Friday, September 02, 2011

Beginner's guide to the history of dentistry


Above: Pierre Fauchard, "the father of modern dentistry"

Last week I helped a young lady start research for her high school honors paper about the history of dentistry. Researchers who are new to working with special collections often find that they need to narrow their topic before they dive in and start using primary resources. I helped this researcher identify a selection of books about the history of dentistry in general - then we chatted about more specific areas that interested her, and resources she could use to support more research.

The books she used were a mix of recent popular books on the history of dentistry, along with some older surveys and "hardcore" historical publications. I think her selections are also good pointers for anyone else out there who's interested in learning more about the history of dentistry:

Guerini, Vincenzo. A History of Dentistry from the Most Ancient Times Until the End of the Eighteenth Century. Philadelphia and New York: Lea & Febiger, 1909.

Hoffmann-Axthelm, Walter. History of Dentistry. Chicago: Quintessence Pub. Co, 1981.

Lufkin, Arthur Ward. A History of Dentistry. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1938.

Ring, Malvin E. Dentistry: An Illustrated History. New York: Abrams, 1985.

Taylor, James Anderson. History of Dentistry; A Practical Treatise for the Use of Dental Students and Practitioners. Philadelphia and New York: Lea & Febiger, 1922.

Weinberger, Bernhard Wolf. An Introduction to the History of Dentistry. St. Louis: Mosby, 1948.

Wynbrandt, James. The Excruciating History of Dentistry: Toothsome Tales & Oral Oddities from Babylon to Braces. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Lufkin's History of Dentistry and Wynbrandt's Excruciating History are part of the library's circulating collections; the remaining titles form part of the History of Dentistry Collection in HC&A, and are available for research by appointment. Check the library catalog for even more books on the history of dentistry.

It's been a long time coming!

The Hospital Records of the University of Oregon Medical School

There are some things that you wait for, not really knowing whether you have reason to hope or not. But when your hopes are met, and best of all surprisingly, it's time for the HC&A happy dance... and dance I did.

Just this week we had a visitor from the department of OHSU Records wanting to know if we wanted the early 20th century record books of the medical school hospitals. For those who know me, you can probably guess that I didn't keep my cool too well. I did try not to scare him, however, when I semi-shouted: "Do we? We have been waiting for these! The answer is yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!" I haven't been this thrilled over musty ledgers since we got the Registrar's Record books (Accession # 2009-013) just two years ago.

Not half an hour later, they arrived on our door-step. Maija and I spent some time thumbing through them and marveling. We get numerous calls asking if we have these records, so we have always been dismayed that we had no idea where they were hiding.

Occasionally Terry Baxter, of the Multnomah County Archives and Records Office, calls or emails with a research request that these records would well serve. I hope he will be pleased to know that we are now the proud new owners of said records. (He's a great blogger and an interesting person by the way. If you haven't checked out his blog Beaver Archivist , it's a must do, so do!)

Since I have just recently laid my hands on them, all I can say is that they cover a wide date range. So far I have identified 1913-1971 records from Doernbecher Children's Memorial Hospital, the University Tuberculosis Hospital, and the Multnomah County Hospital, as well as records of deaths.

Sounds gruesome? Not really. When you want to trace a communicable disease, what age group it attacked, what gender escaped the scourge, etc. or find out if homicides or domestic violence increased in a tough economy, this is where the answers lie.
There's history to uncover here and stories to unfold.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Report from SAA 2011

Chicago, as seen from the foot of the Magnificent Mile during the golden hour.

Karen and I are both back in the office after attending the Society of American Archivists 2011 annual meeting last week. We got to catch up with colleagues, check out the latest and greatest new technology at the vendor fair, and enjoy Chicago's invigorating culture.

My favorite session was "What Happens After 'Here Comes Everybody': An Examination of Participatory Archives." Speakers Kate Theimer, Elizabeth Yakel, and Alexandra Eveleigh provided a working definition of "participatory archives" and examined the implications of harnessing participatory culture to develop and describe collections. After speaking on related themes at UCLA last year, I'm glad to see the concept of participatory archives gaining traction and acceptance.

I was also glad to meet a few folks who recognized HC&A from this blog. Thanks for reading!