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Melissa Grafe's blog

“Natural Interactions in the Book as Art and Making Knowledge”

7 September 2022 - 3:50pm by Melissa Grafe

Post by curator Renata Nagy, Ph.D. Candidate, History of Art and Renaissance Studies, Yale University Explore our newest online exhibition: “Natural Interactions in the Book as Art and Making Knowledge” When readers call up early printed books in libraries, they expect to see clean copies. It is a fair belief, for most rare library collections include books with the least signs of wear, which were often cherished by collectors. In addition, a lot of used books either perished over the centuries or remained in private collections. This falsely gives the impression that books were barely used in the past. Books were widely engaged with in Europe between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. This was especially true for books about nature. Readers at the time interacted with their books and created art in them in an attempt to better understand nature and produce knowledge about it.  In Spring 2022, art history Ph.D. candidate and GSAS Professional Experience (GPE) fellow Renata Nagy conducted extensive research into the Library’s holdings. She uncovered books that readers engaged with in relation to their studies about nature. Rich and diverse, the Library’s collection allows for a better understanding of how people thought about natural specimens in the early modern period. Renata curated and authored the exhibition with the generous help of the Library’s colleagues, particularly the John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History and Head of the Library, Melissa Grafe. Featuring over seventy images from fifteen different books from the Medical Historical Library’s collection, the exhibition showcases how elite collectors, interested laymen, artists, and naturalists shaped the book as an active work of art and a site of knowledge production about nature via various reading and learning practices. Illustrations of richly colored flowers, book collections of pasted dried plants, translations of wobbly annotations about the rose root plant, and videos of unfolding the oversized microscopic flea in Robert Hooke’s Micrographia (1665) demonstrate the variety of ways in which users processed information and invented new ones about natural specimens. We invite you to explore “Natural Interactions in the Book as Art and Making Knowledge,” which is a safe platform to browse the often fragile pages of these remarkable materials.     

New Exhibition: “Pasteur at 200”

26 August 2022 - 1:25pm by Melissa Grafe

“Pasteur at 200” Cushing Rotunda, August 24th, 2022 - January 20th, 2023  Tours: September 23rd, 11:30-noon. Registration is required October 21st, 11:30-noon. Registration is required   Join us at the Medical Library for our newest Rotunda exhibition! “Pasteur at 200” commemorates the work of French chemist Louis Pasteur, born December 27, 1822, along with his longer scientific legacy, which continues today. If you drink pasteurized milk, or take your pet for a rabies shot, Pasteur was the renowned chemist behind these innovations, among many others. Pasteur was celebrated in his lifetime for discoveries that helped propel changes in industry, science, and medicine. With his colleagues, he clarified the role of microbes in fermentation, and developed a process called pasteurization to prolong the shelf life for wines and beers. Pasteur also helped establish the laboratory development of vaccines in animals and humans, expanding on a larger germ theory of disease. By examining aspects of Pasteur’s work, this exhibition highlights how Pasteur remained in the public’s eye for centuries after his death, and how much of his legacy still resonates in our everyday lives. This exhibition was curated by Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, Head of the Medical Historical Library with contributions from members of the Medical and Historical Library teams, and the valued expertise of Bert Hansen, professor emeritus of History at Baruch College of CUNY. Many of the items on exhibit are drawn from The Bert Hansen collection of medicine and public health in popular graphic art. Image: “Hydrophobia” by Théobald Chartran for Vanity Fair, January 8, 1887. This lithograph shows Louis Pasteur holding two white rabbits, in reference to his experiments using rabbits for his rabies vaccine.  

