Friday, January 09, 2009

Two more elect join the ranks

On this sunny afternoon, two more sparkling gems have been plucked from the circulating collections for transfer to the History of Medicine Collection where they will enjoy all the amenities offered by a secure and environmentally-controlled living space, and this fifteen minutes of fame:

Pirquet von Cesenatico, Clemens Peter, Freiherr, 1874-1929.
Berlin : J. Springer, 1910.

OHSU copy with signature: J.W. Rosenfeld.
A Viennese physician, Pirquet (along with Bela Schick) coined the word "allergy", from the Greek "allos" meaning changed or altered state and "ergon" meaning reaction or reactivity. He was also the creator of a classical diagnostic test for tuberculosis (which every staff member at OHSU has undergone many times) in which tuberculin is applied to a superficial abrasion of the skin of the arm.

Musée du Val-de-Grâce (France)
Iconographie du Musée du Val-de-Grâce.
Paris : Aristide Quillet, 1918.

The 17th-century church of Val-de-Grâce in Paris was converted to a military hospital during World War I. Also called the Musée du service de santé des armées, the Musée was established by the French government as a museum of reconstructive surgery. Much has been made of the connection between the hospital exhibits and the artistic development of Louis Aragon and André Breton, noted surrealist artists, who were enlisted as physicians-in-training during the war. Critics find deep connections between the images of deformed human faces and the surrealist themes of dismemberment and disfiguration.
The OHSU set includes 25 fascicles of a series of "Archives et Documents de Guerre," anatomical and clinical descriptions and images of the wounded. In his preface, Justin Godart writes: "On ne doit point ouvrir ce recueil sans émotion. Il contient les images des blessures de nos combatants. Apres avoir donné leur sang à la Patrie, ils offrent à la Science l'étude de leurs mutilations, l'observation de leurs souffrances. Ainsi est encore annobli leur sacrifice." During this age of war, we can only hope fallen soldiers continue to receive such honor.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Myasthenia Gravis in Oregon

Thanks to our good friends in the library of the National College of Natural Medicine just down the hill, we are today adding to the Subject Files a small folder of materials on the Oregon Chapter of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation (also called the Myathenia Gravis Association).

The national MG Foundation was established in 1952; four years later, an Oregon chapter was started by Mrs. Evans McLean, a local concert pianist whose career was ended by MG. A list of Trustees and members of the Medical Advisory Board, part a 1950s-era informational flyer (shown below), includes many names familiar to regular readers of this blog, including Robert S. Dow, M.D., Ph.D.:

While the Oregon chapter of MGF has since been absorbed into a Pacific Northwest Chapter, the Neuromuscular Disease Center at OHSU does maintain a clinic for patients with MG.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Head = Melon?

A passel of newly cataloged items for the PNW Archives Collection came over to the History of Medicine Room this morning, including a spiral-bound workbook titled Family adventures in safe transportation: a workbook for use by children and their parents. Developed by Think First Oregon & Oregon Health & Science University, the workbook helps kids learn the rules of the road, whether walking, biking, or riding in a vehicle. The booklet contains this memorable activity (click for a larger image):

which reminded me of this story from the BBC, reporting on the growing use of dried melons as helmets in Nigeria, which just passed a bike helmet law. I guess the head-as-melon analogy can, in fact, be taken too far.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy (belated) Christmas to us: new donations

Since the quiet and snowy Christmas holiday, we have received a small outpouring of new materials for the collections.

Last week, a fine collection of Samuel Gross books was donated by Richard Mullins, MD. Today, we were showered with not one but two microscopes and a box of papers, reprints, correspondence, and other materials pertaining to the faculty of the Dept. of Anatomy here at OHSU.

One of the microscopes was brought in by Charles Grossman, MD, part of an ongoing donation of materials documenting his long career in Portland medicine. The instrument was given to Dr. Grossman by his cousin in the 1930s. It's a Spencer, serial no. 231574, which means it was manufactured shortly before Grossman received it. This is the first Spencer scope to be donated to the Medical Museum Collection here.

The second instrument, made by Leitz, was brought in by Reid "Sam" Connell, MD, longtime professor of anatomy here at OHSU. He dated it to "the mesozoic era, when I first came here"; the serial number of 514103 indicates that it's a 1950s model.

(By the way, a huge shoutout to the great fan sites for Spencer, Leitz, and other instrument makers that have established themselves across the web. Kudos to those hearty souls who compiled the serial number dating charts: you've saved curators like us untold hours of research!)

Dr. Connell also brought along a miscellaneous assortment of materials pertaining to faculty members (primarily anatomy faculty) from engraved copperplates used in Olof Larsell's publications, to signed photos of Roy Swank, to reprints by and correspondence with William Krippaehne, W.F. Allen, Archie Tunturi, W.A. Stotler, and Anthony Pearson. He departed hinting that there's more where this all came from, so stay tuned for future announcements about exciting new acquisitions!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Resolution suggestion: disaster planning and collection donation

If the new year promises to look a bit like the old (and it does so far), it will feature things like snow, flooding, landslides, and the unexpected deaths of friends and colleagues. Despair, or prepare? A little bit of the latter may aid with the former.

So, in the spirit of the new year, I call readers' attention to a great recent guest post over at ephemera on estate planning for your private collections (whether of ephemera or other materials, much of the same advice applies).

A corollary to estate planning is appraisal, and a good place to go to locate a certified appraiser near you is the web site of the American Society of Appraisers (for mixed collections) or the web site of the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America (for books). Establishing a value for your collection--large or small--will be useful whether you're donating your materials to a non-profit repository or making a claim to your insurance company for loss.

There are many things you can do to help protect your collections from damage due to natural disasters. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works has a nice list of care and handling tips for all sorts of materials, and the National Archives and Records Administration has an online guide to protecting family records.

It can seem daunting, the prospect of developing some elaborate plan for your "hobby" or "that stuff of grandpa's". But if you spend the time, you'll thank yourself if that landslide comes, and your children will thank you when they are spared the decision on what to do with it all after you're gone.

(And I know I've given some of this same advice before, but good advice always bears repeating!)