Friday, January 19, 2007

Mix and match image donation

Today, we received a donation of five images from the Alumni Association of the OHSU School of Medicine. Interestingly enough, only two of them pertain specifically to the Medical School.

The first is a large format composite photograph of the Medical School Class of 1913. This fills in a gap in our holdings, which previously jumped from 1911 to 1914 (and here's my plea to those of you who might know where a 1912 class photo is hiding!). The Class of 1913 included one female, the very lovely Mary Leona Jacob, who stands out prominently in the upper row of student faces. A classmate of hers bears the now very familiar name of Rinehart: Harvey Earl Rinehart was one of the eighteen men in that particular class. The class photo also includes all the faculty, with S.E. Josephi and K.A.J. Mackenzie given prominence in placement and size of image.

The second Medical School-related image is an aerial of Marquam Hill, circa 1931, which shows Mackenzie Hall, Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children, Outpatient Clinic, Multnomah County Hospital and Multnomah Pavilion, as well as the Willamette waterfront and four of the city's bridges. Sharp contrast to the modern SoWa skyline!

We also received a large undated class photograph from North Pacific College, precursor to the OHSU School of Dentistry. This mystery will be tough to crack, since we have so few Dental School class pictures against which to compare this image; since none of the people in the photograph are identified, we can't even narrow it down by faculty tenures. In any case, definitely a great addition to our collection.

Lastly, we received two architectural drawings, floorplans for floors one and three of the new School of Nursing Building, dated 1989. This building serves as SoN's first true home of its own, after about eighty years of growth under the auspices of the Medical School. These floorplans nicely complement the print photographs of SoN construction we received from UNP last week. I love when it all fits together!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Ephemera, or what we call dribs and drabs

It's the random piece of paper coming into one's possession without provenance, out of context, perhaps undated, unsigned, that tends to cause the most hestitation and the deepest philosophical musings about the nature of information, about information-seeking behaviors, about "aboutness." Because, where do you file something like that? So that other people will be able to find it later and make use of it in some way?

Luckily, we here
have The Subject Files, a moderately vast and varied melange of materials on, well, whatever random pieces of information have come into our possession, really. Sure, we have the three folders of articles and et cetera on the tram; one on physician-assisted suicide; several on OHSU research that has made the news. But it's also a great system for one-offs, like the "Native Doctor's License" and articles on those missing Austin murals that used to hang in Mackenzie Hall.

This morning, I waded through another small puddle of miscellaneous things from the archives, flotsam and jetsam that washed away from their moorings and remain unassociated with any larger collections:

Operative dentistry--junior year. Outline for preparation and filling of root canals. No date, and I don't know enough about root canal technique at this point to date it based on content. There are references to radiograms, various tools ("S.S.W. 34-36"), solutions, chip blowers. Did it come from the University of Oregon Dental School or one of its predecessor institutions? I don't know. Solution? Subject Files: Education, Dental.

Fee bill of the Umatilla County Medical Society. No date, circa 1891. Originally, this had been cataloged for the History of Medicine Collection, but since it's just a broadside, it didn't make much sense to have it there, folded up and stuck into an acidic Gaylord enclosure. So, out it comes. We learn here that labor in the city is presumed to take 8 hours, and will run the mother-to-be $20.00. However, rural deliveries are $20 plus: "time and expenses extra," apparently at the discretion of the physician. Treatment of syphilis required payment in advance, and would run you $25-150. So, this is a pretty neat document, but where to put it? Subject Files: Societies, Medical-- Umatilla County Medical Society.

Bulletin release from State Board of Higher Education. No date, but maybe circa 1931, because reference is made to the "new" Outpatient Clinic on Marquam Hill. It notes that our missions are the training of physicians, care of the sick, and "the study of obscure diseases through research in an effort to learn their prevention and cure." Apparently, in the ten years preceding this bulletin release, the Medical School had garnered "more than $1,200,000.00" from the Rockefeller Foundation for research. The release to the media seems to revolve around "the new plan," in which "entrance requirements for the Medical School may be met either at Corvallis or Eugene..." Similarly, the first two years of "nursing education and public health nursing ... are given on the Corvallis campus with two more years in Portland..." There is also an announcement that Dean Richard Dillehunt will become the Director of the Medical School (I'm not sure what the awarding of this supplemental post implies), and the annual announcement of faculty.

So where to put that one? We have boxes of materials on the Medical School, including ones called "curriculum," "faculty," "Dept. of Nursing Education." We have folders on school history--even a folder called miscellaneous, which I really hate to use unless I have to. So, I'm mulling it over. If you have any thoughts, dear reader, let me know: maybe I just can't see the forest for the trees!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

History of obesity

Boy, it seems like forever since Friday afternoon, and it is certainly true that I haven't been in the office much since then. Meteorologists: sometimes, they get it spectacularly wrong.

any case, Friday afternoon was when I sat in on Dr. Jonathan Purnell's lecture on the history of obesity, delivered to the second-year medical students in the history of medicine elective course. Purnell, who heads up the Center for the Study of Weight Regulation here at OHSU, made it clear from the outset that his topic was not "cultural norms" surrounding weight, but rather the history of the recognition of obesity as a medical condition. It wasn't until doctors began performing routine autopsies in the early 1900s that any thought was given to causes of obesity outside of sloth and laziness; a few cases of brain tumors associated with obesity-related deaths (as well as deaths due to starvation) clued researchers in to the presence of the satiety and feeding centers in the hypothalamus. This led to the development of the medical concept of obesity in the 1940s and 1950s.

By the 1950s, set point theories (lipostatic and glucostatic) ruled the day, until a series of studies of parabiotically-joined mice finally led to the discovery of the hormone leptin (also called the ob gene) in 1994. Since then, additional research has uncovered a host of possible factors in weight regulation. Yesterday in the online version of PNAS, researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis published their findings on the role of bacteria in obesity. (Several media outlets--like LiveScience--have picked up on this research and translated for lay audiences, like me.) Dr. Purnell and the researchers at the OHSU CSWR have made a few key discoveries of their own, and their work on the mystery of this "silent killer" continues.

Since no research area is without its share of controversy, Purnell did tantalize the students with a brief mention of the feud between the ob gene hunters Dr. Jeffrey M. Friedman and Rudy Leibel. Their early work together is covered in numerous articles (such as this and this), but none of the dirty laundry is aired. Sounds like another great paper topic to me!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Snow closure

For those of you who might not have seen the library website, a notice that we are closing today because of the snow and inclement weather conditions. Check back in tomorrow for an update--perhaps we'll be back working by then!