New Gifts: Health and Lyme Disease Activism

19 July 2022 - 11:07am by Melissa Grafe

The Medical Historical Library is delighted to announce two new gifts detailing student and patient health care activism starting in the 1960s. Dr. Michael Charney, YSM class of 1972, donated his papers related to student activism in his Yale career. Charney was an editor of the Yale Medical Center Newsletter, a student activism newsletter for Yale School of Medicine produced in the late 60s and early 70s.  Charney also donated materials related to his activism for Ralph Nader and the health rights of workers in New Haven and other places; The Organizer’s Manual, which he was involved in producing as part of a multi-university student strike; and publications from other groups, including the Black Panthers and The Medical Committee for Human Rights. The Charney papers provide insight into healthcare activism at Yale and in other parts of the country, highlighting links between the various student, political, and community activist groups. The Medical Historical Library also received the papers of Lyme disease activist Polly Murray, as a gift from her family. Murray lived in Lyme, CT., and alerted the CT State Department of Health and Yale – particularly doctors Allen Steere and Stephen Malawista—to the outbreak of symptoms that included herself, her family, and other members of the Lyme community. Steere and Malawista investigated beginning in 1975, and by 1977 Lyme arthritis (now Lyme disease) was first identified as a new infection spread by ticks bites.  Murray was a layperson integral to the early investigation, and published an account of her experiences with Lyme disease in her book The Widening Circle: A Lyme Disease Pioneer Tells Her Story (1996). Her papers include correspondence with Malawista and others; the original handwritten list of people in town/symptoms that she showed to Steere in 1975; scrapbooks containing Lyme disease publications including newspaper articles; and other material. This gift complements the Stephen Malawista papers already held in the Medical Historical Library collection. Both gifts are currently unprocessed, so please contact the Medical Historical Library at historical.library@yale.edu for access and further information. Initial records for the Michael L. Charney papers and Polly Luckett Murray papers are in the library catalog and Archives at Yale.

Activism through Historical Posters

13 June 2022 - 10:09am by Melissa Grafe

Come visit the newest exhibition featured in the Medical Library’s Hallway space! Highlighted on the walls of our newest exhibition are posters reflecting activism on behalf of women, children, and the HIV/AIDS community, dating from 1970-1998. These posters provide snapshots of larger efforts by activists to challenge the status quo and promote the welfare of people who needed action from government and industry groups. The Historical Library houses over 2,000 posters reflecting the history of medicine and health broadly, including materials related to activism and social movements. Featured posters include AIDSGATE, 1987, from the Silence = Death Project, criticizing President Ronald Reagan’s lackluster response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic that roared through America and the world in the 1980s. Don’t Iron While the Strike is Hot, 1970, created by Mary Ann Lupa, was used in support of the Women’s Strike for Equality, a nationwide demonstration marking the 50th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Lupa was Chicago’s National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter president and one of the organizers of the Women’s Strike for Equality in Chicago.  

100 Years of Pediatrics at Yale

11 May 2022 - 11:58am by Melissa Grafe

The Historical Library, in coordination with the Department of Pediatrics, is helping to celebrating 100 years of Pediatrics at Yale through a new physical exhibition in the Medical Library’s Rotunda.  Founded in 1921, Yale Pediatrics has always been on the forefront of research and clinical practice. The exhibition features material on some of the department’s initiatives, including: Dr. Ruth Whittemore and the first pediatric rheumatic fever and cardiac clinic in New England in 1947 Development of Dr. Edith Jackson’s pioneering Rooming-In Program at Grace New-Haven Hospital from 1946 to 1953 Creation of the first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) by Dr. Louis Gluck in 1960 Today, Pediatrics has thirteen subspeciality sections, with 87 residents, 47 clinical fellows, 207 full-time faculty and 73 clinical faculty from the community. The department’s mission can be distilled into three words: heal, innovate, and collaborate. This exhibition was organized by Kaiulani Shulman and Jennifer DeSantis, with assistance from Melissa Grafe, Ph.D, Head of the Medical Historical Library, and contributions from various members of the Department of Pediatrics and Medical Library staff (Kelly Perry, Chris Zollo, Melissa Funaro, Dana Haugh, Kaitlin Throgmorton, Melanie Norton, and Terry Dagradi). Some materials displayed are on loan from Manuscripts and Archives, the Medical Historical Library, and Yale New-Haven Hospital archives.  Several labels were adapted from previous exhibitions curated by Toby Appel, Ph.D, and Susan Dee, Archivist, Yale New Haven Hospital. 

