Friday, April 24, 2015

New Accessions: Dr. Blanchard's Presentation on Iceland Spar

About a week ago I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Blanchard during a History of Medicine Lecture Series steering committee meeting.  Dr. Blanchard donated one of the first sets of materials in an on-going donation to the archives.  This accession was composed of materials he used for his presentation on Iceland Spar that was given at the November meeting of the Northwest Independent Scholar Association.  The panels from the presentation were displayed at the Casey Eye Institute for a while as well.

The presentation panels

Iceland Spar, also called Optical calcite, is a crystal formed of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) and was found initially in Iceland, however, functional mines all over the world have developed since its discovery.

Blanchard’s research begins with Erasmus Bartholin who wrote the first scientific description of the Iceland Spar, but who also concluded much work was yet needed to understand the properties of light based on his observations of the spar.  Blanchard’s research then touches on the work of Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist, whose work focused on light refraction.  Huygens tested his theories on the Iceland Spar, and concluded that more work was needed to understand light.  Blanchard notes that Huygens’ theories did not gain much traction at the time.

Discussion of Newton's theories

A breakdown of the mineral properties of calcite
However Newton’s theories did.  Newton’s theories of light which were not debunked due to the nature of the Iceland Spar were widely accepted for over a century

Here’s a closer look at the “dual” nature of the spar:
A little piece of text that typically sits under the calcite

The calcite

The calcite sitting over the text, note the doubling effect
The Iceland Spar has unique applications in ophthalmology including uses in glaucoma management and ophthalmoscopy.  Outside of its use in ophthalmology, the spar was used by Vikings to navigate in cloudy weather.  In addition, calcite was used for bomb sites in World War II.

For more detail about the history of calcite and the theories of light that surround it, please visit the Historical Collections & Archives.

A Visit from the School of Nursing Archives Committee

This week we were fortunate to host a visit from the committee of School of Nursing [SON] alumnae responsible for the safe transfer of the SON Archives collection to HC&A. These dedicated committee members spent countless hours gathering and identifying the materials that represented decades of the school's history. They worked closely with Karen Peterson, our since-retired University Archivist, and ensured that materials were inventoried and preserved in archival boxes before they even came to the archives - it was quite a "turn-key" collection for us, thanks to the efforts of this dedicated team!

Our visit started with a tour of the repository area where the materials are stored, where we discussed the preservation concerns we addressed and our methods for storing the materials in a logical and accessible manner.
Image via Mark Kemball, OHSU Foundation
Discussions included our recently-completed project to store the group of SON uniforms and capes that comprise quite a sizable series in the SON collection. Our student assistant Crystal, who took charge of the project, will be addressing this feat in an upcoming blog post! 
I call it, "Anatomy of a Nursing Cape Preservation Box"
After touring the stacks and discussing how HC&A addressed preservation issues for the diverse array of materials, we adjourned to the History of Medicine room to show off our new space and share a preview of our planned Fall 2015 exhibit of the collection.

On our reading room table, we displayed some representative selections for a sneak peak of the exhibit, which will run from September through December of 2015 in the main lobby of the OHSU Library. The lamps pictured below mark a tradition carried on during the "capping ceremonies" at commencement each year, pictured in this favorite image from our Historical Images Collection. We also displayed several items related to Multnomah Hospital Training School, which predated the University of Oregon Medical School's Department of Nursing Education, itself a precursor to University of Oregon School of Nursing and the current Oregon Health & Science University School of Nursing (did you catch all those name changes?!).
SON commencement lamp, next to eponymous yearbook!
Diploma from Multnomah Hospital Training School, SON's precursor
We also brought out a selection of yearbooks, which are always one of my favorite items in a collection like this. Often yearbooks offer great images that aren't represented elsewhere in the archives, like all of the wonderful candid student activities photos in these yearbooks from 1939 and 1949!
1939 "Pylon", the School of Nursing yearbook
1949 yearbook
As one of our visitors pointed out, the yearbooks also provide great visual identification assistance when it comes to the textiles: Changes in caps, aprons, capes, and collars throughout the years are documented and definitely dated in the yearbooks, providing a great visual accompaniment to the wonderful scroll of nursing uniform changes created by committee member Elaine Mahoney, RN, MPH.

We are so incredibly fortunate to have such excellent allies and partners-in-archives in the SON Archives committee. As we noted during the visit, HC&A can only preserve and share the historical materials that people think to conserve and transfer or donate to us. It is the foresight of individuals like these dedicated alumnae that ensures that records like those of the School of Nursing become part of the history of the health sciences. We are also very grateful to Mark Kemball of the OHSU Foundation for arranging this wonderful visit!

The complete finding aid to the collection may be accessed here:

Stay tuned as we ramp up preparations for the Fall 2015 School of Nursing Archives exhibit this summer!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Garrison-Morton database now available from!

Wow! The fifth edition of Morton's Medical Bibliography (Garrison-Morton for short, or G-M for shorter) is now freely available as an interactive database, thanks to rare book dealer and scholar Jeremy Norman. This is great news for researchers in medical history, for whom this text is indispensable. As Mr. Norman announces,
"This standard reference work for the history of medicine, biology, and dentistry was originated by Fielding H. Garrison, and expanded and revised through four editions by Leslie T. Morton. It was further revised and expanded by Jeremy M. Norman for the fifth edition. The fifth edition, published in 1991, and the last edition in book form, contained nearly 9000 entries, most of which were annotated. The new revised web version, offered free of charge, incorporates interactive features and other enhancements which significantly improve usability."
I use Garrison-Morton regularly when reviewing book donations and considering purchases. I have an older print edition in my office, which is much the worse for wear. The library has many copies too, of course. However, none ever seemed to be around when I needed them most (in the stacks, in a donor's basement, at home browsing book dealer catalogs). The interactive nature of the online version also makes it easy to browse the 9000 entries. While we're all about print copies when it comes to rare books themselves, it's great to have a free online G-M available for researching them!