience in the field of women's health an opportunity to edit Wikipedia's pages related to women's health with the goal of reducing poorly cited and inaccurate information.

In order to give you, dear reader, the best understanding of the professional aspects of these types of events the remainder of this post is a tag-team co-authoring extravaganza with myself, Max Johnson, University Archivist and Meg Langford, HC&A Public Services Coordinator.  I'll start the party with a discussion of the key elements most directly linked to my work (advocacy, donor relations, campus support) and then pass the mic to Meg who will discuss outreach, choosing materials and share images of the event.

First off, campus support.  This is a critical concept in university archives and special collections, we need to ensure that our repository is not seen only as a place to go, but also as a service that travels.  Without even thinking of the materials, their needs and security I almost always say "Yes" and then figure out how to make it work.  Our allies, supporters and collaborators on campus are typically very pleased with our efforts and our willingness to support their events by enhancing the visual offerings with historical materials is a natural win-win situation for all involved.  It seems pretty basic when I write it, but it is necessary to always be willing to think around the corners, be creative and take extra time to ensure the archival presence supports both missions.

This brings me to the next concept: advocacy.  Advocacy means that as an archivist I use my position and our materials to show the value of the profession to campus stakeholders, supporters and potential new supporters with the hopes that for every event we are not at, people wonder "Where are those archival materials I saw at this other event?" or "Wouldn't it be nice to have some historical context?"  This leads people to think "Of course we need an archives, where else would we get such great support," or "We should send materials to the archives so they can use them to further support other missions on campus."  This advocacy leading to growth brings me to the last point of my spiel: Donor relations.

In showing our collaborators, supporters and friends what we can offer we plant the seed that could lead to a future donation.  When visitors see that our materials are mobile (with great caution) and that they include the records of deans, presidents, department heads, researchers, and innovators, that draws them into the world of archival potential.  It is my hope that by seeing the manner in which we care for materials, our familiarity with their place in history and our desire to continue to increase our footprint and reach that this prompts potential donors to start the conversation of "What if I were to contact the archivist and offer my papers, records and materials?"  And this really is the best of all worlds.

HC&A Wikipedia edit-a-thon tabling crew: Max Johnson, Crystal Rodgers, Meg Langford [OHSU Photography]
I really have to echo Max's excellent assertion that "we need to ensure that our repository is not seen only as a place to go, but also as a service that travels." As a unit, we at HC&A are very interested in proactively making connections to our campus community, our local community and beyond. So when we have the opportunity to participate and share our materials in a different way, we jump at the chance!
Everyone loves some archives swag! Buttons from the Birth Home of Portland [OHSU Photography]
One of the great aspects of tabling an event like this is that it provides us the opportunity to highlight materials from diverse collections for a wider audience. Drawing on our reference and research assistance expertise, we can treat the event theme like a researcher inquiry: "What materials do you have on women's reproductive health?" The answer: "So many! Let us show you some examples."

For this event, we selected materials from the following archival collections:

...As well as several obstetrics texts from our rare books collection:

Demonstrating the layered illustrations in the Spratt text [OHSU Photography]
We tried to select "stand-alone" folders or items, materials that could be easily comprehended (and enjoyed!) at a busy event - and they were a hit! Participants were really interested in the physical items as well as in the history that they represented.
Original medical illustrations from the Clarice Ashworth Francone collection [OHSU Photography]
Yours truly demonstrates the famous (to us, anyway!) obstetrical pocket phantoms! [OHSU Photography]
One aspect of this kind of outreach that I find incredibly valuable is the ability to reach people who otherwise would not have the time or inherent inclination to interact with our materials. I like to think of events like tabling the Wikipedia Edit-a-thon and our recent Research Week open house as our way of starting to host "pop-up-exhibits" to get OHSU HC&A materials in front of new audiences and users. We have pop-up restaurants, pop-up shops, so why not pop-up exhibits? As long as you carefully maintain security and preservation standards, it's a great way to reach new people and engage them with our collections. It's also a cool way to advocate for archives and special collections as sites of investigation and rich primary source material. On top of all that, it's very, very fun - for us and for event-goers!


