Thursday, December 31, 2009

More Stories from the Clippings

"Sleuthing with Science"

The Oregon State Police Crime Detection Laboratory on Marquam Hill

A crime lab on campus? Yes, and because of this some interesting crime stories are pasted into the news clipping folios. The Legislative Assembly created the OSP Crime Lab in 1939. It was first housed in the Administration Building at the University of Oregon Medical School and there it stayed for 37 years.

The department employed just three persons, a physician appointed by the dean of the school, a secretary, also known as the chief cook and bottle washer, a state police officer and a chemist, Ruth Swinney. Mrs. Swinney later became the first female member of the Oregon State Police. The team was called to investigate nearly every one of Oregon’s murders or suspected murders. Everything found on or in close proximity to the body was photographed and sketched. The team searched for hairs, drugs and poison and all was taken to the laboratory together with any blood stained objects to be carefully examined.

Joseph Beeman, MD

But it was not only in the field that intrigue flourished. A fascinating story also evolved around the long-standing friction that existed between the directors of the lab and the chief of the OSP. The first director, Dr. Joseph E. Beeman had resigned, and according to his predecessor, Dr. Howard L. Richardson, he was warned against taking the post. Richardson, who preceded Dr. Homer H. Harris (who is featured in this article), resigned his post in a flurry of accusations against the chief of the state police, alleging that the police officer assigned to the lab was “uneducated’ and “unqualified” to testify as an expert in court. After four years as the director, Harris resigned to pursue “disease, instead of murder, suicide and yeggery”.

Howard L. Richardson, MD
For those of you who like true crime stories, you are in for a treat… some of the murders reported were some of the most notorious in Oregon history. For those of you who prefer not to know of intrigue, mayhem and gross violation, it might be a good time to skip the read. I’ll be sure to give you plenty of warning.

Homer H. Harris , MD

Referenced article: “Sleuthing with Science”, Lee Clifford. Sunday Journal Magazine, 1953 August 30. f1_p15_a4

Friday, December 25, 2009

Stories from the Clippings

Just like Sara promised, here I am (Karen) with my first posting.

I have embarked on a considerable project that will most likely take me to the end of my days here in the Archives. Jeff, my assistant, and I have been painstakingly digitizing the 30 or so newspaper clipping folios that have been languishing for decades in our storage room.

The impetus for this project is four-fold: to preserve the collection and bring to an end the damage caused by handling; to make sure that the information held between the pages is more widely accessible; to drop breadcrumbs along the path… to pique interest in our collections and to lead you to the rich history held in our care; and lastly, the reason for the blog entries, is because I couldn't keep this all to myself; I needed somewhere to say, "Hey! Listen to this!"

Environmental controls have helped to stall the rapid deterioration of the folios but providing access to the large and unwieldy books has done them absolutely no good. The glue is dry and brittle, the paper highly acidic, the pages are stained and the articles stiff and fragile. The folios are simply falling apart. As each page is turned, dislodged articles lie like dry leaves face down on the next page, some flutter and float to the floor as if carried by a light wind. We scurry to catch them to return them to their original location as we try to capture the page as it was created.

Some say with disdain that journalism has never been more than "organized gossip", while others opine that journalism is a lofty endeavor, claiming that it is "the first rough draft of history". I make no claims that any substantiated truth is reposing in the folios. What I do think is that the stories in the clippings are interesting, even fascinating and that yesterday's newspapers can stand proudly among all extant stories of the past and should not be discarded as bits of insignificant trash.

While I am working on the project, I will share with you a range of information from the fantastical to the mundane. I will deliver the weekly stories that have been published by large corporate publishers to extinct neighborhood rags to your "doorstep". Gossip or history? That's up to you!

"Seldom ever was any knowledge given to keep, but to impart. The grace of this rich jewel is lost in concealment". Bishop Hall

Friday, December 18, 2009


A hello and a goodbye on tap today. I'm signing off for the next two weeks as I head out on a holiday break--but don't despair, friends of history! A new voice will be debuting in this space during that time. Our Archivist, Karen Peterson, will start posting on a regular basis. I'll let Karen introduce herself and her project to you, but suffice to say that this will still be the space where you'll hear all about OHSU history, the history of the health sciences in the Pacific Northwest, and the daily happenings at Historical Collections & Archives. You just won't have to listen to me all the time.

So, welcome Karen! And Thank You!

And happy holidays to all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Ticket to ride

A small collection of materials pertaining to the medical education of George C. Harris, M.D., has also been uncovered recently in some repatriated files. Included are Harris' tickets for admission to classes and "conversazione" at the Jefferson Medical College (1834-1836) and a letter of reference for Harris from a physician in whose office he apprenticed (1835).

What we know of Harris comes (as so often) from Olof Larsell's The Doctor in Oregon, which includes this information (p. 314-315):
George C. Harris (1811-1930) was born in Maryland and received his medical degree from Jefferson in 1836, having previously served a preceptorship with a physician near Hagerstown, Maryland. In 1849, he went to California and practiced among the gold miners. Returning to the East, he located for a time at Springfield, Illinois, later going to Texas where he engaged in cattle raising in the Panhandle region. A blizzard destroyed his stock, after which he practiced medicine in Missouri for some years. He came to Oregon in 1865, settling at Eugene, where he practiced until 1881 when he moved to Pendleton. There he continued his medical activities for a time, but soon retired to a farm about nine miles from the town.
And then we get the odd anecdotes:
Shortly after Harris reached Pendleton a cowboy was hanged for killing a sheepherder. The body was obtained by the doctors of the town and pickled in a barrel for dissection. On one occasion Harris had a girl patient suffering from the measles. He took his young son to see the girl so he would catch the disease and have it over with.
The archival materials were sent by F.T. Harris, M.D., of Seattle to Olof Larsell in 1946, but perhaps not in time for the book; Larsell cites only a personal communication with J.W. Harris as his source for information on George.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Wartime medical education

During World War II, medical schools across America were asked to speed up their training of new doctors to supply to armed forces units both at home and abroad. As a result, students at the University of Oregon Medical School finished in three years, rather than four, in the accelerated program. A number of our oral history interviewees have talked about the effect of the wartime schedule on training, whether from the perspective of teacher or pupil (see the list in the Oral History Master Index). But I don't think any of the anecdotes sum it up quite as graphically as this drawing, executed by Ralph A. Fenton, M.D., and dated December 1, 1942, recently uncovered in a donation from March 2008.

Fenton was chair of the Dept. of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, so I guess he would know precisely how large the volume of information funneled down the throat could get....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

What would you choose?

If you had the opportunity to save an object from possible oblivion, what would you choose? What characteristics would that object have? Would it be beautiful art? Would it be an important scholarly work? Would it be a rare example of a particular type of thing? Would it be something that no one else in your neighborhood has?

Given our opportunity, we chose Manuel d'anatomie descriptive du corps humain, representee en planches lithographiees by Jules Cloquet (Paris : Chez Bechet jeune, 1825). This three-volume anatomical text is not only a great work of art (with 340 plates containing thousands of figures); it is the culmination of the scholarly contribution of this French surgeon, after whom a hernia, a canal, a septum, and a gland are named. An early example of a lithographic anatomical atlas, this copy is notable for its rare hand-colored plates. Not only is this now the only copy of this work in the Pacific Northwest; WorldCat shows only one other holding in American libraries.

This work joins OHSU's copy of an American edition of the Traité d'anatomie descriptive written by Jules' older brother Hippolyte.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Oral history on tap: Meyer memories

The third oral history interview of the (fiscal) year is on schedule for today, and it looks like we're sticking with the M's. After great interviews last month with David Mahler, PhD, and William Morton, MD, DrPH, we are set to sit down with E. Alan Meyer, PhD (who has been donating some of his papers to the archives; about which more here). Lesley Hallick, PhD, President of Pacific University, will be the interviewer. We hope to hear more about his exciting stint as a cryptographer in World War II, his work with giardia, and his fifty-plus years in the Dept. of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at OHSU.

[Meyer shown here circa 1957]

Friday, December 11, 2009

Heart warmer for a cold day

Poking further into the boxes from a former staffer, we came across this sweet note (with apparently less-sweet note crossed out on verso; waste not, want not was a pioneering ethic):

Who was this Theophilus Degen, M.D.? Olof Larsell (The Doctor in Oregon) provides some background:

"A physician of good training arrived in 1844 in the person of Dr. Theophilus Degen, who settled first at Lafayette but later went to southern Oregon. Degen was born in Germany about 1809 and was educated in one of the south German universities, probably Leipzig. He had come to the United States sometime in the late 1830's because of political troubles in his native Bavaria, and appears to have practiced medicine for some time in New York. However, by 1844 he had reached Missouri and joined the wagon train which left Caple's Landing in the spring of that year. He was best remembered by the members of this party as the "German doctor" or the "Dutch doctor" who looked after the Sager family after the death of the father somewhere in Wyoming and the subsequent death of the mother before reaching Oregon. On arriving at the Whitman Mission he turned over the children to the care of Dr. and Mrs. Whitman, who adopted them. The doctor, whose full name the emigrants could not pronounce so that he said to them "call me Degen," is described as a cheerful, rotund little man with blue eyes and a heavy accent. He remained in Yamhill County several years but his activities there are unknown. His subsequent life is better known and will be considered in connection with the Umpqua region, where he practiced for many years." (p. 134-135)

In fact, Larsell was so taken with the story of Degen that he wrote a short biography of him. "Theophilus Degen" was published in the Western Journal of Surgery, Obstetrics and Gynecology (1944), 52:316.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Old primates in the library

The Isabel McDonald Library at the Oregon National Primate Research Center on OHSU's West Campus will soon be relocating its staff and books for a construction project which is expected to last several months. The collection will reopen in a newly earthquake-proofed space. It seems like a good time to highlight some of the fun and fantastic titles from the Primate's Historical Book Case, home to over 125 rare and classic books. By scoping out the collection now, you can sneak in to see some of these gems during the slow holiday season, or plan to visit them in their new space after renovation.

In the "high points" category, we have Histoire naturelle des singes et des makis by J.B. Audebert (Paris : Desray, an 8. [i.e. 1800]), the first monograph from the renowned illustrator, with sixty-three leaves of plates. There's also the nine-volume Oeuvres completes de Buffon avec les supplemens [sic], augmentees de la classification de G. Cuvier, et accompagnees de 700 vignettes gravees sur acier, representant au moins 900 animaux (Paris : P. Dumenil, 1835-1836)--because it's just not a zoological library without a set of the works of this premier French naturalist. Lastly, I'll point out Anatomie comparee du cerveau, dans les quatres classes des animaux vertebres by Etienne Renaud Augustin Serres (Paris : Gabon et compagnie; [etc., etc.], 1824-26), which is a classic work from this embryologist and comparative anatomist.

In the fun for all ages category, we have the children's book A description of some curious and uncommon creatures, omitted in the Description of three hundred animals, and likewise in the Supplement to that book; designed as an addition to those two treatises for the entertainment of young people. Compiled by the same hand (London, Printed for Richard Ware and Thomas Boreman, 1739). If kids could successfully read the title, they'd be treated to sixteen pretty pictures of animals. Nowadays, we have books with short snappy titles that run to 1,000 pages (Harry Potter, anyone?)

In the politically incorrect category, we have the offprint Contribution a l'anatomie des races negres : dissection d'un boschiman by Leo Testut ([Paris : Masson, 1884]), in which Testut really seems convinced that the primate called a "boschiman" was a member of the Bushmen peoples of Africa. Equally offensive to modern tastes is A philological essay concerning the pygmies of the ancients. By Edward Tyson ... A. D. 1699. New ed., with an introduction treating of pigmy races and fairy tales, by Bertram C. A. Windle (London : D. Nutt, 1894). There aren't many books that have as subject headings Dwarfs, Pygmies, and Fairies. Why keep these titles if the ideas they contain are so misleading? Precisely because they show modern readers how incomplete science bolstered mistaken views, and remind us all to be on our guard about the claims of 21st century scientists. A tendency to question authority can be a healthy habit.

Lastly, in the unexpected category, we have the exotic Un Chimpance Cubano by Dr. Louis Montane (Habana : "El Siglo XX", 1915); the topical (having just passed the anniversary of Pearl Harbor) A list of the mammals of the Japanese war area by G. H. H. Tate (New York : The American museum of natural history, 1944); and the wacky-sounding Do you speak Chimpanzee? An introduction to the study of the speech of animals and of primitive men, by Georg Schwidetsky (London : G. Routledge & sons, ltd., 1932). And Chimpanzee is much more complicated than pig latin.

There's lots more to see and explore in the historical collection of the Primate Center; for online exploration, all the books are cataloged in the OHSU Library Catalog. For real-time trips to visit the collection, contact library staff. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"Anyway, I have the sword!!!!!"

Paging through the materials from yesterday's find to make an inventory, I didn't have much time to read the items at all, but I would be surprised if this letter didn't turn out to be the most entertaining piece. From Estella Ford Warner to Lucy Davis Phillips, Jan. 29, 1937, it begins: "I am sorry to be late in answering your inquiry about my possession of a sword."...
[Click on image for larger version]

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Women in Oregon medicine: additional records uncovered

It's quite cold in Portland this week, and I admit that an interest in staying up and active and in an environmentally-controlled storage room drove me to peek into some of the unprocessed boxes from a collection of materials recovered from a former library staff member. What I found there amounts to no less than a early Christmas present for scholars of the history of women physicians in Oregon.

The fat folder was labeled "Women doctor's [sic] (graduates) survey 1936/37"--which immediately tipped us off that these materials might have been gathered by Registrar Lucy Davis Phillips for her research on alumnae of both the Willamette University Medical Department and the University of Oregon Medical School (see Accession 2004-030). A handwritten note on an envelope within the folder suggests that the papers were loaned by Lucy to Dr. Mabel Akin, who then returned them to Librarian Bertha Hallam, who loaned them to Olof Larsell, PhD, who then returned them to the library at some point.

Apparently, this packet was never repatriated to the archives and had languished in damp conditions for at least twenty years (as far as we can tell). The result was the sort of collection that makes one glad for tetanus booster shots, with rust so thick it had become fuzzy and sticky. The weight of the papers above this folder in the large box had also caused some of the pages to adhere to one another. Luckily, mold had not yet set in.

So, what did Santa bring us? An inventory of the unarranged material follows. Be aware that many of the typescript pieces bear manuscript notations:

Publication. Program, 25th annual meeting of the UOMS Alumni Association, 1937, with Lucy's "History of Women Graduates of Oregon Medical School"

Manuscript, no title, no date. 8 pages. Apparent distillation of survey results.

Typescript. "Analysis of replies regarding financial returns"

Typescript. "Advice for prospective women medical students"

Typescript. Copy of editorial from Oregon Journal, "Need for Women in Medicine"

Clipping. "Oregon Medical School Graduate Pens Book on 'Women Doctors of the World'" by Bertha Hallam. MCMS Bulletin, 1957

Copy of typescript. "Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy" by Lucy D. Phillips. Feb. 10, 1940.

Publication. View, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound. Contains "Women in Medicine" by James Rigali. January 1980.

Photocopy of clipping. "Ex-official, Now 93, Visits" by Tom Stimmel. Oregon Journal, Aug. 6, 1963.

Publication. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, M.D.: founder and first president, Medical Women's International Association. MWIA Golden Jubilee Souvenir. 1970.

Typescript. "President's message." AMWA. January 1960.

Correspondence. Jessie Laird Brodie, AMWA President, to Officers, Regional Directors, State Directors, Branch Presidents, Standing Committee Chairmen. Manuscript corrections blurred and largely unreadable. 1959.

