“Modern Miracle Women: Dr. Catharine Macfarlane a Leader in the Fight Against Cancer

 From the collections  Comments Off on “Modern Miracle Women: Dr. Catharine Macfarlane a Leader in the Fight Against Cancer
Apr 182017
 

– Exhibit by guest blogger, intern Jessica Walker

All materials from the Catharine Macfarlane Collection, unless noted in gallery at bottom

Although routine pelvic and breast exams are standard now, that hasn’t always been the case.  In the early 20th century, doctors commonly thought that healthy women wouldn’t submit themselves to periodic examination without cause.  Dr. Catherine Macfarlane, however, thought that the modern American woman would, and she was going to prove it.  In 1938 she received a grant from the American Medical Association to study periodic examinations to detect early appearances of carcinoma.  The study lasted for 15 years.  Dr. Macfarlane made a lasting impact on early cancer screening and prevention.  Pelvic and breast exams are now a routine part of female physical health.  Through the research clinic operated by Dr. Macfarlane, it was proved that early, routine examinations lead to early detection, and therefore treatment, of many types of cancers specific to women.

 

In July 1937 Catharine Macfarlane attended the Medical Women’s International Association Fourth Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland. There she participated in a discussion on the screening and prevention of pelvic cancer. She lamented that many of the doctors participating found it unlikely that women in their countries would not submit to preventative screenings. American women, she thought, would, and she set out to prove it by opening the first cancer prevention clinic in Pennsylvania, one of the first in the country.

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Dr. Macfarlane was often praised as one of the forerunners in the fight against cancer.  The Cancer Control Research Clinic operated by herself, Dr. Margaret Sturgis and Dr. Faith Fetterman began in 1938 and involved a study of over 1,300 women.  By the time Dr. Macfarlane closed the research clinic, over 200 such centers existed around the country.

 

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Throughout the study, Doctors Macfarlane, Sturgis and Fetterman published several articles on their findings from the clinic.  This was one of the first articles, published in the Medical Women’s Journal in 1942.

 

 

Doctors Catharine Macfarlane and Margaret Sturgis at the Cancer Control Research Clinic, circa 1959

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to doing the work of research on the positive effects of early screenings and writing papers, Dr. Macfarlane also gave talks on the results of the cancer prevention clinic.

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Macfarlane at an exhibit on cancer, circa 1949

 

 

 

 

 

 

Despite what the doctors at the MWIA meeting thought, women in American were willing and eager to participate in preventative screenings.  The experiment was a resounding success.  It drew the attention of not only medical professionals, but laypeople as well.  The results of the prevention clinic were reported on by newspapers and magazines from around the country.

 

 

from the Cancer Bulletin, circa 1951

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Though her initial focus was on pelvic exams, Dr. Macfarlane expanded the focus of the research clinic in the 1950s to include a study of breast exams and self-examination performed by the women themselves.  She found that women were able to detect abnormalities just as soon as a doctor could.

 

Exhibit Gallery:

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On the Evolution of Meeting Minutes: Formality and Degrees of Richness

 From the collections  Comments Off on On the Evolution of Meeting Minutes: Formality and Degrees of Richness
Jan 192017
 

-by guest blogger, intern Jessica Walker

Though to some meeting minutes may seem routine, and perhaps even mundane, that is precisely why they are so fascinating.  Minutes are found within most organized groups, allowing for a common format to compare across time, distance, and even topic.

The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia was founded in 1868 as an educational organization for those who were interested in “the diseases and problems particular to women.”[1]  Of particular interest within this collection is the minutes of the Society, which contain a range of detailed descriptions of meetings as well as parliamentary procedure followed by the organization.  As all things do over time, the Society evolved, and the changes in the structure and leadership of meetings are reflected within the meeting minutes of the Society.

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Bound volumes of meeting minutes

Physically and intellectually, the meeting minutes and documents undergo a significant transition from the founding of the Society to present.  The early minutes, ranging from 1879 to 1923, were hand written in bound (unpublished) volumes.  They contain detailed dialogues, recording a paraphrase of who said what and on what topic.  Dialogues and discourses taking place during the meetings included topics such as a woman who gave birth to five children in one year around 1880 or a case where the umbilical cord was wrapped around the neck of an infant and the results of such.

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Minutes from a meeting dated December 1879

From the minutes, we can tell that each meeting dedicated significant time to case studies, autopsy specimens, and discussion, which reveal fascinating insights into the minds of medical professionals of the day.  It is because the minutes are so detailed that we are better able to interpret what a doctor may have meant when they used a particular phrase, or why a certain topic may have come up.  The observations provided by these minutes allow for valuable examination of changing medical thought, interests, and priorities up to the 1920s.

