Kuhlenbeck with bookFor the past several weeks, I’ve been processing the extensive Hartwig Kuhlenbeck collection. Kuhlenbeck, born in Germany in 1897, was Professor of Anatomy and, later, Emeritus Professor at Woman’s Medical College, and served as Major of the Medical Corps of the United States Army during World War II.  He traveled all over the world, including the Alps, Alaska, the South Pacific, India, South America, and spent several years in Japan at the Imperial University and Keio University in Tokyo as Dozent of Anatomy and Comparative Neurology during the 1920s.  He’s an interesting man with an interesting collection.  While Kuhlenbeck deserves an entire blog post to himself, one item in his collection is just begging to be written about.

Kuhlenbeck saved various memorabilia from his travels: souvenir postcards and stationery, maps, museum booklets, hotel receipts.  Fun stuff to look through, and much the same as we save from our vacations today.

In 1951, Kuhlenbeck spent several months in South America, lecturing (in Spanish, of course) at the Neurological Clinic of the University of Montevideo, Uruguay; the Hortega Institute in Buenos Aires, Argentina; and the Universities of Santiago and Concepcion in Chile.  He visited “a number of additional Medical Schools and Scientific Institutions…[to collect] material for comparative neurological study.” He also collected a shrunken head, allegedly from the Jivaro people.

The Jivaro are South American Indian people living in Ecuador and Peru, north of the Marañón River in the eastern part of the Andes mountains. They are war-like and well-known for their talent of shrinking heads to the size of apples.1 Kuhlenbeck described the head-shrinking process as such:

In the manufacture of the skin tsantsas, the separated head is split by a cut from the apex across the occiput to the rear end of the neck stump and carefully peeled away from the skull; the skinned skull is thrown away. The skin sack is then cooked for several hours in a boiler, where water and plant juices, known to the Indians as conducive to shrinkage, are mixed. Then the head-hunters sew the incision to guide the peeling skin and again achieve a further shrinkage, and at the same time shape [the head] by placing hot stones in the neck opening of the skin sack, and roll the stones back and forth. Furthermore, the outer side of the head is flattened with smooth stones and modeled. Finally, hot sand is poured through the neck opening into the interior of the hollow head; so that the final drying and shrinkage is caused, which can be completed by a kind of incense on the fire.

During his visit to Ecuador, Kuhlenbeck wrote in his Tagebuch (you view the relevant pages and translation here) about the day he purchased the shrunken head:

An old Indian woman, sitting there on a blanket spread out on the street, offers a variety of handicrafts for sale at which I look. As I exchange a few words with her, she pulls out of a basket a blackish, shrunken head,  the size of a small human fist, with a long dark mop of hair, which she offers to sell to me for a few dollars…It is apparently one of those designated as Tsantsa Trophies of the Jivaro (Jibaros), the wild Indian tribes of the tropical jungle in the upper Amazon.

Clearly not as skeptical as some would be when offered such merchandise for a measly few dollars, Kuhlenbeck seemed to believe it was the real deal:

The head, which the squaw offers to me, is obviously true – it shows the face of a young person of about 20 to 30 years, with slightly Negroid and some feminine traits. I am therefore not quite sure if it was a young man or is a woman. In the latter case, the value would only have been a very little as a trophy for the Jivaro. Also, it is probably a half-breed head, perhaps the one Zambos. The lips are sewn, as is generally the case with these heads, with only a single thread loop. Nevertheless, this  shrunken head offered to me is an unusual showpiece with an almost living facial expression. Therefore, I pay the high price and put the head, like an apple, in my coat pocket.

shrunken headNow, meet Jürgen Jivaro (we here at the Legacy Center have dubbed it as such, feeling it needed a name).  The question is, “Is it authentic?”  Authentic in this case – a true tsantsa – means a shrunken human head prepared with correct ceremonial and religious rituals by the Jivaro people.   I’m still undecided, but signs are pointing to it being a forgery – whether human, it’s very difficult to tell.

My first foray into Jürgen’s authenticity was to find out what Kuhlenbeck himself had written; luckily for me, he mentioned the date of his South American tour in a short autobiography.  From there it took several hours of paging through his Tagebuch (day book, literally) until finding some mention of the Jivaro – a tough task considering my German is a bit rusty!  With the help of Google Translate (quite possibly, the bane of foreign language teachers everywhere), I soon discovered the means by which Kuhlenbeck acquired Jürgen (as excerpted above).