Are you planning an event and interested in how we can work together to connect with OHSU or health science history? Contact us! 503.494.5587 | 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

New Accessions: Madison Macht Collection on J. E. Dunphy

We recently received a small package from Dr. Madison Macht out of Colorado.  Dr. Macht has provided HC&A in the past with materials on Howard P. Lewis, the first full-time chair of the Department of Medicine, for more information see here.  For this donation, Dr. Macht has sent HC&A a box of materials on J. Englebert Dunphy, a well-known professor of Surgery at Harvard Medical School and OHSU, later becoming the Chairman of Surgery at the UCSF.

The materials in this collection are primarily oral history transcripts for J. E. Dunphy and F. William Blaisdell, including a CDR copy of each.  In addition, we received several folders of Dunphy publications, biographical and work histories and some of Dunphy's papers which appear to be photocopied correspondence.

Oral History transcripts
Cd-rs and a supplement to Surgery, Feb. 1989
This is great material on the history medicine and medical practice in North America.  One of the most intriguing groups of materials for us are the Personal Papers folder which includes correspondence between Dunphy and colleagues in New York and California as well as a commencement speech written by Dunphy for the University of Oregon Medical School in 1959 entitled "The Duties of the Physician."

Personal papers

The collection is in-house and ready for research.  Contact us through our regular channels for access to these materials.


Video: Jessica Wapner, "The Philadelphia Chromosome: From Bench to Bookshelf"

For those unable to make it to Friday's lecture, or if you'd like to revisit Jessica Wapner's engaging and lively talk and Dr. Grover Bagby's excellent introduction, we are pleased to share streaming video of the event:

Please contact me, Meg Langford, with any questions about future History of Medicine Society lecture events! | 503-494-5587

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Tomorrow! History of Medicine Lecture: Jessica Wapner on the Philadelphia Chromosome

The day has nearly arrived! Join us in the OHSU Old Library Auditorium tomorrow, Friday, May 8th, 2015, at noon: Jessica Wapner will be discussing one incredible story in modern cancer research, featuring the pioneering work of Dr. Brian Druker (Director of the Knight Cancer Institute) and the development of Gleevec. 

We hope that you can join us for what is sure to be a great lecture and discussion!

New Accessions: Doernbecher Image Collection

I was a little silent last week, but you got to hear from 3 of the students who work in HC&A about their exciting projects including textile preservation and working on the Child Study Clinic Records, so I figure it was a solid trade.  I am back this week with more info on our newest acquisitions in the archives.  Remember, an "accession" in archives-speak is the physical acquisition of archival materials including taking steps to gain intellectual and administrative control over the records.  I typically refer to this as the "three controls: physical, administrative and intellectual."  Physical control is what it sounds like, having actual possession of the materials.  Administrative control is when the rights are transferred to the archives and the archivist has given the materials a control number (also called an accession number), along with a determination on the total number of linear feet, the type of materials and any initial preservation or arrangement information.  Intellectual control comes is when we have an understanding of the nature, content and function of the records in our possession.  In addition, we have a better understanding of the full provenance of the records, who they came from, how they were created and how they were used during their time as active records, papers or images.  Intellectual control also implies that we can access the collection through a general understanding of the "aboutness" or research value of the materials, this could include subject headings, important historical figures mentioned in the records, etc.

Now that we have had Archives 101 for this week, I'd like to introduce you to one of our newest collections:  The Doernbecher Image Collection

This fantastic collection of images comes to us from the Doernbecher Children's Hospital Foundation (DCHF) and was transferred to us by Mallory Tyler, Assistant Director of Annual Programs for the DCHF.  The collection includes scrapbooks, photo packets, slides, prints and some electronic media.