The minutes from the 1920s to 2009 thoroughly cover what happened during the meetings, but do not contain the depth of discussion as the early minute books.  Later meeting papers offer more formal, parliamentary procedure style minutes, as many meeting records seem to do.  Although these types of minutes are still extremely useful in tracking what organizations were talking about at any given point in time, the uniqueness of an organization seems to be lost when parliamentary style minutes take over.  Per usual, the meeting was opened with the reading of previous meeting minutes, which then flowed into the “scientific program” portion of the meeting, followed by “private business” (consisting of reports on membership and committees), and closed with new and/or unfinished business.

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122 years later, meeting minutes from May 2001

Of particular interest in this portion of the meeting minutes is the detailed topics covered during these scientific programs.  Speakers presented papers on topics such as laparoscopic surgery or pregnancy following the amputation of the cervix, as well as hosting events where several speakers discussed broader topics, such as sexual education.  As interesting as the topics are, often what we learn from the minutes is that they happened, but not what the response was.  Fortunately, the Obstetrical Society did record some of these scientific sessions, and some of the recordings are preserved at the Legacy Center Archives.

From founding to present, the meeting minutes of the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia have had some aspect of parliamentary procedure woven into the meetings.  However, it is when procedure begins to take precedence over content that the individual voices of an organization can become muffled in the meeting minutes.  Though the minutes of the Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia vary in depth and detail over time, they allow for a comprehensive look into the functioning of a medical society.  Minutes describe what is going on in an organization at any given time in varying degrees of detail, and often reflect the changing nature, order, and leadership of an organization.  This particular society is an excellent example.

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[1] “Constitution and bylaws.” (1998) Box 1, Folder 5, The Obstetrical Society of Philadelphia records, 1868-2015, Drexel University College of Medicine Legacy Center Archives.

 Posted by on January 19, 2017

“We called them our boys”: Primary Sources on WWI Caregiving

 Education and outreach, From the collections  Comments Off on “We called them our boys”: Primary Sources on WWI Caregiving
Nov 292016
 

The upcoming centennial of America’s entry into World War I  – April 6, 2017 – is yet another reminder that the Legacy Center’s collections on women in medicine document the broader themes in American history as seen through the eyes of women.

Last fall I participated in a colloquium at the University of Edinburgh titled The Hidden History of Caregiving in World War I, which took place during what is known in the UK as “Remembrance Week” and includes the annual commemoration of the Armistice on November 11. I might have chosen to talk about some of the lesser known stories of the American Women’s Hospitals (AWH), an organization born in reaction to World War I, and whose large and significant collection is here at the Legacy Center. There is a great deal of mining to do in that collection, revealing more about the AWH’s efforts to serve the wartime refugee population “over there” and to serve equally with male physicians – and other stories.

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Nurse Diana Lewis, circa 1917.

But a single photo album from another source, acquired in recent years, was calling out to me. It holds a rich collection of photographs and a few items of ephemera. The album belonged to a nurse, Diana Lewis, who graduated from the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania’s Nurse’s Training School in 1912. She served with the American Expeditionary Forces as a Base Hospital nurse in France. Along with the uniform jacket worn by its owner, the album was displayed in a university-wide “Highlights of the Collections” exhibition. The pages were scanned to document its original state and for easy sharing. But I still had not explored it fully and hoped there might be stories waiting to be told there, so I took a closer look.

Scattered throughout the album are three photographs of temporary grave sites – and I wanted to know why these images had been taken and preserved there.

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One of the three gravesite photos in the Lewis album: Lt. Jefferson Healy was wounded at Chateau de Thierry and died three weeks later at Base Hospital 34.

Simultaneously, as I was poking around among the Center’s World War I material, I began thinking about the very few American women physicians who served as such in Europe. Fifty-six women physicians served in the American military, but were not permitted to serve as commissioned officers like their male counterparts. Instead, they were non-commissioned contract surgeons, and only eleven served at the front. Our collections are extremely thin on these women, but serendipitously, I stumbled upon an ebay auction that resulted in the acquisition of letters and some other materials by and to Dr. Elizabeth Hocker, one of the eleven, written during her tour of duty. There are only sixteen letters, but they cover a great deal – including death, dying, and what eventually became my project topic, supported by the photos in the Lewis album: emotional surrogacy for American soldiers in WWI.

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Hocker correspondence: The grateful letter at the top is from the mother of Pvt. Paul Farnum to Dr. Hocker, who had sent Mrs. Farnum flowers from his gravesite.

