Monday, November 14, 2016

FRIDAY: Live and live stream, Dr. Michael Aminoff, “Brown-Séquard: The Man, His Syndrome, and Sensory Physiology”

Dr. Michael Aminoff
Director of the Parkinson's Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic , University of California San Francisco
“Brown-Séquard: The Man, His Syndrome, and Sensory Physiology”
Sponsored by the Department of Neurology

November 18th, 2016, 12pm-1pm
Light refreshments served

Dr. Michael J. Aminoff, M.D., D.Sc., F.R.C.P., is an internationally recognized neurologist and expert in diagnosing and treating Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Aminoff is Director of the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Clinic and Distinguished Professor of Neurology at University of California San Francisco. He is well known as a neurologist, clinical neurophysiologist, educator, author, journal editor, and medical historian.

Dr. Aminoff is the author of Brown-Séquard: An Improbable Genius Who Transformed Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2011). From the publisher: "[The book] traces the strange career of an eccentric, restless, widely admired, nineteenth-century physician-scientist who eventually came to be scorned by antivivisectionists for his work on animals, by churchgoers who believed that he encouraged licentious behavior, and by other scientists for his unorthodox views and for claims that, in fact, he never made. An improbable genius whose colorful life was characterized by dramatic reversals of fortune, he was a founder-physician of England's premier neurological hospital and held important professorships in America and France."

Can’t join us in person? A live stream of the event will also be available: View live stream

Friday, November 04, 2016

Live & live stream: Michael Helquist, "To Engage or Avoid: Matters of Sex for Oregon Physicians, 1900-1925" on Nov. 11th

We hope you'll be able to join us next Friday for the first History of Medicine Society Lecture of the 2016-2017. If you can't join us in person, tune in via live stream

"To Engage or Avoid: Matters of Sex for Oregon Physicians, 1900-1925"
Michael Helquist, historian and author

Friday, November 11th, 2016, 12pm-1pm
Light refreshments served

Public historian Michael Helquist argues that medical practitioners in Oregon struggled to serve their patients, avoid legal jeopardy, and adapt to changing social norms in the early 20th century when confronted with matters of sexual issues and reproductive services. He will consider how much sexuality was understood at the turn of the century and then focus on three areas at the intersection of sexual behavior and medical care: sexually transmitted diseases, abortion services, and birth control information. He will emphasize the role of women physicians in patient care, health services, and public health conflicts.

Helquist is the author of Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions, published by Oregon State University Press in 2015. He is also the 2016 Joel Palmer Award winner for his article “Criminal Operations: The First Fifty Years of Abortion Trials in Portland, Oregon,” published in the Oregon Historical Quarterly.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Hello from your new University Archivist

Hello HC&A blog readers. I'm Steve Duckworth, OHSU's new University Archivist. While I've not exactly settled into the position just yet (it's only my 6th day), I wanted to share a bit about myself here to get the ball rolling.

So, I just moved to Portland from Gainesville, FL where I was working as the Processing Archivist at the University of Florida (UF). I'm excited to be back in the Pacific Northwest where the terrain is beautiful and the weather changes from time to time. Before working at UF, I spent about a year working as a Project Archivist for the National Park Service in Anchorage, AK. That was an amazing experience and I'll never forget the awesomeness of the land and the life there (nor will I ever get over my love for the National Park Service). 

Previous to that, I lived in Philadelphia for quite a while. I got my MSLIS degree there at Drexel University. I worked as an Archives Processor on a Hidden Collections project run by the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL). I worked as a Records Management Assistant at Drexel University. I processed records as a volunteer at the John J. Wilcox, Jr. LGBT Archives and also did cataloging for the Sigma Sound Studios Archives at Drexel University. (So, yeah, lots of stuff happened in Philadelphia.)

Before I got into the world of libraries and archives, I spent my days teaching and performing cello. I have two degrees in music performance and love playing music with others. I'm excited to get into the music and cultural scene of Portland and do some more performing. I, as you might imagine from the National Parks stuff above, also enjoy getting out and exploring the natural world around us. Again, Portland is a great home base for such adventures. And I'm also a baker and a knitter (note the mouse in my photo; he's on Instagram @henrypurlman). 

