Friday, February 29, 2008

Colonizing another corner of the digital realm: NWDA

Over the past several months, Archivist Karen Peterson has been hard at work converting the first of our many legacy finding aids into Encoded Archival Description (EAD) and preparing to set down OHSU's first stakes in new territory: the Northwest Digital Archives.

Begun in 2002 with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, NWDA joined the Orbis Cascade Alliance in 2007. That shift opened membership to participating Alliance institutions, of which OHSU is one. Historical Collections & Archives joined the bandwagon, along with seven other new NWDA members.

This week, we learned that we have become the first of the eight new members to actually deposit some finding aids into the database. There are now guides to four collections from HC&A available in NWDA:

Elizabeth Curtis French Papers
Oregon Dietetics Internship Program Collection
Catherine Anna Prideaux Holmes Papers
Robert Leon Rose Papers

NWDA includes functionalities which allow searching within and across finding aids, as well as by material type and category (most of ours fall into "Science, Technology, and Health").

With nearly five thousand collections from 31 different repositories in the Northwest, there's sure to be something for nearly every researcher. Check back regularly: if other repositories have as much of a backlog of legacy finding aids as we do, this is only the tip of the iceberg!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

In memoriam: Richard T. Jones, MD, PhD (1929-2008)

This morning's Oregonian printed an obituary for Dr. Richard T. Jones, MD, PhD, who died Tuesday of liver cancer. It was just about a month ago that OHSU announced the renaming of the Basic Sciences Building to Richard T. Jones Hall; we posted a short article about Dr. Jones and his medical kin shortly afterwards.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Jones a few times, since he had a great interest in the history of the university and in medical history generally. He had personally donated several items to the archives, including the materials in the Richard T. Jones Collection (Accession 1998-011), a portrait of E.S. West executed by Charles T. Dotter (Accession 2006-006), and many pieces for both the Historical Image Collection and the Medical Museum Collection. He was a kind and gracious man who embodied the best of the tripartite mission of OHSU, in healing, teaching, and research.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Minerva now mobilizing

Author Kimberly Jensen has just published her new book, Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War. Highlighting the wartime experiences of OHSU alumna Esther Pohl Lovejoy, MD, and including chapters on women physicians, nurses, and women's medical units, the book explores the changing dynamics between women service personnel and the structure of the armed forces, and elucidates women's efforts to validate their rights to full citizenship in both war and peacetime.

Portions of Jensen's research were conducted in the OHSU Historical Collections & Archives, using the Esther Pohl Lovejoy Collections (Accession No. 2001-004 and 2001-011). Jensen is already working on her next project, a biography of Lovejoy. Information about her research is available on her faculty web page.

Mobilizing Minerva will soon be available for checkout in the OHSU Library. Copies can also be purchased from University of Illinois Press web site.

Table of Contents:
  • Preface: "Mobilizing Woman Power" in the First World War
  • Prelude: The Washington, D.C., Suffrage Parade of 1913
  • 1. Negotiating Gender and Citizenship: Context for the First World War
  • 2. Gender and Violence: Context and Experience in the Era of the World War
  • 3. "Whether We Vote or Not--We Are Going to Shoot": Women and the Armed Defense on the Home Front
  • 4. "The Fighting, Biting, and Scratching Kind": Good Girls, Bad Girls, and Women's Soldiering
  • 5. Uncle Sam's Loyal Nieces: Women Physicians, Citizenship, and Wartime Military Service
  • 6. Helping Women Who Pay the "Rapacious Price" of War: Women's Medical Units in France
  • 7. A Base Hospital is Not a Coney Island Dance Hall: Nurses, Citizenship, Hostile Work Environment, and Military Rank
  • 8. "Danger Ahead for the Country": Civic Roles and Safety for the Consumer-Civilian in Postwar America
  • Conclusion

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Robert Stone Dow Collection of books and papers

It's the oldest story in archival acquisitions:

The end of an era at OHSU has brought a windfall to Historical Collections & Archives.

Due to budget cuts and consolidation initiatives, the Neurological Sciences Institute at OHSU is undergoing reorganization. As a result, the small research library maintained at the NSI facility on OHSU's West Campus is being disbanded. I was invited to select materials from that collection to add to main library collections. I expected to find books from the legendary Dow Collection, assembled by Robert S. Dow, MD, but I did not expect to find the small treasure trove of personal papers and archival materials pertaining to the history of the NSI.

Robert S. Dow, MD, was an alumnus of the University of Oregon Medical School, having received his master's, doctoral, and medical degrees here in 1934 and 1935. His master's thesis and doctoral dissertations both dealt with cerebellar development, and pointed him down the path to international acclaim as a brain scientist. Upon his graduation from the Medical School, he became the state's first neurologist in private practice; the clinic and laboratory he established at Good Samaritan Hospital were the locus of groundbreaking work in the neurosciences and formed the basis of the Neurological Sciences Institute when invited to join OHSU in 1998. (Dow passed away in 1995.)

In the NSI library, I discovered under a desk a box of photographs, certificates, awards, correspondence, and other personal records of Dr. Dow; on the shelves, I found seven bound volumes of original records, including meeting minutes (1990-95), funding presentations (1982-90), and eight decades of presentations given by Dow himself (1938-90).

With the fine Dow Collection of books, these materials bring the spirit of Robert S. Dow to Marquam Hill, where he will continue to preside over world-class neuroscientific research and clinical treatment. Welcome Dr. Dow!

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Fortunate Man

Recently, a senior practitioner referred me to the book A Fortunate Man: the story of a country doctor, calling it the best description he had ever read of medicine "the way it used to be."

Filled with poignant vignettes and instructive tales, and illustrated with wonderful photographs of the English countryside, the book is a compelling (and comparatively quick) read. Consider the opening scene:
One of them shouted a warning, but it was too late. The leaves brushed him down almost delicately. The small branches encaged him. And then the tree and the whole hill crushed him together.

A man breathlessly said that a woodman was trapped beneath a tree. The doctor asked the dispenser to find out exactly where: then suddenly picked up his own phone, interrupted her and spoke himself. He must know exactly where. Which was the nearest gate in the nearest field? Whose field? He would need a stretcher. His own stretcher had been left in hospital the day before. He told the dispenser to phone immediately for an ambulance and tell it to wait by the bridge which was the nearest point on the road. At home in the garage there was an old door off its hinges. Blood plasma from the dispensary, door from the garage. As he drove through the lanes he kept his thumb on the horn the whole time, partly to warn oncoming traffic, partly so that the man under the tree might hear it and know that the doctor was coming.

... Within seconds of being beside the man he injected morphine. The three onlookers were relieved by the doctor's presence. But now his very sureness made it seem to them that he was part of the accident: almost its accomplice. ...
The OHSU Library's copy of this memoir was donated by faculty member Evelyn Oginksy, PhD, another fan of the book. You can read a review by yet another practitioner, Gene Feder, who calls it "the most important book about general practice ever written," free online here.