L. Vernon Briggs Papers Now Open

Picture of a model hospital ward from the L. Vernon Briggs Papers.

Photograph of a model hospital ward from the L. Vernon Briggs Papers.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the L. Vernon Briggs papers, 1774-1940 (inclusive), 1911-1938 (bulk) to research.

L. (Lloyd) Vernon Briggs (1863-1941), M.D., 1889, Medical College of Virginia at Richmond was a psychiatrist and medical reformer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He was active in seeking changes to the laws regarding the evaluation and incarceration of the mentally ill and in suggesting reforms to the asylum, prison, hospital systems in the Commonwealth. He married Mary Tilotson Cabot in 1905; the couple had one child, Lloyd Cabot Briggs (1909-1975).

The collection reflects the work of L. Vernon Briggs  in psychiatry and medical reform, particularly in the fields of asylum conditions and the care of the mentally ill. Briggs was an active member of the medical community in Boston from the late 1880s to the late 1930s. Topics in the collection include the oversight of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts state hospital system, the administration and reform of the State Board of Insanity, Briggs’ ocean trip to Hawaii, and the care and treatment of the mentally ill including such issues as asylum inmate restraint and drug prescription.

The papers include correspondence, photographs, magazine and newspaper clippings, publications, manuscripts, blueprints, and legislation. Also included is a small number of artifacts, including quills used by the Governor’s Office for the formal signing of legislation, and botanical specimens gathered by Briggs on the West Coast.

The finding aid for the L. Vernon Briggs papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services.

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Elizabeth B. Connell Papers Now Open

By , December 5, 2016

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the Elizabeth B. Connell papers, 1960-2010 (inclusive), 1970-1990 (bulk) are now open to research.

Elizabeth B. Connell was born in 1925 in Springfield, Massachusetts. She received her A.B. and M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and 1947 and 1951 respectively. During the late 1950s, she worked in general practice in Blue Hill, Maine; Connell later said that this was when she first became acutely aware of the health issues affecting her female patients, particularly contraception and fertility. Connell and her family moved back to Philadelphia from Maine for her further medical training and, in 1960, she moved to New York City to take an obstetrics residency in gynecology.

After completing her residency, Connell received an American Cancer fellowship which allowed her to gain experience in radical cancer surgery. During the early 1960s in New York, she worked to open family planning clinics in Spanish Harlem. Connell held faculty positions at New York Medical College, Columbia University, and Emory University as well as being on the staff of the Rockefeller Foundation for five years. She was the first woman to chair a Food and Drug Administration panel in 1973.

Connell held positions on many advisory boards and committees including for Planned Parenthood, the Food and Drug Administration, the New York City Department of Health, and the Human Resources Administration. She was a member of a large number of professional organizations, including the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American Medical Association, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Surgeons, the American Public Health Association, the American Fertility Society, the American Medical Women’s Association, the Medical Women’s International Association, the Academy of Sciences, and the Royal Society of Health.

The collection reflects Connell’s work primarily between the 1960s and the 1990s. Connell worked on multiple levels to promote open access to birth control and adequate reproductive health care for women in the United States and, to a lesser extent, internationally. Materials in the collection reflect Connell’s work with hospitals, private organizations, and government institutions on a variety of women’s health topics, primarily birth control and breast implant safety. Papers include correspondence, clippings, reprints, publications, and manuscripts, transcripts of court proceedings, and subject files on pharmaceuticals and clinical trials of intrauterine devices. The bulk of the collection is made up of subject files and reprints or publications.

Topics include birth control methods, including early testing and release of the birth control pill and development of intrauterine devices, women’s health outside of the United States, and a large amount of material reflecting Connell’s involvement in the legal activity around the safety and use of silicone breast implants. Researchers should note that Howard J. Tatum, Connell’s second husband, developed an early prototype of the intrauterine device form of contraception: the Tatum-T.

The finding aid for the Elizabeth B. Connell papers can be found here.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services.

 

 

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John B. Little Papers Open to Research

By , December 4, 2015

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the John B. Little papers are open to research.

John B. Little received his B.A. in 1951 from Harvard University and his M.D. in  1955 from Boston University. Little interned at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He joined the faculty of the Harvard School of Public Health in 1965.