Picturing Public Health and Medicine

1 April 2022 - 1:53pm by Melissa Grafe

   Images from the Bert Hansen Collection of medicine and public health in popular graphic art Like audiences today, 19th-century readers of popular magazines and newspapers learned about public health initiatives and medical discoveries through articles and imagery. The Medical Historical Library team digitized over 500 images from The Bert Hansen Collection of Medicine and Public Health in Popular Graphic Art (Ms Coll 67), representing the earliest works in a very large collection that contains materials from 1850-2010. The new digital collection contains chromolithographs and wood engravings from 19th-century magazines like Harper’s Weekly, Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, Puck, Judge, and Scientific American on topics including cholera, diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis, vaccinations, Pasteur’s treatments for rabies, hospitals, mental asylums, unsafe foodstuffs, and public sanitation. There are numerous illustrations using medical imagery in political satire.  These diseases and topics continue to resonate with audiences today, particularly in the COVID-19 era.  Bert Hansen discussed the collection in his recent talk, "Picturing Public Health-Turning Points in Public Health History Conveyed through Prints." The effort to digitize these images and make them freely available worldwide was generously funded by the Arcadia Fund. You can also find other Arcadia-funded digitized texts, including incunables, medieval and Renaissance medical and scientific manuscripts, Yale Medical School theses and early Arabic and Persian books and manuscripts, through our digitized collections page or through Cushing/Whitney Medical Library site on Internet Archive, as part of the Medical Heritage Library.

New Exhibition on Hip Replacement Surgery

1 February 2022 - 1:42pm by Melissa Grafe

Innovation & Evolution in Hip Replacement Surgery: Highlights from the Keggi–Rubin Hip Implant Collection at Yale University  On view in the Cushing Rotunda, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library January 28th - April 29th, 2022      This exhibit explores the evolution of hip replacement surgery through historic implants selected from the new Keggi—Rubin Hip Implant Collection at Yale University. The displayed implants trace the trials, innovations, successes, and failures of hip replacement surgery over time, providing insight into the dynamic world of surgical history. By archiving and studying these implants, one can witness the remarkable changes that have resulted from design, engineering, biomaterials, manufacturing, and technological advances over nearly a century. The evolution of total hip replacement has been possible thanks to the timeless contributions and collaborations of many dedicated surgeons, researchers, engineers, industry experts, and manufacturers over the past 70 years. This exhibition was organized by Marguerite “Maggie” Gilmore, College of the Holy Cross; Daniel H. Wiznia, MD, Assistant Professor; Kristaps J. Keggi, MD, Professor Emeritus; and Lee E. Rubin, MD, Associate Professor, with the assistance of Melissa Grafe, Ph.D.  Multiple donors contributed materials to the collection.  An online exhibition is available to explore, containing additional content from the collection.

New Collection: Yale Child Study Center Reference Collection

6 January 2022 - 11:37am by Melissa Grafe

         The Medical Historical Library is the new home for a large collection of approximately 3,800 short published works on topics related to child welfare used by Arnold Gesell and the staff of the Yale Child Study Center as a reference collection. Topics include children and the war; day care centers; education; infant mortality; juvenile delinquency; intellectual disability and the eugenics movement; mental health; mental illness; nurseries; and nutrition. A portion of collection materials documents organizations and conditions relevant to child welfare in New Haven and Connecticut. Materials in the collection include pamphlets, reprints, newsletters, newspaper clippings, and reports published between 1886 and 1958, with the bulk of materials published between 1910 and 1950. Multiple publications in the collection were authored by Arnold Gesell and Yale School of Medicine faculty and staff.  The collection, the Yale Child Study Center reference collection (Pam Coll 11), is open for research in the Medical Historical Library, and searchable in the online finding aid, down to the title of each published work. The Yale Child Study Center was founded in 1911 by Arnold Gesell. At that time Gesell had completed a PhD in psychology and was working towards an MD at the Yale School of Medicine, which he completed in 1915. Gesell obtained the use of a room in the New Haven Dispensary to continue his previous work with children with disabilities and created the Yale Clinic of Child Development. Gesell became known for his studies of child development at the clinic. Using one-way mirrors to photograph and film researchers interacting with children, he documented developmental milestones for children from infancy through adolescence. Gesell was a prodigious writer, publishing numerous articles and more than a dozen books about his findings for the scientific community and the general public. His most famous work, An Atlas of Infant Behavior, contains 3,200 photographs captured from sessions at the clinic. Dr. Gesell was the director of the clinic until his retirement in 1948. Today, the Yale Child Study Center is a department of the Yale School of Medicine dedicated to improving the mental health of children and families, advancing understanding of their psychological and developmental needs, and treating and preventing childhood mental illness through the integration of research, clinical practice, and professional training. The center serves as the Department of Child Psychiatry for the Yale School of Medicine and Yale New Haven Hospital; is a center for basic neurodevelopment research on the earliest neurodevelopment and behavioral problems troubling children; and provides services in clinics, community settings, homes, and pediatric practices. The center’s faculty are engaged in domestic and international policy making; provide trainings in child psychiatry, social work, child psychology, research, specific intervention and prevention approaches, and in special areas of children’s mental health; and are engaged in research on the genetic and neurobiological basis of childhood psychiatric disorders.