The album and the letters inspired my exploration of end-of-life care during the war. The requirements of so many and with so few to serve, coupled with the concerns of distant families, created a new level of emphasis on emotional and logistical support. With an ocean between “our boys” and home, medical personnel began unexpectedly playing a significant role as surrogate family members and communicators. This type of caregiving was expanded for Americans because of distance – and because of an important related factor: Americans’ beliefs and rituals surrounding death and the ways in which those ideas, centering on “the good death”, had been affected by the American Civil War about fifty years earlier. The socially and politically charged history of care for the dying and dead in that conflict had a significant impact on the work of American caregivers in the first world war.

It was not easy to stay focused as I perused the photo album and correspondence collection. The images and letters document a wide variety of subjects, some more fully than others, including transportation, base hospital facilities, care of the wounded, camaraderie, attitudes toward “the Hun” and “our boys”, danger levels, wartime medicine, trenches, military exercises, holidays, French soldiers and civilians, valor, family, influenza, women, African-American troops, and of course, my particular interest: death, dying and emotional surrogacy.

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Elizabeth Hocker, MD circa 1917.

I’ve developed a personal attachment to these materials, as archivists and historians do, and I’m eager to promote their use – especially now as opportunities arise to further examine the history of World War I and women’s roles in that conflict. As we commemorate the centennial of America’s entry into World War I, I think of Elizabeth Hocker’s words: “Our boys will have their praises sung for the next century.”

And we will, of course, remember what “our boys” did a hundred years ago. But it is also important to remember our caregivers, many of whom were women – those who worked ceaselessly to counterbalance acts of war and retain our humanity. The personal stories found in the Lewis and Hocker collections are waiting to be explored further and add to the body of knowledge on World War I – from the perspective of women in medicine.

 
 

If you would like to research any of these topics or items, please get in touch! archives@drexelmed.edu
 

Diana Lewis scrapbook, approximately 1917-1919

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Diana Lewis additional materials, approximately 1917

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Elizabeth Hocker papers, approximately 1917

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Picture Perfect: Teaching Analysis Skills with Fundraising Photography

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Picture Perfect: Teaching Analysis Skills with Fundraising Photography
Jul 272016
 

by Elliott Earle, Educator Content Developer for Doctor or Doctress

Photo of bandaged woman in bed covered in masking marks and cropping instructions

A patient in the American Women’s Hospitals’ Women’s Ward in Istanbul, Turkey.

Primary source analysis is a mine of educational value for social studies teachers.  Working directly with materials from the past allows students to confront the complexities of history head-on and take ownership of their learning. But in this teaching treasure trove, one of the most valuable gems is often overlooked: photography.  In many classrooms, primary source analysis tends to revolve around text-heavy documents.  But with the right tools, pictures can engage many of the students that text sources could potentially push away, while working the same critical thinking muscles.

It’s tempting to let those muscles take a break when looking at an old photograph.  The information found in frame seems more reliable and true than a written account of that same scene.[1]  But just like any other primary source, an image always has an “author” and is rarely ever completely objective.  “Sourcing heuristics”—that toolbox of questions historians and students use to interrogate a source’s context, author, and purpose—are as important as ever when using historical photographs with students.

Established during WWI to provide medical care to the devastated parts of Europe, the American Women’s Hospitals was one organization that left behind a great deal of photographic documentation of both their foreign and domestic work.  Of the three collections on Doctor or Doctress that focus on the work of the AWH, two of them lean heavily on images to tell the story. Like any other non-textual source brought into the classroom, these stories will give some variety to any primary source analysis muscle workout routine.  But what the American Women’s Hospitals in particular can offer is a great opportunity to discuss the reliability of images and the importance of the person behind the camera to what is captured in it.

Bandaged patient appearing in an AWH brochure page

The bandaged patient from above has been masked and cropped to fit on this fundraising brochure page.

The pictures taken by the AWH depicting the refugee crisis in Greece and Turkey following the fire of Smyrna or the conditions of the rural poor in Depression-era Appalachia are important accounts of those situations, but like any written account, they must be analyzed with a critical eye.  Why was this image taken?  What were the photographer’s goals?  For the American Women’s Hospitals, the answer was frequently, if not almost always, fundraising.  Photography was critical to the AWH fundraising efforts stateside.  Dr. Esther P. Lovejoy, president of the AWH, complained in a letter to one of the organization’s doctors that “THIS NATION HAS BECOME ILLITERATE IN THE ORDINARY SENSE.  THEY WILL NOT READ: THEY MUST SEE THINGS IN PICTURE FORM.”[2]  Doctors in the field were often directed to capture scenes (either candid or posed) on camera that would likely prove fruitful in their next brochure.  Dr. Lovejoy sent frequent letters scolding Dr. Etta Gray for not sending back useful photos of AWH work where Dr. Gray was stationed in Serbia.  “It is just as hard for me to raise money on this side… without pictures of the sick,” Dr. Lovejoy wrote, “as it would be for you to run your hospital without money.”[3]