The collection includes correspondence, reports, grant applications, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, meeting minutes, agendas, photographs, contact sheets, negatives, slides, 3.5” and 5.5” diskettes, and X-rays. Included are materials covering student activism at Harvard during the 1970s and 1980s, re-organization of the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health during the 1970s and 1980s, work done at the Kresge Environmental Health Center and his faculty teaching and administrative work at Harvard Medical School and the School of Public Health. Also included are teaching materials, research records, and reports and records of Little’s activity as an expert advisor at non-Harvard institutions.

Topics include the work done at the Kresge Environmental Health Center, and Little’s faculty work as a teacher of radiology and physiology. The collection also reflects Little’s activities as a consultant and member of professional or radiology-focused organizations such as the Radiation  Effects Research Council, the American Cancer Society, and the New England Roentgen Ray Society.

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From the MHL: Medical Heritage Library Awarded NEH Grant for Digitization of State Medical Society Journals, 1900 – 2000

Front page from 1933 issue of the "Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia."

Front page from 1933 issue of the “Journal of the Medical Association of Georgia.”

The Medical Heritage Library (MHL), a digital resource on the history of medicine and health developed by an international consortium of cultural heritage repositories, has received funding in the amount of $275,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its proposal “Medicine at Ground Level: State Medical Societies, State Medical Journals, and the Development of American Medicine and Society.“ Additional funding has been provided by the Harvard Library.

The project, led by the Countway Library’s Center for the History of Medicine, will create a substantial digital collection of American state medical society journals, digitizing 117 titles from 46 states, from 1900 to 2000, comprising 2,500,369 pages in 3,579 volumes. State medical society journal publishers agreed to provide free and open access to journal content currently under copyright. Once digitized, journals will join the more than 75,000 monographs, serials, pamphlets, and films now freely available in the MHL collection in the Internet Archive.  State medical society journals will provide additional context for the rare and historical American medical periodicals digitized during the recently completed NEH project, Expanding the Medical Heritage Library: Preserving and Providing Online Access to Historical Medical Periodicals. Full text search is available through the MHL website. MHL holdings can also be accessed through the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA; dp.la) and the Wellcome Library’s UK-MHL.

Five preeminent medical libraries, including three founding members of the MHL, are collaborating on this project: The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University; the Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health at The New York Academy of Medicine; the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland, the Founding Campus (UMB); and the Library and Center for Knowledge Management at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF).

State medical society journals document the transformation of American medicine in the twentieth century at both the local and national level. The journals have served as sites not only for scientific articles, but for medical talks (and, often, accounts of discussions following the talks), local news regarding sites of medical care and the medical profession, advertisements, and unexpurgated musings on medicine and society throughout the 20th century. When digitized and searchable as a single, comprehensive body of material, this collection will be a known universe, able to support a limitless array of historical queries, including those framed geographically and/or temporally, offering new ways to examine and depict the evolution of medicine and the relationship between medicine and society.

Project supporter and former president of the American Association for the History of Medicine, Professor of History Nancy J. Tomes, Stony Brook University, notes, “the value of this collection lies precisely in the insights state journals provide on issues of great contemporary interest. They shed light on questions at the heart of today’s policy debates: why do physicians treat specific diseases so differently in different parts of the country? Why is it such a challenge to develop and implement professional policies at the national level? How do state level developments in health insurance influence federal policy and vice versa? How do factors such as race, class, gender, and ethnicity affect therapeutic decision making? How have methods of promoting new therapies and technologies changed over time? These are issues of interest not only to historians but to political scientists, sociologists, and economists.

Not only will the state journals be of great use to researchers, but they also will be a great boon to teachers. I can easily imagine using the collection to engage medical students, residents, and practicing physicians in the conduct of historical research.”

Digitization will begin in August 2015; the project will be completed in April 2017.

Front page of 1898 issue of the "Texas Medical Journal."

Front page of 1898 issue of the “Texas Medical Journal.”

About the Medical Heritage Library:

The MHL (www.medicalheritage.org) is a content-centered digital community supporting research, education, and dialog that enables the history of medicine to contribute to a deeper understanding of human health and society. It serves as the point of access to a valuable body of quality curated digital materials and to the broader digital and nondigital holdings of its members. It was established in 2010 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to digitize 30,000 medical rare books. For more about the Medical Heritage Library, its holdings, projects, advisors, and collaborators, and how you can participate, see http://www.medicalheritage.org/.

