Friday, August 29, 2008

Reconnected! And, a new exhibit

Our computer is back! Sort of. We don't actually have a new computer back, but we do now have access to the data that was on the two external drives connected to the old Macintosh, thanks to the diligent work of the OHSU Library computer support staff, who were able to reformat the drives for use on my PC. And so I can share with you all more lovely images from the Historical Collections & Archives, including this one from our latest exhibit, showcasing The George Weirs King Scrapbook:

This poor soul is suffering from osteonecrosis of the skull, although it doesn't really look like the condition was slowing him down much.

Also, a note that about seventy more images have been loaded into the Historical Collections & Archives section of the OHSU Digital Resources Library, including images from the King exhibit, photographs of Robert S. Dow, MD, PhD, and shots of the exterior of the recently shuttered OHSU Neurological Sciences Institute. Stay tuned for more images to be added soon--now that we have the data back!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

War bonnet comes to Historical Collections & Archives

This recent donation is my new favorite item in the collections here at OHSU: I find I am absolutely unable to go for very long without staring at it or brushing out its feathers.

Presented to former School of Nursing Dean Carol A. Lindeman, this barred turkey war bonnet was created by Navajo artisan Matt Secaturo and Laguna artisan William Romero. The headdress will be added to the other materials in the Carol A. Lindeman Collection (Accession 2004-029), and will soon be joined by a peace pipe (presented at the same time) and a pair of Dean Lindeman's cowgirl boots.

For more information on war bonnets and other Native American headdresses, check out this page from Native Languages of the Americas, a non-profit group interested in preserving indigenous languages and cultures.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bits and bobs, or Bits and Richards

In the quest to get down to counter-top level again beneath the pile of miscellany from the crevices of the archives (I feel like the frog, halfway to the wall, halfway again, halfway again), I tackled two small bits of printed matter yesterday.

One was easy enough: a copy of The Family Physician and the Farmer's Companion, printed by M. Baldwin for the blind man--undated, but fairly complete and easily recognizable.

The second was going to present more of a challenge, since it was the unsigned Preface only from some unknown piece. Luckily, the author was republishing a title "upwards of one hundred and thirty years" old, called Whole Duty of Man. This being a health sciences special collection, my literary and religious colleagues will need to excuse my ignorance of this work; the briefest of investigations uncovered the source as Richard Allestree, a rather prolific writer of religious tracts.

Of course, now that I know that, I know it hasn't accidentally been separated from one of our holdings, and can safely be recycled! So long, Richard....

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Moving Day

It's moving day! With the help of additional staff on loan to us from Access Services here at OHSU (thanks Judith and Jeff!), we have begun the move of the Pacific Northwest Archives Collection from the History of Medicine Room to the closed stacks area of the Old Library. (What to do when your computer is down: 1. clean shelves, 2. move collections, 3. use masking tape rings to get paper bits off the red carpet ... etc.)

The PNW Archives have been bursting at the seams for some time now; two earlier shifts within the HOM Room itself have barely alleviated the problem. While the collection is heavily used by researchers and by HC&A staff to answer reference questions, a relocation of the materials downstairs can only aid our cardiovascular function. (Right?) Seriously, the nature of the PNW Archives--publications on the history of OHSU and the history of the health sciences in the Pacific Northwest--means that the materials are, generally, not unique and are well described by the catalog record, so the issue of discoverability is of less importance to this group of items.

Of course, there are the odd gems that defy easy inclusion in any collection and so have wound up in the PNW Archives, such as the oral histories with Charles Sample and Arthur Whitcomb, two practitioners who used the Spectro Chrome Metry machine developed by Dinshah P. Ghadiali. Conducted not for the OHSU Oral History Project but in support of the Medical Museum Collection (we have a Spectro Chrome machine), the interview's transcripts and tapes were added to the PNW Archives and join other odd interviews, typescripts of talks, and the random photocopied memoir. All properly "unpublished" by the standards of an earlier era, but all remarkably self-contained and permanent by today's measures of information sustainability and resource description.

The emptied shelves in the HOM Room will be given over to the History of Medicine Collection, itself pushing the limits of its designated area. Bring on the donations! :-)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Every man his doctor

I'm back from vacation to find our main workhorse digitizing computer dead and no way to get scanned images off the two externals currently attached to it. So, in lieu of fun photos, we'll be all text today....

The transcript from the oral history interview with Dr. William Toffler, OHSU Family Medicine, is back from the transcriptionist. Reading through it quickly, I was reminded of one point made by Dr. Toffler near the very end of the session--a very sage point, in my opinion. Having finished up a discussion of his stand against physician-assisted suicide, Toffler related an anecdote with a thought-provoking punchline: if you stifle physicians' personal beliefs and make them all conform to a particular belief system (and we're not talking ethics here, which is a different kettle of fish), then some patients won't feel comfortable with any physician they might see:
Toffler: You know, I had a person from the Center for Ethics come to me once because she had found out that a patient, no, not a patient, it was a nurse that complained that a patient had changed her mind about a tubal ligation after I’d gone in and visited with the patient postpartum. And I said, “Well, what’s wrong with that?” Well, the nurse is concerned because you made her change her mind. I said, “Well, I can’t make anybody change their mind.” Least of all yours, Jim. “But I went in and I talked to her about options, and she chose a different option. Have you talked to the patient?” She said, “Well, no, but we plan on it.”

I said, “Well, good.” And if you find out that the patient did choose another option, I didn’t force her to do anything, which I think is impossible, you might want to talk to that nurse about what view she had about her future childbearing. Was she too poor to have more kids? You might want to talk to the nurse about the rejection that she had about that patient when she was bothered that the woman had not chosen to sterilize herself.
And then she went into other details about what I limit my practice to or don’t do. And I said, “You know, just being up front like I try to be with my patients, so they don’t have any surprises about where I’m coming from.”
She said, “Well maybe there’s still a problem, because people would come to you thinking you do these things, and they’re a waste of time.”
I said, “Well, I tell them that the visit’s no charge, if they had expectations.”
She said, “But still, they have to spend the time. Maybe we could post a sign in the waiting room that says what you do and don’t do.”
I said, “That’s really a good idea. In fact, it’s such a good idea, why don’t we have a sign out in the waiting room for every doctor like that?”
And she said, “Oh, I don’t think we can do that.”

See, I’m for transparency, Jim. And it’s interesting. I shared that anecdote with a writer from the Portland Tribune. All he did was reduce it down to, “Toffler refused to put it up.” I actually didn’t refuse. I thought it was a great idea. I encourage transparency in the house of medicine. And I encourage integrity among my colleagues for whatever they believe, so that their patients know what they stand for and what they don’t stand for.

And there were some patients who wrote when they were bothered by the press hinting that perhaps I took ethical stands that were at odds with the majority view of the institution. They said, “You know, if you exclude doctors like Dr. Toffler from the institution, then I’ll have no doctor that I’ll want with the world view and point of view that he holds. What’s more, you’ll have no future doctors that hold that viewpoint, because you’ll only train people who see the world the way you see it.” And this is a layperson with absolutely more insight, in my opinion, than some of my colleagues who hold ethical credentials and seem to lack the insight of true diversity and true respect for different world views that this particular patient in Hillsboro holds.