Friday, February 23, 2007

Christmas in February

We received a special gift in the mail today from a conscientious citizen in Bellevue, Washington. The box contained four glass lantern slides, all bearing property stickers from the University of Oregon Medical School.

Our donor had picked these up years ago at a garage sale, captivated (as many of us are) by the inherent beauty of this style of image presentation. This year, seeking to deposit them in a good home, she contacted the University of Oregon, who referred her to us, and voila! Four more lantern slides for our collections.

Cut to the chase--what do they depict! you cry.

Unfortunately, they aren't long-lost shots of the interior of Katherine Hall, or candids from the horseshoe pit showing Dr. West besting Dr. Allen. But they're pretty cool:
  • Portrait drawing of Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen, 1845-1923, with copyright notice of Victor X-Ray Corp.
  • Photograph of the "Birthplace of the X-Ray" (presumably Roentgen's lab)
  • Photograph of an x-ray technician taking an x-ray of a standing patient's midsection, with the Victory X-Ray Corp. logo in the lower center of the image
  • X-ray of a small body inside a coffin
This last is interesting. It bears no label (outside our property label), and is a bit dirtier or more corroded than the rest of the slides. It's clearly a child, given the size of the head in relation to the rest of the skeleton. Certainly, this image would have been a powerful example of the utility of x-rays in forensic medicine (or archeology, but I'm not sure that would have been the audience for a UOMS lecture). Thinking that it is, perhaps, a famous child mummy, I did Google image and Wikimedia searches--nothing similar located, but lesson learned: "child coffin" is not a good image search to conduct.

That leaves Victor X-Ray Corp. as our likeliest lead. Victor was the medical arm of General Electric back at the turn of the century; in 1929 it was renamed General Electric X-Ray Corp. So we know we can date our slides to the period 1900-1929.

The way I see it, the Victor sales rep came to campus for a sales pitch and brought along a visual presentation of the new machine on offer. Maybe the faculty liked what they saw, maybe they even bought one--and the rep threw the slides in free of charge, so we could spread the good word to other medical sites in Oregon and beyond. Apparently, we got at least as far as Bellevue, WA!

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