Wednesday, February 14, 2007

One small postcard, three important names in medicine

I'll spare you a hearts-and-flowers post in honor of St. Valentine's Day (altho' I will put in a quick plug for our current exhibit on Valentine Prichard and the People's Institute, in case you haven't see it--ok, I guess I didn't spare you).

I came across a postcard today in the Vertical Files. The Vertical Files are one of those legacy collections of materials that no one really seems to have a good handle on; as a result, the collection as a whole is seriously under-utilized. Familiarizing myself a little with the contents, I pulled a few items, including a postcard that was filed under "Leake, Chauncey D.: Postcard from."

I was curious about this primarily because we also have a Biographical File on Dr. Leake; since my understanding was that people who made it into the Bio Files did not make it into the Vertical Files (and vice versa), I wanted to get to the bottom of the what Leake-iana we had where.

Dr. Chauncey Leake, a pharmacologist and medical historian, never worked here in Portland, but he did make appearances here to lecture on DMSO; a news item about a local lecture was what landed him in our Bio Files. DMSO, of course, is , the pet substance of OHSU researcher Dr. Stanley Jacob, and it is to Jacob that the postcard in the Vertical File is written.

So, either the postcard could get moved to the Stan Jacob folder in the Bio Files (which are primarily reserved for OHSU-affiliated individuals), or, the news clipping about Leake could be added to the Vertical Files (sort of a who's-who listing of famous medical personages).

But wait, there's more! The note on the postcard itself presumes a different listing:
"On the way home & getting ready for Wed. Oct. 5--if the meeting is still on, & then for Vienna Tues & Wed Nov 8 & 9, & abstract ready on Oct. 15! Spain is great, & medicine oriented toward promoting health. In Cordoba, Maimonides, [unreadable], and Averroes are still revered. This fine bronze [on postcard] by Louis [unreadable] was unveiled in 1964. Give this card to med. history collection in library. All best to ... " [Emphasis added]
So, we were expected to list it under Maimonides, as an image of the old master. But who's more interesting to modern researchers? Maimonides? Leake? Jacob? Another case of needing to presume something about researchers, but not wanting to presume too much!

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