Scrapbooks:  Circus on the Hill 1999 and 2000
Due to the nature of the records being pretty modern (last 16 years or so), in good condition and in a recognizable order I decided to do a quick 20 minute inventory to give us baseline access points.  Here is the general content of the collection:

-Scrapbook, Circus on the Hill, Sept. 29, 2000
-Binder, Prints, Chair Endowments, 2006-2009
-Photo album, Circus on the Hill, Sept. 1999
-Folder, Prints of Endowments, events and charities, circa 2000s
-Folder, DCHF, Endowments, Undated
-Loose stack of images, Friends of Doernbecher, 4x6 prints, undated
-DV Cassette, DCH, 2007
-10 Slides, Kids Making Miracles
-Compact Flash Card, contents unknown
-Shoebox of 4x6 prints, DCH, 1995-1997?
-6 packets of Foundation images, 4x6
-8 packets of Circus on the Hill images, 4x6
-1 packet of Take Me Out to the Ballgame images, 4x6
-1 packet of Radio-a-thon images, 4x6, 2002

Labeled photo packets*
The majority of the images in this collection are of the various events that support Doernbecher as a unique Children's Hospital.  This includes events designed to provide joy and entertainment for OHSU's youngest patients as well as an opportunity to have fun and get out a little.  The remaining images cover Doernbecher Chair Endowments, including images from the dinners and related events.

Chair endowments

The biggest challenges for processing this collections will be adding formal names of people found in the images and migrating the information off of the electronic media.  Adding formal names will happen when we process the collection, rehouse the materials into archival boxes, sleeves and folders and produce a finding aid.  Using Archivist's Toolkit we will be able to add in the names of the individuals found in the images and typically we include that information on the back of the image (as long as it does not damage, deform or degrade the content of the image).

The migration of electronic media is another matter.  Typically, we analyze the current format and technical equipment needed to transfer the format from the media to a server, NAS (network attached storage) or an intermediary drive of some sort (we use a partitioned drive on network attached storage).  Once we transfer the original format we make the decision to preserve the format as-is (if the format is stable, open source or well-documented) or we migrate material to a more open format for long term preservation.  Depending on what we find that could literally be anything, but as a general rule most text documents (think .doc, .docx, .xls, etc.) are converted to an archival standard for PDF, called PDF/A.  The most stable image formats are currently TIFF(.tif) and JPEG (.jpg).  Audio is trickier and audiovisual still trickier.  There are arguments over whether .wav or .flac is a better preservation standard for audio and for A/V we have to deal with OS-dependant issues like Quicktime .mov being an uncompressed standard, but less flexible or using .avi, which is also uncompressed.

Fun times?
I believe there was an old saying "May your information-bearing media be ever interesting."**  Well, this is true for me and does represent some of the main challenges archivists find in their day-to-day tasks, I can offer that, the ever-changing nature of how we represent information is hugely fascinating and these issues that pop up are what make the profession so unique and constantly engaging.

Back to the collection.  The Doernbecher Image Collection is in our hands and open for research, feel free to inquire.
All the best,

*If you want an archivist's eternal gratitude, label your photo packets (with dates, and names, but we'll take a general topic too, just add something)!
**Not a real quote.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Open House for Research Week!

It's Research Week 2015 at OHSU and HC&A is joining in the fun! Alongside May 8th's History of Medicine lecture on the Philadelphia Chromosome, we are hosting an open house Tuesday (that's today!) and Wednesday from 12pm-4pm in the History of Medicine Room in the Old Library - just up the steps from the main Research Week action! 

We are sharing programs from past OHSU research events, artifacts from the history of research at the university, and a sneak peak of some of the materials from our LSTA digitization and data curation project! (If you are a public health nerd and love historical renderings of data, these are the materials for you...)

Here's a sampling of the materials we've pulled out to share with all of the awesome folks who are filling the Old Library with research excitement and energy this week:

UOMS/OHSU research events through the ages!