In my role here as the University Archivist, I look forward to continuing to expand collections and open them up to our users. I hope to add more diversity to our holdings and build upon the work that has been done in the past to highlight underrepresented communities. I am excited to oversee upcoming changes in how we manage and disseminate information to our users, including our finding aids. I'm also eager to work on creating more robust systems to curate and preserve electronic records, websites, social media, and more. 

There’s a lot to learn and get a handle on, so please bear with me over the coming months. Having said that, if you want to talk about records or university history or pretty much anything else related to the archives, please feel free to get in touch. I’m located in BICC 239 and can be reached at duckwors[at]ohsu[dot]edu or 503.494.0186.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Reminder: 2017 OWHC Research Fellowship applications due 11/1/16!

*Applications due 11/1/16*

The Oregon Women's History Consortium will be awarding two annual research fellowships for 2017: a Junior Research Fellowship and a Senior Research Fellowship. The expansion of our  research fellowship is based on the positive response to our initial fellowship award in 2016. Our research fellowship continues the consortium's long-standing goal of supporting scholarship that will lead to a significant contribution in the field of Oregon women's history.

The OWHC Research Fellowships are annual awards for $1,000 each.The application deadline is November 1, 2016.

  • Undergraduate,graduate students, and recent graduates should apply to the Junior Research Fellowship.
  • Academic and independent historians and scholars should apply to the Senior Research Fellowship.

Applications can be downloaded from the Oregon Women's History Consortium website's Fellowship page, or you can find a 2017 OWHC Research Fellowship Application form attached here along with our fellowship announcement flyer.

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

We're hiring! Student workers (multiple positions), OHSU Historical Collections & Archives

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives has multiple positions open for student assistants in our archives unit. All positions provide valuable experience to a graduate or undergraduate student interested in a career in special collections or archives. All positions are scheduled for up to 20 hours per week at a starting rate of $10.50/hour. Review of applications begins immediately and continues until positions are filled. Please follow the links below to apply; applications received by email cannot be considered.

Student Assistant, Historical Collections & Archives (2 positions)

•             Accession and process archival and manuscript collections in a variety of formats
•             Assist with digitization projects
•             Support reference and research activities; conduct research relevant to collections
•             Shelve and shift materials; perform basic preservation tasks
•             Other general support duties for HC&A

To review a complete job description and apply, go to and search for IRC55111.

Digital Project Student Assistant, Historical Collections & Archives

  • Assist with processing and digitizing collections for grant-funded project on the history of public health in Oregon.
  • Conduct research relevant to collections.
  • Page, shelve, and shift collections.
  • Assist with data curation.
This is a term position funded through June 30, 2017. To review a complete job description and apply, go to and search for IRC50566.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

History of Medicine Society Lectures, 2016-2017

We've set our 2016-2017 lecture schedule! See below and add the dates to your calendars. I'll be updating with additional info as we confirm with our speakers. If you'd like to be added to our email distribution list to receive event reminders, contact me at langform [at]

Friday, November 11, 2016, 12-1pm
"To Engage or Avoid: Matters of Sex for Oregon Physicians, 1900-1925"
Michael Helquist
Historian and writer
Author of Marie Equi: Radical Politics and Outlaw Passions (Oregon State University Press, 2015)

Friday, November 18, 2016, 12-1pm
Herbert Rosenbaum Memorial Lecture
Dr. Michael Aminoff
Sponsored by the Department of Neurology

Thursday, January 26, 2016, 12-1pm
Dr. Catherine McNeur
Assistant Professor, Portland State University Department of History
Author of Taming Manhattan: Environmental Battles in the Antebellum City (Harvard University Press, 2014)

Monday, February 27, 2016, 5-6pm 
Dr. Dana Anderson
Sponsored by the Department of Surgery

All History of Medicine Society Lectures take place in the OHSU Auditorium. To request a disability accommodation, please contact me (Meg) at 503 494 5587 or langform [at]

Friday, September 09, 2016

Fall 2016 Exhibit: "Midwives Hold the Future: Advancing Nurse-Midwifery in the U.S., in Oregon, and at OHSU"

Fall 2016 Exhibit:
Midwives Hold the Future: Advancing Nurse-Midwifery in the U.S., in Oregon, and at OHSU
OHSU Main Library, BICC Building 3rd floor

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives is pleased to announce the opening of our Fall 2016 exhibit, Midwives Hold the Future: Advancing Nurse-Midwifery in the U.S., in Oregon, and at OHSU. This exhibit celebrates thirty-five years of nurse-midwifery education at the OHSU School of Nursing, locating OHSU’s program in context of the development of American nurse-midwifery over the past century.