About the NEH/Digital Humanities Program:

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. For more on the NEH Office of Digital Humanities visit http://www.neh.gov/odh/.

Contributed by Kathryn Hammond-Baker. Kathryn is Deputy Director, Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Countway Library of Medicine, and chair of the MHL’s Governance Committee. 

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Staff Finds: Documenting the State Asylum

While processing the records of L. Vernon Briggs, Center staff discovered a flat box containing mounted photographs. The photographs are of interiors and exteriors of asylums, including Montevue Asylum (Maryland) and the Worcester County Alms House (also in Maryland).

L. (Lloyd) Vernon Briggs (1863-1941) was a well-known advocate for the rights of the incarcerated, including prisoners but primarily the mentally ill. Based in Boston, Briggs campaigned for transparency in the state asylum system of Massachusetts as well as increased funding and better hiring practices for both doctors and staff. It is likely that these photographs were part of a talk or presentation on the condition of asylum inmates.

The photographs show poorly-maintained buildings and patients in a variety of situations, from women sleeping on rough bedding in a hallway to an “old negro” found “chained to an iron screen.” Briggs claimed that it was the habitual practice of attendants in these asylums to restrain patients who were talkative or energetic as well as those who were violent or threatening. Captions on the photographs note that men and women were frequently housed in the same rooms and that individual cells could be badly overcrowded.

The set of photographs also include shots of Maryland’s Springfield State Hospital, which Briggs considered a “model” asylum: clean, neat, and well-staffed.

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Staff Finds: L. Vernon Briggs, the Scrapbooker

While processing the papers of L. Vernon Briggs, Center staff located two records center cartons containing six scrapbooks.

L. (Lloyd) Vernon Briggs (1863-1941) was a medical reformer and psychiatrist active in Boston in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He worked closely during the 1890s with Walter Channing at the latter’s private sanatorium in Brookline, Massachusetts. Briggs was a prominent advocate for reform of the asylum system in Massachusetts, including revision of the procedures for committal and requiring formal training in psychiatry for asylum physicians and attendants. Briggs was called in as a psychiatric consultant on several prominent cases, including a post-mortem evaluation of the case of Leon Czolgosz, who shot President William McKinley in 1901 on the grounds of the Pan-American Exposition.

The six scrapbooks reflect the wide range of Briggs’ interests, including newspaper clippings on cases and relevant events such as arrests or trials, personal correspondence, and news items concerning his family. The scrapbook from which the pages below were scanned, for instance, documents the 1906 case of James A. Garland. Garland was a wealthy resident of New York City and Boston who became involved in a widely publicized legal case in 1900. He and his wife, Mary Louise Tudor, went through a dramatic divorce – and then a much quieter remarriage in 1904. Garland became terminally ill two years after the remarriage. At the end of his life, he was brought by special train from New York City to Massachusetts to secure the attendance of Briggs. Despite the well-publicized medical care of Briggs and other physicians, Garland died in September 1906.

The scrapbooks also contain records reflecting Briggs’ work to change state laws affecting the insane; his trips to Europe to visit with various medical authorities; and his more local interests, such as family history and local Massachusetts history.

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Getting The Word Out

Crime scene interior from the Department of Legal Medicine records.

Crime scene interior from the Department of Legal Medicine records.

Center for the History of Medicine processing staff were recently invited to address a meeting of the History of Medicine Working Group. The Group is an inter-disciplinary, graduate student-led group for the presentation and discussion of work in the history of medicine.

I was pleased to present four collections that I have worked on over the past year: the E.E. Southard (1876-1920) papers, the Abraham Myerson (1881-1948) papers and family research records, Harvard Medical School Department of Legal Medicine (1937-1967) records, and the L. Vernon Briggs (1863-1941) papers.

