Brought to Light
The Society of American Archivists’ Science, Technology and Health Care roundtable recently launched a project to highlight “underrepresented and diverse persons and groups in collections of the history of science, technology and health care.” The section is calling this endeavor the “Forgotten Super Heroes of Science and Medicine.” UCSF Archives & Special Collections will be contributing to this project by periodically posting to the blog regarding these heroes. This is our first installment.
Biochemist Choh Hao Li was among the first to synthesize the human growth hormone and later discovered beta-endorphin. Born in 1913 in Guangzhou, China, Li graduated from the University of Nanjing before moving to the US to attend graduate school at UC Berkeley in 1935. Upon earning his Ph. D. in Organic Chemistry in 1938, Li began working on the UC Berkeley campus at the Institute of Experimental Biology with Herbert McLean Evans. In 1950, Li became the first director of the newly created Hormone Research Laboratory. He moved with the laboratory to UCSF in 1967, where Li worked until his retirement in 1983. As an emeritus professor at UCSF, Li then established the Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, where he remained director until his death in 1987.
Dr. Li spent most of his career studying the functions of the pituitary gland, which is located at the base of the brain and controls many of the body’s functions. At the Institute of Experimental Biology, Li first began his attempts to isolate and identify the anterior pituitary hormones; he was eventually able to isolate and purify six of the eight known hormones secreted. It wasn’t until the early 1970s, when heading the Hormone Research Laboratory, that Li was able to actually synthesize human growth hormone. Later that decade, Li discovered beta-endorphin, a neuropeptide that acts as a pain killer. Before his retirement, Li was also able to synthesize insulin-like growth factor 1, a protein that mediates the effects of growth hormone. During his lifetime, Li published over 1100 scientific articles, was given many awards, including the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research, and was nominated at least twice for the Nobel Prize.
The Choh Hao Li papers are open for research at UCSF Archives & Special Collections: http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/tf738nb543/
Date: Friday, September 30, 2016
Time: 12 pm – 1:15 pm
Lecturer: Elena Conis, PhD (UC Berkeley & UCSF)
Location: Lange Room, 5th Floor, UCSF Library – Parnassus
530 Parnassus Ave, SF, CA 94143
This event is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be provided.
REGISTRATION REQUIRED: tiny.ucsf.edu/vaccination930
Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections for an afternoon talk with author Elena Conis as she discusses her book Vaccine Nation: America’s Changing Relationship with Immunization. A limited number of books will be available for purchase.
The past fifty years have witnessed an enormous upsurge in vaccine use in the United States: American children now receive more vaccines than any previous generation, and laws requiring their immunization against a litany of diseases are standard. And yet, while vaccination rates have soared and cases of preventable infections have plummeted, an increasingly vocal cross-section of Americans have questioned the safety and necessity of vaccines. In this talk, Elena Conis explores the emergence of widespread acceptance – and rejection – of vaccines from the 1960s to the present, finding the origins of today’s vaccination controversies in historical debates over topics ranging from national security to body piercing to the role of women in contemporary society. Vaccine acceptance, she argues, has never been simply a scientific matter, but one profoundly shaped by our politics, economics, and culture.
Elena Conis is a writer and historian of medicine, public health, and the environment. She is a member of the faculty of the Graduate School of Journalism at UC Berkeley and an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine at UCSF. Previously, she was a history professor and the Mellon Fellow in Health and Humanities at Emory University; the Cain Fellow at the Chemical Heritage Foundation; and an award-winning health columnist for the Los Angeles Times. Her first book, Vaccine Nation, won the Arthur J. Viseltear Award from the American Public Health Association and was named a Choice magazine outstanding title and a pick of the week by the journal Nature. She is currently working on a book on the history of the pesticide DDT. She holds a PhD in the history of health sciences from UCSF, masters degrees in journalism and public health from Berkeley, and a bachelors degree in biology from Columbia University.
About the UCSF Archives & Special Collections Lecture Series
UCSF Archives & Special Collections launched this lecture series to introduce a wider community to treasures and collections from its holdings, to provide an opportunity for researchers to discuss how they use this material, and to celebrate clinicians, scientists, and health care professionals who donated their papers to the archives.