The exhibit will be on display September – December 2016  in the OHSU Main Library, on the third floor of the Biomedical Information and Communication Center (BICC) on OHSU’s Marquam Hill campus. For a campus map, as well as customized driving, biking, and transit directions, please visit the interactive OHSU map:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

10/16-10/18: Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association (PNC/MLA) 2016 conference

Calling all health sciences and adjacent librarians! Registration is open for the 2016 PNC/MLA conference:

“Getting To Know Mary Jane: The Perils and Promise of Marijuana Policy and Practice” - Keynote Panel at PNC/MLA 2016 - Oct 17-18, 2016

The Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Medical Library Association (PNC/MLA) 2016 conference (being held Monday and Tuesday, October 17-18, 2016 in beautiful downtown Portland, Oregon at Urban Studio) features a keynote panel on the changes in Oregon and Washington around medical and recreational marijuana. If you have wondered what the individual and collective impact of these changing laws and health care practices will be, now is your chance to find out!

“Getting To Know Mary Jane: The Perils and Promise of Marijuana Policy and Practice” features Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D., Ph.D., a physician-scientist specializing in life-threatening illness and chronic pain, and affiliated faculty at MultiCare Institute of Research and Innovation; Candice Beathard, Ph.D., M.A., a policy research analyst (specializing in drug policy) at Washington State University; and Nicole Corbin, LPC, Adult Behavioral Health Services Manager for the Oregon Health Authority.

·       What questions would you like to ask of a doctor who prescribes cannabis for treatment?
·       What questions do you have about marijuana policy?
·       What questions do you have related to addictions treatment and abuse and addiction prevention?

In addition to this keynote panel will be a variety of paper presentations, a poster reception, lightning talks, and other discussions related to health and health care issues impacting the Pacific Northwest. Continuing education sessions and a beer tour of Portland (!) are scheduled for the day before the conference on Sunday, October 16. Note: The beer tour ($40) requires the participation of exactly 28 people.  If less than 28 paid registrations are received by September 19, 2016, the event will be cancelled and payments refunded. 

If you are a health sciences or hospital librarian, or a public, special, academic, or other librarian interested in learning more about health information issues, this conference is not to be missed!

Early bird registration rate for this conference ends Friday, September 16 – sign up now!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

2017 Oregon Women's History Consortium Research Fellowships

We have some exciting news to share from our partners at the Oregon Women's History Consortium!

From the OWHC's official announcement:
"Based on the interest in our initial fellowship last year offering the Oregon Women's History Consortium is excited to announce we will now be offering two annual research fellowships: a Junior Fellowship and a Senior Fellowship. Our fellowship will continue our long-standing goal of supporting scholarship that will lead to a significant contribution in the field of Oregon women's history."

The OWHC Research Fellowships are annual awards for $1,000 each.The application deadline is November 1, 2016.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students and recent graduates should apply to the junior fellowship.
  • Academic and independent historians and scholars should apply to the senior fellowship.

Applications can be downloaded from the Oregon Women's History Consortium website's Fellowship page. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Introducing our NLM traveling exhibit, "Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics and Culture"

If you visit the OHSU Library in the BICC building in the next few weeks, you’ll notice that Maija and I have installed our traveling NLM exhibit, Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics and Culture. The exhibit will be on display today until 8/15, at which point we will be moving it to our partners at the Q Center in North Portland for them to host for the remainder of its time in Portland (through 9/4).

Here’s a bit more about the exhibit from the National Library of Medicine traveling exhibits site:
“The National Library of Medicine is pleased to present our latest traveling exhibition, Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture. The exhibition explores the rise of AIDS in the early 1980’s and the evolving response to the epidemic over the last 30 years. The title Surviving and Thriving comes from a book written in 1987 by and for people with AIDS that insisted people could live with AIDS, not just die from it. Jennifer Brier, the exhibition curator, explains that ‘centering the experience of people with AIDS in the exhibition allows us to see how critical they were, and continue to be, in the political and medical fight against HIV/AIDS.’ Surviving and Thriving presents their stories alongside those of others involved in the national AIDS crisis.”