The AWH needed pictures and stories that would tug at the heartstrings of America.  In an exasperated complaint to Dr. Gray at the lack of useful material being sent to headquarters, Dr. Lovejoy explicitly stated the kinds of pictures they should be taking:

All I am able to get is some picture of a woman in uniform doing nothing in which nobody is interested, and what I want is pictures of long lines of wretched looking people and children standing in their dispensaries.  We want pictures of people sick in bed.  We want pictures of people who have been restored to health with a complete story under the picture regarding these people… We want pictures of people who were blind, at the time when they were blind and then pictures of those same people after their sight has been restored by the work done by the medical women of the American Women’s Hospitals.[4]

These were the principles that guided members of the AWH in their efforts to document the organization’s work.  And the influence of the creator’s motivations to what is shown in an image often extends beyond the actual act of taking the picture.  Many students today have a keen eye for spotting traces of photo editing software in the pictures they see in their daily lives, but it might surprise them to learn that this practice was also in use in the early 20th century.  Whether it was to accentuate certain aspects of the scene or to help fit all of the pictures on a brochure page, the AWH photographs were subjected to editing once they were developed.  The evidence of this editing is still visible: signage and AWH logos drawn over in pen for emphasis, cut-outs, and crop marks can be seen throughout the original copies in the records.

Is photo editing an inherently dishonest practice?  How did the pressure from headquarters impact the scenes that were captured in the field?  What might have been left out?  Does the ultimate mission of the AWH impact how we judge them for these practices?  These are just a few of the complicated questions to be wrestled with in light of this evidence.  It forces the viewer to recognize the layers of intent and bias between themselves and the scene captured in that image, a vital skill to have for a classroom of budding historians.

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[1] Susan Sontag encapsulated the idea in her essay “On Photography” when she wrote that unlike written documents, “[p]hotographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire.”

[2] Dr. Esther P. Lovejoy to Dr. Etta Gray, 19 February 1921, Records of the American Women’s Hospitals, Box 15, Folder 129.

[3] Lovejoy to Gray, 16 March 1921, Records of the AWH, Box 15, Folder 129.

[4] Lovejoy to Gray, 11 January 1921, Records of the AWH, Box 15, Folder 129.

Hidden Collections 2015

 Uncategorized  Comments Off on Hidden Collections 2015
Apr 132016
 

-by guest blogger, intern Daniel DelViscio

In 2015 I participated as an intern for the HCI-PSAR program hosted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR). I had processed a few collections before this for HSP, but as I think most archivists would agree each collection is its own animal, which is why we follow guidelines and not strict rules that allow for flexibility when processing. The two collections I worked on for this project were great examples of how collections can be totally different and in response you have to tailor your process in making sense of them for researchers. The Isabel Smith Stein collection on Elizabeth Cisney Smith was a collection of personal papers while the Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown was a collection on a local chapter of a global philanthropic organization.

Elizabeth Cisney Smith in class

The first of these collections I worked on was at the Drexel College of Medicine Legacy Center: Archives and Special Collections. The Elizabeth Cisney Smith collection was one compiled by Dr. Smith’s children and detailed her life as a female doctor in the early 1900s. As you may imagine this collection was rich in content and I often found myself struggling with trying to adhere to MPLP (More Product Less Process) standards and not delve headfirst into each folder for the entire time I was working on it. The collection came in four well-maintained boxes and was already arranged into a semblance of order by Isabel Smith Stein, Dr. Smith’s daughter. The contents served as an account both biographically and autobiographically, of Dr. Smith’s life, and there was a definite narrative to the collection before I ever started working on it. Having this narrative colored my processing of the collection and I wanted researchers to be aware of the reason why the records were arranged that way while still being very usable.

Kiwanis Club charter night

The second collection was the Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown, a collection housed at the Old York Road Historical Society. The Kiwanis Club is a global organization started in 1915 with volunteer labor and community improvement in mind. This collection contained materials for the Jenkintown chapter, which was chartered in 1949. The kinds of records that came with the collection were completely different than the Elizabeth Cisney Smith collection. In it I found an assortment of administrative records, financial records, and even a few plaques and loose photographs. The collection came to me with sparse labeling as to their contents aside from the folders housing the documents. In situations like these the processor needs to discern an order from the collection. This differed from The Elizabeth Cisney Smith collection in that right off the bat there was an attempt by Dr. Smith’s children, primarily Isabel Stein Smith, to arrange the collection in a certain order. This was not the case for the Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown collection. When the collection came to me it was an assortment of records in no particular order, but as I delved into each box I found that an order naturally presented itself in the types of records I was finding. This discovery dictated how I was to order the collection, a task which was difficult, but ultimately very satisfying when I was able to step back and look at the complete set of boxes arranged nicely with their appropriate labels.