Correspondence. Esther Pohl Lovejoy to Mabel Akin. July 25, 1933. With letter from Anna Beckman to Akin, July 21, 1933, and typescript biographical sketch of Lovejoy.

Typescript, no title, no date. Preamble to listing of Oregon women medical graduates.

Correspondence. [Lucy Davis?] to Fred C. Zapffe, AAMC. Jan. 21, 1937. In re graduates LA Smith and Helena Scammon.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Martha Tracy, Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania. March 26, 1935.

Correspondence. Martha Tracy to Lucy Davis, April 4, 1935.

Correspondence. Myrtle C. Burnham, Washington State Normal School, to Lucy Phillips, Nov. 12, 1937. With letters from Phillips to MS Kuder, Registrar, Western Washington College of Education; to Myrtle Burnham; and to Mrs. Louis Frazee. All dated Nov. 17, 1937.

Correspondence. Estella Ford Warner to Lucy Davis, Jan. 29, 1937.

Typescript. Pages 4, 5, 7, of undated manuscript. Advice to women medical students.

Blank survey form.

Typescript. "Women Graduates - Willamette University Medical Department and the University of Oregon Medical School." Dec. 1936. (4 copies)

Photographic copy. Resolution of the War Service Committee, MWNA, June 1, 1917, authorizing Lovejoy to go to Europe as Committee representative.

Typescript. "Survey of women graduates, University of Oregon Medical School." Feb. 5, 1935.

Typescript. "University of Oregon Medical School Roster of Women Graduates by Classes." Feb. 8, 1937.

Typescript. "University of Oregon Medical School List of Women Graduates by Classes." no date.

Typescript. Chart. "Survey of women graduates, University of Oregon Medical School." Feb. 5, 1935.

Typescript. "Roster of University of Oregon Medical School Women Graduates by Classes." Feb. 8, 1937.

Typescript. "Division of Practice. For those still in active practice." no date.

Correspondence. Harriet Emigh Judy to Lucy Davis. Dec. 20, 1936.

Correspondence. Kate Campbell Mead to Lucy Davis. Dec. 25, 1936.

Correspondence. C. Gertrude French to Lucy Davis. Aug. 18, 1936.

Correspondence. M. McBride Getchell to Lucy Davis. Jan. 27, 1935.

Correspondence. C. Gertrude French to Lucy Davis. Aug. 31, 1936.

Correspondence. Marie M. Goffin to Lucy Davis. Oct. 1, 1936.

Correspondence. Harriet Emigh Judy to Lucy Davis. Dec. 11, [1936?].

Correspondence. Ruth H. Hubbert to Lucy Davis. Sept. 14, 1936. With photo of Bill Hubbert.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Edna Northey. April 2, 1935. With Northey to Davis, Mar. 27, 1935.

Correspondence. FV Cargill, AMA, to Lucy Davis. March 7, 1935. Three pages of directory information on women graduates.

Correspondence. Fred Zapffe, AAMC, to Lucy Davis. Jan. 26, 1937.

Correspondence. Belle H. Wilson to Lucy Davis. Aug. 13, 1936.

Correspondence. William C. Cutter, AMA, to Lucy Davis. Dec. 31, 1936.

Correspondence. Florence Aiken Banks to Lucy Davis. Dec. 22, 1936. In re Lucetta Smith.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Sara M. Hill. April 6, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Fred Zapffe. Dec. 18, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Gussie A. Niles, Dec. 18, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to LA Smith. Oct. 10, 1936. With letters to Davis from Marjorie J. Wilson, Oct. 2, 1936; Davis to Ila Laubach, Sept. 29 and Dec. 15, 1936; Davis to Wilson, Nov. 10, 1936, Davis to Edith Falbe, Nov. 10, 1936;

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Jessie B. Farrior, Feb. 24, 1937.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Mrs. Louis A. Banks. Dec. 18, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to William Cutter, Dec. 18, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Kate Campbell Mead, Dec. 18, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Ethel A. Schreiber, Dec. 18, 1936.

Typescript. "Unable to Trace." No date.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to FV Cargill, March 16, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Grace Young. Dec. 15, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Belle H. Wilson. Dec. 15, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Zola Morgan. Sept. 10, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Ruth Hughes Hubbert, Sept. 10, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Kate C. Mead. Jan. 20, 1937.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Mabel Akin. Jan. 5, 1937.

Correspondence. Mabel Akin to Lucy Davis. Jan. 4, 1937.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Martha Tracy. April 10, 1935.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Sarah Marquam Hill. Feb. 24, 1937.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Jessie B. Farrior. March 23, 1937.

Correspondence. Jessie B. Farrior to Lucy Davis, March 11, 1937.

Correspondence. Fred Zapffe to Lucy Davis. Dec. 23, 1936.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Kate C. Mead. Feb. 13, 1937.

Typescript. "In active practice." No date.

Completed survey response form from Minnie Burdon. No date.

Completed survey response forms, unsigned. 56 responses.

Typescript. "Survey of Women Graduates, University of Oregon Medical School, " Feb. 5, 1935.

Typescript. Two pages listing women graduates with notes on whereabouts.

Typescript. "Known deceased (1936)"

Typescript. Two pages of women graduates in active practice. No date.

Typescript. "Not in active practice." No date.

Typescript. "Survey of Women Graduates University of Oregon Medical School." Pages 2-3 only. Feb. 5, 1935.

Typescript. List of women graduates with manuscript note from JM McGavin. Sept. 11, 1936.

Typescript. "Analysis of replies regarding financial returns." No date.

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Martha Tracy. Feb. 15, 1926. With letter, Tracy to Davis, Dec. 18, 1925.

Typescript. List of women graduates with practice status. Dec. 1936?

Correspondence. Lucy Davis to Harriet Emigh Judy, Dec. 18, 1936.

Typescript. "Survey of records of woman [sic] graduates, University of Oregon Medical School." No date.

Typescript. List of women graduates with last known address. No date.

Correspondence. Kate Campbell Mead to Lucy Davis, Feb. 20, 1937.

Typescript. "Geographic location of those in active practice." Page 3 only. No date.

Manuscript. Possibly index to compiled data. No date.

Typescript. Graduates by year. No date.

Typescript. List of untraced graduates with notes on whereabouts.

Clipping. "Some reasons for belonging to the M.W.N.A." No date.

Publication. "Author's reference file of the books written by or about medical women" from the Medical Woman's Library of the Medical Woman's National Association. No date.

Publication. Journal of the Association of Medical Students. Feb. 1940.

Pad, quadrille ruled. Manuscript notes and charts. Begins with "University of Oregon Medical School Social Statistics for Registration of 1932-33 and 1933-34.

Manuscript. Dates of matriculation, place of birth, and preceptor information for women medical students. Possible copy of matriculation registers.

Notebook. Manuscript title: "Early Women Physicians of Oregon. Cardwell. Excerpted by K.C. Mead, January 1930." 44 leaves. Photo of Angela L. Ford Warren tipped in.

Publication. "List of hospitals approved by the American Medical Association for the training of women internes." May 1941.

Manuscript. Jessie M. McGavin, short autobiographical sketch, on her prescription note paper.

Clipping. "Dr. Ame H. Cardwell" by Amelia Ziegler. From The Medical Woman's Journal. No date.

Clipping. "Women Medics to Meet." With manuscript notes about Jessie McGavin. No date.

Correspondence. Angela L. Ford Warren to Mabel Akin. March 9, 1933.

Clipping. Notice of the estate of Bethenia Owens-Adair. 1927.

Manuscript. Short biography of Bethenia Owens-Adair. No date.

Correspondence. Mabel Akin to "Dear Doctor." Sept. 28, 1931. Invitation to join Medical Women's National.

Manuscript. Draft of speech? Medical education in America and Great Britain. 1 page.

