Brought to Light Blog

Syndicate content
Stories from UCSF Archives & Special Collections
Updated: 2 hours 20 min ago

Halloween Open House in the Archives

Fri, 2016-10-21 09:19

Sketch by A.A.C. Williams MD (d. 1870), found tucked inside his surgical instrument case. Artifact Collection, item 79.

We’re closing out Archives Month with a Halloween Open House in the Archives. Join us from 12noon-1pm on Halloween, Monday, October 31, in the Archives Reading Room. View some of our favorite oddities from the past and a few of our more gruesome historical medical artifacts.

Transfusion kit, circa 1870. Artifact Collection, item 240.

Plus, receive a Halloween goodie bag while supplies last!

UCSF School of Nursing students at table with Halloween decorations, 1944. Photograph Collection.

REGISTER HERE for the event.

Categories: Brought to Light

Remembering Thomas N. Burbridge, Superhero of Science and Medicine

Wed, 2016-10-19 09:00

The Society of American Archivists’ Science, Technology and Health Care roundtable recently launched a project titled Forgotten Superheroes of Science and Medicine to highlight “underrepresented and diverse persons and groups in collections of the history of science, technology and health care.” We’ll be contributing to this project by periodically posting to the blog regarding these heroes.

Thomas N. Burbridge, MD, PhD (1921-1972), was an African-American scientist, physician, and civil rights activist. He devoted his life to social justice and his work continues to impact UCSF and the larger San Francisco community.

Thomas N. Burbridge. Photograph collection, portraits.

Burbridge was born in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1921. He attended Talladega College and later joined the US Navy. After years of military service, he enrolled in the UCSF School of Medicine, earning his MD in 1948. He completed his residency at San Francisco General Hospital and then enrolled in a graduate program in the UCSF Department of Pharmacology.

While in graduate school, Burbridge helped lead UC’s efforts to support development of medical education at the University of Indonesia, following the Indonesian fight for independence. Burbridge worked with local students and officials in Jakarta from 1952-1955.

Thomas N. Burbridge with his wife and medical students at the University of Indonesia, 1952-1955. Photograph published in the Alumni-Faculty Association Bulletin of the UCSF School of Medicine, Winter 1956. University Publications.

After returning to the US, Burbridge joined the faculty of the UCSF School of Medicine in 1956, where he conducted research related to the pharmacology of alcohol and the metabolism of marijuana. As a teacher and scientist, Burbridge advocated for increased minority student enrollment at UCSF. In the 1960s, he led recruiting trips to predominantly black universities in the southern United States, speaking with students about opportunities in the health sciences. He also served as a leader of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP and organized sit-ins of auto dealerships and other businesses in protest of their discriminatory employment practices. This non-violent, direct action strategy brought about equal employment opportunities for people of color in San Francisco.

Memorial of Dr. Thomas Burbridge. Published on the back cover of the October 1972 edition of the Black Bulletin, a newsletter created by UCSF’s Black Caucus. Black Caucus records, MSS 85-38.

Following Burbridge’s death in 1972, the UCSF Black Caucus petitioned Chancellor Philip Lee to name a Chancellor’s Award in his honor. Today, Burbridge’s legacy continues to inspire the UCSF community through the Thomas N. Burbridge Chancellor’s Award for Public Service.

UCSF Archives & Special Collections houses the Thomas Nathaniel Burbridge Papers, 1959-1972 and other related collections. Please make an appointment if you would like to research the material.

Categories: Brought to Light

Archives Talk 10/21/16: Historical Medical Collections in the 21st Century

Tue, 2016-10-11 14:15

Date: Friday, October 21, 2016
Time: 12 pm – 1:15 pm
Lecturer: Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD (NLM)
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.

 Join UCSF Archives & Special Collections for an afternoon talk with Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, chief of the History of Medicine of the National Library of Medicine, the world’s largest biomedical library, located on the Bethesda, Maryland, campus of the National Institutes of Health.
In this talk, Reznick will offer an overview of the division, its current partnerships and programs, and its future plans as he and his colleagues embrace the future as stewards of the past, as the NLM itself anticipates its third century under the leadership of Patricia Flatley Brennan, PhD, RN., RN.

Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, chief of the History of Medicine at the National Library of Medicine

Reznick joined the NLM in 2009 following his tenure as director of the Institute for the Study of Occupation and Health of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Dr. Reznick’s record of scholarly historical research is as extensive as his executive career in the national nonprofit sector. As a social and cultural historian of medicine and war, he maintains and active research portfolio supported by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, and he is the author of two books, both published by Manchester University Press in its Cultural History of Modern War series, as well as numerous book reviews, articles for the popular press, and entries in major reference works.

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.

Categories: Brought to Light

Archives Month – October 2016

Thu, 2016-09-29 09:38

October is Archives Month! Along with archives from across the country, we’re celebrating the value of historical records and the preservation of the past.

