Friday, November 07, 2008

Sayre's sinuous spine


One always finds the most captivating items when moving books. Long forgotten volumes half-hidden by the frame of the bookcase door, unrequested in recent memory, suddenly come to life in one's hands. Yesterday's aah moment was provided by Lewis Sayre's Spinal Disease and Spinal Curvature: their Treatment by Suspension and the Use of Plaster of Paris Bandage, published in London in 1877.

The book has outstanding illustrations, both line drawings and woodburytypes, of spinal curvatures and Sayre's treatments--such as the figure reproduced here.

A.R. Shands, in his Early Orthopaedic Surgeons of America, notes that "Sayre's greatest original contribution to orthopaedic surgery was in the treatment of tuberculosis of the spine (Pott's disease) with a plaster of Paris jacket. . . . It is interesting that his book, Spinal Disease and Spinal Curvature, was written and first published while he was visiting in England in 1877. . . . In 1877 Sayre was a delegate from the American Medical Association to the British Medical Congress, held in Manchester, England. His fame in the treatment of spinal disease had preceded him, and he was asked to lecture and give demonstrations of his methods of treating tuberculosis of the spine and scoliosis in the leading surgical centers in Great Britain and Ireland. . ." (pp. 35, 38-40).

Bick's Source Book of Orthopaedics describes the technique: "The patient was literally suspended by an overhead traction apparatus attached to a specially constructed chin and occiput halter. Only his toes touched the ground, and this was permitted just enough to avoid serious discomfort. While under this severe traction, a snugly fitted plaster of Paris jacket was applied. Later lateral traction bands were added to the suspended body according to the nature of the deformity, and the plaster applied around them. These bands were removed before the finishing layer was applied" (pp. 434-35).

The woodburytype images have also received praise: "This book contains some of the most artistic of the early medical photographs. Several of them have been reproduced in books as examples of the photographic art form" (Burns, American Medical Publications with Photographs, p. 1234). "The photographs serve a truly functional purpose which many other photographically illustrated books do not." (Goldschmidt, Truthful Lens, 144)

Our copy is what we like to call well-loved (what others would call a working copy), but it still has the power to inspire and amaze.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

"Say it as it is" was my trouble in life: Charles M. Grossman

Today's oral history interview taping with Charles M. Grossman, M.D., left our small audience of three amazed, humbled, and feeling older than Grossman's young 94 years. After nearly three hours of conversation, we had barely scratched the surface of Grossman's fascinating and full life and career.

Beginning with the story of his involvement in the first successful clinical use of penicillin in the United States, Grossman went on to talk about his entrance into medicine as a poor Jewish kid from Brooklyn, his years at NYU and his acceptance as the first NYU graduate to internship at Yale-New Haven Hospital. NYU was where Grossman met Claude Heaton, faculty advisor to both the William Welch Society and the student branch of the American League Against War and Fascism--both groups that Grossman eagerly joined.

After coming West to join Northwest Permanente, the medical group associated with the Kaiser shipyards in Vancouver, WA, Grossman found scant welcome from local organized medicine. Leaving the unprofitable Permanente practice, Grossman obtained an NIH grant and came up to the Hill to share Ed West's lab space in the Dept. of Biochemistry; his research resulted in several "firsts" published in the peer-reviewed literature. Unsalaried, he was nevertheless "fired" by then Acting Chair of Medicine Howard P. Lewis because the university feared that Grossman would be subpoenaed by the House Unamerican Activities Committee. Grossman found a new home at Holladay Park in 1956, and stayed there a few years before moving on to the University of Portland in 1959; he remained on the faculty of UP for twenty-one years.

Founder of the Evans F. Carlson Friends of the People's Republic of China, active member and former president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a man labeled as "a professional rabblerouser" by former Oregon Governor Tom McCall ("I didn't mind the rabblerouser part; what I objected to was the 'professional'"), Grossman has always told it as it was and always, always asked why.

Entertaining, enlightening, and lively, the interview captures some of Grossman's vitality, character, and charisma--but couldn't cover it all. Heck, we didn't even get a chance to ask him about his years of regular swims in the Columbia and Willamette Rivers (last swim for this year was Sept. 30; apparently it has gotten too cold now for more outings this year. I'd need a full wetsuit in mid-August!)

Luckily for future researchers, Dr. Grossman has begun bringing his personal papers and other records into Historical Collections & Archives, an armload at a time (though usually taking our stairs two at a time), delivering them after the weekly medicine grand rounds on Tuesday mornings. These materials, once compiled and processed, will shed even more light on Grossman's astonishing life.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Gimme Shelter: round one

The first foray into available real estate in the local area looks pretty promising for our scheduled move of offsite storage in June 2009; every site currently under consideration includes bathroom facilities and internet access--two things sorely lacking in the current offsite space.

