Posts tagged: tropical medicine

Preserving Our Collections: the Richard P. Strong Papers

By , August 20, 2014
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Richard P. Strong with a microscope on the Amazon River, ca. 1924. Image courtesy of the Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library.

Occasionally, the Center for the History of Medicine at Countway Library has an opportunity to address the preservation needs of older collections being stored in problematic housing. In the case of the Richard Pearson Strong Papers, 1911-2004 (inclusive), 1911-1945 (bulk), archivists recently took the opportunity to transfer 69 ft. of records from older, overstuffed, acidic manuscript boxes into spacious,  acid-free, archival quality records center cartons. These important preservation steps ensure continued access to the collection over time, and also gave archivists a unique opportunity to provide additional context within folder labels to benefit future researchers.

Richard Strong (1872-1948)  became the first professor of tropical medicine at Harvard in 1913, and between 1913 and 1934 made several expeditions to  South and Central America and Africa to investigate diseases and obtain material for his laboratory and teaching work. After retiring from Harvard in 1938, he volunteered to teach in the Army Medical School during the Second World War. During this period Strong was the foremost authority in the U.S. in the field of tropical medicine. Throughout his career he participated in many international commissions investigating disease control.

The Richard Pearson Strong Papers are a popular research tool at the Center, with material ranging from Harvard teaching and departmental records, to expedition records such as diaries, notes, supply and equipment lists, and manuscripts of lectures and reports. His correspondence includes exchanges with Harvard associates, scientists, U.S. and foreign public officials, former President Coolidge, missionaries, and organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation. Strong’s expeditions included visits to Peru (1913 and 1937), Brazil (1924), Liberia and the Belgian Congo (1926-1927 and 1934), Guatemala (1931-1932), and the Yucatan (1931). A 1934 film of the Harvard African Expedition, in which Strong investigates diseases and obtains material for his laboratory and teaching work, has been digitized and made available online through OnView here.

Until recently, Strong’s collection was being stored in older, overstuffed, acidic boxes, which over time leads to deterioration and discoloration. Folder tabs with crucial contextual information had lost their adhesive and were falling off of their respective folders. Unnecessary metal accoutrements, such as paper clips and staples, contributed additional damage to fragile records. Reference staff also noted that the contents within each box had, over time, fallen out of their original order — likely due to the fact that the older manuscript boxes were too small to accommodate them.

As part of crucial preservation efforts, Center staff took careful measures to rehouse materials, remove unnecessary paper clips and staples, and restore the original order of each box. Delicate fabrics, such as academic garments and banners, were folded with non-buffered tissue and rehoused in customized acid-free boxes. Staff also took the opportunity to add additional context (such as date ranges) to new folder labels, which will in turn provide better context to future researchers.

Such important preservation steps ensure both the protection of the Richard P. Strong Papers and the availability and utility of these records to Center researchers for years to come.

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Records Now Open to Research

By , January 26, 2014
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William H. Taliaferro in his laboratory.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene collection is open to research. The collection (131.25 cubic feet) is comprised of society administrative records, publications and grey literature pertinent to the field, photographs, and field research covering the period 1903 through 2013.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) was founded in 1903 by a group of Philadelphia physicians and originally named the American Society of Tropical Medicine. The growth of tropical medicine, and the need for the society, stemmed in part from the expansion of American political and business interests in tropical and sub-tropical countries at the turn of the century and was supported by developments in microscopy and virology. Today, ASTMH continues its mission to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor.

The collection contains a wide variety of material, including publications, photographs, subcommittee and special interest group records, and slides, audio, and audio-visual recordings. Recordings include interviews with prominent Society members as well as board meetings and paper sessions at annual meetings; not all conferences are represented here. Photographs and slides are represented not only in the Society’s own records but from the collected papers in Series II of Society members, including the Society’s first archivist Linda Brink.

Also reflected in the collection are the Society’s involvement and work with other organizations including the American Medical Association; the American Type Culture Collection; the American Society of Parasitology; the Gorgas Memorial Institute of Tropical and Preventive Medicine; and the American Society of Tropical Veterinary Medicine and Hygiene.

The Society collected publications of interest to its members, including reports of the Gorgas Institute, offprints and reprints of articles of interest, and technical reports. Subcommittees such as the American Committee on Arthropod-borne Viruses also collected reports from outside organizations as well as their own records reflecting communication between members, and creation and revision of committee reports.