We hope you get a chance to stop by, check out the panels, and pick up a brochure. This exhibit feels very timely in its arrival, as we have a stellar research team on campus currently working to develop an HIV vaccine:

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Summer 2016 Exhibit: "Mercury, Marriage, and Magic Bullets"

Maija and I have installed our summer exhibit in the 3rd floor library entrance – swing by and check it out! See below for our full exhibit announcement.

Summer 2016 Exhibit:
Mercury, Marriage, and Magic Bullets: Four Centuries of STD Prevention and Treatment
OHSU Main Library, BICC Building 3rd floor

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives is pleased to announce the opening of our summer exhibit, “Mercury, Marriage, and Magic Bullets: Four Centuries of STD Prevention and Treatment.” This exhibit examines the development of modern medical approaches to sexually transmitted diseases, drawing upon sources in military medicine, public health, clinical research, and even poetry.

The exhibit will be on display June – September 2016  in the OHSU Main Library, on the third floor of the Biomedical Information and Communication Center (BICC) on OHSU’s Marquam Hill campus. For a campus map, as well as customized driving, biking, and transit directions, please visit the interactive OHSU map:

This exhibit is presented in conjunction with the National Library of Medicine’s traveling display, “Surviving and Thriving: AIDS, Politics, and Culture,” hosted by OHSU Library from July 25 – August 15 2016.

For more information, please contact: | 503.494.5587

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Live! Tonight! Smallpox Eradication in Global Context

Smallpox vaccination brochure, c. 1930s, Public Health Survey Records

We hope you can join us this evening at 5pm for Bob H. Reinhardt's lecture, "Variola Vanquished? The Complex History and Legacy of Smallpox Eradication," held in the OHSU Old Library/Auditorium (map). Come at 4:45 for mingling and snacks!

If you can't join us in person, you can watch the livestream of the event here starting at 5pm:

I'll update this post with the recorded video once it's online, as well.

See you soon!

You can view the lecture recording here:

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

History of Medicine Collection spotlight: death & the physician

Today I came across a really delightful bit of medical humanities in our History of Medicine collection: Dr. Albert Scott Warthin's The Physician of the Dance of Death; a Historical Study of the Evolution of the Dance of Death Mythus in Art, published in 1931. The book explores the changing depiction of the physician figure in the evolving forms of the Danse Macabre, or Dance of Death, which originated in the late medieval period and endured with fascinating modifications over ensuing centuries.

Dr. Warthin, a pathologist and Director of Pathological Laboratories at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, lays out a personal narrative of his interest in the subject in the book's forward:

By drawing together the many images of the physician in the Dance of Death, Warthin combines visual analysis with historical references to trace the changing depiction of the physician. Warthin notes, "From the standpoint of costume alone, such a study might be worthwhile, but more important than this, it should reveal something of the physician's social standing through the ages, how and what he appears to the layman, and the latter's opinion of him" (p. 7).

I must tell you that Dr. Warthin's writing is quite lively and compelling as he journeys through the centuries, touching on the interplay of death, medicine and society in European and American cultural history. Discussing the late Middle Ages and the origins of the Dance of Death, he writes:
It was a neurotic and psychopathic age, as shown in its superstitions, its religious fanaticism, its sensuality, belief in witchcraft and magic, its pleasure in torture and the dancing manias of the Rhine villages and in a thousand other manifestations of an unbalanced and uncontrolled mentality. To the mind of the period the visions of the Apocalypse made special appeal. A natural, though pathologic, reaction to the environment of the times! (p. 6)

Warthin traces the evolution of the physician in these depictions from a complicit accomplice of death in the early modern period (see Fig. 36) to a helpless mortal, surprised and outwitted by death in nineteenth century parody and satire (Figs. 68 & 82). 

Warthin concludes with a meditation on the meaning of the physician and the Dance of Death in the aftermath of World War I, and considers changes in the portrayed relationship between death and the doctor. Discussing Walt Draesner's 1922 silhouette illustration, "Death and the Anatomist" (Fig. 91), Warthin relates that the work was dedicated to the two brothers of the artist who perished in the war. He notes, "The expression on the skeleton's face as he throttles the old Professor of Anatomy is that of tense and determined cruelty." 

The text concludes with a suggestion for a new iteration of the Dance of Death: "Out of this theme surely some inspired artist could create a Dance of Death that would serve as a memorial of the important part played by medicine in the great catastrophe." 