Typescript. "Reasons for joining the Medical Women's National Association." No date.

Typescript. Report: "North Pacific Region" by Mabel Akin. No date.

Pamphlet. "Medical Women Pioneers. Founders of Hospitals & Medical Schools -- Civic & Social Leaders." No date.

Envelope. Addressed to M. Ada Henley. Contains small piece of paper with manuscript notes. No date.

Manuscript. Short sketches of five women graduates. No date.

Correspondence. Dora J. Underwood to Mabel Akin. Postmarked Mar. 28, 1933.

Correspondence. Bertha Hallam to Mabel Akin. Sept. 22, 1933.

Typescript. Biographical sketch of Belle Reinhart Ferguson on Amelia Ziegler's letterhead. No date.

Manuscript. List: "Some Women Physicians Not Written Up. 1/28/46."

Typescript. "Women graduates of the University of Oregon Medical School." May 5, 1927.

Typescript. Lists of women graduates. Dec. 1936.

Typescript. Biographical sketches of 16 women graduates. No date.

Typescript. "A Summary of Oregon Sterilization Law, Secs. 68-1401 to 68-1412, Oregon Code, 1930."

Correspondence. Esther Pohl Lovejoy to Mabel Akin. Postmarked May 15, 1934. With miscellaneous manuscript notes and clippings.

Manuscript. Biographical sketches of nine women graduates.

Miscellaneous loose news clippings.

Miscellaneous loose manuscript notes.

Monday, December 07, 2009

More from Meyer: hoaxes, poetry, games, etc.

On Friday, E. Alan Meyer, PhD, handed over an accrual to the collection of his papers, originally donated in late summer.

The meat of the day's haul are folders containing every reprint, paper abstract, and scientific report from Meyer's 51-year research career. We also got a copy of the book Meyer co-authored with Romanian colleague Simona Radulescu, Parazitologie medicala (Bucharest, Editura ALL, 1994)--which is unrecorded in WorldCat, so it may be unique to American libraries.

But if the research is the meat, then the rest of the material we took in must be the delightful garnishes--radishes carved as roses, cucumber boats, perhaps even a butter lamb with clove eyes and a red ribbon round his neck.

In 2002, Meyer self-published Bingo Anagram Headlines, with the tagline: "Imagine a world in which every news headline is a Bingo anagram!" Some examples include "Lingcods scolding straying stingray" and "Moorhens + Hormones = Horniest Ornithes". For conservators out there, we even have "Regluing is Grueling!" A great fan of word games, Meyer also printed out his lifetime (to date) record in Scrabble tournaments and a few of his published poems.

Meyer is also something of a practical joker, has been since he was a young man. On his tour of duty as a cryptographer in the Azores during the Second World War, Meyer decided to have a little fun with the military's plan to detonate unused dynamite on the island. He fabricated a wire report from the Royal Observatory Greenwich noting that "Officials of Greenwich Observatory today reported unusual earth tremors occuring regularly for the past few days. The Observatory explained that slight shocks probably originated under the ocean off Portugal and the seismograph had recorded numerous tremors of short duration. Experts added that earthquakes are known to occur in cycles but that cycles of such short duration are classified as very unusual phenomena." His audience bought it: we have a copy of the short notice that ran in Life magazine shortly afterwards.

Wordsmith, parasitologist, prankster. Add library booster: all the materials were delivered in a tote from the Newberg Public Library, on whose board Meyer serves.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Historical photos on Flickr: it's streamy!

Oh alright already, we'll join the bandwagon! A handful of digitized photos from the Historical Collections & Archives has now been loaded to Flickr, as part of the OHSU Library's photostream. (If you're only interested in seeing the historical materials, you can go directly to the HC&A subset.)

These ten images were selected from the subset of digitized images mounted in the OHSU Digital Resources Library, which is itself a subset of our growing collection of digitized photos, which is (you guessed it) a very small subset of all our image collections.

What do you think? Do you use Flickr regularly, and if so, do you look for historical images there? Do you like the ability to comment? Would you like to see us do more of the Flickr thing, or do you think we have it covered with the other publishing outlets we already use? (Web site, blog, Digital Resources Library). If you have an opinion, feel free to comment here or email us directly.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Water safety, 120 years ago

Portland's recent scare with an E. coli-tainted public water system called to our minds the stories of yesteryear, when untreated water was taken directly from natural sources and unfiltered water--and, really, debris of all kinds--was routinely discharged into said water sources. We've previously shared Esther Pohl Lovejoy's words on the difference the supply of Bull Run water made to the public health of the city when it was brought online in 1895. An example of the hazards of unclean water had been vividly demonstrated just six years before by a young Dr. Kenneth A.J. Mackenzie.

The minutes of a meeting of the Multnomah County Medical Society on June 21, 1889, record Mackenzie's presentation of one of the earliest epidemiological studies in the city:
Dr. Mackenzie presented for discussion the recent epidemic of Typhoid Fever. The abruptness of the outbreak caused him to investigate its source.

There being no efficient Board of Health to refer such cases for investigation, the Doctor upon his own inquiry concluded from the peculiarity of the attack in certain families that the food supply might be the cause of the epidemic. His attention was given to the milk supply, and to his surprise he found that in nearly every instance where the disease existed the supply of milk was derived from one source, that being a dairy near the city, where the gentleman owning said dairy together with his wife, had only a short time previous suffered from typhoid fever.

It was also ascertained that dejecta of these two patients was thrown without any attempt at disinfection into an adjacent creek, the creek running through a pasture frequented by the cows of this dairy.

The Doctor's conclusions were that the cows had imbibed the fever germs and given them off through the milk, or the source of the water supply used by the dairy man for cleansing the milk cans had become poisoned by germs of the disease, thus contaminating the milk distributed by him.....

[The Doctor] hoped that the Society would take this as an initiative to institute proceedings, to arouse the authorities, to take steps to improve the sanitary condition of the city.
Accordingly, the city opened Bull Run in 1895 and the state finally passed legislation establishing local county boards of health in 1903.

Interesting, and true to Portland medical politics, Mackenzie's presentation and call to action were not without controversy. Fellow Society member C.C. Strong, MD, accused Mackenzie of withholding information and endangering the health of the city's citizens; Mackenzie was also charged with following the trail of contamination so that he could be the first to offer his services to the infected. Mackenzie countered that he acted on the basis of legal advice, and that he was unwilling to take the matter on alone. As a result, a committee of members was appointed to make recommendations to city officials on the removal of the source of contamination.

Ah, how far we've come. Portland Mayor Sam Adams plans to ask the citizenry for their thoughts on how the city should handle any future water contamination scares. Twitter, anyone?

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

And so it goes

Weekly visitor and donor Dr. Charles M. Grossman, MD, arrived this week with a 5-inch bundle of papers under his arm. "I was going to throw all this stuff away, and then I thought I'd just bring it here," he announced. Well, we're glad he decided to bring it in.

Included in the pile are his correspondence files from 1980-81, 1983, and 1987. Raised in an era when carbon copies were produced whenever one typed a letter, Dr. Grossman had migrated to new technology in the 1980s: he was photocopying his personal correspondence and adding it to his files. Many of the letters are to and from Chinese citizens, or pertain to Grossman's activities with the US-China People's Friendship Association and the Evans F. Carlson Friends of the People's Republic of China. Among the cards and notes is a Christmas greeting from Ma Haide to Grossman and his wife, Frosty:

Several of the letters are in Chinese and will require translation into English before we can be sure of their contents.

There is also a folder of materials relating to Grossman's 1967 trip to Berlin to present a paper; articles sent to Physicians for Social Responsibility by a like-minded scientist; and original research on cancers among Hanford Downwinders which Grossman compiled in 2002-03 for a paper with Rudi Nussbaum, PhD (published in Arch Environ Health 2003 May;58(5):267-74).

