Category Archives: History of Medicine

Decorating the RBMSCL

Along with print items, manuscripts, and artifacts, the History of Medicine Collections include works of art. On Friday, thanks to Peter Geoffrion, three pieces of artwork were hung in the RBMSCL.

In the RBMSCL’s reading room, we now have a portrait of Hans Horst Meyer, a German physician and pioneer in anesthesia. The portrait was a gift from his grandson, Professor J. Horst Meyer, Fritz London Professor Emeritus of Physics here at Duke University.

In the Trent Room (part of the Mary Duke Biddle Rare Book Room), a portrait of Valentine Mott and a framed ivory skeleton sculpture, or Memento Mori, were hung.

The Memento Mori piece is one of the most exquisite items in the History of Medicine Collections. A gift of Mrs. Mary D. B. T. Semans from the collection of her late husband, Dr. Josiah Charles Trent, this sculpture is carved from a single piece of ivory. Reminiscent of the illustrations from the famed Vesalius anatomical work, De Fabrica (1543), Memento Mori displays a variety of material goods splayed at the feet of the skeleton. Looking at this, one is reminded, that in the end, we’re all mere mortals.

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.

Medical Move Mondays: Home, Sweet Home

It’s the fifth and final week of our series on the History of Medicine Collections‘ move from the Medical Center Library on Duke’s medical campus to the RBMSCL on West Campus.

And the move, we are pleased to announce, is complete. Through a true team effort, including staff from the Medical Center Library & Archives, RBMSCL, and Perkins Library, the move happened smoothly. Professional movers handled most of the items from the collections, and transferred them with extreme care from the Medical Center Library to their new location.

History of Medicine Books in Their New Home

With this relocation come expanded hours as RBMSCL has weekend and evening hours. Researchers will find opportunities to discover overlapping collections within RBMSCL as well. There are many collections that complement the History of Medicine’s holdings from the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History. Topics such as women’s health, minority health, medical advertising, and innovations in health care are represented in the collections held at RBMSCL.

No appointment is necessary and all are welcome, so please be sure to visit the History of Medicine Collections in its new home.

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.

Medical Move Mondays: Lots of Blue Trucks

It’s week four of our series on the History of Medicine Collections‘ move from the Medical Center Library on Duke’s medical campus to the RBMSCL on West Campus.

Moving a collection in the midst of a North Carolina summer is tough.  Without our shipping and receiving department, a good chunk of this move would not have been possible. Shipping has moved over forty of these heavy, blue, bulky trucks from the Medical Center Library to Smith Warehouse or the Library Service Center in a small van, along with many other bins and items.

Book Trucks with Circulating Collection Materials

Shipping and Receiving staff, with the help of others from the LSC, have really made so much possible. On top of moving over 8,000 circulating monographs and serials to Smith Warehouse, they’ve also moved over 5,000 items to the LSC.  The items sent to Smith Warehouse were processed by the wonderful Technical Services staff and added to the circulating collection at Perkins. The items sent to LSC are now part of the RBMSCL collection. These include a large collection of sexuality books, as well as historical journals. These can be accessed via the catalog and requested by contacting RBMSCL.

For photos of the move from start to finish, visit the “HOM Collections Move” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Next week: (New) home, sweet home!

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.

Medical Move Mondays: Conserving the Collections

It’s week three of our series on the History of Medicine Collections‘ move from the Medical Center Library on Duke’s medical campus to the RBMSCL on West Campus.

Wrapping Materials before MovingLast week, I mentioned that Jessica found the occasional book with the cover falling off of it. Enter Conservation! The staff of the Duke University Libraries’ Conservation Services Department (all six of them!) have been spending a good deal of time with the History of Medicine Collections assessing materials and making protective enclosures for items that are too damaged to move in their current state. They have been quite busy placing items in protective envelopes, measuring books for protective enclosures, and creating lots of custom-made enclosures.

The Conservation Services Department has provided over 2,217 enclosures in five weeks for the History of Medicine Collections. Along with protective envelopes, Conservation has custom-made tuxedo boxes, blue clamshell enclosures, phase boxes, and even a cloth-covered clamshell box for an extremely brittle, unique Sanskrit book. This is quite a feat—considering they did not have much time and made the enclosures at a different location than the books!

Measuring Items for EnclosuresMeasurements were made at the History of Medicine Collections’ former space, located in the Medical Center Library. Boxes were then constructed in Conservation’s beautiful lab space in Perkins Library. Once enclosures were complete, the boxes were brought to the books at the History of Medicine for their fitting. Their hard work and dedication have ensured that the damaged and fragile items in this collection will withstand the move. Thank you, Conservation!

For photos of the move from start to finish, visit the “HOM Collections Move” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Next week: Shipping and Receiving moves some very carefully-packed book trucks.

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.