Topics in the collection include conference planning, editing of Society publications, elections to the Society’s Board and Council, committee work on special topics including arthropod-borne viruses, the selection of awardees for Society medals, and field work undertaken by members, notably William H. Taliaferro, Wilbur G. Downs, and Paul F. Russell.

The Center is grateful to ASTMH for the gift of the collection and for funding the preparation of the collection for research.

 

Staff Finds: “The American Journal of Tropical Diseases and Preventive Medicine”

Cover of first issue.

Center for the History of Medicine staff are preparing the records of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) for research use. The ASTMH was founded in 1903 and is a worldwide organization of scientists, clinicians, and program professionals. The organization’s mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor.

The collection is approximately 150 cubic feet of materials including an extensive collection of the Society’s publications. Among these publications, staff found issues of the Society’s first journal: The American Journal of Tropical Diseases and Preventive Medicine.

The Journal was begun in 1913 and closed in 1916 after running for three years as a financial loss to the organization. The Society restarted publication with The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (originally titled The American Journal of Tropical Medicine. The title was changed after the merger with the National Malaria Society in 1952) was begun in 1921 and has continued publication to the present. Issues of all these publications and others can be found in the collection.

The 1913 Journal was intended for educative and advocacy purposes. The Society aimed to be a persuasive force for the field of tropical medicine, aiming to draw more physicians into the field. The Journal featured articles on a range of topics including the need for tropical medicine education for physicians, basic studies for those just entering the field, and more advanced work for more experienced practitioners.

The collection includes 1913, 1915 and 1916 volumes of the Journal including Volume 1, Number 1, published in July 1913. This first issue includes an editorial by Managing Editor Isadore Dyer, and articles on “The Value of a Course in Tropical Medicine for the Training of the Internist,” by E.R. Stitt, “Some Features of the Physiological Activity of White Men in the Philippine Islands,” by W.P. Chamberlain, and “On the Adult Forms of Trypanosoma americanum in Naturally Infected Animals,” by F.M. Johns.

Staff Finds: Taliaferro Photo Albums

By , December 6, 2012

The Center for the History of Medicine staff is preparing the records of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) for researcher use. The ASTMH was founded in 1903 and is a worldwide organization of scientists, clinicians, and program professionals. The organization’s mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor.

The collection consists of over 150 cubic feet of material, including photographs that depict not only ASTMH events such as conferences and award presentations but also ASTMH members doing field work in the United States, South America, and the Philippines.

Included are three photograph albums assembled by William and Lucy Taliaferro. William Taliaferro was president of the ASTMH in 1954 and studied host-parasite relationships for most of his career. He and his wife Lucy, a graduate of Johns Hopkins and specialist in parasitology, were research partners for over 50 years.

The photograph albums include family and personal images as well as documentation from research trips to Honduras, Panama, and Puerto Rico (note the photographs in the gallery below of the Taliaferros with laboratory monkeys!) There are photographs from trips the Taliaferros made to Europe, both for pleasure and to connect with other scientists in Italy, Switzerland, and England. The photographs span the first three-quarters of the twentieth century and most are annotated with names, locations, or dates.

We anticipate that the ASTMH collection will be opened to research in late 2013.

American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene records now being prepared for research access

Two ASTMH members at work. Courtesy of the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Health.

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that processing of the records of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (ASTMH) is now underway.

The ASTMH was founded in 1903 and is a worldwide organization of scientists, clinicians and program professionals. The organization’s mission is to promote global health through the prevention and control of infectious and other diseases that disproportionately afflict the global poor.

The 154 cubic foot collection dates from the early 20th century through the 1980s, and includes records related to organizational governance (Executive Council and committee records from the Nominating, Conference Planning, Award and Lectureship, Financial and various Ad Hoc committees), conference planning, and membership. Records include a wide variety of formats, including photographs and negatives of ASTMH events and audio-visual recordings of presentations by physicians. Books as well as bound and loose copies of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and other ASTMH publications are also in the collection.

Funding for the processing of the records originates with the ASTMH. The Society recognizes that its history provides the context for its current activities, helping to inform approaches to ongoing issues. By enabling research access to its records, the Society hopes to encourage a broader dialog about the historical conditions, individuals, and efforts that shape contemporary thinking about tropical medicine and its importance.

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