Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"We'll Never Let You Retire!"

A little more than a month from now, we'll say goodbye to Karen Peterson, OHSU's archivist for 15 years. Preparing for Karen's retirement was a major undertaking for HC&A. Karen was our first professional archivist, and had a trove of historical and institutional knowledge in her head. It was terrifying to think that all of it could walk out the door with her on her last day of work!

If we were to have a successful archives program in the future, we had to have a strategy for sharing and documenting the important things that only Karen knew. That effort is now the topic of an article in a new book on archives management!

Anderson, Maija. “’We’ll Never Let You Retire!’: Creating a Culture of Knowledge Transfer.” In Management:Innovative Practices in Archives and Special Collections, edited by Kate Theimer. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, May 2014. 

The chapter is a case study of HC&A's preparations for Karen's retirement, which will conclude successfully as we bring our next archivist, Max Johnson, into the position. Effective knowledge transfer required not only Karen's full participation, but involvement from everyone in HC&A, and many staff across the library. We hope that what we learned will be useful to other archives planning similar transitions.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Oregon Archives Crawl, October 18th - save the date!

The Oregon Archives Crawl is back by popular demand! See below for the first announcement, with lots more information coming soon.

Save the Date!

Making plans for the Summer and Fall? Put the 4th annual Oregon Archives Crawl on your calendar now.

Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 10am to 3pm

Visit all three locations – Multnomah County Central Library, Oregon Historical Society, and Portland Archives and Records Center.  Meet real, live archivists representing over thirty Oregon archives and cultural organizations. See fabulous examples from their varied collections. Take tours and attend special programs. Enjoy a day of fun celebrating Oregon Archives Month with activities and events for all ages.

Keep your eyes open for details about participants and programs later in the summer. For more information, visit or contact XXX at [email]/[phone].

We all can’t wait to hook you up with history!

IGI-50 conference celebrates 50th anniversary of angioplasty

This week, OHSU is hosting the IGI-50 conference, celebrating the 50th anniversary of angioplasty. In 1964, OHSU's Dr. Charles Dotter performed the world's first percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, pioneering the field of interventional radiology.

Above: A favorite photo of Dr. Charles Dotter (center) with colleagues Kay Smith and Herbert Griswold.

The multidisciplinary conference places current issues in image-guided intervention within a historical framework that begins with Dr. Dotter's angioplasty.  In anticipation of the conference, The Portland Business Insider recently published an article about Dr. Dotter, drawing on an insightful interview with Dr. Albert Starr.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Dirty Job, but Somebody Has to Do It: OHSU HC&A Moves the School of Dentistry Artifacts Single-handed

Although it might appear serene from the outside, it’s truly never a dull moment for the Oregon Health & Science University’s Historical Collections & Archives. In fact, sometimes it’s downright dirty! It’s not unusual for a day’s work to include dusting off 19th century periodontal probes, transporting heavy boxes across campus on a rickety library cart, and using a screwdriver to remove heavy metal plaques from the wall. Over the past year, HC&A has worked in close partnership with the OHSU School of Dentistry as they prepare to move from the building up on Marquam Hill to their beautiful new facility on the South Waterfront.

The OHSU School of Dentistry has a rich history, beginning in 1899 as the North Pacific Dental College located on NW 14th Ave and Couch, becoming the University of Oregon Dental School in 1945, and moving to its former location on the hill in 1956. An incredible assortment of materials, the School of Dentistry donation includes photographs of former SOD faculty and students, commemorative plaques, and documents, as well as a large collection of dental tools and equipment.

Among the most exciting and unique of the donated artifacts, HC&A is caring for and safely storing the beloved Ernest Starr Memorial Museum of Dental Anomalies, formerly displayed on the 5th floor of the Marquam Hill building. Consisting of over 100 human teeth, the anomalies collection illustrates a variety of tooth deformities, including hypercementosis, concrescence of the upper molar, and flexion of the lower bicuspid (to name a few).

Ernest Starr Memorial Museum of Dental Anomalies in their former display case
One of the two largest donated artifacts (and the most nerve-wracking to transport safely) was the dental unit, complete with hand drill arm, porcelain spittoon, waterline attachments, and hand drills. Providing power to the hand drills, dental units revolutionized dental procedures by increasing the speed, efficiency, and effectiveness of the drills. They also provided a convenient means of administering air and water during procedures.

