Sunday, November 29, 2009

Museum souvenier DIY repost

Should you be looking to make … distinctive… holiday gifts, you can use the Museum’s public domain photos on Flickr and a printing company like Zazzle or Café Press.

Here’s how you do it.

Go to the Medical Museum flickr site. Look through the photos and select the one you like. There's roughly 1600 photographs in the account.

Click on it and then on the top of the photo, click on ‘all sizes’. Select ‘download’ for the large size which will save it to your harddrive.

For Zazzle, where I’ve been experimenting, go to and establish an account. Click on ‘create a product’ and pick a product. Click on ‘add an image’ and then pull the picture off your harddrive. Position it on the product until you like it. You can add multiple images or text to some products. You can also make multiple products using the same image which will have been stored in your account under ‘my images.’

Click on either ‘add to my cart’ or ‘post for sale’ when you’re happy with the way it looks.

Pay them and do what you will with the finished product. They can be a bit cranky when it comes to publishing stamps and wouldn’t let my Civil War surgery experiment go out to the world, although they sold me the stamps.

Have fun. Let me know if you do anything particularly interesting.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Holiday Mail for Heroes

From today's Stripe, the Walter Reed newspaper:

The American Red Cross again is sponsoring a national "Holiday Mail for Heroes" campaign to receive and distribute holiday cards to service members, veterans, and their families in the United States and abroad. The card campaign includes those working and receiving care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The American Red Cross and Pitney Bowes Inc. will partner for the third year to provide screening of all mail sent to the following P.O. Box address:

Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O. Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456

People should not send cards to Walter Reed unless they are addressed to a specific wounded warrior. Due to security reasons, Walter Reed cannot accept generic mail. Cards should be postmarked not later than December 7 to reach service members recovering at Walter Reed.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Yellow Fever vaccine

I heard on NPR this morning that millions of yellow fever vaccines, about 12 million actually, are now being offered in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Benin. According to the World Health Organization, since 2007 a total of 29 million people have been protected through mass vaccinations conducted in other African countries.  We have in our Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology some records of Max Theiler, who received a Nobel Prize in 1951 for his development of an effective vaccine against the disease.


The Journal of Experimental Medicine published an article in 2007 about Max Theiler and his years-long efforts to develop a vaccine. The first field trial in Brazil in 1938 proved to be highly successful and since then, more than 400 million doses have been shown to be safe and effective. The vaccine is still produced the same way as Theiler developed it in 1938: by passing the virus through chicken embryos.


Theiler won the Nobel Prize after just four nominations. The first time was in 1937 for his work on yellow fever in mice. The committee wasn't impressed. In 1948 the second nomination came from Albert Sabin (later of polio vaccine fame). The committee was a little more impressed but said Theiler's work would be prize-worthy if someone could show it was he and not his colleague Wray Lloyd who had conceived of and planned the work. The committee accepted the documentation that was produced and said good job, but gave the prize to Paul Müller for his work on DDT.


1950 produced another nomination. The committee said really good job this time but gave the prize to three other researchers for their discoveries on hormones of the adrenal cortex.


In 1951, on the very last day that prize nominations were being accepted for the year, the chairman of the committee, Hilding Bergstrand,  slid in his recommendation for Theiler under the wire. Theiler was in competition with Selman Waksman for his discovery of streptomycin. Can't you see the committee holding yellow fever vaccine in one hand and streptomycin in the other, weighing them against each other? To Theiler's advantage, not only did Bergstrand do the nominating, he also did the evaluating. Fourth time was the charm, and Theiler won the only Nobel Prize ever awarded for a vaccine. Waksman won the following year but it had taken him 39 nominations over six years.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Mologne House

Mologne House
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
The Walter Reed Society is selling their annual ornament to further their mission to aid soldiers and their families. This photo of the Mologne House is on this year's ornament, which sells for $15. You can call the Society's office at (202) 782-6607.

(what Kathleen didn't say was that the WRS saw her photograph in the WRAMC History book and asked her if they could use it, and she kindly said yes - Mike)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dr. John H. Brinton

Dr. John H. Brinton
Originally uploaded by tiz_herself
I finally got a shot of this portrait of John Hill Brinton, which lives at the National Gallery of Art. We're just letting them borrow it.

Marine Biologists

I just found this while looking for something else. That's usually the way it is around here. It's from the BUMED (U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine) collection that we scanned. It has to be under copyright, so hopefully someone will tell us who the cartoonist is.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Reeve 035097

Reeve 035097
Originally uploaded by otisarchives1

I just uploaded several medical illustrations of empyema on our Flickr page. I came across at least a couple of dozen of them today and this is the first installment.