The Physician of the Dance of Death is available for in-person research in the History of Medicine room. Contact us to make an appointment! 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

May 24th: Variola Vanquished? The Complex History and Legacy of Smallpox Eradication

Please join us Tuesday, May 24th, at 5:00pm, for the last History of Medicine Society Lecture of the 2015-2016 season:

"Variola Vanquished? The Complex History and Legacy of Smallpox Eradication"
Bob H. Reinhardt, Willamette Heritage Center

Tuesday, May 24th, 2016 at 5:00pm
OHSU Auditorium
Light refreshments served at 4:45pm

In May of 1980, the World Health Organization declared that smallpox had been eradicated.  But in July of 2014, three forgotten vials of the smallpox virus were found at a laboratory in Maryland.  How is this possible, and how worried should we be?  The End of a Global Pox: America and the Eradication of Smallpox in the Cold War Era explains the causes, development, and legacy of global effort to eradicate smallpox in the 1960s and 1970s—a remarkable transnational attempt to master the nonhuman world that both expressed and transcended the global Cold War and the American liberal state’s emphasis on modernization and development. The eradication program that evolved in this context ultimately produced a world free of smallpox as a disease, yet still haunted by the presence of the smallpox virus in high-security laboratories and in the imagination of people throughout the globe

Bob H. Reinhardt is the author of The End of a Global Pox: America and the Eradication of Smallpox in the Cold War Era (University of North Carolina Press).  He received his PhD in history from the University of California, Davis, and is currently the Executive Director of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon, where he works in the fields of environmental and public history, in addition to ongoing research in the history of public health.
For customized driving, biking, and transit directions to the venue, please visit the interactive OHSU map:  

For more information, please contact: or 503.494.5587

We hope to see you there!

Friday, March 25, 2016

OHSU Poetry Contest 2016: Call for submissions

Calling all campus poets!
OHSU students, staff, faculty and volunteers are invited to submit one to two original, unpublished poems on or before Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016, to be included in the OHSU Library and OHSU WRITEs annual poetry contest.

Prizes will be awarded for the top-rated poem in each of these three categories:
  • OHSU experience
  • Artistic excellence
  • Health and healing
The winning poems will be framed and showcased in the OHSU Library (BICC 3rd floor), and posted on the OHSU Library’s website. The winning authors in each of the three categories will receive a $50 Powell's gift card.

See the Poetry Contest 2016 page for contest guidelines and other details. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Women's History Month spotlight: Bertha Hallam, pioneering medical librarian

I almost titled this post, "Bertha Hallam was a total boss," and if you don't already agree with me, you will after reading this!

A few months ago I came across the profile, "Portrait of a Librarian," in the Summer 1965 University of Oregon Medical School's "What's Going On?" publication. Honoring Hallam's forty-six years of service (she retired in 1965, the year of publication), the piece describes her upbringing in rural Minnesota, her start as the first UOMS librarian at the NW 23rd and Lovejoy building, and her larger-than-life stature among the medical circles of the Pacific Northwest. Click each page to enlarge and read more about the woman the writer calls a "four-foot, ten-inch dynamo": 

If one looks at Hallam's long list of honors, honorary memberships, and achievements, it becomes clear how passionately she advocated for medical libraries, and how proactively she engaged with the medical communities up on the hill and around the region. She was an honorary member of Oregon State Medical Society, the Multnomah County Medical Society, the Portland Academy of Medicine, and University of Oregon Medical School Alumni Association -- that's not even counting all of her pioneering work in the Medical Library Association! 

So, how did a librarian become such a staggering figure among professional medical associations? I'd like to present you with one example of Hallam's determined advocacy efforts from the Pacific Northwest Medical Association Records. In 1931, the Pacific Northwest Medical Association was hosting their annual meeting in Seattle. Medical professionals from five states and three Canadian provinces were attending. Hallam wrote to Dr. Frederick Epplen, Secretary-Treasurer of the organization, to ask to attend and share the services and new acquisitions that the UOMS Library offered to the members as practitioners. Epplen wrote back to turn down her request:
Frederick Epplen to Bertha Hallam, April 1, 1931, Pacific Northwest Medical Association Records
Undeterred, Hallam took her request up the chain to the Dr. George W. Swift, President-Elect of the PNMA and chair of the Committee on Arrangements for the 1931 meeting, including an attached 2-page list of the services available to Northwest physicians and the new acquisitions the library offered. And when her first letter went unanswered, she persisted! 
Bertha Hallam to George W. Swift, June 16, 1931, Pacific Northwest Medical Association Records
Bertha Hallam to George W. Swift, June 22, 1931, Pacific Northwest Medical Association Records
I am especially fond of her full steam ahead approach evident in her closing line, "If I do not hear from you, Miss Ashworth and I will drive to Seattle Wednesday afternoon." I was also quite pleased to see that Clarice Ashworth Francone, medical illustrator and future head of the medical illustration department at UOMS, was also part of the plan!