Well, Kuhlenbeck seemed to harbor little doubts as to the authenticity of the shrunken head, but that didn’t settle it for me.  So I did some digging.  One helpful article, “Shrunken head (tsantsa): A complete forensic analysis procedure,” listed diagnosis criteria for authenticating shrunken heads.  Jürgen fit only four of these criteria well.2   Another article, a case study written in 1975 about two shrunken heads in the nearby Mütter Museum3, seemed to present evidence that Jürgen is not authentic.

So what did I find out about authentic tsantsa and forgeries?  A ‘forgery’ or ‘fake’ can be either a shrunken human head not prepared with the correct ritual (sometimes referred to as “tourist heads”2) or one made of an animal head (commonly sloth); animal hide; or even plastic.Here’s what I found about our shrunken head, and why I believe it’s not authentic, but (best case) a “tourist head” or (worst case) a fake composed of animal skin.

While Jürgen’s skin is smooth and polished with what could be charcoal, and there are stitches up the back of its head, it is clearly missing some qualities authentic shrunken heads share.  Yes, it’s not uncommon for the hair to be cut or for the string attached to the top of the head to be absent.  However, while Jürgen’s ears seem to be blocked with some sort of material, they’re not pierced.  Its eyes are not completely shut, let alone sealed.  This, and the fact that its lips are sewn through with only one thread as opposed to three, seem to point to the head being a forgery.  The Jivaro made certain the lips and eyes were sealed and sewn tight to ensure the spirit could neither see nor escape.  Additionally, the thumb-sized depressions found on the temples of authentic tsantsas are not noticeable.2,3

Blocked, unpierced ear

Side view showing eyes and lack of depression

Back of head showing stitching

Kuhlenbeck also mentioned that the shrunken head he purchased had “an almost living facial expression.” It has been stated that the Jivaros would purposefully distort the heads to ridicule their enemies and made no attempts to make the facial expressions look ‘alive.’3

All this evidence leads me to believe Jürgen is a forgery, much as I would like it to be authentic. Without the use of high-powered microscopes or DNA testing, we probably won’t know whether it is a human head. So what do you think? Is Jürgen authentic or just a clever forgery?

Sources cited:
1. “Jívaro.” Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2014.
2. Charlier, P.; Charlier, I-Huynh; Brun, L.; Herve, C.; and de la Grandmaison, Lorin. “Shrunken head (tsantsa): A complete forensic analysis procedure.” Forensic Science International, 222 (2012): 399e1-399e5.
3. Mutter, George L. “Jivaro Tsantsas, Authentic and Forged: A Study of Two Shrunken Heads in the Mütter Museum.” Transactions & Studies of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia 43, no. 2 (1975): 78-82.

 by intern Claire (Tracy) Ulmer
This article is also posted on the HCI-PSAR blog. 

This fall I processed two collections as part of the HCI-PSAR Internship Pilot Program, facilitated by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR). As part of this project I received guidance and supervision from professional archivists at the Drexel University College of Medicine Archives & Special Collections where I processed the Jessie Laird Brodie, M.D. papers and at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society, where I processed the Philadelphia Canoe Club records.

The end goal of this internship pilot program was to make better known and more accessible the hidden archival collections held at the numerous small repositories throughout the five-county Philadelphia area (as well as to work out any kinks in the program!). While I certainly aided in this end goal, it was not the end goal I had for myself.

Other than an assignment for an archival studies class at Drexel University where I processed a collection of just 50 pages, I had no experience in processing archival collections. Sure, I had all the theory, knew all the lingo… but processing a comparatively small-scale class assignment and an actual collection are two very different things! This internship was a chance for me to merge my knowledge with experience.

I first processed the personal papers of Jessie Laird Brodie, M.D. and then the organizational papers of the Philadelphia Canoe Club. Over the months I learned first-hand what I recall discussing in all of my archival studies classes: what one wants to accomplish following archival theory is very different from what one might be capable of accomplishing given situational circumstances! It is theory versus reality, and it can be as frustrating as all get out.

