Friday, June 30, 2017

Now available from OHSU Library: Digital collection of primary sources and legacy data on public health in Oregon

OHSU Library is pleased to announce the completion of its digitization project, Public Health in Oregon: Accessing Historical Data for Scientific Discovery, funded by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). The project provides public access to digitized rare and unique materials related to public health in Oregon, as well as open access to the structured datasets they contain. The library is presenting the results in a digital collection of 351 items, as well as a narrative exhibit of original research on the history of public health in Oregon.

Among the collections digitized for the project are death records, public health surveys, Oregon’s earliest medical journals, hospital ledgers, visual materials, and institutional records. Many of the records address communities that are under-represented in historical analysis and under-served in health care, including communities of color, women, rural populations, and people with disabilities.

A distinguishing feature of this project is that it provides access not only to digital surrogates of print and manuscript materials, but also to machine-readable versions of structured datasets in those materials. To do this, project staff identified structured data within the materials, electronically redacted protected health information (defined by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA), and then transcribed and normalized the data into Excel files, which are available for download alongside the digitized image files.

The project director was Maija Anderson, Director of Curatorial Services. The project managers were Steve Duckworth (2016-present) and Max Johnson (2014-2016). Project contributors were Shahim Essaid, Research Associate; Kate Thornhill, Repository Community Librarian; Morgen Young, Consulting Historian; and Defteling Design. Student assistants were Rachel Blume, Rachel Fellman, Sherra Hopkins, Lacey Legel, Grayce Mack, and Sam White.

OHSU Library is honored to provide scholars, students, researchers, and the public with ready access to these materials, which may inform perspectives on public health in Oregon today. This project was supported in whole by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act, administered by the Oregon State Library. Please contact Maija Anderson at for more information about this project.

Student Assistants at NWA/CIMA '17

by Sam White

Grayce Mack, Rachel Fellman, and Sam White in front of their presentation poster
L to R: Grayce, Rachel, and myself at NWA/CIMA '17
Hello, dear readers,

My name is Sam White, and this will be my first, and last, post here on the Historical Collections & Archives blog. Alas, my position as a Student Assistant for the Public Health in Oregon: Discovering Historical Data digitization project is on its last leg. That doesn’t mean that I can’t tell you a little bit about myself and some of the exciting things I’ve been doing here at OHSU though, so here we go!

I am an almost-graduate, set to walk the stage for my Masters of Library Science from Emporia State University on August 13th of this year. Prior to making the decision to return to school, I worked as a Starbucks barista and bemoaned the fact that I’d earned my Bachelor’s in a subject as “useless” as History, when I could have been a Political Science major like my sister (who managed to snag a fantastic job right out of college). When I did finally decide to become an archivist, I packed my things and my boyfriend into a moving truck and drove from Sacramento, CA to Portland, OR, and I haven’t looked back since.

But enough about me, let’s talk about the exciting things I mentioned earlier.

Because of our work on the Public Health project, I and two fellow Student Assistants (Rachel Fellman and Grayce Mack, who you may already know) were actually sponsored by the department to attend the Annual conference for Northwest Archivists and Council of Inter-Mountain Archivists.

our presentation poster from NWA/CIMA 2017

Our poster from NWA/CIMA '17
Held in Boise, ID, from May 17th-19th of this year, this was a relatively informal gathering of like-minded professionals dedicated to lifelong learning, and the three of us were grateful for the opportunity to not only attend, but present a poster as well.

While we were between panels and pop-up sessions, we found time to attend events such as the opening reception, where the terror of networking was softened considerably by the fact that the event was held at Woodland Empire Ale Craft, a taproom, and there was beer aplenty. And also a taproom Ogre, guarded by (or perhaps guarding?) Brienne of Tarth.

We likewise attended the final reception, held at the Union Pacific Mainline Depot, which I unfortunately did not photograph, but suffice to say that you should visit if possible. On the same day, we also made a trip to the Boise Art Museum (fondly known as BAM), where we feasted our eyes on three separate installations and a small sculpture garden, as well as a truly exorbitant gift shop.

Another of the interesting events of this trip was our tour of the local Basque Museum and Cultural Center, which not only took us through the museum as promised, but also included a tour of an actual historic Basque boarding house, as well as a live demonstration of a truly athletic sport called Basque pelota. Again, no pictures, this time because they weren’t allowed, but I highly recommend a visit if you have the time.

Facade of the Boise Public Library
The Boise Public Library!
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of our trip to Boise, however, was found where you would least expect it: at the Boise Public Library! Although I suppose that's not very surprising for a bunch of library students.

No, really. If only every public library building were so excited about being a library.

All in all, our visit to Boise was what I would call fruitful. Grayce, Rachel, and myself became closer (being in one hotel room will do that, I suppose), we attended and presented at our very first conference, we schmoozed with archivists of the Pacific North West like the desperate graduate students we are, we spotted a library with an exclamation point, and finally ...

We marveled at the beauty of Boise street art.

Two transformers with cartoon figures painted on, in Boise ID
Two transformers with cartoon figures painted on, in Boise ID
Body builder painted on the side of a building, with "I love you" below
The bodybuilders of Boise love you.
There was, for example, an Arnold-like bodybuilder painted on the patio of a local taproom, who wanted only to tell you, and everyone else in Boise, that he loves you.