The Southard collection (GA 81) reflects the late-career work of E.E. Southard, a neuropathologist and pathologist for the state of Massachusetts. Southard was the administrator for the first psychopathic department at the Boston State Hospital and worked with Myrtelle Canavan and Mary Jarrett to create the field of psychiatric social work. He was chief pathologist for the state asylum system, including the Boston and Danvers hospitals. Southard was deeply interested in the relationship between psychiatric illness and organic abnormality; the collection reflects his plans for a book on brain pathology.

The Myerson papers (H MS c425) include a variety of materials, primarily manuscript drafts, reprints, publication reviews, publications, fiction, psychological evaluation notes as well as a bound set of Myerson’s collected writings. Myerson was a professor of psychiatry at Tufts Medical School and Harvard Medical School and held positions at the Boston and Taunton State Hospitals. Topics in the collection include mental hygiene, use of electro-shock therapy, and the giving of psychological expert testimony with particular reference to the Sacco-Vanzetti and Millen-Faber trials. Myerson also supported the use of therapeutic electro-shock treatment and was involved in the early drug trials of Benzedrine.

The Department of Legal Medicine records (M-DE06) reflect the foundation, growth, and final dissolution of the Department between 1937 and 1967. The Department was founded to educate medical students in forensic pathology. As well as providing regular graduate instruction, the Department also provided courses for policemen involved in murder investigations and law students interested in criminal law. The bulk of the collection is made up of autopsy case records: photographs, artifacts from a body or a crime scene, autopsy, correspondence, notes on the autopsy  or other analytic procedures, and newspaper clippings.  Other records include departmental correspondence, class syllabi, symposia programs, photographs, and planning documents; and records reflecting the involvement of the Department and its faculty in the nation-wide development of forensic pathology as a medical specialty and the role of the medical examiner.

The fourth collection, the L. Vernon Briggs papers (H MS c162), is still undergoing processing, but should be available to researchers before the end of the year. Briggs was a psychiatrist and medical reformer. He was primarily interested in the reform of the treatment of the mentally ill, particularly through the asylum system in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. He agitated for reform of the state oversight bodies responsible for asylums and for changes in the laws governing committal and patient treatment. The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, reprints, photographs, scrapbooks, clippings, and blueprints, as well as published material such as books and journals.

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From the MHL: “Seeing With a Better Eye”

The MHL was kind enough to extend an invitation to guest-post regarding my usage of the MHL in the preparation of The Second Book. In this post, then, I will try to describe The Second Book as best I can, so as to frame the significance of the MHL’s holdings and resources for my work, as well as to describe specifically how I use the MHL in my daily research. Okay, sometimes the research is more like “weekly” or even “biweekly” than daily. . .

The Second Book has a working title of “Truth, Objectivity, and Sight: An Intellectual History of the X-Ray in the U.S. 1896-1945.” Here is a short description taken from the prospectus:

Although historians of science and medicine have not ignored the X-ray, virtually no scholar has utilized an approach drawn from the history of ideas to account for the stunning impact of the X-ray across a huge number of domains, including but not limited to medical, scientific, legal, religious, domestic, and labor paradigms in fin-de-siècle American culture. Focusing in particular on the rise of two intellectual frameworks in late 19th c. America — somaticism (or the birth of the anatomoclinical method) and what Lorraine Daston and Peter Galison have termed ‘mechanical objectivity’ — the monograph shows how ideas about the meaning of the X-ray explain its astonishing impact, not simply on medicine and science, but on American society itself.

The book is currently under consideration by a university press, and the writing is just about at the halfway point (for a variety of reasons I believe and hope that the second half will come quicker and easier than the first). So, how does the MHL figure in my research for the book?

As I have remarked on several occasions, the MHL is nothing short of an embarrassment of riches for a 19th c. Americanist drawing primarily on the history of ideas. My chief interests in the movement of ideas about health, disease, and illness across social networks and the ways in which those ideas shape practice and action in mid-to-late 19th-early 20th c. U.S. coheres perfectly with a major strength of the MHL collections: 19th and early 20th c. holdings on medical journals and treatises. For example, in tracing the ways in which the emphasis on clinical sight (the “gaze,” if you like Foucault) converged with the rising emphasis on pathological anatomy, an obvious primary source is James Jackson Jr.’s memoirs of his education in Paris in the early 1830s. (For extensive scholarly discussion of this source and its significance, see John Harley Warner’s seminal book). In chapter 1 of the manuscript, I focus primarily on the stethoscope because, while the primary sense most associate with the stethoscope is that of hearing, hearing was merely a means to an end. As Jacalyn Duffin points out, Laennec himself wanted the stethoscope to help him look inside his patients, to “see with a better eye.” And the contexts in which scientific and medical practitioners desired and used the stethoscope support this notion. Following a close reading of Warner’s book, I wanted to examine Jackson’s memoirs to assess specifically the extent to which he links the importance of seeing pathological lesions (and clinically correlating with living patients) to the use of the stethoscope.