Medical Move Mondays: Technically Speaking

It’s week two of our series on the History of Medicine Collections‘ move from the Medical Center Library on Duke’s medical campus to the RBMSCL on West Campus. This week, we take a look at how we keep track of all of our books and collection materials and ensure that our researchers can find them when they need them.

Since March, Collection Development Assistant Jessica Janecki has been scanning barcodes for each and every book in the locked stacks collection. She’s also spent a lot of time working on problems and finding solutions, like pointing out books that have covers falling off. Working with a variety of staff and student workers from Perkins Technical Services, Jessica and others will change the collection codes so that when students, researchers, and others look for an item in the catalog, it will show an RBMSCL location rather than a Medical Center Library location.

Before:

After:

Jessica said one of the most interesting aspects of this has been finding items like the report related to the Cocoanut Grove Burns. The Cocoanut Grove was a nightclub in Boston that burned in 1942, killing hundreds of people. A book titled Management of the Cocoanut Grove Burns at the Massachusetts General Hospital came across her barcode wand: a detailed report on how to deal with a disaster. Jessica was really taken with the level of detail and thought on how to manage a crisis. The book provides introductions from hospital administrators, case studies of the patients, and graphic color photographs of burn victims.

For photos of the move from start to finish, visit the “HOM Collections Move” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Next week: Conservation steps in!

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.

Medical Move Mondays: Introduction

Rachel Ingold, Curator of the History of Medicine CollectionsHi! I’m Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections. This summer, the History of Medicine Collections will be moving from the Medical Center Library on Duke’s medical campus to the RBMSCL on West Campus. For the next five weeks, join me every Monday here at The Devil’s Tale. I’ll be walking you through the move step-by-step.

This week, a little background: The History of Medicine Collections consists of over 20,000 rare and unique medical books and journals. Along with these print items are 4,500 manuscripts and numerous medically-related instruments, artifacts, prints, photographs, and ephemera. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of anesthesia, human sexuality, materia medica, pediatrics, psychiatry, vivisection, and yellow fever.

Two major gifts helped form the HOM Collections. In 1931, the Georgia Medical Society of Savannah donated its library of 8,000 volumes to Duke University. Another major donation which brought a new level and depth to the collection was the 1956 donation of the Trent Collection by Mrs. Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans.

History of Medicine Collections Brochure CoverSo, how does one go about moving a collection with so many rare print items and manuscripts, as well as a variety of instruments and artifacts including curiosities such as amputating saws, ivory anatomical manikins, and glass eyeballs? The answer: very carefully. And with a team of wonderful people.

I’m grateful to be working with a great group of folks from the Medical Center Library & Archives and Perkins Library. So many people have been involved in making this move happen. And I hope this series of blog posts will highlight some of the work they have done to help and how we are going about this move.

For photos of the move from start to finish, visit the “HOM Collections Move” set on the Duke University Libraries’ Flickr photostream.

Next week: Technical Services gets to work!

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections.

“Animated Anatomies: The Human Body in Anatomical Texts”

Date: 6 April-18 July 2011
Location and Time: Perkins Library Gallery during library hours
Contact Information: Meg Brown, 919-681-2071 or meg.brown(at)duke.edu

Physicians' Anatomical Aid, ca. 1880-1890
Physicians' Anatomical Aid, ca. 1880-1890

Animated Anatomies explores the visually stunning and technically complex genre of printed texts and illustrations known as anatomical flap books.

This exhibit traces the flap book genre beginning with early examples from the sixteenth century, to the colorful “golden age” of complex flaps of the nineteenth century, and finally to the common children’s pop-up anatomy books of today. The display—which includes materials from the RBMSCL, the Duke Medical Center Library & Archives’ History of Medicine Collections, and from the private collections of the curators of the exhibit—highlights the history of science, medical instruction, and the intricate art of bookmaking.

The exhibit is curated by Professor Valeria Finucci, Department of Romance Studies, and Maurizio Rippa-Bonati, Department of History of Medicine at the University of Padua, with the assistance of Meg Brown, Duke University Libraries exhibits coordinator, and Rachel Ingold, Curator of the History of Medicine Collections. Items will be exhibited in both the gallery of Perkins Library on Duke’s main campus as well as outside the History of Medicine Reading Room at Duke’s Medical Center Library.

In addition to the exhibit, an opening reception will be held Monday, 18 April, at 10 AM at the History of Medicine Collections, followed by a symposium of renowned scholars in history, medicine, and medical history in Perkins Library. The exhibit and the symposium, both free and open to the public, aim to address a diverse public including those interested in the medical field, history, cultural studies, visual studies, and material studies.

To learn more about the symposium, exhibit, see photos of anatomical flap books, and watch videos of them in action, visit the exhibit website.

Post contributed by Rachel Ingold, Curator of the History of Medicine Collections.