Kiwanis Club of Jenkintown unprocessed

In all I found the process of making sense of both the collections to be a wonderfully rewarding experience. Seeing the progression of loose materials in various formats find their way into an order that someone else can use is pretty gratifying. It strikes a similar chord if you’ve ever built something from Legos by looking at a picture of what you’re building.

Tuberculosis Strikes the Class of 1944

 Education and outreach, From the collections, Uncategorized  Comments Off on Tuberculosis Strikes the Class of 1944
Feb 022015
 

by John Anderies, our marvelous volunteer

Members of the class of 1944 pose with Dr. Kuhlenbeck at Somerton Airport, Philadelphia. Drexel University College of Medicine, Legacy Center: Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy.

Following their first demanding year at Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania, the women of the class of 1944 were rewarded with a trip to Somerton Airport in northeast Philadelphia. There, Professor of Anatomy Hartwig Kuhlenbeck, himself a licensed pilot, took the young women on flights in his Challenger biplane. A German immigrant who later served in the United States Army Medical Corps during WWII, Kuhlenbeck kept a detailed Tagbuch or Daybook for much of his life:

Donnerstag, Freitag und Sonnabend, den 29., 30., und 31. Mai fliege ich zu Somerton in meinem Challenger zahlreiche kurze Passagierfluge fur meine Studentinnen vom Woman’s Medical College. Ich habe zum Schluss dieses akademischen Jahres die Klasse des ersten Studienjahres – die “freshman class” – zu einem Fluge eingeladen und wir haben diese Klasse von 39 Studentinnen hierzu in drei Gruppen auf drei aufeinanderfolgende Tage verteilt – ich kann bei jedem Fluge je zwei Passagiere im vorderen Cockpit unterbringen. Auch meine Assistentinnen und die Laborantin sind bei dieser Veranstaltung einbegriffen.1

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the 29th, 30th, and 31st of May, I’m flying many short passenger flights in my Challenger at Somerton for my students from the Woman’s Medical College. For the end of this academic year, I invited the first-year class (the “freshman class”) to take a flight, and we’ve divided this class of thirty-nine students into three groups on three successive days. I can accommodate two passengers in the front cockpit on each flight. My assistants and laboratory technician are also included in this event.

The class of 1944 was originally composed of 41 women. During this weekend of sailing through the skies, none would have expected the changes that were to come. According to an oral history interview conducted with one classmate, almost a third of the women had to drop out of medical school because they contracted tuberculosis. Most of these women did not make it back to finish their degrees. Sadly, at least two of the women died of the disease. Continue reading »


  1. Tagenbuchblaetter, 1938-1941. Hartwig Kuhlenbeck papers. Drexel University College of Medicine, Legacy Center: Archives and Special Collections on Women in Medicine and Homeopathy. 

Tales from the Tech Side: A look at Doctor or Doctress from our developer

 Digital history, Happenings  Comments Off on Tales from the Tech Side: A look at Doctor or Doctress from our developer
Nov 212014
 

-by guest blogger Chris Clement, Library Applications Developer, Drexel University Libraries

Doctor or Doctress is a digital history project that enables students to to understand and interpret history through the eyes of early women physicians by using primary sources. While much has been said about the content, the development and underlying technologies of the site have not been discussed.

Doctor or Doctress is built on top of a piece of software called Islandora, which provides a user-friendly interface that allows the addition of content to the underlying repository software, Fedora.  The content in Doctor or Doctress is broken down into stories, which are comprised of a timeline, a set of documents (images, books, audio, and video), and textual/narrative information. Each story and document in Islandora is a Fedora object that has a unique persistent identifier (PID) and a set of datastreams, which store the content of the uploaded document and any additional data associated with that object. The largest technical challenges of building this site were getting multiple types of content to display on a single page, integrating a timeline into each story, and tying everything together through administrative interfaces.

When I first started work on Doctor or Doctress, displaying multiple types of content on a single page in Islandora was not something I had seen done.  Every object in Islandora has a content type associated with it (PDF, large image, video, etc.)  To handle the unique display requirements, I created a new “story” content type. Story objects have additional custom datastreams that specify the IDs of related documents, story- and document-level metadata, and timeline data. I also created custom layouts for stories and documents to allow the display of images, video/audio players, and book readers on the same page. These layouts were loosely based on default layouts for individual content types.

Similar to displaying multiple content types on a single page, timeline integration and display was another feature I had failed to find on any other Islandora site.  After reviewing the features and capabilities of various timeline tools and libraries with the Legacy Center staff, we settled on Timeglider, a Javascript-based tool for creating timelines. To integrate Timeglider with Islandora, I implemented a mechanism to transform timeline data associated with a story into JSON, a format understandable by Timeglider. This mechanism took into account special timeline events that were associated with a story document, displaying that document’s thumbnail along the top of the timeline above the corresponding event.  Additionally, I wrote a custom event handler to define a custom popup window to appear when users click story document events.

Designing a way to allow administrators to create new stories, associate documents, and populate timelines was not trivial. Islandora provides a tool for building web forms for gathering data from users and populating whole datastreams when adding an object. For story creation and document association, I created a standard story-level metadata form, as well as a document-level metadata form, and set them up to populate custom datastreams on the story object. I designed an interface for populating the timeline for a story as well, allowing administrators to manage events, specifying a number of parameters such as start date, end date, title, description, and an option to link  a story document to an event.

Working on Doctor or Doctress was very rewarding. The unique nature of the site, combined with the underlying technologies, provided a set of interesting challenges to overcome. Tough decisions had to be made, but I think the end result speaks for itself. I am proud to have been a part of this project, and look forward to seeing it continue to grow.

Check out Doctor or Doctress here!  You can follow Chris on Twitter @Null_is_Null

Hear ye, hear ye! Bradford’s “labor of love” now digitized for all!

 Archival procedures, From the collections, Happenings  Comments Off on Hear ye, hear ye! Bradford’s “labor of love” now digitized for all!
Oct 212014
 

To view all 36 volumes of Bradford’s Biographies of Homeopathic Physicians
on Internet Archive, click here.

Dr. Bradford, librarian and former lecturer on the history of medicine at Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia, completed his Biographies of Homeopathic Physicians in 1918. His Biographies consist of 36 massive scrapbook volumes, most with well over 300 pages. Inside a volume, you’ll find newspaper clippings, correspondence, photographs, notes from transactions of Philadelphia-area medical societies, and excerpts from William Harvey King’s History of Homeopathy and its Institutions in America. If you can think of a late 19th- or early 20th-century homeopathic physician (women physicians included), it’s likely there’s some information about him or her in Bradford’s scrapbooks »

Thomas Lindsley Bradford was born in New Hampshire on June 6, 1847. He attended Harvard Medical School and then the Homeopathic Medical College of Pennsylvania, where he received his degree in 1869. Until 1877, Bradford practiced in Maine and traveled to various medical institutions in Europe and Great Britain. In 1877, he moved to Philadelphia to practice and was “a prominent figure in homœopathic circles”1. Bradford published various other works, including the History of The Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Philadelphia and A Characteristic Materia Medica. He was lecturer on the history of Medicine at Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia from 1895 to 1900, and served as the College’s librarian from 1894.

 

As librarian, Bradford seemed to be protective of his books, and there is no doubt in my mind he was (a bit) strict with the medical students who came in to use his books. The title page in his scrapbook, for example, advises: “These books are not to be taken from the Library Reading Room, and are to be kept under lock and key. Excerpts may be made from them by any responsible person. It is hoped that they may never be mutilated by literary vandals. They represent much labor, but it has been a labor of love.” I wonder if these “literary vandals” were the types to scrawl quotes such as “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons” (T.S. Eliot’s “Prufrock”) in the margins while twirling their mustaches…?

 

For the past couple weeks, I have been working on making Bradford’s Biographies available on Internet Archive (IA). Last time we here at the Legacy Center uploaded a book to IA, we had some…struggles. However, this time, after browsing the forums, we decided to try one poster’s suggestion of uploading books as .pdf files, rather than going through the process of file re-naming, zipping, etc., etc. All 36 volumes of the scrapbooks had been shot using our camera several years ago. The master .tiff files were really large, so I began the process of converting all to .jpg files. Unfortunately, converting to .jpg files with a resolution of 12 did not reduce the file size enough to create a PDF (Adobe Acrobat really, really hated them) so, taking advice from my colleague, I tried downgrading to a 10 resolution, at which level the images still looked good. Initially, we were concerned about the image quality because IA makes derivatives from the uploaded file, which in our case had been already been through some downsampling. However, a test upload proved our fears wrong.

The next hurdle to overcome: Acrobat still really, really hated some of the files; well, those over 2 GB.  It was back to the drawing board (I mean scouring the internet in desperation) to find a solution. One helpful person posted a blog about their issues with saving large .pdf files (Adobe just won’t save if they’re over 2 GB): save them as  PDF/X. For some reason unbeknownst to me, or perhaps because this format is meant “facilitate graphics properties,” it worked! While I got an error message that my PDFs did not convert “properly” to PDF/X, it still saved successfully, and honestly, they look better than the regular .pdf files did. So from .tiff to .jpg to .pdfx, the pages of Bradford’s “labor of love” slowly became upload-able, and one step closer to being accessible for anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Uploading the files to IA was the easiest part. There’s even a option to save the basic metadata that’s input at the time of upload, so I didn’t need to enter it 36 times, although the addition of fields such as “contributor” and “rights” had to be added manually after the objects were derived (usually a few hours). And something else to keep in mind: don’t try uploading with Mozilla Firefox; use Google Chrome, as Chrome’s upload limit is 4 GB as opposed to Firefox’s 2 GB. Fortunately, I was smart enough to check up on this before attempting the first upload.

Like Bradford writing his Biographies, uploading them for me “represent[s] much labor, but it has been a labor of love.”

To view all 36 volumes of Bradford’s Biographies of Homeopathic Physicians on Internet Archive, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. King, William Harvey. History of homoeopathy and its institutions in America; their founders, benefactors, faculties, officers, hospitals, alumni, etc., with a record of achievement of its representatives in the world of medicine. New York, Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company, 1905. 

“We give our vote for a lady physician here”:
Welcoming Doctor or Doctress

 Digital history, Education and outreach, Happenings  Comments Off on “We give our vote for a lady physician here”:
Welcoming Doctor or Doctress
Sep 232014
 

Our long-awaited (and worked upon) digital history project is finally what we can call “complete”!

Please welcome Doctor or Doctress: Exploring American history through the eyes of women physicians. Doctor or Doctress is not just a digital collections website or online exhibit; it is both, and something more.

Our original intention for Doctor or Doctress was “to enable students to become history detectives, conducting their own research in American history by exploring the stories of pioneering medical women.” We wanted to create a website that featured our collection material as ‘stories’; as a new way to discover, engage with, and interpret primary source documents. We wanted to create a site that would allow primary source material to reach and be interesting to high school students. High school students are generally underserved by resources like digital collections and online exhibits. Students don’t know to look for them, and if they find them, may not know how valuable and engaging they can be. Such sites don’t often market to high schools students; however, at least in the archives field, outreach to younger people is a hot discussion topic, and one that many repositories are acting upon.  But that’s another blog post.

Our ‘stories’ are created around primary source documents. These materials are put into a larger historical context, giving students a chance to place individual people in events during American history, and allowing them to connect with history in a more meaningful way.  The core documents of each story can be explored in several ways: a digital version of the original, through an excerpted typed transcript, or through an audio file (a huge hit with students!). Discussion questions help guide interpretation and give students a focus when interacting with historical documents.

Our development team customized the out-of-the-box Islandora software, allowing it to support this complex interpretive content and functionality that makes Doctor or Doctress stand out from standard collections management databases.  Islandora’s potential for an innovative collections management database and exhibit showcase had not been fully explored, so our work was new and, of course, quite challenging at times.  However, the end result meets our requirements, is attractive, and functions well, and because Islandora is open-source, others can learn from our project.

It’s hard to believe that the project formerly known as “the digital history toolkit” is now complete, and ready for Phase II development (which will include more content and possibly more interactive features).  From post-it notes to the web, it’s been a challenging, but satisfying, journey to Doctor or Doctress.

Working with the Sources:The American Women’s Hospitals in the Near East

 From the collections  Comments Off on Working with the Sources:The American Women’s Hospitals in the Near East
Sep 032014
 

The American Women’s Hospitals (AWH) was started in 1917 to provide, register and finance American women physicians for war work; to offer medical and emergency relief to refugees; and, later, to provide international public health service. The following is an excerpt from Virginia Metaxas’s article on the AWH use of field information to publicize and raise funds for their ongoing work. The full article can be found here.


by Virginia Metaxas, Ph.D., Professor of History and Women’s Studies, Southern Connecticut State University Legacy Center 2010 M. Louise Carpenter Gloeckner Fellow

Refugee camp on the island of Macronissi, circa 1922

The largest American Women’s Hospitals projects in the 1920s and 1930s were in Greece, where long term medical aid was desperately needed, due to the devastation left by the First World, Balkan, and Greco-Turkish Wars.  To meet the vast needs for medical relief, President Esther Pohl Lovejoy found that she had to spend much of her time fundraising.  As early as 1919, she realized that she needed to capitalize on human interest stories as well as factual material in order to procure private and public support of the AWH projects.  In a letter written to Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee, a physician and medical missionary working in Harpoot [now Harput] Turkey, Dr. Lovejoy succinctly said:

We are very much interested in the work you are doing and we should greatly appreciate a more complete description of the cases you are meeting.  I observe that your total number of treatments for the month of August was something over three thousand.  It is very helpful in this office to have letters descriptive of conditions that are of human interest.   In other words, stories of suffering and heroism such as will help us in our effort to secure funds to continue this work. 1

Dr. Parmelee, who served in Greece for three decades in various capacities under the auspices of the AWH, took Dr. Lovejoy’s advice to heart.  She became, in a very real way, an impassioned advocate for the continued support of the Christian Greeks and Armenians she worked among both in Turkey and in Greece.  Without exaggeration, Parmelee was one of the most articulate reporters of conditions witnessed by AWH staff abroad.  Having grown up in Turkey, the daughter of missionary parents, and a fluent speaker of many of the Near Eastern languages (Armenian, Greek, Turkish), she may have had a particularly empathetic feeling for the people with whom she worked. Through her four decades of work in Turkey and Greece, she sent a constant stream of information from the field to the AWH office in New York, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions in Boston, other professional medical women’s organizations, and to the general public in the form of medical reports, professional and newspaper articles, books, private and public letters, speeches, lectures, and more.  Dr. Lovejoy was supreme at this sort of activity, publishing three major books and hundreds of professional and lay articles, giving speeches and lectures, and participating in other promotional activities too numerous to count.   She required all of the AWH physicians working in the field to send statistical data as well as ‘stories’ for use in publicity materials used for fundraising.  These abundant and varied materials, many of which are located in the Records of the American Women’s Hospitals, are a windfall to historians seeking documentation of the work of the AWH.  It is also the task of the historian to identify biases in sources and to situate their significance in a larger context.

Dr. Ruth Parmelee and nurse. Salonica, Greece, 1922.

Dr. Esther Pohl Lovejoy, 1918.

Lovejoy’s and Parmelee’s work in reporting what they saw and heard, and their calls for support and action, built upon a tradition set in motion earlier by secular and missionary Americans who had served in various Near Eastern locations.  In the context of rising nationalisms in the region, Americans had witnessed many years of conflict between the Muslim Turks, who they often characterized as feared,  despised, and uncivilized “Mohammedans,” and Greeks and Armenians, who they characterized as “Christian martyrs,” especially in the context of resistance to Ottoman rule.  Indeed, late nineteenth and early twentieth century reports from American missionaries and diplomats had resulted in widespread public awareness of the plight of Armenians and Greeks in the waning final years of the Ottoman Empire.  Many grassroots organizations, both religious and secular, conducted massive public fundraising campaigns so that American citizens knew of and contributed to saving the thousands of “starving Armenians” displaced by the conflict in the area.2  The Greek genocide and forced population exchange of 1922 became part of the American consciousness through the efforts of American witnesses who sought to form public attitudes and possibly achieve humanitarian intervention. These unprecedented international human rights campaigns helped shape America’s national and international identity.  3  AWH fundraising efforts shrewdly adopted these familiar tropes as a means of obtaining the funds to provide medical relief.  They joined the chorus of voices speaking against the growing evidence of ‘Turkification’ perpetrated by the Kemalist government, policies that resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Christian populations in the region. Read the full article.


  1. Italics mine.  Letter to Dr. Ruth A. Parmelee from Chairman EL (Esther Pohl Lovejoy), November 26, 1919, Records of the American Women’s Hospitals, Acc. 144, Box 9, Folder 73.  The Records of the American Women’s Hospitals are located at Drexel University College of Medicine, The Legacy Center Archives and Special Collections, Philadelphia, PA 19129.  Thanks to the generosity of the M. Louise Carpenter Gloeckner, M.D. Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to spend several weeks at the archives during the summer of 2010.  I am very grateful to have received this support and for all the wonderful help of the staff there, including Joanne Murray, Director, Margaret Graham, Digital Resources Archivist, Lisa Grimm, Assistant Archivist, (who left shortly after I arrived) and Karen Ernst, Administrative Assistant.  Their expertise and welcoming ways made my stay there very productive and joyful. 

  2. A recent treatment of the Armenian genocide and the response by the American public and government can be found in: Peter Balakian, The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response (New York: Harper Collins, 2003).  

  3. See Barbara Reeves-Ellington’s dissertation “That our daughters may be as corner stones: American missionaries, Bulgarian nationalists, and the politics of gender” (Graduate School of Binghamton University State University of New York, 2001) for a critical study of the role of American women missionaries in shaping U.S. ambitions for empire during the nineteenth century in the Ottoman Empire. 

 Posted by on September 3, 2014