The MHL makes this analysis incredibly efficient. I began by simply running a Google search for “James Jackson physician memoirs.” The MHL has a new and improved Full Text Search in beta, but I would be lying if I said that I did not primarily rely on Google’s indexing power. I have been working in the MHL for at least 4-5 years, and my established workflow tends to begin with Google; it is difficult to break research habits, especially where, over time, I have begun to understand what phrases and combinations are likely to return results that feature sources from within the MHL or the larger Internet Archive.

The aforementioned Google search brings me to the MHL in hits number 4 and 5 in the search position:

MHL1

Now, because I am intentionally looking for the source within the MHL, I am admittedly in a different position from many other Internet searchers; I am essentially using Google for the intended purpose of locating sources within the MHL. Once I am within the MHL, the “fun” really begins. First, I absolutely love the MHL interface itself. It is so easy to manipulate the size of the text, I find myself reading sources online with greater frequency, even though I am one who often prefers the physical text itself. Second, and related, I used to download PDFs from MHL, use optical character recognition technology to make the source full-text searchable, and find that for which I was looking. But the interface is so clean and easy to use, I simply use the full-text search online within the source itself. Searching for “stethoscop*” pulls up the following, with a pin marking the point in the text that is likely to be of interest (Note that using the asterisk matters, as the search engine will look for any potential word that begins with “stethoscope,” therein finding variations such as “stethoscopic” or “stethoscopes,” etc.):

MHL2

By hovering the cursor over the pin, a lovely preview of the text pops up, enabling me to scan the hit quickly to discern whether it merits full read of the page. As is clear from the text itself, Jackson’s words reveal a fascinating convergence between the senses of hearing and sight in context of the stethoscope, both as to the patients he wishes to “see” and the use of stethoscopic sounds to map the interior of the chest cavity, in particular:

MHL3

Although the subject of the book is the X-ray, I argue in it that we cannot really understand the ideas that help animate the social and cultural significance of the X-ray without apprehending ideas about truth, authenticity, and the construction of scientific knowledge that relate to 19th c. imaging techniques in general. Explaining how and why the stethoscope is really a kind of imaging device, and documenting this via the primary sources, is an important take for the beginning of the book, and the MHL is incredibly helpful in this regard.

Of course, this is just one example! I have used an analogous process hundreds of times in the course of my research, especially in some of the later chapters on which I have been working, which make extensive use of some of the amazing medico-legal sources held within the MHL collections. Because the middle chapters of the book document the movement of important ideas between expert and lay cultures, using the MHL as a pole from which to search for and calibrate useful sources drawn from lay and public cultures has also proven exceedingly helpful. But I will reserve discussion of this latter point for possible future posts!

Thoughts, comments, questions?

Contributed by Daniel Goldberg, an attorney, an intellectual historian of medicine, and a public health ethicist.  His history work focuses on the mid-to-late 19th early 20th c. U.S., with a focus on the history of pain and on the history of medical imaging.  He is working on a monograph about the first fifty years of X-ray usage in the U.S

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From the MHL: Why Digital Collections, Why Now?

The Medical Heritage Library and its digitizing partners exist to promote and provide access to resources in the history of medicine. That history says much about who we are today—about how we practice medicine, about how we view the body, about the nature of embodied experience and what it means to be? Rare books and journals, but also more ephemeral items like pamphlets and even films are made available to the public without cost. But why digitize these items at all? Why not just leave them in the libraries of which they are a part? I’ve heard the question asked in a variety of ways and in different venues; frequently, it’s a well-meaning query about the value of brick-and-mortar institutions. And, as someone who works for such an institution, I can understand the sentiment. Even so, there are excellent reasons for digitizing our collections—and for doing it right now.