Archivist Karen Peterson and Logistics staff member Reuben Chitala with the dental unit in its new storage space in the Old Library

 Archivist Karen Peterson and HC&A Student Assistant Crystal Rodgers with the dental unit

HC&A would like to give a special thanks to Mary Anne Haisch for coordinating the transfer of these materials to the archives as well as OHSU logistics staff members, Reuben Chitala, Francisco Merino, and Steven Oster, who safely packed up and transported many of the larger, more fragile items from the SOD to the HC&A storage in the Old Library. And to the countless others who contributed in some way to this move - we couldn’t have done it without you!  

Logistics staff members Reuben Chitala and Francisco Merino preparing boxes for transport

We feel truly privileged to take these materials into our care and hope word will spread of their availability for public viewing at the archives. To make an appointment to view the materials, please email Archivist, Karen Peterson at or Head of Historical Collections & Archives, Maija Anderson at  

Archivist Karen Peterson and HC&A Volunteer Erica Edwards, cleaning and packing artifacts previously on display in the School of Dentistry

Archivist Karen Peterson and Student Assistant Crystal Rodgers cleaning and packing artifacts previously on display in the School of Dentistry
-by Crystal Rodgers, HC&A Student Assistant-

Interactive storytelling on Philadelphia's 1793 yellow fever outbreak

The experimental history journal The Appendix just published a fascinating interactive piece on Philadelphia's 1793 yellow fever outbreak. Created by web developer and historian Rachel Ponce, "Surviving History: The Fever" is reminiscent of the Choose Your Own Adventure books of the 1980s, augmented with historical accuracy and references to primary sources. The protagonist is a physician, Dr. John Brooks, navigating eighteenth-century Philadelphia during one of the worst epidemics in U.S. history.
There are 20 unique endings to the story, and you can earn 20 different achievement badges for playing.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

OHSU's next archivist!

This spring, we conducted a search for OHSU's next archivist, who will take the reins from Karen Peterson after her retirement. A committee of library employees and another local archivist led this national search, with input from across the OHSU community. The search ended successfully in June. 

I'm very pleased to announce that on August 25, Max Johnson will join us as University Archivist.
Max Johnson comes to us with over three years of experience in archives and records management in government and academic settings. He holds an MLIS from San Jose State University and a BA in Literary Studies and Russian from Beloit College. Max Johnson was previously employed as Records Management Analyst for Multnomah County, where he worked with colleagues to develop and implement policy for the county archives and records center, conducted training on electronic records management, and consulted with county managers and program leads on records and archives appraisal, policies, procedures and services. From 2011-2013, Max worked as an Archives Assistant at both OHSU Historical Collections & Archives, and the Portland Archives and Records Center. Max is active in Society of American Archivists and Northwest Archivists, and co-founded the Portland Emerging Archivists group.
Max brings well-rounded experience in archives and records management, including work in processing, digital collections, exhibits, collection management, public services, and donor relations. Our donors and researchers will appreciate Max's experience in health sciences libraries, as well as his confident and service-oriented approach to archives management. His dedication to service and work with professional associations will make him a productive member of the library faculty.

We are lucky to be able to plan for Max to spend some time with Karen before she departs in September. This will ensure continuity of projects and services, help transfer Karen's complex knowledge of the archives program, and make the transition as stress-free as possible for our small department.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

VIP guest at Oregon Medical Board 125th anniversary: Dr. William A. Cusick's surgical kit

This Thursday evening, student assistant Crystal Rodgers and I will be visiting the Oregon Medical Board in downtown Portland, with a special delivery: A surgical kit that belonged to Dr. William A. Cusick, and which is now part of our artifact collections.
 Above: Dr. William A. Cusick's surgical kit, circa late 19th century

While planning for the OMB's 125th anniversary celebration, the board's administrative staff found a photo of the kit in our digital collections. Identifying Dr. Cusick as an early member of the board, they wanted their anniversary partygoers to be able to see his surgical kit in person. We agreed to bring the kit, escorted by our staff, to share in a special display on the board's history.

Dr. Cusick (ca. 1837-1919) was one of three graduates in the first medical class of the Willamette University Medical Department in July 1867.  Practicing in Gervais and Salem, he was one of Oregon’s most prominent physicians, and an early member of the Oregon Medical Board. He also served in the Oregon State Legislature and as president of Capital National Bank in Salem. His historic home in Salem was a contender to serve as the Governor's mansion, and is on the National Register of Historic Places.