We’ve been cataloging additions to our Historical Medical Artifact Collection recently. It’s always fun diving into the over 1,000 objects in the collection. This treasure is the Ortho-Fusor, a Bausch & Lomb product for “Modern Visual Training.”
The Ortho-Fusor, dated 1941, includes Polaroid 3D glasses, a reference manual, and a spiral-bound booklet with vectograph images and exercises. A vectograph is a type of stereoscopic image composed of two superimposed, polarized pictures that produce a 3D effect when viewed through polarizing spectacles. Think of it like going to a 3D movie, except you are viewing stills.
The Ortho-Fusor exercises, which involve refocusing your eyes on various points in the image, were designed for “re-educating and training visual skills” for the “modern need.” As noted in the reference manual, “the world of modern occupations has drawn many more thousands of us into factories, offices, libraries, schools, shops, and laboratories. Here for hours at a time we perform sustained and precise tasks with our eyes, frequently at very close distances…The precise teamwork of the eyes is a matter of coordination and habit.” The reference manual encourages 30 minutes of use a day, in five to ten minute intervals.
Ophthalmologists and optometrists, let us know what you think of these visual exercises and the Ortho-Fusor’s medical claims!
This is a guest post by Sophia Lahey, UCSF Archives and Special Collections Intern.
Recently, as part of a larger UCSF Archives and Special Collections digitization project, over 200 medical journals from various state medical associations were digitized and added to the Internet Archive. In order to ensure scan quality, I sifted through thousands of pages to make sure everything was clear enough so that the search function would work properly. As long as the scans are clean, you can search for any word in the entire collection! For instance, I searched the words “alcohol” and “prohibition” and came up with some fascinating results.
The first items that struck me when I started to read through the journals were the ads. In addition to the articles, the ads serve as evidence for historians about how people lived, what was socially acceptable, and what they were interested in buying. In these journals, most of the ads were geared towards doctors, advertising things like medicine, medical instruments, insurance, and even computer management systems.
This ad for Dentocain Teething Lotion is from the 1950s. The infant teething medication advertised is 70% alcohol and includes chloroform! By modern medical standards, this product would definitely raise some red flags. As I kept looking through more journals, I noticed that the older ones featured alcohol in many of the medicines advertised.
In this ad, though the ingredients aren’t listed, you can see on the bottle that the medicine contains 7 1/2% alcohol. The ad was published in 1927, during prohibition. So how could medicine contain alcohol when it was illegal? Well, alcohol could still be prescribed by a doctor. Like other medications, a doctor had to fill out a prescription in order for a patient to get items, like whiskey, for medicinal reasons.
Some doctors wrote prescriptions for liquor off record and for a profit. This created a controversy – government legislation vs. the rights of the practitioner to prescribe as much as he or she felt was needed. This lead to court cases as well as strongly worded opinion pieces about said court cases and ethics in the medical community. These opinion pieces as well as other news stories can be read in the medical journals in the UCSF collection.
Our Medical Artifact Collection includes some pretty amazing items. For instance, the 19th-century medical kits always impress, with their vibrant satin and velvet linings and beautifully crafted (though not necessarily sanitary) instruments.
One highlight is this 19th-century skull and brain surgery kit created by Arnold & Sons, a London-based surgical instrument manufacturer. The kit includes a trephine (with multiple saw bits), forceps, bone brush, and head saw known as a Hey’s saw.
A trephine is a T-shaped, hand-operated drill saw with a cylindrical blade. It would have been used to bore holes in the skull, allowing for the removal of bone and access to the brain. This kit includes multiple saw bits of different sizes.
A Hey’s saw is a double-bladed instrument that, thanks to its unique design, allows for variously angled cuts. It is named after William Hey, an English surgeon who helped refine the tool.
If you would like to see this, or any of our artifacts, in person, please make an appointment with the UCSF Archives and Special Collections.
Our extensive Historical Photograph Collection includes some really fascinating images. Check out these from the UCSF Radiology Department.
