Wednesday, November 28, 2007

History unearthed

Yesterday, going through the Medical Museum Collection boxes in a routinized way, we found quite a lot of interesting little gems (such as the almanac featured on yesterday's post).

One of the items newly re-found is A History of Vancouver Memorial Hospital (Originally named Clark General Hospital), 1929-1970 , a photocopy of a 67-page typescript document dated December 31, 1970. Searches of local and national catalogs indicate that this may be a unique document. If so, it's an important piece to the puzzle of hospital development in the Pacific Northwest.

The document itself won't win any literary prizes: largely a compilation of dates, statistics, and information on budget and staffing, the history reads much like the meeting minutes from which it was, in large part, culled. But the preface, written by Paul S. Bliss, strikes a stirring note:
The comparatively brief outline cannot be but a collective glimpse of the thousands of individuals who form the basis for the hospital's being. They are those patients, their families and friends, who have experienced joy, sadness, pain, relief and individually woven the pattern of the hospital into the fabric of memory.
The idea for Clark General Hospital (later renamed Vancouver Memorial Hospital, now Southwest Washington Medical Center) was born in "the Y.W.C.A. rooms over Reder's Drug Store" on September 14, 1927. Included in the group of twenty-eight men assembled to discuss plans for a new hospital was R.D. Reder himself, and I wonder whether an understanding was developed between the druggist and the medical men about pharmaceutical supplies for the new institution. This, of course, the history does not answer. Isn't it wonderful how new information always leads to new questions?

By the by, it may sound like we have no idea what we're doing over here, finding new things in old collections, but let's keep in mind the fact that it has only been a few years since stable funding has allowed us the freedom to go back through legacy collections and really get them processed. It definitely makes every day an adventure!

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