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New Exhibition on Hip Replacement Surgery

February 1, 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

January 6, 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

January 3, 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

December 3, 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.

New Gift: The Wilfrid Rall Computational Neuroscience Research Collection

December 1, 2021 - 2:00pm by Melissa Grafe

The Medical Historical Library announces that the Wilfrid Rall computational neuroscience research collection (Ms Coll 83) is now open for researchers. The collection is a gift of Gordon Shepherd, MD, DPhil, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Neuroscience at Yale, and the family of Wilfrid Rall. Rall (1922-2018) was a neuroscientist whose work focused on the electrical properties of neurons and the functions of neuronal dendrites. His development of cable theory and the compartmental modeling approach for studying dendrites and synaptic integration helped found the discipline of computational neuroscience. The collection documents his research from 1963-1971, particularly his collaborative work with Gordon Shepherd using the compartmental modeling method to study the functional organization of the olfactory bulb. Research notebooks, correspondence, and reprints of Rall’s publications are included in the archive. Rall’s research notebooks are fully digitized and freely available online. The 11 notebooks, dating from 1963-1971, document his research on dendritic function. Shepherd writes, “Rall used to record the day’s computer runs, calculations and discussions, hypotheses, summaries of progress, and plans for the future. The volumes are a running record of his busy life as one of the first neuroscience biophysicists, and his conscientious efforts to keep up with the many projects and thoughts stimulated by his work. They provide unique insights into how Rall in his earliest work brought together several disciplines in creating the computational approach to analyzing the functional organization of neurons and neuronal microcircuits as the basis for the future field of computational neuroscience.”  

New Online Exhibition on Medical Astrology

August 3, 2021 - 10:24am by Melissa Grafe

When people think of astrology today, they may conjure images of online horoscopes and celebrities casting birth charts as part of popular culture. Astrology has a much longer lineage, particularly connected to medicine and science. Medical astrology was widely practiced in Europe between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Part art, part science, it was integral to several fields of study, linking medicine to natural philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy, among others. In spring 2021, art historian Laura Phillips, Ph.D., Graduate School Alumni Fellow and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Medical Historical Library, engaged in a deep review of the Library’s collections to surface the surprising amount of material connecting astrology to many aspects of early modern life.  Visually stunning, medical astrology images provided a way for people to see and remember how their bodies fit into the larger cosmos, helping to situate their health in relationship to the universe.    Dr. Phillips photographed, curated, and authored a new online exhibition exploring the visual history of medical astrology in early-modern Europe. Featuring nearly 200 images from the Medical Historical Library’s collection, the exhibition tells the story of a controversial yet popular healing practice that “represented the epitome of exact science” for its time.  The exhibition is a deep delve into early modern astrology, including videos describing the use of volvelles in Peter Apian’s Astronomicum Caesareum (1540), multiple versions of the “Zodiac Man,” and a thorough description of how astrology was woven into astronomy, health, popular culture, and medicine. We invite you to explore Medical Astrology: Science, Art, and Influence in early-modern Europe.

Overlooked Images of Medicine with Bert Hansen

May 3, 2021 - 4:44pm by Melissa Grafe

Explore The Bert Hansen Collection of Medicine and Public Health in Popular Graphic Art which includes over 1200 images and items produced between 1850 and 2010 with additional reference materials. The collection is a gift of historian Bert Hansen, Ph.D., whose goal was to document the visual record of medical practice and research and public health in America. This video was produced by the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, of which Yale is a member. View the Bert Hansen Study Guide for additional information. Over a period of thirty years, Hansen selected materials produced for the general public (not medical or public health professionals) that use medical imagery as an accompaniment to news items, for advertisements, for political satire, or for decorative items that celebrate medical history. Items in the collection include magazines, prints, posters, film publicity materials, product brochures, and promotional materials.  Hansen also donated photocopied reference materials, such as newspapers, as part of this gift. The collection includes over 600 prints, including 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 Pasteur’s treatments for rabies, cholera, diphtheria, polio, tuberculosis, vaccinations, hospitals, mental asylums, unsafe foodstuffs, and public sanitation. There are numerous illustrations using medical imagery in political satire. All materials are available for use in the Historical Library reading room. Collection items are listed and described, using information from Bert Hansen’s database, in a finding aid available through Archives at Yale.

