Friday, October 27, 2006
Pneumonia shares its antiquity with the White Plague, tuberculosis, evidence of which has been found in mummies dating from 4,000 years before the common era. Both of these diseases are caused by hardy germs, and there's new evidence that TB may only be getting hardier. The current issue of American Scientist (Nov/Dec 2006; 94(6)) has a small article about research originally published in Science (June 30, 2006; 312(5782)) by Sebastien Gagneux and Clara Davis Long which shows that prolonged treatment for TB can result in multi-drug resistant strains with no fitness defect--meaning that these bugs are better by far.
What does this portend for mankind? While it is an unexpected discovery, it's probably not yet time to panic. For thousands of years we have been engaged in this battle, now an escalating arms race, but I for one have faith that medical researchers will parry this thrust with new treatments.
By the way, if you're interested in pursuing the history of pneumonia through primary sources, we have a couple of 19th century texts and an 18th century text in the History of Medicine Collection, as well as books by Hippocrates, Auenbrugger, and Laennec; we also have a good amount of material on tuberculosis.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The Whitman Collection is a little used subcollection here in the History of Medicine Room, but it tends to draw more than its fair share of reference queries from researchers all over the country. Mostly, patrons who contact us want to know whether we have images of Marcus and Narcissa Whitman which they can use in publications or presentations. One of the more interesting things, to me, is that the image of Marcus we use to publicize the collection bears the caption: There is no authentic picture of Dr. Marcus Whitman. This is said to resemble him. History is obviously enlivened by images, and the requests we get for copyright permissions for publication bear that notion out strongly.
But what about the Collection itself? Our informational page on the website notes that the collection contains copies of the books Marcus used to care for the Cayuse Indians at the mission, as well as books about the Whitmans themselves. Where did it come from? Why is it here? In the 1937-38 annual report for the Library, Bertha Hallam mentions getting started on building a Marcus Whitman collection. Just that year (1937), the mission’s book collection, missing since the massacre in 1847, was rediscovered by a professor at the Western Reserve University medical school in Cleveland, Frederick C. Waite. He donated the collection of 56 titles to the Whitman College historical museum in Walla Walla. Bertha and Dr. Olof Larsell learned of this, and Bertha acquired a list of the titles donated from the librarian at Whitman College. From this list, Bertha was able to recreate the collection in our Library. Waite’s own book, Medical Education of Marcus Whitman is also available in the Whitman Collection.
And what of Marcus and Narcissa and their history? The National Park Service is working to keep the memory alive at the Whitman Mission National Historic Site; check out the full story on their website.
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Looking through the three Portland-based volumes of the seven-volume Ellis Lawrence Building Survey (held at University of Oregon), I came across three very interesting entries:
Psychopathic Hospital, U of O Medical School
Contagious Hospital, U of O Medical School (meant to adjoin the psychopathic hospital)
Multnomah County Hospital
Of the first, the inventory notes that it "was planned in 1933 but was contingent upon WPA funds which did not come through.... Later, in 1944-45, a proposal was again made for a psychiatric hospital which was again not built." While the money for the University-State Tuberculosis Hospital did come through in the 1930s, apparently contagious diseases as a whole were not as compelling to funding agencies.
Why would I single out Multnomah County Hospital as particularly interesting? Because, as it turns out, Lawrence didn't build it. The "significance statement" in the inventory reads: "According to a letter date 7/9/19, EFL [Ellis F. Lawrence] to Schroff stated, '...politics robbed us of the County Hospital, which went to Sutton and Whitney in spite of all the Regents could do.'" Especially interesting, since Lawrence almost didn't get the nod to design the campus' first building, the Medical Science Building (now called Mackenzie Hall) because of confusion over who was in charge of picking the architect (Medical School Dean Mackenzie or UO administrators). Who knew architectural history would involve such high drama!
Finally, a note about the "Arieta Branch" mentioned in Monday's post. The Multnomah County Library reference librarians came through in a flash and pointed out the spelling error: the Arleta Branch was in operation in southeast Portland from the early 1900s until it was replaced by the Holgate Library in 1971.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
We have been criticized on more than one occasion for not have our own copy of the first edition of the Origin of Species here in the History of Medicine Collection. Since acquiring such a volume would run the university upwards of $80,000, it's highly unlikely that we'll be getting one anytime soon. Until then, what better substitute than the online version--text, images, and each of the succeeding five editions, all comparable with a mouse click. Actually, that's almost better than the physical book (but only almost!)
If you are curious to hold some Darwiniana in your own two hands, come by the History of Medicine Room to see our humble volumes.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Good Samaritan Hospital
Portland Free Dispensary
Albertina Kerr Nursery
Portland Medical & Surgical Hospital
South Portland Neighborhood House
Portland Eye-Ear-Nose-Throat Hospital
White Shield Home
Arieta Branch Library
St. Vincent Hospital
Multnomah County Hospital
The Isolation Hospital was also familiarly known as the Pest House, and that's actually the name under which it was originally indexed in our Historical Image Collection. Many of these institutions have passed away into the realm of memory; luckily, several of our oral history interviewees have anecdotes about one or another of them (check out the Oral History Master Index, and search under hospital to get references.)
The Arieta Branch Library is an interesting one: I have emailed the Multnomah County Library System to see if they have more information on where that might have been located.
We tend to think only of the People's Institute and Portland Free Dispensary when considering the early community health outreach efforts here at the school; clearly, there is more research to be done into the extent of the school's presence in the neighborhoods of the Portland area!