So, did her persistence pay off?
George W. Swift to Bertha Hallam, June 23, 1931, Pacific Northwest Medical Association Records
I guess that got Dr. Swift's attention! 

One thing that strikes me about these documents is how they counter the narrative of the twentieth century reference librarian, sitting at the desk and passively waiting for students and faculty to come with questions. In 1931, Bertha Hallam was determinedly pursing the kind of proactive engagement with existing and potential users that liaison librarians are challenged to pursue today -- and she was quite successful! Keep in mind, Bertha Hallam was a female librarian at a relatively recently established medical library, with no postgraduate training, who managed to embed herself with numerous professional medical associations. Talk about a fearless trailblazer! We can all take a lesson from the playbook of "Miss Hallam," wouldn't you say?
Bertha Hallam in the Richard B. Dillehunt Photograph Album, circa 1920s
Happy Women's History Month!

Friday, March 04, 2016

What's in the History of Medicine Room? Portable Medicine

A recent research appointment gave me the opportunity to pull a wide range of doctor's bags from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries from our artifact collection. From saddle bags, to buggy bags, to the tidy black bags that we all recognize, we have many examples of instrument and medicine kits designed for the provider on the go -- a far more common circumstance even 50 years ago, especially in rural healthcare in states like Oregon.

Inspired by our abundance of artifacts that fit under the "portable medicine" theme, I've selected a number of my favorite kits for display in the History of Medicine Room. If you're planning on visiting us in the next month or so, you'll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with these often quite ingenious kits!

Linen surgical kit, used at Fort Vancouver, c. 1880s:
Detail: needles stored in animal skin
Small insulin kit, c. 1910s, Eli Lilly & Co:

 Dobb kit-style medical bag, containing blood pressure cuff and stethoscope, early 20th century:

Pocket tooled leather surgical kit, belonging to Dr. J. A. Reuter, who practiced in the Dalles, OR, c. 1890s:

 Cigarette-case style pocket medicine kit, containing single-use doses of camphor, ergoline, etc., c. 1920s-1940s:

I have to admit this last case makes me think of a glamorous 1940s lady-about-town, slipping into her elegant gold case for a dose of camphor when the occasion arose. [Disclaimer: this is historical imagination, not historical analysis! Please do disabuse me of this flight of fancy, history of medicine folks!]

A lot of people don't realize that, like our rare books and archives collections, our artifact collections are also open for research. You can search by keyword in this inventory list or for images of artifacts in our digital collections if you're looking for something specific -- or drop me a line and I can connect you with the right materials!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Public Health in Oregon: Discovering Historical Data

With a grant through the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), OHSU Library is digitizing historical collections on public health in Oregon, and providing open access to the scientific data they contain.

We are pleased to announce that a pilot presentation of our work is now available as an online exhibit, titled Public Health in Oregon: Discovering Historical Data.

In addition, all materials digitized for this project are being added to a collection in OHSU Digital Commons.  The collection currently contains over 200 items, including public health surveys, early medical journals, records of the People’s Institute and Portland Free Dispensary, papers from the early career of Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, records of state institutions, and more. Currently, users can download PDFs of digitized items. Work underway includes transcribing and normalizing datasets from these original materials, and adding them to the collection as Excel files.

In 2016 and early 2017, we will complete transcription and normalization of data, and make enhancements to the project based on direct feedback from public health professionals, historians, librarians, and archivists. We are thrilled to make our unique collections available to a broad audience through digitization and data curation.

The project director is Maija Anderson, Director of Curatorial Services. The project team includes Max Johnson, University Archivist; Shahim Essaid, Ontology Development Group; and student assistants Rachel Blume, Sherra Hopkins, Lacey Legel, and Grayce Mack.

