Posts tagged: Weissman Preservation Center

Processing of Joseph Murray Papers Has Begun

By , March 6, 2012

Joseph Murray, left, receiving the Nobel Prize

Center staff has recently started processing the Joseph E. Murray Papers, which date from 1916 to 1999 and span his entire professional career as a surgeon. Murray (M.D., 1943, Harvard) was Professor of Surgery and director of the Surgical Research Laboratory at Harvard Medical School and Chief of Plastic Surgery at Brigham Hospital and Children’s Hospital. He led the surgical team that performed the first successful human organ transplantation in 1954 and received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 1990 for his work on organ transplantation.

The collection includes Murray’s professional correspondence, research records, hospital records, and scholarly writings. It also contains records from his involvement in professional organizations and Harvard Medical School alumni activities, as well as a number of non-paper records, including films, dental models, X-Rays, videos, and lantern slides. The audiovisual (AV) records in the collection have already been surveyed by technicians from the Weissman Preservation Center as part of a systematic assessment of AV materials in special collections at Harvard.

The collection is currently scheduled to be opened in early 2013.

Center Audiovisual Preservation Survey Now Underway

By , June 1, 2011

On March 15, 2011, the Center for the History of Medicine,  Countway Library,  launched a comprehensive condition assessment survey of its audiovisual holdings under the leadership of the Weissman Preservation Center, the first of its kind in the Center’s history. Through the financial support of Weissman’s Adler Preservation Fund, Weissman is conducting a systematic assessment of AV materials in special collections at Harvard. Weissman’s Program Officer for Audiovisual Materials Elizabeth Walters (pictured) is conducting the Center’s  on-site evaluation and has already surveyed over 600 items from both processed and unprocessed collections, revealing audiovisual materials previously hidden to Center staff.

Weissman's Program Officer for Audiovisual Materials Elizabeth Walters working at the Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library.

The initiative utilizes a web-based application developed by Weissman called SAVE (Support for Audiovisual Evaluation) that enables the collection and aggregation of item-level condition assessment data for AV materials that unites physical characteristics and condition data with curatorial information related to an item’s research value. In combination, this information can be used to identify items that are at greatest risk due to format obsolescence and physical condition, and to establish priorities for appropriate preservation actions.

The Center joins fellow special collections repositories at Harvard in the survey, including the Harvard University Archives and the Historical and Special Collections Department of the Harvard Law School Library.

Salpetriere Hospital Records Opened to Research

Jean Martin Charcot

After nearly three years of collaborative efforts, the Center’s collection of Salpêtrière Hospital (Paris, France) records is open and available for research. We anticipate high research interest in this important new resource; within weeks of its opening, the collection was the subject of two fellowship proposals.

The collection includes .5 cubic feet of notes, lectures, case histories, and pen drawings created by neurologist and psychologist J. M. (Jean Martin) Charcot and Salpêtrière Hospital staff between 1859 and 1893. The bulk of the collection consists of 16,800 glass plate negatives, original negative enclosures, photographic indices, and a small number of prints produced by the Photographic Service of the Salpêtrière Hospital  between 1880 and 1942, the bulk of which date between 1900 and 1919. Charcot established the Photographic Service in 1878 for the purpose of patient care, the study of disease, and medical instruction. Images depict whole body images of patients and heath care workers, partial body images illustrating specific medical conditions and tissue and lesions discovered during autopsy, and wards and hospital buildings.

A finding aid provides item level description, often including diagnosis and treating physician. Images created prior to 1900 are openly available; contact the Center for information regarding access to restricted images.

Records were given to the Countway Library in 1972 when the Salpêtrière Hospital building housing Charcot’s former laboratory was demolished. The collection remained closed to research due to preservation concerns until the Weissman Preservation Center, as a part of its Mellon-funded project to improve the condition of Harvard’s photographic collections, provided the expertise and technical staff needed to assess and rehouse the glass plate negatives. Recognizing the research value of the collection, the Boston Medical Library contributed funding for re-housing supplies. Transcription of the collections’ indices was supported by generous donors to the Center’s Discovery Fund.

Panoramas Receive Treatment

By , January 30, 2011

Photograph conservator Elena Simonova-Bulat explaining treatment of panoramic photographs. Center for the History of Medicine, December 15, 2010.

As a part of its Mellon-funded, University-wide photograph conservation effort over the past two years, the Weissman Preservation Center treated dozens of oversized photographs from the Boston Medical Library, Harvard Medical Library, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital collections. The turn-of-the-century images, which include photographs of the Boston Medical Library’s previous home on the Fenway, the Medical School quad, medical conference attendees, and groups of hospital staff members, suffered from a variety of problems, including silvering, tears and breaking, acidic backing, and dirt. Conservators temporarily removed the panoramas to the Weissman lab, where they were cleaned, re-backed, and rehoused, treatments that will extend the useful life of these rare images.

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