Blogs

Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Travel Award

12 December 2013 - 9:46am by Lei Wang

The Historical Library of the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University is pleased to announce its seventh annual Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Travel Award for use of the Historical Library.

The Medical Historical Library, located in New Haven, Connecticut, holds one of the country’s largest collections of rare medical books, journals, prints, photographs, and pamphlets. Special strengths are the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Vesalius, Boyle, Harvey, Culpeper, Priestley, and S. Weir Mitchell, and works on anesthesia, and smallpox inoculation and vaccination. The Library owns over fifty medieval and renaissance manuscripts, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and over 300 medical incunabula.  The notable Clements C. Fry Collection of Prints and Drawings has over 2,500 fine prints, drawings, and posters from the 15th century to the present on medical subjects.  The library also holds a great collection of tobacco advertisements, patent medicine ephemera, and a large group of materials from Harvey Cushing, one of the founding fathers of neurosurgery.

The 2014-2015 travel grant is available to historians, medical practitioners, and other researchers who wish to use the collections of the Medical Historical Library.  There is a single award of up to $1,500 for one week of research during the academic fiscal year July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015.  Funds may be used for transportation, housing, food, and photographic reproductions. The award is limited to residents of the United States and Canada. Applicants should send a curriculum vitae and a description of the project including the relevance of the collections of the Historical Library to the project, and two references attesting to the particular project. Preference will be given to applicants beyond commuting distance to the Historical Library.  This award is for use of Medical Historical special collections and is not intended for primary use of special collections in other libraries at Yale.  Applications are due by Sunday, APRIL 27th, 2014.  They will be considered by a committee and the candidates will be informed by JUNE 6th, 2014. An application form can be found on our website: http://historical.medicine.yale.edu/us/grant

Applications and requests for further information should be sent to:

Melissa Grafe, Ph.D
John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History
Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library
Yale University
P.O. Box 208014
New Haven, CT 06520-8014
Telephone: 203- 785-4354
Fax: 203-785-5636
E-mail: melissa.grafe@yale.edu

Delightful Delusions: A reflection on Jan Van de Velde’s “The Quack: Populus vult decipi” (1615-1641)

5 December 2013 - 9:57pm by Melissa Grafe

 

We have a secret!  Blog post on an item in the Books of Secrets exhibit, by student curator Jarrell Ng          

Something that has both puzzled and fascinated me throughout this course is how the professors of secrets and their books became so authoritative even though many of their recipes were fantastical, and probably never worked. The charlatans especially - as depicted in Jan van de Velde’s print “The Quack: Populus vult decipi” (1603-1641) - were blatant in their fraudulence, performing songs, comedy and cheap carnival tricks to attract crowds, “appropria[ting] recipes from earlier books of secrets”[1], and of course fabricating secrets of their own. How could people have been so enthralled by such falsities, and why was such a market of lies so sustainable?

            A common narrative advanced is that the theatricality of their displays - “the mountebanks put on a slapstick comedy, using the characters, devices and gigs of what would later be called the commedia dell’arte”[2] - made the ciarlatania beloved source of entertainment for European publics. Sure, this may account for their popularity, but it fails to explain why people took the further step of actually spending moneyto purchase their phony remedies. Van de Velde’s print seems to acknowledge this; it de-emphasizes the theatricality of the charlatan’s display - he stands back with his arms on his waist, allowing his nostrums to speak for themselves - subtly hinting at the possibility that people were actually drawn to the mountebank’s secrets themselves, and not just beguiled by his diversions.

            Perhaps then, those who purchased these false secrets were simply gullible; naive or desperate enough to be convinced of their authenticity. Yet, given the farcical methods that charlatans used to ‘prove’ their remedies, to merely conclude that all their customers were foolish seems unsatisfying. Even the professors of secrets, who made a more deliberate effort to establish legitimacy than the ciaralatani- and were therefore less obviously unreliable - should, conceivably, have lost their credibility once people tested out the recipes in their books and discovered that many were ineffective. Thus, unless one believes that European publics at the time were truly that half-witted, gullibility offers a painfully inadequate explanation for why commercialized secrets sustained such popularity; as we know, no less than 104 editions of Alessio Piemontese’s work were published from 1555 to 1699.