Another one of those weird coincidences

Yesterday I received a question about a Dr. Trudeau who practiced from about 1830-1877 (who, it turned out, we don't have any information about). Out of curiosity and because we have the massive Vorwald Collection that includes tuberculosis research done at the Trudeau Foundation at the Saranac Laboratories in New York, I Googled the name and dates and found this entry on Wikipedia:

Edward Livingston] Trudeau had two sons, Edward Livingston Trudeau Jr., who died of tuberculosis, and Francis B. Trudeau, who succeeded his father at the sanatorium as director until 1954. Francis B. Trudeau's son, Francis Trudeau, Jr. is the father of cartoonist Garry Trudeau.

Where the coincidence comes in is that we have
original art for the April 21 and 22, 2004 Doonesbury comic strips, which of course are done by Garry Trudeau.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Good advice during this flu season

Some helpful advice I found while searching for images in the Archives -


Jasmine High, MA

Archives Technician

Otis Historical Archives

National Museum of Health and Medicine

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Graphic Tales of Cancer in America


I'll be lecturing on this on Sunday, November 22 at 10 am at the History of Science Society meeting. If you're planning on being there, stop in and say hello. - Mike

Otis Archives' Flickr image used to make art

Joanna of Morbid Anatomy pointed out that Tanya Johnston used some images from the Ball Collection on the Archives' Flickr site to make a piece of artwork. Cool! That's what public domain is all about.

To see it, click through the link to her site, click on illustration at the top, and then click on the right arrow to get to the second page of illustrations. It's the bit with all the eyes in the middle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Only a pathologist

Who else would make art based on a house fly's intestinal parasite?

On defining a psychiatric disease

Op-Ed Contributor

The Short Life of a Diagnosis


Published: November 10, 2009


Asperger syndrome and autism should be thoroughly tested before being lumped together in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Dissection makes Amazon's Top 10 for 2009 in Science

Dissection, based on works from a medical museum, has made Amazon's Top Ten Best Books of 2009 in Science, Editor's Picks.

Medical challenge coin challenge

Challenge coins have been proliferating in recent years, due to decreasing costs among other reasons.

Information can be found in this article -


We have an extremely large, but not well-catalogued, numismatics collection occupying a couple of safes in Historical Collections. To better position the Museum for the long-term addition of these to the numismatics collection, I’ve proposed that we scan the ones that people have on their desks, and record who was giving the coin out and when. I did the ones on my desk this morning


Friday, November 6, 2009

Einstein correspondence

This week, or maybe it was last week, I found two letters that were signed by A. Einstein. I think they may have been form letters because they were addressed to Dear Friend, but it looks like the signatures are original. Maybe an expert out there can make a guess.

James Carroll turns up again

I think I wrote about James Carroll, who volunteered to be bitten by a mosquito carrying yellow fever. He contracted the disease which had long-term effects on his health and when he died, several years later, his widow was unsuccessful in securing a government pension.
His name turned up again just now. We got a request for some information on a soldier wounded at Little Big Horn, which led me to pull the accession file that includes an article written about skeletal remains at the battlefield. There's a photograph of a skull and the caption says it was discovered by hospital steward James Carroll of Fort Custer, in 1886. Could this be the same man?
Sure seems like it. The James Carroll who died of the effects of yellow fever was at Fort Custer during this time and was later assigned to be Walter Reed's assistant when Surgeon General George Sternberg chose Reed to teach Clinical and Military Microscopy at the US Army Medical School. Reed and Carroll served together again on the US Army Board which pursued scientific investigation of infectious diseases in Cuba.
I'm always amazed at these coincidences. Even today, those two places are huge distances apart and what are the odds, I wonder...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

International Museum of Surgical Science featured

I visited the International Museum of Surgical Science about a decade ago. They've got some neat collections and were headquartered in an old mansion near the lake in Chicago. Here's a pictorial on them. Note that the collection isn't all surgery - there's an iron lung and patent medicines shown in the photos.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Have you ever heard of the Isthmian Canal?

My education is sorely lacking. I never heard the Panama Canal referred to as the Isthmian Canal, but saw a reference to it today when I went through a truly fascinating set of lantern slides from the William Gorgas era of the Canal. Here are two of several dozen that date from about 1902 to 1914. I wish I could scan them all.

This first one is a lovely hand-tinted lantern slide of Spanish laborers.

This second one is a chart (table?) showing a marked decrease in fatalities from various diseases, supposedly when sanitary measures were put in place- such as covering food, digging drainage ditches, oiling still bodies of water, etc. Note the Americans giving themselves a big old pat on the back.