Tuesday, August 08, 2017

New collection: Donald L. Blanchard papers

by Jaime Bogdash

Strabismic eyes, page 15

Chronic Fluxes of the Eyes, page 100
I've recently finished processing the Donald L. Blanchard papers. Dr. Blanchard is a native of Portland and an alumnus of the OHSU (or UOMS, rather) School of Medicine. He worked at OHSU as an ophthalmologist and is also a medical historian, and although Dr. Blanchard has retired, he still volunteers at the Casey Eye Institute. This collection contains articles written by Dr. Blanchard, papers from the Cogan Ophthalmic History Society's annual meetings, and Blanchard’s writings about German physician Georg Bartisch, as well as his translation of Bartisch’s grand Ophthalmodouleia. In addition, the collection contains an Iceland Spar which has been used in ophthalmology for glaucoma management and ophthalmoscopy. To read more about Iceland Spar and ophthalmology please see a previous blog post about Dr. Blanchard’s Iceland Spar presentation.

Blanchard has done extensive studying and writing about Georg Bartisch and his work. Bartisch was a German physician in the 1500s who is thought to be the first to produce a Renaissance manuscript on ophthalmic disorders and eye surgery.

Application of Medicine, page 146
His text, Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst, was written in 1583 and contains descriptions of varied ocular diseases and surgical techniques and tools. The book also contains 92 amazing wood cut illustrations of these various eye diseases and tools. Bartisch was an avid fan of magic, witch craft, and herbal remedies, so some of the cures contain some less common practices in ophthalmology. In 1996, Blanchard translated Bartisch’s text into English and included many of the original, beautiful, and often graphic illustrations.


The Donald L. Blanchard papers contain a printer's proof of the translation; a final published version, as well as Bartisch's original, can be found in the HC&A rare book collections. Blanchard’s other articles discuss the historical significance of Bartisch’s work. Overall, this collection contains quite a diverse and interesting looking into ophthalmological history.