Taking Note of Medical Education: exploring 16th to early 19th century medical education

March 19, 2021 - 10:07am by Melissa Grafe

The Cushing/Whitney Medical Library is pleased to announce that volumes from our manuscript collection, focused on medical education, are now available online! The effort to digitize these volumes and make them freely available worldwide was generously funded by the Arcadia Fund. The Historical Library holds a collection of volumes handwritten between the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries documenting medical education in multiple ways. Student notes of medical lectures show transmission of knowledge by notable medical men such as William Hunter (1718-1783), physician and man-midwife to Queen Charlotte and William Cullen (1710-1790), one of the leading medical faculty members at the University of Edinburgh. Notebooks describing patient cases, diaries documenting travels to different medical schools or popular medical literature at that time, or even student projects such as a herbarium that described uses of plants, represent different manners of medical learning. For women like Eliza Heath, recipe (or commonplace) books contained medical “cures” from all kinds of written and oral sources in order to battle a wide variety of household ailments. Some of the earliest Medical Institution of Yale College (now Yale School of Medicine) student notebooks, containing the lectures from the founders and early faculty of our medical school, are freely available online as well. Dr. Nathan Smith, the first Chair of Surgery, lectured on the theory and practice of “physic” and surgery, captured in Richard Warner’s notes in 1818-1819, and in this anonymously written notebook for 1819-1820. Please explore these volumes on the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library site on Internet Archive, as part of the Medical Heritage Library. By early April, nearly 70 volumes will be available for online viewing and download. 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, in this collection. Also, dive into another collection complementing our medical education materials, For the Health of the New Nation: Philadelphia as the Center of American Medical Education, 1746-1868, which provides free online access to 140,000 pages of lecture tickets, course schedules, theses, dissertations, student notes, faculty lectures notes, commencement addresses, opening addresses, and matriculation records.  

New online exhibition: “Materiality, Fragility, and Loss in the Medical Archive”

February 3, 2021 - 10:56am by Melissa Grafe

The Historical Library is pleased to announce a new online exhibition showing items you might never find in our physical exhibits!  https://onlineexhibits.library.yale.edu/s/materialfragility/page/home “Materiality, Fragility, and Loss in the Medical Archive” was curated by Anabelle Gambert-Jouan, a doctoral candidate in the Department of the History of Art, who was supported by a Graduate Professional Experience Fellowship from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. She reflects on the exhibition in this blog post. Overcoming the Fragility of Objects with a Digital Exhibition by Anabelle Gambert-Jouan The idea for the exhibition “Materiality, Fragility, and Loss in the Medical Archive” emerged in a moment of widespread closure of museums and collections. What could be done to showcase the Medical Historical Library’s holdings when access to the display cases beneath the Cushing rotunda was restricted? Instead of a limitation, the switch to an entirely online exhibition became an opportunity to highlight photographs, books, and other medical artifacts that are either rarely seen by the public due to their fragile state or cannot be appreciated fully in traditional display cases because they have mechanistic components or hidden parts requiring tactile engagement. As curatorial fellow at the Medical Historical Library, I had the opportunity to explore the collection in-person, including the recently acquired Stanley B. Burns M.D. Historic Medical Photography Collection, to select the works that best expressed the exhibition’s themes. I wanted to illustrate, through the digital medium, that a daguerreotype needed to be held in a certain way for the image to become visible for an instant. I wanted to convey the strange sensation of peeling back the layers of the paper organs depicted in G. J. Witkowski’s Anatomie iconoclastique. To do this, I used photographs and videos created especially by the staff of the Medical Historical Library. The exhibition examines these fascinating historical objects, with an emphasis on the senses of sight and touch. The exhibition also catches the “behind-the-scenes” moments of the collection. Recent and ongoing work by conservators and scientists is highlighted in the final section of the exhibition, to explain how specialists are seeing through the damage and the material decay to learn more about objects. 