This project is supported in whole by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library. We are eager for feedback on our work: Please contact Maija Anderson at for more information.

New Acquisitions: Oversize materials from Al's Clinic

I'm back!  And it didn't take an entire week either.  I just received some great materials from Al's Clinic--the former Industrial and Immigration Clinic on NW 22nd and Pettygrove.  HC&A Student Assistant, Sylvie Huhn, and I went down to the clinic a few weeks ago and boxed up a wide variety of materials (another blog post in the future, perhaps).  This week I wanted to pass along the visual feast which are these great materials I am about to show off.

Poster:  The Muscular System

Poster: The Skeletal System

First off, we have your standard fair for a clinic; nice illustrations of the inner workings of the human being.  Both in great condition and very detailed.

X-rays . . .

Pregnancy and radiation don't mix.
We found these great posters in the X-ray room (naturally), both are excellent examples of circa 1970s design.  They are in decent condition, with some spotting, missing chunks, and bend lines.

Vision tests

Lastly, we have some vision test charts.  I am not sure if we have anything like that in the archives currently, so they are great additions.

We also got this chart as well.

Vision, humor test?
It appears to be a joke chart, but I was having trouble reading all of it.

Till next time,


Digital Archives: Part I - Files and their relationships

Whoa, he's back!

It's almost been a solid two months since I graced these electronic pages with my portentous ramblings on archival concepts and practice.  As part of a year-long (yeah, let's see if I can sustain this) blog series on digital archives I am going to jump into some "beginning" concepts.  It's a big topic so I wanted to start in some familiar territory; let's talk the relationship of formats in a repository environment.  Shall we - - - -

We are going to start simple with the concept of the Master copy and the derivative copy, or access copy.  This relationship is commonly constructed when digitizing archival materials for a number of reasons:
1) Master copies tend to be large files
2) Due to that file size they are hard to provide access to in a web environment
3) Master copies are not always system-independant
4) Master copies can be considered the "authentic" version, copy or original

Whereas, access copies tend to have these qualities:
1) Much more system-independant sometimes
2) Usually compressed in some manner to save space, but not loss information
3) Easier to provide access to in a web environment

So, brass tacks means that when scanning a photograph from a family album or other legacy source, we will typically create one master copy and one access copy.  They are both maintained to archival standards and both get a full suite of metadata, but the master copy rarely is accessed or opened and usually lives in a "dark archives."  <-- A repository for master copies, rarely, if ever, accessed by patrons.

We format these files according to standards used by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) which specifies these standards for the production of digital master files and digital access copies:

Master copy
DPI: 600
Color:  RGB
Bit-depth: 8 bits per channel
File Format:  TIFF
*Typically no adjustments are done to the photograph with the exception of rotation to ensure a level representation.  Images may be cropped to within a few pixels of the item border.  We sometimes refer to this as an "evidentiary border" because it provides evidence of the completeness of an item.

Access Copy
DPI:  300 (down to 200 in some cases)
Color:  RGB (derived from Master copy)
Bit-depth: 8 bits per channel (derived from Master copy)
File Format: JPEG
*Adjustments are inherited from the Master copy.

After the items are created, one is stored in a dark archives and the other is uploaded to a public facing access-portal (this could be an online exhibit, EDRMS, CMS, or other access-system).  The patrons and users are able to access the files as needed and get what they are looking for, and we can be assured that we always have an "original" master to make a derivative from in case the original gets corrupted, deleted, or we need to verify an access copy against the master (I haven't seen this happen more than once, but that doesn't mean it might not become more common as people become more aware of what can be seen--and hidden--in a digital file/space).

I hope you enjoyed this brief dip into digital archival waters.  I'll be back in the next week or so with more information and hopefully pictures!

All the best,

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Valentine's Day GIF[t]

A few months ago, I found several worse-for-the-wear pages of flap illustrations tucked into an old edition of Gray's Anatomy. What better way to show them off than in GIF form? Since one of the illustrations has some great chest cavity layers, here's our way of saying Happy Valentine's Day, from the bottom of our hearts! 

Update: Per special request, a slowed down version of the GIF for better study!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Some of our favorite #ColorOurCollections pages!