There were also two transformers with figures painted on, which would have not been amiss on the set of a Gorillaz music video.

Transformer street art in Boise, ID
Tonto contemplates life, and his new car.
And finally, we have this ingenious man, who fits with one of two possibilities. One, he is Tonto to the masked man's Lone Ranger, or two, he's trapped a bandit (or the sheriff in these here parts?), and is now contemplating his freedom and the beauty of his time travelling wheels.

There were plenty more transformers, and a surprising amount a street art, but I think that maybe I've posted too many already, so I'll end with this:

So long, HC&A, and thanks for all the fish.

Just kidding, that's plagiarism.

Really, I have been so grateful to work in a department that values the professional growth of its student workers, and I cannot recommend this position enough, particularly for library students looking to get into the archival profession. Thanks for having me, and I'll be following you from the other side ... of the blogger-sphere.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

The other Historical Collections & Archives student worker!

by Jaime Bogdash

Hello! My name is Jaime Bogdash and I am one of the student workers in the Historical Collections & Archives department at OHSU. I am fairly new to this position
and the world of archives, but am very excited about the collections and the process of preservation. I am currently a student in the Master’s of Library Science program at Emporia State University in Kansas, but I live and work in Portland. It’s an interesting fact that Oregon does not currently have any programs to earn a Master’s in Library Science, so Emporia State started a Portland-based cohort program where we attend classes partially online and about twice a month have weekend meetings. It’s a nice balance that allows me to work at OHSU to gain practical experience while still having the personal connection of a cohort and in-person classes.

Prior to starting my library program, I completed a Master’s in Educational Leadership and Policy at Portland State University. While working on that degree, I worked as a graduate teaching assistant and learned that I had a passion for helping undergraduate students work on their research and literacy competency skills. My passion for research and university education led me to library science and the archives at OHSU. I am very passionate about local history and providing and organizing artifacts to help others best be able to successfully complete research whether from books, historic collections, or artifacts. In my short time at OHSU, I have already gained a lot of new knowledge and a growing interest in the history of the medical field. I look forward to being able to share on this blog some of the interesting artifacts, stories, and collections we come across in the OHSU archives.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Oral history interview with Toni Eigner-Barry, DMD

by Rachel Fellman

“One of my residents said one time I was the Indiana Jones of dentistry,” says Dr. Toni Eigner-Barry Eigner in her interview for the OHSU Oral History Program. “And really, that’s who I want to be.” 

Her globe-spanning dentistry practice has led her to Cameroon, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Nepal, as well as to public health work closer to home. Throughout her career, she’s worked for underfunded, duct-tape dental programs and done things dentists don’t usually do.

Dr. Eigner-Barry with staff and students at OHSU (Historical Image Collection, doi:10.6083/M4445JZH)
She grew up working-class in Portland, the daughter of a heating/AC mechanic. As a prospective student, she applied to programs in psychology and general medicine as well as dentistry; dentistry school said “yes” first, and that determined the course of her life. She began her professional education in 1973, and although she was one of only three women in her class of eighty, she always felt supported there. When an administrator tried to force the female dental students to store their equipment in the dental hygienists’ locker room, two floors below the one reserved for dentists, the male students threatened a sit-out until the administrator backed down. “It was this great moment,” she says, “where you realized the tide had turned.”

Dr. Eigner-Barry’s career was adventurous from the beginning. After her freshman year, she and her first husband (a medical student) traveled to Cameroon to work at Banso Hospital. It was the first of several such trips over the years. The general surgeon there, Dieter Lemke, told her to “only leave behind what you teach” when working overseas -- advice that she’s tried to live by. He taught her to do local anesthetic and remove teeth; in turn, she trained a Cameroonian nurse and a local teenager who eventually became a dentist herself. Years later, she was responsible for putting together a full-scale dental clinic. On another trip, she rescued maternity clinic staffers from a tribal war, then picked up the wounded and acted as an anesthesiologist for the treating surgeon.

She had always been interested in work that was a little beyond conventional dentistry, taking on a general practice residency (GPR) after graduation to learn “how to wire a fractured mandible, oral surgery, general anesthesia.” After her residency, she joined the OHSU dental faculty as well as the hospital dental service, treating complex cases: “cancer, bleeding disorders, heart failure, organ transplant.” To treat a boy with severe hemophilia, she learned a new anesthesia technique, using a tiny 30-gauge needle, and practiced it on herself.

Besides the dental service, teaching, and extensive clinical work overseas, she spent much of her career at the Russell Street Clinic (founded by Dr. David Rosenstein, who we recently featured on this blog). She speaks admiringly of Dr. Rosenstein’s optimism: “He thinks that pigs can fly. And he made that one fly for thirty-five years.” Here, once again, her work sometimes overlapped with general medicine. Her clients at Russell Street were “populations that are underserved medically and dentally. So I mean, because they’re also underserved medically, you really need to look at people closely. I’ve been the first one to see a patient and diagnose oral cancer two or three times.” Another time it was bacterial endocarditis.

Check out the interview here for more about this swashbuckling dentist.