This is a guest post by Kristin Daniel, UCSF Archives and Special Collections Intern.
Dear Reader, you may not be aware of the fact that most—if not all—archives must deal with the looming specter of unprocessed legacy collections haunting their vaults. Hark, what’s that I hear? The sound of researchers gnashing their teeth at the thought of virgin cartons, brimming with knowledge, just beyond their reach? In the name of Science and History, what can be done?
I’ll tell you good Reader! An expedition is being undertaken at this very moment to survey those hidden but not forgotten boxes of lore that reside in the vault of the UCSF Archives. Possessing the requisite skills and patience, archivist David Uhlich and myself (your plucky and adroit, intern) are making our way through shelf after shelf of material – opening boxes, checking contents, and conferring with the notes of archivists gone by.
Sometimes we find what’s on the shelf matches what information we have, but sometimes we come across half-created records or material lacking adequate description. Despite these setbacks, we roll up our sleeves and soldier on, updating existing records with new information about content and location, or creating shiny new records of our own.
It’s a long process, but it is important work. Fear not, gentle Reader, for although the task seems Sisyphean in magnitude, the brave souls of the Archives and Special Collections are determined to succeed!
We’ve become somewhat accustomed to seeing “smoking doctor” pictures, typically the product of tobacco advertising cynically appealing to authority. The above image comes from a naturalistic setting however, depicting pathologist Dr. Harrison Martland (see table of contents below) at work.
Dr. Martland is featured on the cover of the January 1984 edition of the Journal of the Medical Society of New Jersey (Vol. 81 no. 1), digitized by the Internet Archive as part of the NEH grant-funded project to digitize many of our state medical society journals.
The journal lacks any commentary on the smoking but does lead us to an article on the analysis of Dr. Martland’s historical autopsy records performed at Newark City Hospital from 1908 to 1911.
The author draws some interesting conclusions about the safety and violence of Newark from Dr. Martland’s records, but perhaps one of the most interesting details is his attempt to record all his findings in Latin! He gave up eventually, doubtless making the author’s analysis that little bit easier.
Check out this and many other journals from our collection and four other libraries at the Internet Archive’s State Medical Society Journals project page. Expect continued updates to the collection throughout the year.
Another installment in our blog series that explores artifacts related to health practices now considered inaccurate or fraudulent. Check out Carl Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker.
The Lebenswecker, translated as the “Life-Awakener” or the “Resuscitator,” was developed by German inventor Carl Baunscheidt in the mid-19th century. The small instrument included over 30 thin, spring-loaded needles concentrated at the end of an ebony staff.
According to Baunscheidt, the Lebenswecker was designed to quickly puncture the skin, creating “artificial pores.” The “pores,” i.e. puncture wounds, were then covered with a proprietary irritating oil called “Oleum Baunscheidtii” that produced blisters. As another option, the practitioner could dip the needles in the oil before application, thus creating a more concentrated injection. As the blisters formed and drained, Baunscheidt claimed, the “health-destroying morbid matter” in the body naturally escaped.
Baunscheidt developed a health philosophy around the Lebenswecker known as Baunscheidtism. His inspiration, as detailed in his book Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure, came from his experience watching mosquitoes bite his rheumatic hand. As he writes, “it seemed as if the pains he had suffered, had fled with the flies…the inflicted sting caused an opening in the epidermis just large enough for the fine, volatile, but pathogenic substances lodged in the skin to exude.”
Baunscheidt claimed that the Lebenswecker could cure everything from sleeplessness to measles to epilepsy. Baunscheidtism practitioners, like John Linden, made similarly broad claims. As Linden noted in his work, Manual of the Exanthematic Method of Cure, the Lebenswecker could eliminate a tapeworm because, after repeated applications, “the unwelcome guest will soon become disgusted with his quarters, and be compelled to vacate.”
Baunscheidt’s philosophy, backed by personal testimonies included in his publications, achieved a measure of popularity in the 19th and early 20th century, especially in Germany and the United States. Today, his treatment is widely discredited.