Nevertheless, we have begun implementing our plan to bring rare and valuable materials published later than 1901 out of storage and into the fold of the historical collections. On Monday afternoon, I filled a backpack with eleven elect, listed below in alphabetical order by author:

Bailey, Percival, 1892-
A Classification of the tumors of the glioma group on a histogenetic basis with a correlated study of prognosis / by Percival Bailey and Harvey Cushing.
Philadelphia : Lippincott, c1926.
This monograph is significant in the history of neurology since it represents the first serious attempt to classify gliomatous tumors of the central nervous system on a histological basis correlated with the life history of each type of growth. The analysis herein offered has become the basis of most subsequent classifications of tumors of the glioma group. This book is one of the first collaborative efforts of these two surgeons... Their classification of the gliomas has hardly been improved upon, though variations of it are now in use throughout the world.
Heirs of Hippocrates, 2331; Garrison & Morton No.4608; Courville No.527.

Canani, Giovanni Battista, 1515-1579.
Musculorum humani corporis picturata dissectio (Ferrara 1541?) : Facsimile edition, annotated by Harvey Cushing & Edward C. Streeter.
Florence, R. Lier & co., 1925.
Canani wrote this book while in Ferrara, and called on Girolamo da Carpi for the extraordinarily exact illustrations. The book was not completed in Canano's lifetime, and so copies of the complete manuscript are very rare.

Carrel, Alexis, 1873-1944.
The culture of organs.
New York, Hoeber, 1938.
[1st ed.]
Describes the experimental program for the cultivation of whole organs devised by Carrel and the celebrated aviator. Lindbergh developed a perfusion pump that maintained a sterile, pulsating circulation of fluid through excised organs, and enabled Carrel to keep organs such as the thyroid and kidney alive and functioning. Lindbergh's pump was the forerunner of apparatus now in use in heart surgery, etc. Carrel was awarded the 1912 Nobel Prize for his work on preserving tissues.

Committee for the Study of Nursing Education (U.S.)
Nursing and nursing education in the United States; report of the Committee for the Study of Nursing Education ... and a Report of a survey by Josephine Goldmark, secretary.
New York, The Macmillan Company, 1923.
OHSU copy signed by Elnora Thomson.
In 1918, Adelaide Nutting, a prominent nursing educator, spoke to the Rockefeller Foundation about the need for improved nursing education. The result was the formation of the Committee for the Study of Nursing Education, which released the 500-page study Nursing and Nursing Education in the United States in 1922. The study, later known as the Goldmark Report for its author, Josephine Goldmark, pushed for university-based nursing programs, launching the beginnings of the battle over whether nurses should be seen as professionals or technicians.

Cushing, Harvey, 1869-1939.
Tumors arising from the blood-vessels of the brain : angiomatous malformations and hemangioblastomas / by Harvey Cushing and Percival Bailey.
Springfield, Ill. ; Baltimore, Md. : Charles C. Thomas, 1928.
OHSU copy with signature of A.J. McLean.
A beautifully ilustrated monograph based on 29 cases of one of the rarest and most interesting groups of intracranial tumors. "Cushing shared the authorship of this monograph with Percival Bailey. It contains the first extensive classification and description of angiomatous malformations and haemangioblastomas. The detailed and profusely illustrated case reports are, like all of Cushing's case reports, a course of instruction in themselves." Heirs of Hippocrates, 1163; Courville No. 527; Fulton p.563; Walker No.516; HC 14

Dandy, Walter Edward, 1886-1946.
Benign, encapsulated tumors in the lateral ventricles of the brain : diagnosis and treatment / by Walter E. Dandy.
Baltimore, Md. : Wilkins & Wilkins Company, 1934.
"... the surgical and diagnostic story of a group of tumors occupying the lateral ventricle of the brain is presented. These together with a quite similar group recently reported from the third ventricle, are from the last secret abodes of tumors in the brain. The results cover a period of over fifteen years and necessarily progressively reflect the important advances that occurred on the operative front during this period, i.e., the electrocautery, avertin anaesthesia and continuous suction." W.Dandy, Preface