New Gift: Waltham Hospital medical records

3 January 2022 - 11:16am by Melissa Grafe

   The Medical Historical Library is pleased to announce a new gift of patient records from Boston’s Waltham Hospital (which closed in 2003) dating from 1889 to 1897. Within 7 bound volumes are what are now called progress notes, operative reports, pathology reports, and medication records written by attending physicians. The volumes provide a snapshot of patient care, disease, and medicine in late 19th century Massachusetts. The collection is a generous gift of Alan M. Engler, M.D.; Yale College, Class of 1976.  The Waltham Hospital medical records (Ms Coll 82) are now available for researchers to view in the Medical Historical Library. Included in the volumes are notes documenting surgery in 1894 for a perforated appendix, in which Dr. Alfred Worcester operated and saved a patient’s life – under ether, and 50 years before antibiotics became widely available. Worcester was the founder of the Waltham Hospital and was known for advocating for early surgical intervention in the treatment of appendicitis and for the use of Caesarean section in difficult births. In the 1880s, appendicitis was treated by waiting for an abscess to form and was often fatal. Worcester found that he could usually operate before the appendix had ruptured by entering the peritoneum (the membrane lining the cavity of the abdomen) and greatly reduce morbidity and mortality. The reports of his cases and the controversy between him and the surgeons of Boston demonstrate the evolution of medical and surgical practice. The volumes also document trauma (gunshot wounds, people kicked by horses, occupational injuries), cancer, birth injuries, rheumatic fever, scarlet fever, diphtheria, and suicide attempts.

Riesman Family Gift of Rare Medical Books and Manuscripts

3 December 2021 - 9:04am by Melissa Grafe

The Medical Historical Library is pleased to announce a gift of approximately 230 books and manuscripts from the libraries of David Riesman, M.D. and John P. Riesman, M.D.  The books range over a wide variety of topics and time periods, with the earliest texts dating from the 16th century. While volumes containing the works from highly influential medical authors such as Florence Nightingale, Herman Boerhaave, and Thomas Willis are part of the gift, other books in the collection provide medical advice and science fun for more popular audiences. Examples include a 1774 copy of William Buchan’s Domestic Medicine and John Willison’s The Afflicted Man’s Companion (1794) , as well as “Tom Telescope’s” The Newtonian system of philosophy… for the use of young ladies and gentlemen, (1803), an introductory text to Newton’s scientific principles. David Riesman (1867-1940) graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in 1892 and was Professor of Clinical Medicine there from 1912 to 1933 and, after introducing the study of the history of medicine to the medical school curriculum, became the first Professor of the History of Medicine at Penn from 1933 until his death in 1940. He was the author of many books including Medicine in Modern Society, The Story of Medicine in the Middle Ages, and High Blood Pressure and Longevity. His collection of books was bequeathed to his son, John P. Riesman, M.D., a 1938 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School who became a surgeon at Yale New Haven Hospital in New Haven, CT and was affiliated with Yale Medical School. He was an active member of the Associates of the Medical Library at the Yale and the Beaumont Medical Club. Discover the collection, which is still being cataloged, in Quicksearch or Orbis.  Images from some of the books are highlighted in the Medical Historical Library’s Instagram account.
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