But the most entertaining file is surely the 2-inch thick white folder containing materials pertaining to Grossman v. City of Portland, the suit arising out of Grossman's 1990 arrest for holding a sign in Waterfront Park during the Rose Festival (he and a small group of others from PSR were protesting the presence of a Navy ship equipped with nuclear weapons). Included is a copy of the final opinion of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, written by Judge Stephen Reinhardt in 1994.

Reinhardt shows himself to be a well-read man with a sense of humor; in footnote 5, he writes: "Section 010 also has been amended since the time of the Grossman affair. It now prohibits persons from participating in "any organized event" in the park without a permit. See PCC 20.08.010. So it goes. See Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five passim (1966)."

Judge Reinhardt found for Grossman that the ordinance was unconstitutional at the time of the arrest. He noted: "While our tradition of the parks as a forum for public debate may have always rested in part on economic concerns, this factor is increasingly significant now, when the extremely rich have an enormous variety of privately-owned media through which to reach the public, and political careers can be launched by the mere fact that the putative candidate has a fortune to spend on advertising. At present, more democratic means of communication -- demonstrations in parks, bumper stickers, signs in the windows of homes -- must be jealously protected."

And so it goes.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

After the fire

We've previously alluded to the Great Fire that destroyed the old University of Oregon Medical School building at 23rd and Lovejoy Streets downtown in 1919, just as the new Marquam Hill building was being readied for occupation and possessions were being moved from one location to the other.

We have an oral account of the fire from 1933 graduate Eugene Gettelman, MD, (interview available in the library), some written accounts of the damage (like the Oregonian bit in which we learn that students threw the hated, pink-striped lab coats into the fire when faculty weren't looking), and now we have visual evidence of the aftermath.

This image, labeled "After the Fire," is from the Richard B. Dillehunt Photograph Album, Accession No. 2004-001 (guide, inventory, and photo index online in PDF), which was pulled for a recent patron request. So far, it's the only extant photo we know of that shows the devastation. (click on the photo for a larger version)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reminder: TONIGHT. Beer and history and tots

A reminder that tonight, in the History Pub series presented by Holy Names Heritage Center, Oregon Historical Society, and McMenamins, Dr. Kimberly Jensen will be speaking on "Women and the First World War" at 7:00 pm. More details from our earlier post. Admission is free, but donations of canned food for the Oregon Food Bank are strongly encouraged.

Jensen is the author of Mobilizing Minerva: American Women in the First World War and the winner of the Joel Palmer Prize from the Oregon Historical Quarterly for her fall 2007 article "'Neither Head Nor Tail to the Campaign': Esther Pohl Lovejoy and the Oregon Woman Suffrage Victory of 1912." She is currently working on a biography of University of Oregon Medical School Class of 1894 alumna Esther Pohl Lovejoy, about which we are fantastically excited!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the U.S., and so Historical Collections & Archives will be closed. We'll also be closed Friday, for which we are thankful.

A very small sampling of some of the other things we're thankful for this day/week/year:

Pocket-sized digital recording devices and Paul Hull, M.D., who records every meeting of the TFME Collegium for the Study of the Spirit of Medicine and sends CDs to us here in the archives;

The employees of OHSU who have dropped bits and pieces of the institution's history into the campus mail and sent them along to us, sometimes anonymously and sometimes not (like today's receipt from Bill Foust in CFS, which is shown here--thanks Bill!);

Desktop scanners, without which this blog would be, let's face it, ridiculously dull;

Google (no, seriously), which enables searching from around the world on the documents uploaded to our web site and all the posts on this blog, for bringing us to the attention of genealogists and researchers from far-flung locales;

Pencils, because someone mentioned to me the other day that he hadn't used a pencil in years and I can't even imagine the level of certainty in oneself and trust in patrons that would be required before a writing implement other than a pencil would be allowed in an archival setting;


CBC Classical's streaming music, which makes our work environment more relaxing and rarely fails to elicit positive remarks from visitors.

But of course we can't thank everyone who makes our job possible, from donors who deposit material to researchers who correct our mistakes (keep those edits coming!) to drop-in visitors to the facilities folk who are keeping this building in one piece. This work would be meaningless if it were just the staff and the stuff. Thanks to you all for giving it meaning.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's that? A National Day of Listening?

Well, it's the last week of November and you know what that means, at least here in the United States. That's right: National Day of Listening is this Friday, Nov. 27. Yes, after football is over, so no worries there.

This is the second National Day of Listening, which was started in 2008 by the non-profit StoryCorps. The group aims to encourage average citizens to record conversations with their friends, neighbors, and loved ones, and to preserve those conversations for posterity. (Because they know as well as we do that we're entering a digital dark ages here, and we're gonna need all the primary source evidence we can get! Transcription is the watchword.)

And if you've always had a hard time relating to Grandpa Jerry and you can't imagine what you'd ask the man, fear not! The site even has a list of Great Questions that you can use, modify, and supplement for your interview.

Just don't forget to get that release form. Believe me, you don't want to be arguing with Uncle Ed come this time next year, after he finds your blog about his interview during his vanity search...

Monday, November 23, 2009

History of Medicine in Oregon Project web site

Regular readers might remember that OHSU Historical Collections & Archives is a partner in the history of medicine in Oregon documentary project of the Oregon Medical Education Foundation. Well, information about the project has now been added to the OMEF section of the Oregon Medical Association web site at

Currently illustrated with photos of first (and 50th) OMA president A.C. Kinney, M.D., second project chair, Roy A. Payne, M.D., and project supporter Ralph Crawshaw, M.D., the page will soon link to an article describing the project in more detail and a short demo of the interviews conducted to date. In the meantime, you can see the demo video on the OHSU Digital Resources Library here (yes, due to a software feature, the link is labeled "Open PDF File"--but it's a video, trust us).

A list of interviews conducted by the project as of September 2008 was posted here at that time. Most recently, Sister Monica Heeran and Donald H. Hill, MD, sat down with the crew in Eugene to discuss the history of medicine in Lane County. And of course, all relevant interviews conducted as part of the OHSU Oral History Program are also being made available to the project.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Zane Grey and detective work: two more oral histories in the can

A definite thread ran through our two seemingly disparate interviews yesterday, one with dental materials researcher David Mahler, PhD, and one with occupational medicine physician William Morton, MD, DrPH. Both men were attracted to their respective fields by the prospect of being able to tackle an entire problem, rather than a single, small element of a question. Both received doctorates from the University of Michigan, and both wound up referencing genre fiction. Spooky!

Mahler, our morning interview, clearly articulated his attraction to his field by recalling his decision to switch from aerospace engineering to dental materials while at the University of Michigan. If he stayed in aerospace engineering, maybe he'd wind up working for Boeing and spend his entire career on an aileron; but in dental materials, "I could take an entire problem and apply my skills to the entire problem."

After graduating, Mahler was interested in joining a university where he could really contribute something. But when Kenneth Cantwell, DMD, invited him out to Oregon, Mahler found he was less attracted by the prospect of starting a department from the ground up and much more interested in Oregon fishing. As a boy, Mahler had repeatedly checked Zane Grey's Rogue River Feud out from his local library--his handwritten name filling line after line of the card at the back.

Once in Oregon, Mahler made quite a mark on the School of Dentistry, conducting one of the very first clinical research projects in dentistry (on creep in 8th graders); receiving nearly $23 million dollars in grant support from NIDR (in 2009 dollars), including a grant to purchase the state's second electron probe microanalyzer; and becoming a national authority on dental amalgam.

Morton, the afternoon interview, likened his problem-solving not to Westerns but to detective novels: gathering evidence, tracking down clues, and then putting all the data together to shed light on the mystery. After describing his early years, Morton recalled his decision to go into medicine: "I saw that doctors were in control of everything and knew everything," and so he enrolled at the University of Puget Sound in pre-med (his father being a Methodist minister, his tuition was waived).