Jessie Laird Brodie, MD collection before processing

Time, of course, is always a limiting factor, and my biggest challenge as I felt the pinch while processing both collections, particularly when I had to remind myself that I did not have time for minutia. Time versus thoroughness became my internal mantra. This factor inevitably led to compromise between the ideal and reality. For example, for the Jessie Laird Brodie, M.D. papers I was not able to organize or describe the 800 some odd 35 mm slides beyond, “The slides appear to be of Brodie’s travels outside the United States and are generally labeled with the country shown in the slides, but do not always have a date.” While frustrating, I had to accept that this area of the collection was simply not going to receive as much attention in terms of physical or intellectual arrangement.

Limiting how much attention I could give the two collections was a particular difficulty for me. The desire to get into every nook and cranny, figuratively speaking, was immense. As someone looking to enter the archival profession, where such detailed work is generally not possible due to time constraints, funding, and backlogs, pulling back from the minute was something I had to remind myself of every day I worked on the collections. Certainly starting with a collection of personal papers this was more difficult, but working on an organizational collection at the Chestnut Hill Historical Society was comparatively much easier. Folder labels were typically obvious and straightforward; for the most part I did not have to spend time double-checking that the contents of a folder were what the folder title purported them to be.

Jessie Laird Brodie, MD collection after processing

After working with two types of archival collections, there were two key principles I have since taken in mind: there are numerous ways to process any given collection; time and experience will help me to ferret out the best way to process various types of collections in the shortest amount of time possible. Also: always double check to make sure you pull all of the boxes belonging to one collection so you do not end up with a surprise box at the end when you go to put the collection away!

Hahnemann Medical College records

Funded through the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR) and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundations Grant, the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections (PACSCL) has begun its second venture into uncovering the “hidden collections” of Philadelphia area repositories. Here at the Legacy Center, our PACSCL processors will be delving into the records of Hahnemann Medical College, one of the predecessors of the Drexel College of Medicine.

Hahnemann Medical College, ca. 1890

Hahnemann Hospital and Nurses' Building, 15th Street, ca. 1910

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania was founded in Philadelphia in 1848 by Constantine Hering, Jacob Jeanes, and Walter Williamson. Homeopathy was becoming a somewhat popular alternative to traditional medicine, and the school was one of the first homeopathic medical schools in the United States. The College continually faced financial problems, and in 1867, Hering resigned his position after additional conflicts about the pathology and diagnostics department, and opened a new school, the Hahnemann Medical College. The two colleges merged in 1869 as Hahnemann Medical College. The College continued to focus its education on homeopathy until the 1920s and 1930s, when it began teaching traditional medicine. In 1941, Hahnemann Medical College began admitting women.

Drs. Charles Bailey and Joseph DiPalma


 
In the 1960s, Hahnemann rid itself completely of its homeopathic past and focused on the mid-20th century medical practices prescribed by the American Medical Association and the Association of American Medical Colleges. The faculty organized and directed laboratory work and clinical research programs, and implemented the modern teaching methods of the second half of the 20th century. Hahnemann was re-inventing itself as a nationally known academic medical center with prominence in cardiac surgery and cardiology, oncology, transplantation, training of non-physician health professionals, community health and community mental health. In 1981, it became a university with four fully accredited schools: the School of Medicine, Graduate School, School of Allied Health Professions, and School of Continuing Education.

 

 

 

In 1995, Hahnemann University merged with the Medical College of Pennsylvania (formerly Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania) under the Allegheny Health Education and Research Foundation. In 1998, with bankruptcy looming near for AHERF, Drexel University began operating the school as MCP Hahnemann University School of Medicine, and in 2002, it became the Drexel University College of Medicine.

The Legacy Center’s Hahnemann Medical College records include the papers from former deans, faculty members, and academic departments. To learn more about the Hidden Collections project, visit “About the Project”. Meet our hard-working processors, Steve and Annalise, on the “Project Team” section.

Interested in reading more about Hahnemann Medical College? Check out An Alternative Path by Naomi Rogers.


Constantine Hering, M.D., the father of homeopathy in America, was born on January 1, 1800 in Oschatz, Saxony, in Germany. In 1817, he began studying medicine at a surgical academy in Dresden. By 1820, he was enrolled at the University of Leipzig and during his studies there, he turned to homeopathy after injuring himself during a post-mortem examination. Refusing the traditional treatment of the time – amputation – he turned to homeopathy and was healed. Hering became a practitioner of homeopathy and was a great advocate for Samuel Hahnemann, the father of homeopathic medicine. In 1826, he graduated from the University of Wurzburg with a doctor of medicine. He then spent the next 7 years in South America researching zoology and botany on the orders of the King of Saxony. Hering, however, continued working in homeopathic medicine at hospitals and a leper colony. In 1833, he immigrated to the United States and opened his own medical practice.