Freeman, Walter, 1895-1972.
Psychosurgery; Intelligence, emotion and social behavior following prefrontal lobotomy for mental disorders, by Walter Freeman and James W. Watts. With special psychometric and personality profile studies by Thelma Hunt.
Springfield, Ill., Charles C. Thomas, 1942.
“Lobotomy was a popular therapy for certain mental disorders from the mid-thirties until the mid-fifties when opposition from within the medical community, the development of stereotactic instruments, and the advent of tranquilizers brought an end to its use as a major therapeutic alternative. Moniz is generally acknowledged to be the individual who developed psychosurgery when he performed the first prefrontal leucotomy in 1935… Freeman, professor of neurology at George Washington University in Washington, D. C., took an immediate interest in the technique and together with Watts, a professor of neurosurgery at the University, performed the first prefrontal leucotomy in the United States in September 1936. Freeman felt that both nerve fibers and cell bodies were destroyed during the operation and renamed it a lobotomy rather than a leucotomy. He developed the transorbital lobotomy, using electroshock as an anesthetic, so that the procedure could be more readily carried out in mental institutions, which lacked well-appointed operating rooms. Lacking surgical certification himself, Freeman nevertheless began to train psychiatrists to perform the operation, which drew severe criticism from many neurosurgeons. Soon thereafter psychoactive drugs were introduced and the number of lobotomies being performed decreased dramatically.” [Heirs of Hippocrates]. Finger, Origins of Neuroscience, p. 292-3; Heirs of Hippocrates 2334.

Gowers, W. R. (William Richard), 1845-1915.
The border-land of epilepsy; faints, vagal attacks, vertigo, migraine, sleep symptons, and their treatment.
Philadelphia, P. Blakiston's son & co., 1907.
Gowers is credited with, among other things, writing the classic description of epilepsy in 1881.

Kimura, Motoo, 1924-
The Neutral theory of molecular evolution / Motoo Kimura.
Cambridge [Cambridgeshire] ; New York : Cambridge University Press, c1983.
Considered by some to be "the most important and revolutionary contribution to molecular evolution theory."

Labat, Gaston.
Regional anesthesia; its technic and clinical application / by Gaston Labat ... with a foreword by William J. Mayo, M.D.; with 315 original illustrations.
Philadelphia and London : W.B. Saunders Co., 1922.
The first edition of a classic work that was issued in new editions through the 1980s.

Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937.
Radioactive transformations / by E. Rutherford.
New Haven : Yale University Press, 1911, c1906.
Rutherford was the winner of the 1908 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his researches concerning the disintegration of elements and the chemistry of radioactive substances.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A trio of links for Election Day

Between moving books and dodging raindrops, it's nice to sit down for a bit and surf the web. Here is a trio of links that might be of interest to readers (promise: not a one has to do with McCain or Obama):

Music and the Brain at the Library of Congress
LC (as we librarians call it) is embarking on a year-long series of lectures and concerts on the theme of "Music and the Brain." Happily for us West Coasters, the events will be webcast from the library's site two weeks later. Portland's own Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy is focusing on music and the brain in this year's Linus Pauling Memorial Lectures; information on tickets and speakers is available at the ISEPP web site. (And a side note, because I have to plug the print: the newly accessioned Arnold L. Towe Collection includes reprints pertaining to bird song and song processing in the somatosensory system; Towe was ahead of the curve in studying music and the brain.)

History of the American College of Surgeons
The ACS has just launched a new website on its history, complete with digitized photos and documents. From the announcement: "The American College of Surgeons is launching Digital Collections on the ACS website: Just type in "History" in the google search box and it will link you to our newly designed History and Archives page with a link to the Digital Collections." (Or, click the link above, which takes you right to the archives page.) There are some great images available in the Board of Regents collection--check it out!

Dissertations in the history of the health sciences
Jonathon Erlen has compiled the latest list of dissertations on the history of medicine and the allied sciences, medical humanities, biomedical ethics and more at his University of Pittsburgh site. Something for every interest!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Physical Fitness

I love it when a double entendre comes together: today, I'm keeping physically fit while keeping the physical books fit. In an effort to better maintain the books in the History of Medicine Room and make space for future growth, the entire collection is being shifted to alleviate overcrowded shelves. And so our step stool has become my stair stepper.

Today is also officially the last day of the "Date Range" definition of the History of Medicine Collection. Previously limited primarily to books published prior to 1901, the collection will henceforth include any medical books deemed rare and classic. Volumes will slowly be handpicked from the circulating collections and transferred to the History of Medicine Room. In fact, I'll be spending this cold and rainy afternoon in offsite storage--a facility which does almost nothing to enhance the physical fitness of books, by the way--to select the first batch of lucky winners.

The tension between security and access is one that I constantly feel, and this removal of books--some quite popular, relatively speaking--is something we do not undertake lightly. As materials are transferred, we will be analyzing circulation statistics and monitoring requests so that the most sought-after titles remain as accessible as possible to the community. Digitization, limited checkout, and free reproduction may all play into the mix of services as we expand our holdings into the 20th century. As always, we welcome questions and feedback as we move forward.

Rest break over. Time to pump print!