As an "extern" at The Doctors Hospital in Seattle, Morton became familiar with "some of the less edifying aspects of medical practice", but his time there laid the groundwork for his later interest in environmental medicine. Coming to Oregon in 1967, Morton became the first member of the Dept. of Public Health who was primarily research-oriented. In the 1980s, when the AFL-CIO approached medical schools around the country to establish occupational health diagnostic clinics, Morton was placed in charge of the newly established Occupational Medicine Clinic at OHSU. As a result of the early cases they saw in the clinic, the group became the first in Oregon to diagnose chronic toxic encephalopathy.

Morton recalled that his tenure at OHSU "was very contentious, but it was fun." He likened himself to "a thistle blowing down the road"--you get caught on a lot more things when you have your spines out. But he "didn't pick a fight over everything I came across--there wasn't time."

We thank Drs. Mahler and Morton for agreeing to sit down with us and share their recollections and anecdotes. As always, interviews will be available in the OHSU Library after processing.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Oral histories on the docket: Mahler and Morton

We'll be spending all day today capturing two more interviews for the OHSU Oral History Program. Here's a preview of our current candidates:

David B. Mahler, Ph.D.
Dr. Mahler was born in Yonkers, NY, in 1923. He attended the University of Michigan and received a BS and MS in Aeronautical Engineering. He then changed his focus and received a PhD in Dental Materials & Engineering Mechanics, also from Michigan.

He joined OHSU in 1956 as chair of Dept. of Dental Materials, a position he held until 1989.

His research has focused on dental amalgam, with both laboratory and clinical research projects that led to the improvement of clinical amalgam restorations still in use today.

Over the years, he has been presented with several awards including the Souder Award (the “highest honor in the field of dental materials research” in 1967), the Hollenback Memorial Prize (“for research that has contributed substantially to the advancement of restorative dentistry” in 1988), and the Fauchard Academy, Japanese Section Award for excellence in biomaterials Research (1987).

On top of all that, Dr. Mahler is also a dedicated fly fisherman.

William Morton, M.D., Dr.P.H.
Dr. Morton was born in Boston in 1929 and came West to attend the University of Puget Sound. He received his BS in 1952 and went on to pursue his medical degree at the University of Washington Medical School. He interned at The Doctors Hospital in Seattle and completed a residency in medicine at San Mateo Community Hospital (1958-1959).

Morton then turned his attention to public health, receiving his MPH from University of Michigan in 1960 and his PhD in 1962. He was on faculty at the University of Colorado Medical School for five years before coming to Oregon in 1967 as associate professor in the Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine.

In 1974, Morton was named chief of the Environmental Health division at UOHSC. His high-profile research projects included a study of cancer risk in housewives in Eugene, OR, and the potential hazards of non-ionizing radiation, primarily from television and radio transmission towers. He has been a strong advocate for worker protection from occupational hazards, and is rarely afraid to speak his mind on matters of social justice.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Marquam Hill traffic: problem, or promise?

Since time out of mind, traffic and parking on Marquam Hill have been seen as problems in need of resolution. But before there was a campus to drive to, traffic was not only anticipated, it was promised.

In a letter from KAJ Mackenzie to RS Lovett of the Oregon-Washington Railway and Navigation Co. on Feb. 17, 1914, Mackenzie wrote: "I spoke to you of the effects this gift might have upon traffic, it goes without saying that if this department continues to receive the support of all the states mentioned for the medical education of their youth, the interstate traffic would be augmented in an ever increasing ration, and for the same reason the hospitals upon the campus would attract many people in need of hospital service from the large territory which I have indicated."

Of course, Mackenzie was trying to convince the railroad that their donation of the twenty-five acre campus was a good move, both in terms of PR and economics. And I'd wager that traffic did increase some for the railroad, in those days when "Go By Rail" was more than a quaint family vacation plan.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New front on the war on entropy

About a year ago, manifest destiny brought the room formerly known as the BICC mailroom into the Historical Collections & Archives orbit. At that time, the Indus scanner was relocated from its first home in OHSU Photography & Graphic Design's space to the BICC. Since then, leftover money from a well-managed and under-budget library project has been used to fund the purchase and installation of new compact shelving for part of the new space. The system has been completed, and now (between raindrops), we've started relocating some records to the new shelves. We gain an additional 300 linear feet with this new space, and just in time: the most recent shipment from the School of Nursing was too large for the remaining space in OL440.

Isn't it pretty?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Beer and History. And Beer

If you think history is best served up publicly with a beer and a side of tater tots, then mark your calendars for two weeks from today as one of our favorite researchers gives a talk on one of our favorite graduates:

Monday, November 30
McMenamins Kennedy School
5736 N.E. 33rd Ave.
7:00 p.m.
Free; bring canned goods to donate to Oregon Food Bank
All ages welcome

Developed by Holy Names Heritage Center, History Pub is a collaborative program of the Heritage Center, Oregon Historical Society, and McMenamins. Each program features a presentation by a humanities expert from fields including history, journalism, law, and women's studies.

In November:
Women and the First World War
Kimberly Jensen
Western Oregon University, Department of History

The First World War was a watershed in women's history. Tens of thousands of women served in the military and with voluntary organizations at home and abroad. Others opposed the conflict and worked to end it. The war also came as women in many Western states had achieved the vote (Oregon in 1912) and as the campaign for a federal suffrage amendment was in its final stage. Because of this many women saw the conflict as an opportunity to expand their participation as full citizens. This presentation will provide an overview of the significant activities and work of women in the conflict. It will also highlight the story of women physicians, including their campaign for officer status and equality in the military medical corps, the formation of all-female medical units to provide medical care and address violence against women in the war zone, and the work of Oregon physician Esther Pohl Lovejoy in France and with the medical relief organization the American Women's Hospitals.

[Football fans: yes, that is the night of New Orleans versus New England, but that game will probably come down to the last possession anyway. You've got until at least 8:30 p.m. before you'll need to check the TV.]

Friday, November 13, 2009

It should be right here where I left it....

We often wonder, here in the archives, whatever happened to many of the records we know must have existed when the Willamette University Medical Department merged with the University of Oregon Medical School ("must have" because, without that faith in the genetic predisposition of humans to Make Records, we archivists would quickly lose heart). A small clue may be contained in this quick note from W.H. Byrd, M.D., of Willamette, to K.A.J. Mackenzie, M.D., of Oregon:

"At the close of the school year, we sent one of our members, with one or two of your men and all effects were turned over, properly packed and ready for shipment, but they were allowed to remain there all summer and even till late in the fall after school had opened in consequence of which, these articles were lost."

Byrd goes on to suggest that UOMD make a list of the valuable items which could be replaced. "Valuable" and "replaceable" being two adjectives rarely applied to paper records, one wonders whether that was that for some documents. Or maybe the diener's dog ate them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas present, 60 years on

About a year ago, we undertook a small project to remove from the Subject Files those things which were more properly archival collections, accessioning them into the archives but not otherwise doing much with the materials at that time.

I had occasion to get into one of these "new" collections today, the University of Oregon Medical School Records (1894-1956), Accession No. 2008-017, and found this little gem:

"Some day I shall ask you to do something for me"... Yes, Don Lovejoy!

[Christmas card, Esther Pohl Lovejoy to Bertha Hallam, postmarked Dec. 16, 1944, New York, N.Y.]

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

History of pediatric surgery at OHSU

Today's mail brought us a donation of a "History of pediatric surgery at Oregon Health & Sciences University and Doernbecher Children's Hospital, 1894-1998", written by then Chief of Pediatric Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief of Doernbecher, John R. Campbell, M.D. The piece was developed in celebration of the opening of the new DCH building in 1998.

That date range isn't a typo: in 1894, UOMS faculty member George M. Wells, M.D., taught a course on "diseases of children" which included (among other things) "surgery of infancy and childhood." But while training in the special surgical needs of children was developed early on, true specialization was longer in coming. Some of the early generalists who worked to make the university a center of pediatric surgery were C.W. Brunkow (especially for cleft lip and palate), Millard Rosenblatt (who developed the multi-disciplinary team approach to pediatric surgery), and Clare Peterson (who separated the Stubblefield twins in the world's first successful surgery on thoracopagus joined twins).