A homeopathic medicine case, likely Hering's

Homeopathy is based on the principle that ‘like cures like’ – so a substance which causes symptoms in large doses will treat those same symptoms in small doses. Just as drinking several cups of coffee might make you stay up all night, taking the essence of coffee in small, highly diluted doses will help you sleep more easily. While this may sound counter-productive, the concept of ‘like cures like’ is sometimes used in traditional medicine, like using small amounts of pollen to de-sensitize a person allergic to it.

The idea of treating like with like dates as far back as Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician who lived from 460 to 377 B.C.E. He is known as the father of western medicine. When Samuel Hahnemann discovered this method of treatment in the 19th century, he embraced it as an alternative the harsh medical treatments of the time, which often included blood-letting and purging. It is not difficult to see why Constantine Hering turned to homeopathy when he was at risk of losing a limb.

 

Hering, ca. 1850s

Once in Philadelphia, Hering founded the Hahnemannian Society of Philadelphia. He promoted the use of homeopathic medicine and, in 1835, along with several other doctors, he founded the North American Academy of Homeopathic Medicine in Allentown, Pennsylvania – the first homeopathic medical school in the United States. The Allentown Academy remained open until 1842. In 1838, the Homeopathic Medical Society of Philadelphia was founded. The Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania opened in 1848 and in 1867, Hahnemann Medical College opened, both in Philadelphia. The two schools merged in 1871. Constantine Hering also published several scholarly journals, including the American Journal of Homeopathy (1835) and the Philadelphia Journal of Homeopathy (1852). He wrote several books as well, like his The Logic of Homeopathy (1860s). Hering continued practicing homeopathic medicine until his death in 1880.

 

Hering in his study, ca. 1870s


The Legacy Center holds Hering’s papers as well as those of his son-in-law, Calvin Knerr, who took over Hering’s practice after his death. The finding aid for this collection can be found here: Constantine Hering and Calvin B. Knerr Family Papers. In addition to the family papers, the Legacy Center has Hering’s collection of the works of Paracelsus, a 16th-century Swiss German physician who founded the discipline of toxicology. A PDF catalogue listing of the works in the collection can be found here: Paracelsus catalogue.

Mary Putnam Jacobi, undated

 

The New York Times ran a recent article entitled “Honoring Female Pioneers in Science” (see link below) – and one of Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania’s graduates was recognized. Although this woman graduated nearly 150 years ago, it seems that Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi is still highly regarded today for her work in the field of medicine.

Dr. Mary Putnam Jacobi was born in 1842 in London, England, to American parents. She and her family returned to the United States in 1848 and she grew up in New York. She studied under Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a medical degree (from Geneva Medical College in 1949), attended lectures at New York Medical College, and studied anatomy. In 1861, Dr. Jacobi became the first woman to earn a degree from the New York College of Pharmacy.

The matriculation book for Woman's Med, October 14, 1863. Jacobi is the fifth name down, under her maiden name Putnam.

 

 

Thesis, 1864, "Theorae ad lienis officium"

She entered the Female (later Woman’s) Medical College of Pennsylvania in October of 1863, and after some conflict with Dean Edwin Fussell over the fulfillment of graduation requirements, Dr. Jacobi graduated in spring of 1864. Her thesis was written entirely in Latin – a great feat even back in the mid-nineteenth century, and certainly uncommon. It is titled “Theory on the Function of the Spleen” (or Theorae ad lienis officium) and can be viewed in our digital collection here.

After graduating from the Female Medical College, Dr. Jacobi worked for a brief time at the New England Hospital for Women and Children, and then set off for Paris, where she finally gained entrance to the École de Médecine of the University of Paris in order to further her studies. She was the first female student accepted into the school, and, in 1871, became the second woman to graduate. She then returned to the United States and opened her own medical practice in New York.

