Friday, June 26, 2015

History of Medicine Collection spotlight: 19th century orthopaedics in action!

Helpful hints for resolving dislocations
Today's rare books spotlight comes courtesy of my search for a good #TypeTuesday post for Instagram: Perusing our oversize shelving for a good "pretty typeface" candidate, I settled upon Dr. Adolph Leopold Richter's 1828 two-volume atlas, Theoretisch-praktisches Handbuch Der Lehre Von Den Brüchen Und Verrenkungen Der Knochen ["Theoretical-practical handbook of the theory of fractures and dislocations of the bone"]

From what I could find on Dr. Richter, he received his doctorate in 1821 from the Friedrich-Wilhelm Institute in Berlin, with his dissertation entitled, "De usu cataplasmatum acrium Kerndlii ad bubones syphiliticos curandoshe." He then entered into military service as surgeon for the Prussian army (that's right, this book predates the unification of Germany!). Dr. Richter rose through the ranks, eventually receiving the Red Eagle order of merit for his service. Later in life, he turned to scientific writing and advocated for reform of military medicine, and in the 1860s founded an aid society to care for wounded soldiers. 

In light of Dr. Richter's experience and interest in treating soldiers, the orthopaedic focus of this atlas makes sense. Many developments in orthopaedic surgery arose out of surgeon's experiences during World War I, but even before then, the treatment of the war-wounded certainly entailed addressing musculoskeletal injuries. 

The second volume of the atlas contains lithographs consisting of detailed diagrams of treatments for bone fractures and dislocations, and various devices meant to treat these issues with traction. While largely replaced by other techniques in contemporary orthopaedics, historically traction was an important method for treating broken bones or skeletal issues. 
Traction contraption in Dr. Richter's atlas
As Maija pointed out, many of the lithographs resemble Edward Gorey prints, featuring delicately illustrated gentlemen in various states of treatment and discomfort. In my humble opinion, any of these would be at home in a contemporary get-well-soon card from a local letterpress!

I particularly enjoy this sullen patient, resigned to traction in bed.
Dr. Richter's atlas serves as yet another example of the sometimes-unexpected beauty to be discovered in historical medical texts. Let this post also serve as a reminder to be safe during your summer adventuring, dear readers - lest you end up in a "Gorey" situation!

Monday, June 22, 2015

New Digs: Ernest E. Starr Dental Anomalies.

In the 2009 August issue of Dental Bites there’s a full page article on Hidden Portland: Museums & Collections in which the Dr. Ernest E. Starr Memorial Museum of Dental Anomalies is mentioned.  This exhibit has been the focus of much interest since the School of Dentistry made its journey from Marquam down to the Skourtes Tower on the South Waterfront.  This collection is composed of a roughly 500 dental anomalies culled from patients seen by Dr. Starr and his colleagues.  The assembled collection was displayed on the 5th floor of the old school (between the department of oral pathology and oral and maxillofacial surgery administration) and was a facet of dental life for many students and alumni.  Dr. Henry Clarke was quoted as saying that this collection is one of the largest, if not the largest collection of anomalies in the United States.

BICC Exhibit
In 2014 I created an exhibit to chart the history of the School of Dentistry from its construction throughout its life here on Marquam Hill and finally its new location down on the South Waterfront.  As part of this exhibit, which was on display in the BICC for the first 5 months of 2015, I included the Starr Anomalies.  Once word got out that the anomalies looked great, interest was turned into action at the School of Dentistry and through the dedicated work of Mary Ann Haisch and Dr. Clarke a museum -quality display case was purchased with the specific intention of providing a new home to the dental anomalies.  After months of work by Haisch and Clarke the case has arrived and is now sitting happily on the first floor of the Skourtes Tower, ready to welcome new patients.

Mary Ann Haisch posing with the Starr Memorial Exhibit

I want to thank Mary Ann Haisch and Dr. Henry Clarke for their tireless efforts to ensure that these priceless artifacts continue to have a spot in the sun (don’t worry, the case has UV coating) for future generations of dentists, their patients and anyone with an interest in unique teeth.
Till next time,