Thursday, September 06, 2007

Oral history milestone reached: 100 in 10

With the completion of one oral history interview last month, and the scheduling of two more interviews for next month, we have now officially reached--and quickly passed--the century mark for interviews!


Mary Brambilla McFarland, R.N., Ed.D., our number 99 in August, shared her experiences as one of the first clinical nurse specialists in the nation and talked about nursing research and distance education at the School of Nursing. Barbara Gaines, R.N., Ed.D., emeritus professor of nursing--and Oregon's fourth nurse-Ph.D. upon her arrival here in the 1960s--served as interviewer.

On October 19, Frances Storrs, M.D., will join interviewer Michelle Berlin, M.D., M.P.H., to talk about her career, the history of the dermatology department here at OHSU, her experiences as a female physician, and--hopefully--an incident at the Arlington Club that has ascended into legend. Dr. Storrs will be our lucky number 100!

And our number 101, Tyra T. Hutchens, M.D., will spend some time with Donald Houghton, M.D., on October 25, to share his reminiscences about the University of Oregon Medical School, the departments of pathology and radiology, and his pioneering work in nuclear medicine.

Our heartfelt thanks and congratulations to these three interviewees, and to all the others who have participated over the past ten years. They have helped make a significant contribution to the history of OHSU and the history of the health sciences.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Bleuler's psycho syndrome

Yesterday, we received a small donation: Eugen Bleuler's Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie, third edition, published in Berlin in 1920. Since books of this relative modernity don't fall into the History of Medicine Collection (which is largely restricted to pre-1901 materials), I had not had the opportunity before now to see which of Bleuler's works are currently held in the OHSU collections. I was gratified to see that we have a first edition of the Lehrbuch, and an early English translation of his Theory of schizophrenic negativism. This third German edition of the Lehrbuch will provide us with the original language source to complement the 1924 English edition in our stacks.

Bleuler is best known for his work on schizophrenia; he coined the term in 1908, as he explains, "because (as I hope to demonstrate) the 'splitting' of the different psychic functions is one of its most important characteristics. For the sake of convenience, I use the word in the singular although it is apparent that the group includes several diseases."

It's ironic that for someone who took such care in the development of a term that would accurately reflect the nature of a disease, he has been saddled with an eponymic syndrome that's got to be one of the least medical-sounding conditions out there: Bleuler's psycho syndrome. So sad...

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

East meets West, and shows it what's what

We had a visit on Friday from four Chinese librarians, touring Oregon libraries as part of the Horner Library Staff Exchange Project. Eager to take the opportunity to tap into their expertise to help identify some of our Chinese items, I pulled out a few books (including Chen and Gong) and a set of figurines from our Medical Museum Collection.

The figurines were particular posers: we knew we had received them from Ada Doernbecher Morse (yes, of that Doernbecher family) but we had no note of when Ada donated them or how old the set itself was. Our visitors were able to tell me that the set is a traditional representation of the modes of transportation in China; that the artistic style is Cantonese; and that, judging by the clothing and hairstyles, the set probably dates from the late Qing dynasty--so, at least a hundred years old. They even corrected my improper poses, moving several pieces from one area to another to make four scenes out of my assumed five.

The librarians, themselves from the Fujian Province, were also interested to see the books, since one of the authors was a physician from Fujian. The two books were printed from carved wooden blocks, one per page--no moveable type at that time--although our translator first described the blocks as stone. That would have been something to see!

We finished up with a little look at Western medicine's take on Chinese pulse diagnosis (represented in our collection by Floyer), and some discussion of the CAM research going on here at OHSU and at our neighbor school, NCNM. All in all, a fascinating and productive meeting of minds!