Thursday, December 31, 2015

A history of the medical school from 1940

For my last foray into writing for this blog in 2015 I want to bring you a unique history of the school that is so tied into the school's function it is hard not to chuckle a little.  The 1940 copy of Asclepia (University of Oregon Medical yearbook) contains a great history of the school written as if the school were a patient undergoing diagnosis and treatment.

The history was written by Roscoe Wilson and starts with the explanation that the school's chief complaint is "growing pains."  The history continues to provide insight into the changing functions, staffing, and scope of the educational and treatment services offered on Marquam Hill.  My favorite section is related to the fire that occurred on the medical school in May of 1919 which the author contextualizes in medical parlance as a case of "pyrexia."

According to the history:
"Dr. Robert Benson, then Professor of Pathology, went to his laboratory on the second floor and tried to save some his specimen bottles and slide boxes by throwing them into the waiting arms of medical students on the ground below.  However, many of the articles were missed and fell into the garden of an old German who lived next door and didn't like the school anyway; and for the next several weeks, he was picking pieces of pathological foetuses [sic] and tumor specimens from his potatoes."

This is immediately followed by another humorous anecdote:
"In the early days of the school, if a professor needed supplies, he simply bought them himself and sent the bill later.  Dr. (Pop) Allen was Professor of Anatomy and had bought some lab coats with large pink stripes which everybody in the department disliked.  During the fire, one of the lab technicians (name withheld) rushed in, gathered up the detested coats and threw them in the blaze."

These types of materials are great in that they provide a more anecdotal, humorous side to the history of the school then one might find by simply going through the records of the school.  This history is full of such stories and interesting tidbits.

We have a copy in our Archival Publications collections as well as our Ephemera Collection, give us a shout to research this cool, and unique view of the early school.

Till next year, dear Readers, have excellent weekend and talk to you soon!

As always,