Friday, February 06, 2009

Lost film uncovered: McLean on physical exam

Deep in the bowels of the archives here at OHSU (ok, on a shelf no one looks at in an odd but unassuming box), seven canisters of film have been languishing since the 1930s. A rare and exciting find, made the more notable by the nature of the production itself: Created by A.J. McLean, M.D., Portland's controversial first neurosurgeon, it is a documentary on the "Adequate Neurosurgical Examination," made right here at the University of Oregon Medical School.

Or so we think. It's 16mm film, and we don't have a projector. So, we unrolled the beginning frames in each can and squinted over them with a magnifying glass and lightbox. It's a pretty low-power magnifying glass, and we're all getting older, and the text frames seem to be hand-lettered, so you'll have to forgive us any possible inaccuracies on the title. It's definitely by A.J. McLean, with the assistance of Dewitt Clinton Burkes and another person (Kane, perhaps?), and it certainly features live exam techniques with an assortment of patients. More details on the contents of the film await the acquisition of a 16mm projector (anyone got one they want to donate?) or the funds to reformat all seven cans.

Readers of the blog and devotees of our quarterly exhibits will remember McLean from a very popular display we mounted in conjunction with a History of Medicine Society Lecture by Michael Bliss on Harvey Cushing, one of McLean's teachers. D.C. Burkes, M.D., FACP, was a 1911 graduate of the University of Louisville who came to Portland in 1928 as one of only three practicing psychiatrists in town. He was the first in Oregon to become doubly certified in psychiatry and neurology, and was a clinical professor of psychiatry at UOMS for many years. He was also past president of the Oregon Board of Health and the North Pacific Society of Neurology and Psychiatry, and member of the National Committee on Mental Hygiene, the American Psychiatric Association, and (according to his obit) something called Electric Shock Research. He founded the psychiatric wing at Holladay Park Hospital and was a founding member and first president of the Portland Chamber Orchestra. So, in a nutshell, he had a lot more people skills than McLean did.

We're very excited by this new find, and hope to have more information about the film and its lessons in due time. Until then, the canisters have been repatriated to the A.J. McLean Papers, whence they inevitably came.

No comments: