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. 

The Mystery of the Shrunken Head

 Archival procedures, From the collections  Comments Off on The Mystery of the Shrunken Head
Jul 232014
 

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.

Guest post from intern Tracy Ulmer

 Archival procedures, From the collections, Happenings  Comments Off on Guest post from intern Tracy Ulmer
Jan 302014
 

 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!

 Posted by on January 30, 2014