            Van de Velde’s simple yet sophisticated proposition however, that people want to be deceived (populus vult decipi),is very compelling. As we know, the invention of print did not result in the universalspread of knowledge, or a complete shift away from esotericism. Many constituencies still jealously guarded their secrets from ‘vulgar’, common folk - the Church for instance fought to maintain control of occult forces, while alchemists used decknamenand allegory to obscure the truth of their ‘divine revelations’. Thus, when the professors of secrets published their discoveries in step-by-step recipes within inexpensive books, and the charlatans sold magical remedies in the piazza at affordable prices, they gave the masses a sense of empowerment that went above and beyond the actual utility of the secrets traded. The effectiveness of the recipes or potions was ultimately of little consequence, because what customers in the marketplace were searching for were perhaps not pharmaceutical, alchemical or agricultural recipes per se, but the delightful delusion that it was within their reach to manipulate Nature and control the world around them. The spread of cheap, tradable secrets took power away from traditional authorities such as the Church, and gave those deemed unworthy of such higher pursuits the opportunity to partake in the fashionable hunt for the secrets of nature - the ‘swines’ now had access to the ‘pearls’, and the powerful symbolism of this transition made the question of the pearls’ authenticity largely inconsequential.

            There is something thoroughly romantic about this narrative - certainly much more romantic than the suggestion that people were simply too stupid to realize they were being deceived - and it is perhaps the same romanticism that drives our enduring obsession with the books of secrets today.


[1]Eamon, W. (1994). Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture. Princeton University Press. p.243.

[2]Ibid., p.238.

Books of Secrets: Alchemy, Medicine, and Magic

15 November 2013 - 11:47am by Lei Wang

Opening Reception: November 18 6:00 -7:30 p.m.
Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Rotunda

On view: November 18, 2013 to January 17, 2014

This is a student-curated exhibit from Professor Paola Bertucci’s undergraduate seminar, Spies, Secrets, and Science.

Books of secrets divulged medicinal, alchemical, artisanal, and other kinds of “secrets” of nature and the arts. These “cheap” books, mostly written as books of recipes or how-to manuals, met with extraordinary success around the 16th century; they were also translated into several languages and reprinted until the 19th century.

Whether real or imaginary, their authors achieved a remarkable level of authority among the reading public. The legendary “Isabella Cortese” and “Alessio Piemontese” revealed much about nature and its hidden ways of operating, just as their better known contemporaries Francis Bacon and René Descartes.

Selections from the Medical Historical Library's collections will be on display.

Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5

4 November 2013 - 4:54pm by Mark Gentry

The new edition of the DSM-5 is now available via PsychiatryOnline.   

Also, use Orbisto find the online book or the print copy in the Medical Library.

The Medical Library has a print copy in the Reserve Room Ref 21 RC455.2 C4 D536 2013.  The Yale School of Nursing also has a copy in the Commons for nursing students shelved under RC455.2 C4 D536 2013.

If you need assistance locating or using DSM-5, please contact your personal or liaison librarian.

FirstConsult: point-of-care App for your iPhone or iPad

1 November 2013 - 12:07pm by Mark Gentry

First Consult, a point-of-care resource included in the popular ClinicalKey online resource, is availble for mobile download to Apple iOS devices. First Consult is a clinical decision support resource that leverages evidence-based medical information to provide clinicians, librarians and others with the easy access to the latest on evaluation, diagnosis, clinical management, prognosis and prevention. No data connection is needed to access the mobile version after the initial download.  You will need to register for a personal account on ClinicalKey.  Details on the First Consult App are available on the Mobile Device Applications page

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) BioSystems Database

28 October 2013 - 10:18am by Lynn Sette

A biosystem or biological system is a group of molecules that interact in a biological system. One type of biosystem is a biological pathway, which can consist of interacting genes, proteins, and small molecules. Another type of biosystem is a disease, which can involve components such as genes, biomarkers, and drugs.

The NCBI BioSystems Database was developed to (1) serve as a centralized repository of data; (2) connect the biosystem records with associated literature, molecular, and chemical data throughout NLM’s Entrez system; and (3) facilitate computation on biosystems data. This is a remarkable resource for researchers interested in the biological sciences.

Help is available in 4 areas:

  • Using BioSystems. A great place to get started. The About area provides a nice introduction to the records contained within this database along with some great examples, such as "find the pathways in which a given gene or protein is involved" and "retrieve 3D structures for proteins involved in a biosystem."
  • BioSystem Tools. Features primers on some very powerful statistical tools including FLink, which handles large quantities of input and output data.
  • Other Resources. Includes links to other databases, such as PubChem and BioAssay.
  • NCBI BioSystems Database Help.

UpToDate Anywhere

13 October 2013 - 11:15pm by Mark Gentry

Uptodate Anywhere

The UpToDate Anywhere mobile app is available for Apple iOS, Android and Windows 8 phones and tablets.  Free individual access is available to all affiliates of Yale University and Yale-New Haven Hospital.  Initial registration must be done either on the network or from a remote connection to Yale or YNHH.  Individual login also allows accumulation of free CME/CE credits gained by reading UTD topics.  An Internet connection is required to use UpToDate Anywhere.  In order to keep your individual account active, logon to your account from a Yale or YNHH computer (or remote connection) at least once every 30 days.

Consult the mobile device page for more information on UpToDate Anywhere app.

UpToDate is linked from EPIC along with two other popular resources AccessMedicine and Micromedex.  By linking your individual account withUpToDate with your EPIC ID you can accumulate CME whenever you access UpToDate from within EPIC.  For details on UpToDate in Epic ...

James Rothman, 2013 Nobel Prize Winner

7 October 2013 - 12:58pm by Mark Gentry

James E. Rothman, ’71 B.S., the Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences, and professor and chair of the Department of Cell Biology at Yale University, was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his work on how molecular messages are transmitted inside and outside of our cells, the Royal Swedish National Academy announced today (Oct.7). Rothman, who is also professor of chemistry at Yale, shares the prize with Randy Schekman of the University of California, Berkeley and Thomas Südhof of Stanford University.

See the YaleNews item for more information on James Rothman and his research.

To learn more about Rothman’s research and to see the impact of his scientific discoveries, follow the articles links below:

Sollner, T., Whiteheart, S. W., Brunner, M., Erdjument-Bromage, H., Geromanos, S., Tempst, P., & Rothman, J. E. (1993). SNAP receptors implicated in vesicle targeting and fusion. Nature, 362(6418), 318-324.  Cited 1745 times in Scopus.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/362318a0

Rothman, J. E. (1994). Mechanisms of intracellular protein transport. Nature, 372(6501), 55-63.  Cited 1671 times in Scopus.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/372055a0

Weber, T., Zemelman, B. V., McNew, J. A., Westermann, B., Gmachl, M., Parlati, F.,Rothman, J. E. (1998). SNAREpins: Minimal machinery for membrane fusion. Cell, 92(6), 759-772. Cited 1430 times in Scopus.    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81404-X

Sollner, T., Bennett, M. K., Whiteheart, S. W., Scheller, R. H., & Rothman, J. E. (1993). A protein assembly-disassembly pathway in vitro that may correspond to sequential steps of synaptic vesicle docking, activation, and fusion. Cell, 75(3), 409-418.  Cited 1065 times in Scopus.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0092-8674(93)90376-2

Miesenbock, G., De Angelis, D. A., & Rothman, J. E. (1998). Visualizing secretion and synaptic transmission with pH-sensitive green fluorescent proteins. Nature, 394(6689), 192-195. Cited 946 times in Scopus.    http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/28190

Rothman, J. E., & Wieland, F. T. (1996). Protein sorting by transport vesicles. Science, 272(5259), 227-234. Cited 898 times in Scopus.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.272.5259.227

Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière: The Physician and the Hysterical Women

27 September 2013 - 8:39am by Lei Wang

The Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière (1876-80), a landmark publication in medical photography, is on view in the Rotunda of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library through November 15th, 2013. This collection of texts and photographs represents the female patients of Dr. Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière hospital and asylum during the years of his tenure as director. The patients, diagnosed primarily with hysteria or epilepsy, were treated at the asylum even as they acted as experimental subjects for Charcot’s development of the hysteria diagnosis. This collection represents a transformative moment in the history of the diagnosis, treatment, and representation of mental illness. The exhibit was organized by Courtney Thompson, doctoral student in the Program in the History of Medicine, and Susan Wheeler, Curator for Prints and Drawings at the Medical Library. 

See the photographs at http://cushing.med.yale.edu/gsdl/collect/salpetre/

Nursing at 90

19 September 2013 - 4:05pm by Lynn Sette

A celebration of the Yale School of Nursing Alumni. The exhibit highlights the contributions of the Nursing program and its graduates to Yale, the profession, and the world. Curated by Janene Batten with the help of Melissa Grafe.  On view in the Medical Library foyer until January 10, 2014.

In addition, as part of the 90th Anniversary of the Yale School of Nursing the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library has digitized the large collection of historical YSN alumni newsletters, memorabilia, and class photos dating from 1926.

The class photos speak for themselves, but as you will see, the alumni publications evolve in title and format, and provide a fascinating look into the school's equally proud and rich history. The newsletters cover the first years after the inaugural graduating class, and lead the reader through wars and peacetime, school relocations and new deans, societal changes and ideals, to the present-day YSN.

There are currently 294 items in the collection.

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