Friday, May 18, 2007

Today: Bliss lecture on Cushing

A reminder that today at noon in the Old Library Auditorium historian Michael Bliss will be delivering the final lecture in the 2006-07 History of Medicine Lecture Series:

"An American Epic: Harvey Cushing and the founding of neurosurgery"

Professor Bliss' book, Harvey Cushing: a life in surgery was published by Oxford University Press in 2005.

Also a reminder that there are only two weeks left to see the current Historical Collections & Archives exhibit "A Return from Oblivion: Portland's first neurosurgeon, A.J. McLean." Mounted to coincide with today's lecture, the exhibit explores the relationship between McLean and his mentor Cushing. Materials were drawn from the Arthur J. McLean Collection (Accession 2001-014), which contains correspondence between McLean and Cushing (such as the letter shown here), as well as correspondence between McLean and other notable neurosurgeons of the early 20th century. For a list of some of the correspondents, please see the catalog record for the collection.

For those readers who cannot make it to campus, a reminder that the online portion of the exhibit is currently located on our main exhibits site. Additionally, streaming video of Bliss' talk will be available on our lecture series site a few days from now.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

One folder down, 42 more boxes to go

We finished reboxing the donation we received from News & Pubs yesterday, and the grand total is 42 document boxes of materials. Since we have a patron coming by this afternoon to see some of this new information, I had occasion to process one folder completely. Here's a preview of the type of thing we'll be seeing for months to come as we work through the whole collection:

Folder: Krippaehne, William W., M.D.
Krippaehne was chair of the Department of Surgery here at OHSU for almost twenty years before retiring in December of 1984. He didn't have long to enjoy retirement before his death in June 1985 at the age of 68.

The UNP folder contains fourteen photographic prints of new images of Krippaehne, plus five associated proof sheets and some negatives. It has news clippings from the time of Krippaehne's death, along with the euology delivered at his funeral (unsigned). There are also clippings from the time of Krippaehne's retirement, his CV, and lists of accomplishments of the surgical divisions under Krippaehne's tenure as chairman. The folder also contains the original media announcement made by Dean David Baird when Krippaehne was named as chair in 1965.

Many news clippings in this folder relate to Stanley Jacob, M.D., primarily his research on DMSO--an example of a controversial story which unfolded during Krippaehne's era. Several offprints relate to the development of the Fogarty catheter--an example of a research advancement made on Krippaehne's watch.

There is a "confidential advance notice" from the U.S.D.H.E.W. to Kenneth Niehans, Public Information Director at the Medical School, announcing the award of a major grant to the school in September of 1966 (Krippaehne was acting PI for the grant). The original application is also in the folder, in duplicate, running to 92 pages.

Finally, a plethora of little news clippings related in one way or another to Krippaehne: appointments, media statements, and the like.

Here at OHSU, where we have never yet in our 120-year history implemented a records retention policy, this is about as close to "the record" as you get. It's clear that these files will become a veritable treasure trove of information for future researchers. All we need now are some more photo sleeves...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Drowing in jewels

I spent 1.5 hours this morning emptying, boxing up, and depositing in the archives two file cabinets' worth--and the big file cabinets, which come up to my chin and are about three feet deep--of incredibly valuable material: faculty files compiled by University News & Publications and its predecessor units over the past several decades.

If you have seen the online inventory for our Biographical Files or had occasion to request information on an individual associated with OHSU, you already know that we have over thirty boxes of biographical information on faculty, staff, students, and other affiliated persons. Well, this donation just about doubles the size of that collection--and the UNP files contain not only biographical information, but news clippings, photographs, even offprints of research. Each school is represented, each department; there are files on deans, facilities staff--even librarians! In the rush of loading, I spied the names of most of our oral history interviewees along with Deans Baird and Boyle; pioneering medical men Selling, Dotter, and Lewis; surgeons Krippaehne, Fletcher, and Cobanoglu.

So, if you have had occasion to request information about an individual in the past, and are still interested in learning more, now is the time to ask again!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


It's a beautiful, warm, sunny day here in Portland, Oregon--and in May, definitely a cause for celebration (preferably outdoors).