An 1883 newspaper clipping, praising women physicians

 

In 1872, Dr. Jacobi became the first woman to gain membership into the Academy of Medicine and also organized the Association for the Advancement of the Medical Education of Women, of which she was president from 1874 to 1903. In 1876, Harvard University awarded her the Boylston prize for her essay “The Question of Rest for Women during Menstruation.” Her essay argued against the belief that women were limited physically during menstruation, and provided scientific evidence to support her statements, including data on pulse rate and other statistics concerning the the stability of a woman’s health, strength, and agility throughout her monthly cycle. In 1886, she opened a children’s ward in the New York Infirmary. Her final essay, “Description of the Early Symptoms of the Meningeal Tumor Compressing the Cerebellum. From Which the Writer Died. Written by Herself,” was published in 1905, shortly before she died in June of 1906.

The Legacy Center holds not only historic photographs of Dr. Jacobi, but also her thesis, news clippings, biographical information, and publications by and about her. You can access our digital materials about Dr. Jacobi here.

The New York Times article, “Honoring Female Pioneers in Science: ‘Extraordinary Women in Science and Medicine’ Offers Up Little-Known Details,” can be viewed here.

- Chrissie Landis, Archives Assistant

Woman's Southern Homeopathic Hospital, 739 S Broad Street, Philadelphia. Founded 1896.

Just like any other profession in the 19th and early 20th centuries, women in medicine struggled for the right to formal education and recognition as professionals.  Even in the field of homeopathy, which was considered ‘eclectic,’ early women physicians had to put forth a great deal of effort if they wanted to be acknowledged as their male counterparts were.  In Philadelphia, the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania (later Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania) was the first school to grant women medical degrees; it was founded in 1850.  Several other medical colleges which awarded degrees to women soon followed, in Boston, New York, and Chicago. 

However, formal homeopathic training was even harder to come by – there were only two schools by 1870, one in New York and one in Cleveland, which allowed women to study homeopathy and earn degrees or certificates.  At the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania (which merged with Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia in 1871), women were repeatedly turned down for admission, although they were granted the right to attend lectures in 1865 – provided they sat behind screens.

It was common practice for women in the early days of homeopathy to receive medical degrees from schools such as the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) or New England Female Medical College (Boston), and then move to Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, or Boston, where they could receive formal training in homeopathic medicine. 

We have been working on compiling a list of resources from our collections – and some from elsewhere – about the brave early women homeopaths.  You can find our subject guide at Early Women in Homeopathy Resources.  And here’s a sneak peek of three women homeopaths who practiced in the Philadelphia area:

 

Dr. Mary Branson

Mary Branson, Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1873

Mary Branson studied homeopathy for several years after receiving her degree from Woman’s Med, although it is not known where.  She was a founding member and the president of the Woman’s Southern Homeopathic Hospital. She was also a member of the American Institute of Homeopathy, the Pennsylvania State and Philadelphia County Homeopathic Medical Societies, and the Woman’s Medical Club.

 

 

Dr. Harriet Schneider French

 Harriet Schneider French, Pennsylvania, 1864

Harriet French was born in Philadelphia and received her medical degree in 1864.  She was the president of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union of Philadelphia as well as president of the Women’s Homeopathic Society of Pittsburgh.  She was also on the Board of Censors for the Homeopathic Medical Society of Pennsylvania.  Harriet French, along with Harriet Judd Sartain and Mercy Jackson, was one of the first women to be admitted to the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1871.

 

 

Dr. Harriet Judd Sartain

Harriet Judd Sartain, Philadelphia; Eclectic Medical Institute (Cincinnati, Ohio), 1854

Harriet Judd Sartain was born in Connecticut and studied medicine in both Philadelphia and Cincinnati.  She married Samuel Sartain (the son of the famous engraver, John Sartain) not long after graduating from Cincinnati and moved to Philadelphia.  She was the first woman member of the Homeopathic Medical Society in 1870, and in 1871 she was elected to the State Homeopathic Society.  Harriet Sartain, along with Harriet French and Mercy Jackson, was one of the first women to be admitted to the American Institute of Homeopathy in 1871.

Jul 182013

The Legacy Center is once again contemplating a move but this time it’s a virtual one.  As part of a wider digital history project to encourage young students’ understanding and interpretation of history through primary documents, the Center is adopting a new software called Islandora to manage and preserve its repository.  Islandora

Developed at the University of Prince Edward Island, Islandora is an open-source software designed to preserve and manage the data that is associated with an institution’s collection. Since Islandora’s creation in 2006 it has been installed at over 60 institutions around the world, ranging from small research labs to university libraries to major museums.