As Research Associate and Guest Curator, I spend every day surrounded by unique and hard to access historical material. The Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum, located in Cleveland, Ohio, has over 150,000 artifacts, an incredible rare book collection, and affiliation with both a medical library and a university library. When I teach the history of anatomy, I go to the Stecher Room and fetch Vesalius, or to the stacks downstairs and retrieve Gautier. When researching the history of reproduction for an exhibit, I can easily access and peruse William Hunter’s Gravid Uterus. I have, at my fingertips, a world of ideas. But it was not always so.

A few years ago, I took a position at a small university in Minnesota. One of the first hurdles I encountered as an eighteenth century historian of literature and medicine was a lack of primary sources. In the midst of turning dissertation chapters into articles, I suddenly found repeated and seemingly insurmountable obstacles between me and my sources, not just in retrieving them, but even in the search for them. My PhD had been built around those sources, and around the search engines of databases like Eighteenth Century Collections Online and for the first time I realized the apparent desert that existed beyond my alma mater’s generous holdings. In this, I was not alone.

Many researchers find themselves seriously handicapped by issues of accessibility. They struggle to surmount these difficulties in a variety of ways, including travel to other collections. I was, in fact, encouraged to do so by my institution—and yet, like many researchers, scholars, and even tenure-track faculty, I found the monetary resources very thin for such activities. Why not apply for travel funds from the libraries and collections themselves? I was lucky in receiving several travel grants, including one from the Bakken Museum and one from the College of Physicians of Philadelphia (both contributing partners to the MHL). Yet, library collections are also under pressure financially; not every important collections can support researchers—and those that do cannot support all who apply. As academics, librarians, and curators, we pride ourselves on avenues of access, on the free circulation of information, on the democratic ability for all people to engage with history, especially the history of medicine. In practice, however, such things are more and more difficult to achieve. As a scholar, I had to rely on what I could find online in (usually frustrating) digitized book searches. Discovering the Internet Archive smoothed the way for continued research, and the Medical Heritage Library further supports this mission by specifically providing many thousands of works specifically in medical history. Why digitize collections? Because this is our medical heritage—and the digital is sometimes the only means of sharing it.

Let’s return, though, to the second question: why now? There is an urgency to these projects that many recognize, but fewer understand. Digitization, though sometimes perceived as a threat to existing collections, may also be the best means of saving them. The most obvious way this occurs is through the careful cataloguing, in print and image, of fragile history. There’s only so much we can do to preserve our collections; some have survived thousands of years, but the reality is that they will continue to degrade, to fade, to become unreadable. In my office at the Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry journal, we have a pair of brilliant black-and-white photos. They depict the inside of an excavation in Egypt, where columns are bright with art work. Those columns are now empty, blank, worn away by sand and wind that entered after opening the tomb. These photos are all that remain—and so it may be with some of our treasured artifacts today. Arguments abound that, of course, even the digital will degrade, and probably faster. It’s true, but the digital also provides us the opportunity to do something more: to disseminate.

People cannot come to a library or museum if they never hear about its existence. The Dittrick Museum is no exception. We have been called a “hidden gem” and a “best kept secret” in our own community. To raise awareness, we’ve been hosting events, inviting classes to join us, and renovating for a more user-friendly experience. But we’ve been working on the digital, too. Our archivist and photographer are working to add our collection to a searchable system, and I—with chief curator James Edmonson—have begun the grant-writing process for an ambitious digitization of artifact and story for an interactive display. Other museums and libraries are doing the same (the Wellcome Library and Collection is an excellent example—and not surprisingly, also a principal MHL contributor). By sharing our collections digitally we reach a larger audience. We attract new visitors. We build a community of like-minded people, of scholars and researchers and curious minds young and old. In a time of tight budgets, it’s ever more important to help the wider world see and understand the relevance of libraries and other collections. In sharing this history, as the Medical Heritage Library and partners have done, we also provide the means of preserving it.

Contributed by Brandy Schillace, PhD, a medical humanities scholar, author, and historian. She works as research associate and guest curator for the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum, Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Schillace also serves as managing editor for Culture, Medicine, and Psychiatry, an international anthropology journal of cross-cultural health researcher.

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