How fitting, then, that today I should have received a patron question about the use of sunlight for treatment of tuberculosis in the late nineteenth century. An article in the March 24, 2006, issue of Science on a link between Vitamin D and the human antimicrobial response included the note that: "These findings also provide new insight into the history of tuberculosis treatment, including the importance of sunlight in the sanatorium movement created by Brehmer and Trudeau, and the award of the 1903 Nobel Prize for Medicine to Niels Ryberg Finsen for demonstrating that UV light was beneficial to patients with lupus vulgaris, tuberculosis of the skin, consistent with the importance of Vitamin D in all forms of tuberculosis...."

The patron's question concerned the work of Hermann Gustav Brehmer and Edward Livingston Trudeau, both of whom had contracted TB and subsequently been cured through what they believed was exposure to a healthy environment. Brehmer went on to establish the first TB sanatorium in Silesia in 1859; Trudeau largely modeled his Adirondack Cottage Sanatorium on Brehmer's model. While the value of sanatoria in the treatment of TB is still being debated, the value of light therapy for certain conditions has been well documented.

So, get out there and enjoy the sunshine!

(The miscellaneous fact of the day, gleaned on the search for information about Brehmer and Trudeau, is that E.L. Trudeau is indeed the grandfather of cartoonist Gary Trudeau, author of the Doonesbury comic strip. Become a librarian--learn something new every day!)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Celebrating America's 400th birthday--and, our 16th century medical texts

Today marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Jamestown colony, which, according to some scholars makes today the 400th birthday of America (I prefer to count from 1776, but I'm sort of a purist).

Four hundred years is a long time, especially in medical history. While we don't have anything in the collections here that dates from 1607 precisely, we do have quite a few things that the English colonists might have been able to use, had they had the foresight to bring them:

Celsus, Aulus Cornelius.
In hoc volumine haec continentur ... Medicinae libri VIII.
[Venetiis : In aedibus Aldi et Andreae Asulani soceri, 1528]

Lobera de Avila, Luis.
Ein nutzlich Regiment der Gesundtheit genant das Vanquete ... Tr. from Spanish.
Augsburg, Heynrich Steyner, 1531

Vesalius, Andreas, 1514-1564.
Andreae Vesalii Brvxellensis, invictissimi Caroli V. Imperatoris medici, de humani corporis fabrica.
Basileae : per Ioannem Oporinum, [1555]

Rositini, Pietro, 16th cent.
Compendio di tvtta la cirvgia, vtilissimo ad ogni studioso di quella, & sopra modo necessario.
In Venetia, appresso Lodouico Auanze [1561]

Cl. Galeni Pergameni omnia, quae extant, in Latinum sermonem conuersa.
[Basileae : In Officina Frobeniana, per Hieronymum Frobenium & Nicolaum Episcopum], 1561-1562.

Vesalius, Andreas, 1514-1564.
Anatomes totivs, aere inscvlpta delineatio.
Lvtetiae Parisiorvm, Apvd A. Wechelvm, 1564.

Frascati, Gabriele, 1520 (ca.)-1581.
De aquis Returbii Ticinensibus commentarii mineras, facultates et usum ear. explicantes...
Ticini : Apud Hieronymum Bartholum, 1575.

Barrough, Philip, fl. 1590.
The method of physick, containing the causes, signes and cures of inward diseases in mans body, from the head to the foote, whereunto is added, the forme and rule of making remedies and medicines, which our physitions commonly use at this day, with the proportion, quantitie, and names of each medicine.
London : imprinted by Richard Field, 1596.

Paré, Ambroise, 1510?-1590.
Les oevvres d'Ambroise Paré ... Diuisees en vingt neuf liures ... Reueués augmentees par l'autheur
Paris, Chez la veufue G.Bvon, 1598.

These texts are all European, representing the best of Western medicine as it stood in the sixteenth century. Which is not to say, however, that the people Smith et alii encountered didn't have a few remedies up their sleeves as well. Check out these six titles in the OHSU Library collections to get a different perspective on the medicine that may have been available to the Jamestown settlers, 400 years ago today....