Having looked at other possibilities such as Collective Access or building onto our existing custom system, we were attracted to Islandora because of its integration with Drupal. We had considered Fedora in the past but found it cumbersome.  Because Islandora works with Drupal’s content management system, not only does it manage objects, it makes it easy to preserve their digital form.

Legacy Center Digital Collections

Our current digital collections interface

We are still at the early stages of this process. Working with our colleagues at the Drexel Libraries,  we are just starting to learn what Islandora can do for us and how we can customize it to meet our needs. So far we have learned how to add objects like images and multi-page objects such as books and small pamphlets, add metadata, and view and modify datastreams.

We’ve encountered a few challenges so far. One of our biggest tasks is not related to the software directly but critical to our project nonetheless: prioritizing our objectives. How do we make the best use of our budget?  How do we incorporate the needs of our diverse user group, from academic researchers to high school students? Do we focus on just the digital history project initially or the entire collection?

One of our top priorities is ensuring we make the best use of our budget. Since this project is grant funded by Pew’s Heritage Philadelphia Program we have pretty strict rules about how we spend our money. Even though the software is open source we’re working with Discovery Garden (DGI), Islandora’s development and client solutions team, for the initial installation and some training. We’re still determining what other project components we’ll outsource and what we’ll manage in-house.

Another challenge we face is in understanding error messages and how to fix them.  Some of the metadata we have entered for objects seems to disappear. Thankfully, between DGI, our library colleagues, and the Islandora Google Groups forum we are confident that we can troubleshoot the problem.

Our goal is to have Islandora ready for testing in late fall, populated with all our digital history project items as we prepare for a full migration of our digital database. Eventually we hope to expand the number of resources available digitally and continually offer new ways for users to interact and explore primary documents. Stay tuned as the project evolves and we learn more about Islandora. To learn more about the digital history project, visit: http://archives.drexelmed.edu/ip_home.php

by N. Robinson and T. Witherspoon, interns from Mastery High School

Mastery Interns with amputation kit

At Mastery Charter school all 10th graders have to complete a 16-week internship. Our internship coordinator set up three interviews for us to go on and Drexel was one of them. The interview went well for both of us and Drexel became our top placement choice.  In February we were told that we were placed at Drexel University College of Medicine for our internship site for the rest of the school year.

The time gap between the interview and being notified of our placement was very long and we forgot what our goal was. When we came to Drexel the first day of the internship we didn’t know what to expect. But when we arrived we were told that we would be working in the archives department and would soon be interviewing medical students as well as faculty members during the course of this internship.

As the weeks progressed we focused on our main project, which was to create a Google map of all the community service sites from 1996-2002. Through this project we learned new computer skills. (See the project map below.)

Mastery interns with interviewee Mary Ellen Bradley

Despite all of our computer work we began to branch out of the office and start our interviews. We interviewed Mary Ellen Bradley and Dr. Zarro first; the objective of these interviews was to learn about the history of community service at Drexel University College of Medicine. From these interviews we learned that community service wasn’t always a part of the curriculum.  We also received insight on the first community service projects that we set up. Weeks later we interviewed two medical students, Blake Bowden and Lola Adekunle, who are currently enrolled at Drexel University College of Medicine. The students gave us advice about our future careers as doctors by telling us the college courses they were required to take audio clip.

Mastery Interns with 19th century box of bones

Overall, this internship was a learning experience. We came into this not knowing what to expect but now we are leaving with new skills that we have acquired over these past week that can be applied later in life. For instance, we learned new computer skills, and added to our communication skills all because of this internship. We also found out information involving college that will be applied later in life. Before this experience we viewed an internship as something that had little to no meaning, but all of the things that we are leaving with proves that it actually has some significance.

 

Drexel University College of Medicine Community Service Map 1996 – 2002
(work-in-progress)

View Drexel College of Medicine Community Service Map in a larger map

Is this Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler? Proably not.

Is this Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler? Probably not.

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler is famous for being the first African American woman to earn a medical degree in the US — graduating in 1864 from the New England Female Medical College (which later merged with Boston University School of Medicine).

Understandably, people want to see a picture of this important historical figure, who lived from 1831 to 1895.  Unfortunately, as far as we know, there are no photographs of her, although we’ve talked to researchers who feel that there’s a decent chance that photos exist but without the benefit of Dr. Crumpler being identified in them.

