Friday, February 18, 2011

Stories from the Clippings

Blind Boy Scheduled for Open Heart Surgery:

Bobby Pin Mistaken for Food?

What kind of food would that be? A french fry? A piece of chicken?

I don't know but apparently a little three year old boy, blind from birth and getting ready for open heart surgery thought that the bobby pin should go in his mouth. That in itself is not so unusual; kids put stuff in their mouths all day long. In fact, someone I know chewed up a glass christmas ball and swallowed it down and another familiar kept caterpillars in his mouth (And to those who are reading this: you know who you are). Fortunately neither one of them suffered any ill effects.

But poor Dale Slowik swallowed the bobby pin and promptly forgot about it and his parents were none the wiser. The bobby pin went down easy until it hit his intestines where it became securely lodged. It stayed there until Bobby went in for some preliminary x-rays some weeks later in preparation for his delicate heart surgery.

Low and behold, and much to the surprise of the attending physician, x-ray personnel and Dale's parents, there sat the pin. So there was nothing to do but to postpone the heart surgery and go after the pin. Lucky for Dale, he was ready for yet another surgery some weeks later.

This story reminds me of an x-ray image from the scrapbook of Dr. George Weirs King (1845-1929). Dr. King was the physician/surgeon of the Montana Mining Company in Marysville, Montana. He invented apparatus for all sorts of curious diseases and accidents. Among his duties was to haul up injured miners from deep in the earth, set broken bones, correct club-feet and apparently, to remove a penny-whistle from the esophagus of one young boy.

Extracting swallowed objects from children seems to be a required component of the dossier of many a physician.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The History of Medicine Room and HC&A collection development

One of the questions I'm often asked by visitors to the History of Medicine Room is "How long has all this been here?!?" The simple answer is "Since 1939," which is the year the room was established and/or the year the rare book collection was established, depending on which source we're consulting. The complicated answer is more interesting and reveals a lot about the development of the library's historical collections.

In 1966, librarian Bertha Hallam wrote a letter to Dr. Daniel Labby, then president of the Portland Academy of Medicine. In the letter, she reported on the on what was then called the "University of Oregon Medical School Library Historical Book Collection." She describes a collection of "about 400 volumes published before 1850, plus many excellent and classic volumes published since 1850." Most of these books were received as gifts or were purchased with gift funds. The Portland Academy of Medicine was a major donor of such funding.

Bertha Hallam explained that it was through the generosity of the academy that the "Historical Book Room" was able to open for business in 1964. The room on the 1938 building floor plan had not been completed, due to lack of funding. The academy's gift provided for the furnishings and equipment needed for a traditional rare book room.

The letter identified several priorities for developing the Historical Book Room collections, including three that continue to guide collection development now:
-- Continue to acquire medical classics, emphasizing breadth over depth to appeal to diversified interests
-- Plan for in-depth coverage of subjects according to faculty and student interests
-- Build the Pacific Northwest Collection, dedicated to publications about medicine in the area. "This project will involve the expenditure of time rather than money."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

George A. Porter, M.D., 1931-2011

We recently received sad news that George Alvin Porter, M.D. passed away on February 2. An obituary was published in the Oregonian on February 16. Dr. Porter was chair of OHSU's Department of Medicine for 18 years, beginning in 1977. As a nephrologist, Dr. Porter conducted research on urinary biomarkers and the detection of renal injury, educated nephrology fellows and residents; and served as the first chief of the Division of Nephrology, Hypertension, and Clinical Pharmacology. He was also an alumnus, earning both an M.D. and an M.S. from University of Oregon Medical School in 1957.

Historical Collections & Archives worked with Dr. Porter to preserve his collection of photographs and memorabilia of campus life - selected materials are available through the OHSU Digital Resources Library. We have also collected photographs and biographical information on Dr. Porter, including the photograph above, from around1977. These collections can be consulted by appointment, or during our Thursday afternoon walk-in hours. An oral history interview conducted in 1998 can be checked out from the OHSU Library. HC&A will continue to collect obituaries, memorials, and other memories of Dr. Porter's life and work.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Oregon College of Art and Craft "Scavenger Hunt"

Last Saturday night was the kickoff party for a program that we're very excited to be part of. The Oregon College of Art and Craft "Scavenger Hunt" brings together over two dozen artists affiliated with OCAC. At the party, each artist chose at random from a group of artifacts selected by Karen Peterson from our Medical Museum collection. Each artist will visit their artifact here in HC&A, and will go back to the studio to create a piece informed by the artifact.

I can't wait to see the work inspired by this "pneumothorax apparatus"

and by this circa 1900 doctor's headlamp:

The scavenger hunt is curated by Beth Robinson, a paper conservator and book artist, and will culminate in a gallery exhibition in summer 2011.