We house two different “Life-Awakeners” in the UCSF Archives and Special Collections and a similar instrument developed by Baunscheidt called an artificial leech. Please contact us if you would like to come in and see the artifacts! We also have editions of John Linden and Carl Baunscheidt’s writings or you can read Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure online in our digital collection.
This summer the UCSF Archives & Special Collections is hosting two interns who are working on diverse projects.
Sophia Lahey is helping with the manuscript collections survey project, updating the metadata for historic photographs and documents that are posted on Calisphere, and assisting with quality control of volumes digitized for the State Medical Society Journals project.
Sophia is currently a student at Sonoma State University majoring in history and liberal arts. She lives with her parents in Marin county. In the fall she will be moving to Japan to study Japanese language and work towards a history major with concentration in Asian studies.
In her free time she pursues photography and spends time with her friends. She also enjoys video games as a hobby. She is excited to get experience working with historical documents and archives management systems to help her in the future with her history major.
For the first time we are working with the Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI) Summer Research Program. “This program is designed to provide an opportunity for High School and Undergraduate students to immerse themselves in the world of basic and/or clinical research for three months during the summer. The program pairs students with one or two CHORI principal investigators who serve as mentors, guiding the students through the design and testing of their own hypotheses and methodology development. At the end of the summer, students present their research to their peers just as any professional researcher would do.” Our CHORI intern, Laura Schafer is co-mentored by Drs. Aimee Medeiros and Brian Dolan from the UCSF Department of Anthropology, History, and Social Medicine and Polina Ilieva, Head of Archives & Special Collections.
As an undergrad senior student of Psychology and more recently also Pedagogy at UC Berkeley, Laura Schafer is deeply interested in research fields related to pediatrics and healthcare associated to socioeconomic status (SES) factors. She believes that having grown up experiencing the consequences of Brazil’s developing societal reality while having juvenile diabetes plays a significant influence on what has developed into the focus of her academic career by far. She is mostly concerned with the consequences of low socioeconomic status (SES) factors potentially interfering with treatment affordability and proper healthcare practices for chronically ill children’s mental, emotional. and physical health.
Although Laura has had the chance to acquire some fundamental research-enabling skills through involvement as an RA at the UC Berkeley Emotion and Social Interaction Laboratory and also from participating in an honors’ thesis developing program through her University’s department of pedagogy, Laura seeks further training and mentoring in the principles underlying conducts of research through her internship at UCSF. She is very enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with the UCSF mentors. The project Laura is involved with during her internship this summer aims to assist with the digitization and creation of metadata for the historical patient data from the 1920’s to 1960’s which includes pediatric records.
This is a guest post by Jessica Jones, former UCSF Archives & Special Collections Intern.
As an intern for the UCSF Library, Archives and Special Collections, I have worked on many different projects that utilize my skills as a professional administrative assistant, including the State Medical Journals Digitization Project, a collection survey, rehousing and inventorying the portrait photograph collection, and more. I also attended Library Updates meetings and listened to presentations about changes within libraries. Although this was a very new experience to me I adapted very quickly and I am proud to say I have learned so much and have enjoyed my time here with UCSF.
I would like to share a bit more about my most recent project working with the Black Caucus records. I really found this project to be interesting; I researched, digitized, and uploaded material from the collection to the digital asset management system and assisted in creating original metadata to facilitate discovery of these items. You can now access the UCSF Black Caucus Records digital collection on Calisphere.
The Black Caucus was first established on the UCSF campus in May 1968 in the wake of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This organization worked to provide more job opportunities for qualified minority applicants and lobbied for more minority students in all four professional schools. The organization engaged in many civil rights initiatives and social justice projects, like supporting custodial and technical staff in labor disputes and campaigning for more diverse hiring at all levels of the university. Beginning in the 1970s, the group shared personal stories, event updates, and project achievements in a newsletter named the Black Bulletin. There were many notable UCSF figures that helped found and lead the Black Caucus. For instance, UCSF Medal winner Joanne Lewis served as one of the organization’s first chairpersons and organized the publication of the Black Bulletin.