Artificial heart valves from the Jeri L. Dobbs Collection

Haven't you always wanted to get up close and personal with a Starr-Edwards valve??

What do these cool artifact have to do with the history of research at the university? You'll have to come and find out!

If you're thinking of attending Research Week this year, we can't recommend it enough. See a full schedule of events here: We hope to see you there!

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Spring cleaning in the Historical Collections & Archives!

This week we have a guest post from our AAOF grant-funded project student assistants, Lacey Legel and Ashley Ehmig.

Finally, after a year and a half of hunting through randomly placed boxes, we (student assistants Ashley Ehmig and Lacey Legel) reorganized the Child Study Clinic Records, housed in the Old Library. Hurray! The Child Growth Clinic Records is a set of mixed longitudinal radiograph records, teeth casts, medical, dental & miscellaneous patient data, with doctor’s notes and records collected by the OHSU Child Clinic from the early 1950s through the late 1970s. The collection includes 357 subjects, aged 2-28 (with 20 sets of twins or triplets), most of whom reported to the clinic biannually until at least the age of 18. The records, which have a history of heavy use by the dental students, were originally kept in a dusty area of the basement at the old OHSU School of Dentistry building - disorganized, unlabeled and with no formal access policy for this unique historical collection. After much labor from HC&A staff in 2013, the collection was archivally boxed, labeled, and transferred to its new home…a room we ominously call “The Tower.” Just getting the 300+ boxes labeled and moved was a monumental task & prior to the recent reorganization boxes containing models, radiographs, and miscellaneous records were all mixed in with one another in no particular order, making it a time-consuming chore to locate records. Now it is a beautiful masterpiece of order and logic. 

Entrance to the Tower

Back Corner of the Tower

The storage space consists of 16 bays, with 10 shelves in each bay. Each shelf can hold from 1-3 boxes of records. The space itself is fairly small and more than half the room is very poorly lit (as illustrated by the image above of the back corner). We are accustomed to using flashlights to hunt for records. Each radiograph box can weigh a ridiculous 40-70 lbs, while each model box tends to weigh in at a respectable 15-40 lbs. We counted 94 boxes of radiographs, 98 boxes of models, and 108+ boxes of miscellaneous objects and records (including human remains, photographs and negatives, specific research data created by the resident doctors, etc.). When we set out to plan our rearrangement, as the individuals who currently access these records on a regular basis for an AAOF grant project, we had several concerns we wished to address. The considerable weight of the radiograph boxes make them both difficult and dangerous to access when they are stored on the higher shelves. Current lighting toward the back of the room also makes searching for records challenging. Since these are the records that we currently work with & expect to need access to until the end of the project, we wanted to make this particular portion of the collection both easier and safer to use. 

We first counted and recorded all the boxes in each subset of the collection & then created a numbered map of the shelving space, discovering in the process that we had roughly 35 free “spaces” within the room. We then moved the various related collections into the darkest back corner of the room since these records are rarely accessed for this grant-funded project. With our little bit of extra space, we decided to leave the very top shelf of all the remaining bays empty for the sake of both safety and convenience. We then decided that the model collection should take up the next 3 highest shelves across the remaining bays because they tend to be lighter and we know we have completed work with that particular collection. That left the bottom 6 shelves available for housing the radiographs- making all of them accessible without the need for a ladder or step stool. We then assigned the boxes in glorious numerical order to their specific shelf placements using an Excel spreadsheet - and from there it was like putting together a giant, physically-exhausting puzzle.

We both got our cardio workouts in for a few weeks there, climbing the access stairs to relocate over 300 boxes. Lacey discovered she was allergic to dust & got to accessorize with some sporty latex gloves and a mask, and Ashley realized she can lift more weight than she thought. All the sweat and tears were definitely worth it because we filed & pulled some records today & what once would take at least half an hour was completed in less than 10 minutes! Woohoo! 
Ashley hard at work

Hello, from Lacey!