The Division of Pediatric Surgery was finally established in 1967, and Campbell was recruited from the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia as chief. The history includes many more names--and photographs--of individuals responsible for advances in pediatric surgery at OHSU, as well as a timeline of important events.

More anecdotal information about pediatric surgery at OHSU is also available in the oral history interview with Dr. Campbell, conducted in 2005.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


What does any university hold, beyond its buildings, its equipment, its books and journals, its endowments and its positions? John Dice McLaren might have answered: promise.

Penciled on the back of this photograph, in what appears to be McLaren's hand is:
Marquam Road 1915 in front of U. of O. Medical School site, Marquam Hill. "Moses viewing the promised land." J.D. McL.
In 1915, the Marquam campus was indeed just a promise--not even that, a hope. A hope for a better building, one that wasn't a firetrap. A hope for more quiet, away from the trolley tracks. A hope for room to grow.

McLaren may have had more of an eye to the future than some of his colleagues; after all, he did agree to be de facto librarian for the school from 1913-1917, giving many of his own books to the fledgling collection. And libraries, as we know, are temples to promise and hope.

Monday, November 09, 2009

"Music of the Heart" now online

As we mentioned just over a week ago, the new exhibit on cardiology history, "Music of the Heart: Rhythms and Murmurs," has been installed in the lobby of the OHSU Library on Marquam Hill. For those of you not able to visit the campus during its run, the online component is now available on our exhibits page. You'll see two lovely drawings by Clarice Ashworth Francone, a few photographs of museum pieces, and some photographs of OHSU faculty who were active in cardiology research, along with the complete brochure text, written by Archivist Karen Peterson.


Friday, November 06, 2009

The two habits of highly successful physicians (or dentists)

Upon opening a preservation folder stuffed with loose issues of The Proceedings of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago (about which more some other time, perhaps, if it all pans out), my eye fell upon:
There are many stories of Dr. Black's marksmanship with the rifle.
This was made possible by the fact that the loose issue on the top of the stack which I removed from the folder is missing its first two leaves, hence dropping the unwary unwrapper directly into the "Personal Recollections of Greene Vardiman Black," a biography of the great American dentist.

On Tuesday, I happened to be involved in correspondence between two prominent local doctors ("cc" is the greatest thing to happen to mail in a long time), one of whom asked the other:
shot any ducks lately?
Last week, I was reading up on the second dean of the University of Oregon Medical School, prominent surgeon, physician, and educator Kenneth A.J. Mackenzie, MD, and was treated to paragraph after paragraph about his prowess as a hunter.

Conversely, I responded to queries today about both alumnus Donald Neilson, MD (noted cultivator of orchids) and Portland physician Robert Thornfeldt, MD (developer of a prize-winning rose) and recalled the horticultural prowess of fourth UOMS dean David W.E. Baird, MD--about which I have read paragraph after paragraph.

Do we detect a pattern here? Life and death: not just a job, but a hobby too! I blame Oregon, its climate and unspoiled wilderness.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Data deluge

As every organization, institution, or business knows, eventually you have to back up your impression of success and achievement with hard numbers. "Show us the data!" cry funders, clients, and auditors. Numbers being soulless things, it can be a little wearying to crunch the statistics. Nevertheless, it must be done.

A general assessment of the OHSU Library collections is currently underway, to spot trends in purchasing, usage, interlibrary loan requests, et cetera. This task has been broken down by subject and parceled out to the library selectors. One of the nine subject areas assigned to me is, of course, history of the health sciences. Because none of the schools at OHSU have a formal history department, we aim to purchase narrowly to support the intermittent historical research of faculty and local interests, rather than collecting broadly to support a full historical curriculum.

This is a bit of a shot in the dark, as much collection development can be: prognostication (what new books will be read?) and conservatism (what old books will still be useful?) are both required. Happily, today's foray into Data Land indicates that we're doing a pretty good job of it. Recent materials are going out (195 titles circulated 381 times) and the older materials are also being used (circa 300 books published before 1970 have gone out since 2001). These numbers don't include the casual browse in the stacks, or pages photocopied from a book left on the reshelve carts. It looks like the history of the health sciences is pretty healthy.

As one actress once famously stated (almost): You like us! You really like us!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Darning history

The history that most people are familiar with--from school lessons on the Founding Fathers, college courses on the French Revolution, et cetera--is a history that’s already been worked out. To some extent, at least. And often more than once.

When you work with primary sources every day, and nearly every other day encounter primary sources that contradict one another, or leave obvious questions unanswered, or challenge long-held community assumptions, it can be a bit disconcerting. This can lead to a general sense of uncertainty: Is this accurate? Is he right? Didn’t I read something else about this the other day?

Left untreated, daily uncertainty can lead to paralyzing inaction, or, conversely, statements of certainty made on a basis of evidence that is very likely to be overturned. This results in a conundrum for the reference librarian (perhaps more than it does for the practicing historian, who's job is historical analysis and theorizing). Does every patron really want the mountain of sources pertaining to the selection and acquisition of Marquam Hill (Did the railroad know what they were buying? Did Mackenzie really mean to establish a Portlandic Acropolis?), or can we just say with a degree of certainty that the railroad wasn’t too interested in the land after all and Mackenzie happened to be the company surgeon with an idea for a new school building on some available piece of land in the general area?

Alas, we don’t have that personal letter from Mackenzie to the railroad owner saying, in effect, “Hey, I know you’ve got that hill you’re trying to unload; how about you give it to me for my ode to Grecian architecture and I give you some free surgery in return?” The rub is, we also don’t have a letter saying the opposite; we have very few letters at all. There’s a hole in history, right there.

When faced with these holes in history, how can we darn our way across to the other side? When someone asks, 120 years later, what was A.D. Bevan doing in Wardner, Idaho, in 1889—if indeed this is even the same A.D. Bevan as the noted surgeon who began his career at the University of Oregon Medical Department and ended it at Rush Medical College—what do we say? We see Bevan in 1888 and we see Bevan in 1901, he seems to be splitting his time between Oregon and Illinois, but we can’t say he was in Portland in 1889. We also can’t say he wasn’t. We have a hole there. So we take a stand (we don’t think he was living in Wardner), sternly intone Caveat emptor, and move on. On to tomorrow, when maybe we’ll get the minutes from an 1889 meeting of medical men in Portland where the notetaker writes in the margin, “Bevan, in from Wardner for tonight’s meeting.”

History is meant to be rewritten. So pardon our faulty, linty version, with thin spots remaining around the heel. When more evidence comes to light, the story will be retold. Maybe even by you.

(And you thought it was going to be a euphemism for damning history.)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Northern Permanente: lecture for tonight, resources for tomorrow

Belated notice of this evening's lecture on the history of Kaiser Permanente in the Portland area crossed my desk today. Tom Debley, Director of Heritage Resources for KP and author of the recent book, Dr. Sidney Garfield: The Visionary who Turned Sick Care into Health Care, will be speaking tonight at 7:00 p.m. at Portland State University. More details are available on the PSU web site. For those interested in the subject who are unable to make it to tonight's event, you can still find the stream of Debley's 2006 lecture on Northern Permanente on the OHSU History of Medicine Society Lecture Series web site here.

A bit of serendipity brought some pertinent primary source material on the history of Kaiser in Portland and Vancouver to our collection today. Dr. Charles M. Grossman, MD, located an old folder of correspondence marked "1944" in his files and brought it in to add to the growing collection of his personal papers. The letters are primarily from 1945, despite the folder labeling, and contain details about the organization that Grossman encountered when he first came out to the Pacific Northwest from Yale in 1944.