We had a great time participating in #ColorOurCollections last week! It was wonderful to see the beautiful, unusual, fascinating illustrations that our colleagues around the globe shared from their collections - and even more fun to see how people colored them!

I thought I'd share a round-up of some of our favorites from last week:

We have to admit that our favorites so far have come from Alden, the four-year-old son of OHSU Library Access Services Coordinator Amy:
Feel like you missed the coloring fun? Nonsense! You can color our collections any time of the year. Check out the New York Academy of Medicine's handy list of all of the coloring books from participating institutions -- You'll have felt pen fodder for a year!

Friday, January 29, 2016

February 1 - 5: #ColorOurCollections week!

Have you joined in the recent coloring craze? We sure have! Next week, February 1st through 5th, we'll be celebrating #ColorOurCollections week along with special collections from all over the world. Get your colored pencils ready!

How it works:
  • We created a downloadable/printable coloring book of some of our favorite illustrations from our collections. 
  • Print the book and color away to your heart's content!
  • Share your favorites to Instagram and Twitter and tag us @OHSUHistColl, also using the #ColorOurCollections hashtag
  • We'll re-post your creations! 

On the event page, you'll also find a link to the full list of participants, many of whom have created their own awesome coloring books, so if you catch color fever, you'll be stocked up for quite a while!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Primary sources on "social hygiene" and eugenics

We recently hosted a research visit during which I was able to pull a whole host of materials on eugenics and social hygiene movements in the U.S. and Oregon in the twentieth century. The materials, as you can imagine, are at turns fascinating, disturbing, and illuminating for anyone with an interest in social history, Progressive-era movements, genetics and society, the sociology of science... the list goes on!
"A Summer of the Oregon State Survey of Mental Defect, Delinquency and Dependency," 1921
The materials that the researcher used were a mix of national-level publications and Oregon-grown surveys and reports, which were pulled from both our collections and main library holdings.

One of the more ridiculous (in my opinion) passages that I came across as I perused the texts in advance of the research appointment was in the Scientific Papers of the Second International Congress of Eugenics : Held at American Museum of Natural History, New York, September 22-28, 1921. A eugenics advocate argued that the seemingly innocuous ears of a mixed-breed rabbit could be indicative of more serious "disharmonies" present in animals (or, it is implied, humans) of mixed ancestry:
Sorry, adorable bunnies: your asymmetrical ears are a suspicious harbinger of genetic inferiority!
The passage also brought to mind the discussions of "disharmonies" in our current winter exhibit that called upon eugenics to further orthodontic practices in the early twentieth century.

 The web of pseudo-scientific theories supporting eugenics were used to justify all manner of racist immigration policies, sterilization programs, and of course political platforms such as those of the Nazi party in Germany. Though they've been thoroughly discredited today, the cultural echoes of these programs and arguments have long outlived their discussion in serious scientific circles. But don't listen to me, read more for yourself! Here are some of the main primary sources on the subject from OHSU Library and HC&A collections:


Oregon- and Portland-specific:

Monday, January 11, 2016

Winter 2016 Exhibit: "Lines of Disharmony: Skeletal Malocclusions and Aesthetics in the Development of American Orthodontic Practice"

Our Winter 2016 exhibit is installed! See below for our official exhibit announcement. 

Winter 2016 Exhibit
Lines of Disharmony: Skeletal Malocclusions and Aesthetics in the Development of American Orthodontic Practice
January – May 2016
OHSU Main Library, BICC Building 3rd floor

OHSU Historical Collections & Archives is pleased to announce the opening of our winter exhibit, “Lines of Disharmony: Skeletal Malocclusions and Aesthetics in the Development of American Orthodontic Practice,” curated by HC&A student assistant Sylvie Huhn.

This exhibit examines the development of orthodontics and oral surgery in the United States, specifically the corrective practices for Class I, Class II and Class III skeletal malocclusions, using rare books, artifacts, and archival materials from OHSU Historical Collections & Archives. In addition, the exhibit highlights the psychosocial stigma patients faced in regards to beauty standards and descriptions within early medical literature. 

The exhibit will be on display January – May 2016 in the OHSU Main Library, on the third floor of the Biomedical Information and Communication Center (BICC) on OHSU’s Marquam Hill campus. For a campus map, as well as customized driving, biking, and transit directions, please visit the interactive OHSU map:

For more information, please contact: | 503.494.5587