Newly acquired trove of historic photos captures evolution of medicine

December 2, 2020 - 3:06pm by Melissa Grafe

Written by Patricia Carey | First published on YaleNews In one image, a physician injects a Civil War veteran with morphine, a common practice that led to widespread addiction after the war. In another, a gold-framed daguerreotype from 1847, an unconscious patient sprawls on a white-draped table, surrounded by men in frockcoats and cravats, documenting one of the earliest uses of ether in operation. Then there’s the haunting postmortem photograph of a 22-year-old physician who died caring for patients in an 1849 cholera outbreak — a poignant reminder of the risks medical professionals are facing today. These are just some of the 15,400 photographs in a unique collection recently acquired by the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale that documents — in black-and-white and sometimes graphic detail — a history of medicine from 1839 to the 1970s. Among the library’s largest and most notable acquisitions to date, the collection both celebrates the evolution of medicine and bears witness to untold human pain and loss. The Stanley B. Burns M.D. Historic Medical Photography Collection includes images of physicians and medical scientists at work, operation rooms, hospital wards, laboratories, nurses and nursing, notable physicians, surgical specialties, and war medicine. There are also thousands of photos of patients and disease states. The collection is notable for its range of forms, including photo albums, framed photographs, publications, cartes de visite (small photos mounted on cardboard), cabinet cards, postcards, and personal collections assembled by noted physicians. Virtually every format is represented, including boxes of lantern slides and 253 unique daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes from the earliest years of photography. “The Burns Collection is one of the most compelling and comprehensive visual records of medical history ever assembled,” said Melissa Grafe, the John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History and head of the Medical Historical Library, the medical library’s special collections repository. “From early depictions of surgery to profoundly personal family images and photo albums, it shows how deeply medicine is interwoven in human lives.” The collection’s photographic albums, some assembled by physicians, bring alive important chapters of medical history, such as the conquest of yellow fever in Cuba in 1904, the international response to the pneumonic plague epidemic in China in 1911, and facial reconstruction at Walter Reed Army General Hospital documented by medical photographer Alice Becht in 1920. “Turning the pages of these albums, I am often struck by how visible the patient is, providing some window into past lives and, in some ways, human suffering,” Grafe said. “At other times the collection is a celebration of medicine, highlighting surgical moments and medical techniques that we may take for granted today.” The wide range of materials complements many of the library’s existing collections, including striking images of mental illness published in the “Iconographie photographique de la Salpêtrière”; thousands of photo-postcards and other images that make up the Robert Bogdan Disability Collection; and more than 100 iconic portraits of Civil War soldiers. Other materials in the Burns Collection document the development of medical education. Bound volumes of Dr. Howard Kelly’s “Stereo-clinic,” for example, contain thousands of photographs of landmark operations performed by noted surgeons between 1908 and 1918. When viewed through a stereoscope, the photographs provided step-by-step 3D views of the procedures and were used to teach other surgeons. “The Burns Collection is a major milestone in a decade-long strategic effort to expand the library’s holdings of highly visual materials,” said John Gallagher, the Medical Library’s director.  “We are so eager and excited to have researchers, both here at Yale and beyond, explore this truly unique and rich visual collection.” Ophthalmologist and medical professor Stanley B. Burns, the collection’s creator, began collecting medical photography in 1975, choosing to focus on an area that until then was largely ignored. Over four and half decades, he amassed more than a million images, filling his New York townhouse and a second home with binders, boxes, and bins with labels as broad as “Nursing” and as specific as “Railway accident wounded treatment.” As a foremost expert on medical historical photographs, Burns has published widely; curated and consulted on exhibitions; and advised hundreds of films, TV series, and documentaries. Among his engagements was providing photos to an art historian seeking to show that Pablo Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” was inspired by women with destructive facial syphilis. Along with the collection’s move to Yale, Burns has endowed a library fellowship to support research in the collection and related holdings of the Medical Historical Library — a gift that aims to ensure scholars will continue to make discoveries in the collection. “I have spent 45 years building an unequalled resource for understanding the origins and evolution of medical photography and exploring the history of the human relationship to disease and medicine,” he said. “I am thrilled that my collection will be preserved, appreciated, and studied for the long term at Yale.” The Burns Collection is being processed and evaluated for conservation and preservation needs; initial records are available in Orbis and Archives at Yale. As time and resources allow, portions of the collection will be digitized and made available online.
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