Missives to Lucy Hacker, MD, and Joseph Kriss, MD, (both of whom were recruited to Vancouver shortly after the letters were written) talk about the typical case load, the development of formal training programs, and the recruitment of the medical staff. There are also a number of letters pertaining to Grossman's study of pneumonia incidence (later published in the Kaiser Bulletin), and several relating to his application for a Navy commission. There is also one letter to Henry A. Wallace, then editor of the New Republic, describing his meeting with the widow of Evans Carlson shortly after his death. That letter is reproduced here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

In memoriam: William E. Connor, M.D. (1921-2009)

Late Friday afternoon we learned of the death of Dr. William E. Connor, M.D., on Sunday, October 25, 2009.

The October issue of the Dean's Update from the OHSU School of Medicine carried a notice of Connor's passing, and the school also put out a longer release on October 29.

We find that we can add little to the short obituaries noted above, except to highlight two of our favorite bits of information about Dr. Connor:

A longtime Lewis & Clark enthusiast, Dr. Connor spent several days in the History of Medicine Room in early 2006 (and undoubtedly countless hours outside of it) recreating the daily diet of the men on the Expedition from their departure in 1804 until their return in 1806. He presented his findings to a rapt audience of students in the history of medicine elective class; we posted a recap here.

In May 2006, the Connor Trail was officially dedicated as part of the Marquam Hill Trail System. A passionate advocate of healthy living, Dr. Connor worked with folks from Portland's Parks & Recreation, Friends of Marquam Nature Park, Homestead Neighborhood Association, AmeriCorps, and landowners OHSU and Kelly Yeung, to create a new trail meant to encourage physical exercise, offer meditative views, and improve pedestrian access to Marquam Hill.

Dr. Connor was a vibrant member of the OHSU community and the Portland community at large. His absence will be felt by many.

UPDATE, Nov. 3: The Oregonian has a long article on Connor in this morning's Metro section.

Friday, October 30, 2009

New exhibit: "Music of the Heart: Rhythms and Murmurs"

This afternoon, the lobby of the Main Library will be the site of the quarterly rite "The Changing of the Cases." Swan will come out, and a new exhibit will go in. It can be as much fun to watch the install as to see the display in place, so if you're free and want to see the action--come on by!

"Music of the Heart: Rhythms and Murmurs"
Celebrating the important advances in cardiology made here at OHSU, this exhibit showcases artifacts, photographs, books, and manuscripts from the Medical Museum, Historical Image, and History of Medicine collections, as well as the papers of Howard J. Stroud and Melvin P. Judkins.

Focusing on the study and repair of the rhythm of the heart, the display features early works by R.T.H. Laennec and James Mackenzie, binaural and monaural stethoscopes, heart casts and models, artificial valves and pacemakers, and cardiology research conducted at OHSU in the 1950s and 1960s.

The exhibit will be up through January 2010; a web component will be available soon.

[Shown here: image of direct auscultation of an infant, People's Institute clinic]

Thursday, October 29, 2009

McLoughlin, Whitman ... Patterson?

The early history of medicine in the Pacific Northwest is dominated by relatively few characters, and the popularity of stories about John McLoughlin in Oregon City and Marcus Whitman in southern Washington tend to obscure the narrative about medicine in other parts of the Oregon Territory.

What about the Upper Willamette Valley, for instance? In 1941, Leonard Jacobson wrote: "Historically, little has been said about this portion of the Oregon Country. It did not have its John McLoughlin or its Dr. Whitman to make exciting chapters for later historians to record. Its Native inhabitants were peaceful and friendly to the incoming white settlers--no massacres or Indian wars interrupted the agriculture and homemaking pursuits of its early pioneers."

Ah! The curse of living in uninteresting times. Happily for us, Jacobson took up the cause of our nearly forgotten forebears and wrote their story (undoubtedly urged on by his professor, Olof Larsell, who was trying to collect material for The Doctor in Oregon). A recent patron request called my attention to Jacobson's piece, called "Some notes on early beginnings in the Upper Willamette Valley and a description of medicine practiced in that country up to 1880," which was read before the Medical History Club at the University of Oregon Medical School in 1941.

(Interestingly, a handwritten note dated August 7, 1959, accompanies our copy and reads in part: "I am writing this to slip in with the last pages which Dr. L. Jacobson has kindly had typed for the U. of O. Library copy of his manuscript." It's unclear what was changed, although pages 18, 20, 25, 26, and 27 are much brighter than the others and are on different paper stock.)

Jacobson makes a fairly detailed account of early Native American health and medicine in the area, citing the accounts of Alexander Ross, Jesse Applegate, John Scouler, and John Minto, before introducing Andrew W. Patterson, M.D., the first "bona fide medical doctor" to arrive in Eugene in 1852. Patterson had graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Medicine in Philadelphia in 1841 and come across the plains on horseback. Why Eugene? As Jacobson notes, "The need for doctors in that early settlement could not have been very great at that time, for, instead of depending on the collection of infrequent medical fees for a livelihood he entered the government employ as a surveyor and soon afterward accepted the contract for the first survey work to be done in that region."

Whatever his reasons for settling in Eugene, Patterson would go on to make lasting contributions to the early development of the city well beyond medicine. Despite his civic and social activities, he maintained an active practice; in 1869, the now busy Patterson partnered with Abram Sharples, MD. The experienced Sharples was also on the faculty of the Willamette University Medical Department as professor of anatomy. Salem to Eugene is a heck of a commute now, but imagine doing it on horseback...

As the city's population grew, it also attracted W.H. Hanchett, M.D., who arrived in Eugene in 1859. Lacking much in the way of published information about Hanchett, the resourceful Jacobson recounts the oral testimony of Trena Dunn Williams (who would have been 85 at the time of writing in 1941) and her recollections of Hanchett and early medical treatments. This bit of the paper is really entertaining. Williams recalled, in part:
"Until I was a young woman in my early teens there was no mortuary in Eugene. People "sat up" with the dead in private homes. The young people of the town were generally requested to serve in this capacity. Of course, we never refused but always some one older than I attended to 'changing the cloth' on the face of the dead."
Makes one appreciate the summer jobs afforded by modern technology.

For more on Patterson, Sharples, and Hanchett, check out this article by Effie Knapp in Lane County Historian, hosted by Oregon State University's ScholarsArchive.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Kuru correspondence and more: additions to the Bush-Dow Collection

Just over a year ago, author and researcher Casey Bush donated a collection of materials on prominent Oregon neurologist Robert S. Dow, MD, PhD (Accession 2008-022). Today, Mr. Bush brought us two large notebooks to add to that archive.

One notebook contains about 80 of Dow's reprints, collected by Bush during the course of his research.

The other contains original correspondence between Dow and other prominent researchers of the day, such as Sir John C. Eccles, Masao Ito, I.S. Cooper, and Richard Hornabrook. Many of the letters concern Dow's trip to New Guinea in the fall of 1965 to study kuru--a trip on which his wife accompanied him, having been assured by Hornabrook that "There is certainly no particular haszards [sic] associated with a visit and many people often of advanced age have made the journey here." (He also agreed with Dow's plan to bring only "tropical business clothes with low shoes.")

After Dow's return to Portland in October 1965, he corresponded with executives at Tektronix about corporate sponsorship of a cerebellum symposium and with researchers invited to the event, which took place in May of 1966. Letters arranging other speaking engagements follow, along with more communication with researchers around the country. A tension-filled exchange of missives with Portland colleague Robert Grimm, MD, highlights important aspects of the evolution of local neurology residency programs--and the high stakes of medical politics.

These letters provide a unique insight into the culture of neuroscience research in the 1960s and into the life and career of Dr. Dow. Until such time as the materials are fully processed, inquiries about particulars can be made by emailing us directly.

[Shown here: Eccles to Dow, April 5, 1965. Concerning arrangements for trip to New Guinea, and potential conflict between Dow and Professor Kirikae at the upcoming Tokyo symposium.]