If you search online for Crumpler images (Google or Bing), you come up with several possible images of Crumpler — looking today (in June 2013), in the first 10 results, I see photos and illustrations of individuals who are identified as Crumpler, but are in fact people like Mary Eliza Mahoney (first black nurse in the US), Rebecca Cole (the 2nd black woman physician in the US), Elizabeth Blackwell (first woman physician in the US and UK), Eliza Grier, and other individuals.

But dozens of websites identify this image (above left) as Dr. Rebecca Lee (Crumpler).  It is a popular choice because the medal includes a stamp actually identifying it as Rebecca Lee.  Several of the websites, including PBS and Time, also provide the source of the image, saying it comes from our collections.  Because of this, we receive a number of inquiries asking if people can use the image in publications, on websites, TV programs, etc.

I’ve developed a standard response that I tweak accordingly each time I receive a request to use this image:

  1. We do not hold the copyright on the image, so it would be up to you to either identify and contact the copyright holder (who may have been the Sun Oil Company, as of 1980…see #2 below) or accept the risk of using it without the copyright holder’s permission.  The risk is there, although it’s probably minimal.  The brochure and image might even be in the public domain and free to use, or it’s feasible that the copyright is held by the artist who created the medal.  But as with many copyright issues, it is hard to know for sure without a proper copyright search — and even then you still might not know.  It all comes down to the amount of risk you want to take on.
  2. This may be the biggest issue, historically speaking….  I believe that the image of the woman on the medal is not actually Rebecca Lee Crumpler.  That medal is 1 of 12 named medals that appear to have been created around 1980 as part of Sun Oil Company’s involvement in the Charles Drew Award.  I suspect that they were unable to find an actual image of Crumpler so they used or created a generic image of an African American woman appropriate to her time period.  Again, I’m not sure of this; it is more of a strong gut feeling.

After my barrage of caveats, it is always interesting to see who comes back to say that they want the image anyway.  For some users and some uses, the risk and uncertainty is not a problem.  For other users, they decide to not pursue the matter any further — although I always wonder if it because the copyright risk, because it may be a “generic” image, or a combination of these issues.

What will happen with search results because we posted this image here?  By the end of 2013, will people start seeing this when they search for Rebecca Lee Crumpler, branded with my question about the veracity of the image? What will be the effect of that?

What I’m really hoping is that someone will come forward to refute or verify my assumption that this is not Dr. Crumpler.  I’d love to find out that it is her and see the source for the image on the medal.

Ceci n’est pas Rebecca Lee Crumpler?

- by guest blogger, Chrissie Landis, iSchool grad student and intern extraordinaire

Woman's Med students in the gross anatomy lab, 1897

Several days ago, we were fortunate to get a tour of the gross anatomy lab here at Drexel University College of Medicine. And by gross, I don’t mean disgusting – I mean what the medical world terms macroscopic; that is, things that can be identified and measured with the naked eye.

Our tour guide was a gracious and knowledgeable first-year med student. The students are divided into groups of 5 or 6 and each group is assigned their own cadaver. The only information they receive on the body is the sex, age, profession, and cause of death. During the course of the fall and spring terms, the students carefully dissect their cadavers, all the while learning about the delicate nature of the human body – organs are removed, muscles examined, and arteries and veins followed. Students must be careful to keep their cadavers preserved by covering them with moist towels and a bag following every class. Our guide said she felt very fortunate to be able to learn in such a hands-on way. A little known (but nice) fact: An event honoring the donors and their families is held at the end of year. Read about the event on philly.com: “Students pay tribute to body donors: Honoring the ultimate gift,” Philadelphia Inquirer, 28 April 2010

The cadaver lab of Woman's Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1895

The cadaver lab at College of Medicine, 2011. Photo courtesy of the Drexel Med Emergency Medicine Residency Program

And all this left me wondering: what was dissection like for earlier students at the Woman’s Medical College? So, here’s a look back at Woman’s Med students in the gross anatomy (cadaver) lab:

Comparing anatomical drawings to real life, circa 1892.

No gloves needed for dissection in the early 1900s! (circa 1901)

A lesson being taught in the cadaver lab, 1903.

Two medical students working hard at learning anatomy, 1928.