The Black Caucus records help to demonstrate that African Americans have contributed remarkable achievements in the fields of science and medicine during the 20th century. To encourage future researchers and clinicians of color I think that it is essential for boys and girls to be given the academic tools to succeed in science and medicine, preferably long before college. There are several programs that help facilitate this, such as the White House initiative “My Brother’s Keeper” that helps young people reach their full potential. Medical schools should also continue to sponsor pipeline programs to encourage minority students to consider careers in medicine.
I am very proud and excited to be a part of this amazing project. The Black Caucus has helped support and encourage people of color at UCSF through advocacy and community. The organization’s message of equality shows how important it is to have a diverse population of practitioners to address healthcare needs and to eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare.
Friday the 13th of May was the auspicious date of our visit to one of our partner organizations, the Internet Archive, just across Golden Gate Park in the Richmond District. The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library of millions of freely accessible books, movies, software, music, websites and more. Internet Archive graciously hosts a bi-weekly Partners Lunch, inviting anyone working in partnership with IA to tour the facility (a gorgeous re-purposed Christian Science church), meet staff in person, and participate in a lunchtime roundtable where IA folks and visitors share their projects’ progress, successes and failures. The whole UCSF Archives team, plus UCSF collections staff members Beatrice Mallek and David MacFarland, were in attendance.
We met with our IA liason Jesse Bell, who gave us a look into the progress of some of our projects ongoing at Internet Archive. Here Eliza Zhuang is using a specially designed scanning booth to digitize volumes of bound medical journals for the State Medical Journal project. The “scanner” actually uses two conventional DSLR cameras to simultaneously photograph the pages of the book, optimally positioned by the pedal-operated V-shaped glass plate shown here.
After photography, the images undergo QA and metadata association before being uploaded to the Internet Archive, where they look like this.
IA’s lobby provides plenty of excitement. A prominently displayed monitor shows the digitization currently underway on a number of different systems. Below, David Uhlich watches as pages from the book scanner are photographed. Immediately behind the monitor is a film scanner that similarly feeds the live-view monitor. The lobby also houses a beautiful antique gramophone near a small listening station that includes an iPad loaded with digitized music and other recorded sound.
After lunch, we took a more in depth tour of IA’s facility. We saw an example of IA’s specially designed “portable” book scanner, which is basically a scaled-down version of the one used by IA staff. Approximately $10,000 will get you your own book scanning station, software, and support from IA for your own scanning projects. We also looked inside the refurbished church that, in addition to the pews, now houses some of IA’s servers and digitization equipment.
Sculptures of miniature people inhabit the aisles. Long-term IA staff are thanked for their service with a sculpture of their likeness; many depicted holding an item that reflects their interests or passions.
It was great to meet the IA team in person. Our partnership with IA continues to provide new opportunities to preserve and make accessible our material. We look forward to exciting projects in the future!
We are pleased to announce that the J. Michael Bishop Papers digital collection is now available publicly on Calisphere.org. Bishop is a Nobel Prize-winning researcher and UCSF Chancellor Emeritus. The digital collection features hundreds of pages of material and photographs selected from Bishop’s papers housed in the UCSF Archives and Special Collections (MSS 2007-21).
J. Michael Bishop, MD, joined the UCSF faculty in 1968. He was appointed director of the GW Hooper Research Foundation in 1981 and named UCSF Chancellor in 1998, a post he held until 2009. He continues to serve as Hooper’s director and as professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
In 1989, Bishop and his research partner, Harold Varmus, were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work in cancer research. Bishop and Varmus discovered the cellular origin of retroviral oncogenes. Their work helped clarify the processes that convert normal cellular genes into cancer genes and impacted our understanding of the genesis of human cancer.
The digital collection features selections from Bishop’s laboratory research notebooks and professional papers, including article drafts, correspondence with other scientists, and teaching and lecture material. Also included are photographs and draft figures created by Bishop for his publications.
You can view the digital collection on Calisphere.org. If you would like to visit the UCSF Archives and work with the complete physical collection, please check out the detailed inventory available on the Online Archive of California and make an appointment with us.