We have special events planned on Wednesday, October 5. Visit us in the Library 5th floor Reading Room from 12noon-1pm to view historical collections, tour library exhibits, and meet archives staff. Also, tweet your questions all day @ucsf_archives using #AskAnArchivist. RSVP preferred for the open house – sign up here.

Categories: Brought to Light

New items to be digitized from the Eric L. Berne papers

Wed, 2016-09-28 11:07

Thanks to fundraising and donations from the International Transactional Analysis Association, we are embarking on another round of digitization of papers from the Eric L. Berne collections.

The papers selected for digitization in this round will range from early fiction writings to publisher correspondence, photographs, writings foundational to TA theory, materials documenting ITAA history and other items that continue to round out our understanding of Berne’s life, personality, intellectual process, and legacy.

Eric Berne with Fritz Perls

You can expect to find these items online on Calisphere, alongside previously digitized items under their respective collection numbers. As always, guides to the collections are available on the Online Archive of California. 

Categories: Brought to Light

Forgotten Super Heroes of Science and Medicine: Choh Hao Li

Thu, 2016-09-15 08:37

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:

Categories: Brought to Light

Upcoming Lecture: “Vaccination and Society Since the Sixties”

Wed, 2016-09-07 14:30

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.

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.

W. McD. Hammon with triplets participating in a polio study at the Hooper Foundation (UCSF)

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, PhD

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.

Categories: Brought to Light

Ortho-Fusor for Modern Visual Training

Mon, 2016-08-29 09:28

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.”

Ortho-Fusor, 1941. Artifact Collection, item 1157.

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.

Ortho-Fusor booklet, 1941. Artifact Collection, item 1157.

Ortho-Fusor booklet, 1941. Artifact Collection, item 1157.

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.

Ortho-Fusor Reference Manual, 1941. Artifact Collection, item 1157.

Ophthalmologists and optometrists, let us know what you think of these visual exercises and the Ortho-Fusor’s medical claims!

Categories: Brought to Light

Digitized State Medical Journals: Searching “Alcohol” and “Prohibition”

Wed, 2016-08-17 10:35

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.

Connecticut State Medical Journal, March 1952, page 226.

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.

Colorado Medicine, 1927.

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.

Prescription form for one pint of medicinal whiskey, March 17, 1930. Robert Day Collection, MSS 2011-23.

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.

Categories: Brought to Light

Skull and Brain Surgery Kit

Mon, 2016-08-08 11:49

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.

Skull and brain surgery kit, 19th century. UCSF Artifact Collection, item 441.

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.

Detail of trephine, bone brush, and Hey’s saw. UCSF Artifact Collection, item 441.

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.

Categories: Brought to Light

Highlights from the Photograph Collection – Radiology Department

Tue, 2016-07-26 09:41

Our extensive Historical Photograph Collection includes some really fascinating images. Check out these from the UCSF Radiology Department.

Verso: “Interior of University of California Hospital; Equipment used for the extraction of radon – an element formed by the disintegration of radium,” 1924. Photograph by H.J. Armstrong. Photograph collection, SM, Department of Radiology.

Cobalt machine, 1963. Instrument used to administer radiation therapy, often used for cancer treatment. Photograph by Cal-Pictures. Photograph collection, R, Radiology Therapy.

Students Debbie Modeiros and Nat Rutherford, in the Radiologic Technology Training School, practicing with doll, 1969. Photograph collection, R, Radiology Technology School.

EMI Scanner, 1975. Verso: “The EMI scanner is an example of recent technological advances that reduces patient X-ray exposure while providing more accurate diagnosis than obtainable with older X-ray machines. Here technician Mary McNally and secretary Penny Foster, as patient, demonstrate the giant 2 1/2 ton machine which diagnoses brain disorders.” Photograph by Juan Saenz. Photograph collection, R, Radiology CT and EMI scanning.

Categories: Brought to Light

An Old-Fashioned Expedition into the Vault

Mon, 2016-07-18 14:20

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!

Categories: Brought to Light

Highlights from the State Medical Society Journals digitization project

Thu, 2016-07-14 09:56

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.

Categories: Brought to Light

Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker: The 19th-Century “Life-Awakener”

Thu, 2016-07-07 09:10

Another installment in our blog series that explores artifacts related to health practices now considered inaccurate or fraudulent. Check out Carl Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker.

Baunscheidt’s Lebenswecker, circa 1850. Instrument pictured with cap on and off. Item 436, UCSF Archives Artifact Collection.

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.

Detail of Lebenswecker. Item 436, UCSF Archives Artifact Collection.

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.

Illustration of Adonis and Aphrodite with “most generally appropriate” areas of the body on which to use the Lebenswecker. From Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure, 1865.



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.”

Detail of illustration from Baunscheidtism, or a New Method of Cure, 1865.

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.”

Order sheet fixed inside John Linden’s Manual of the Exanthematic Method of Cure, 1882.

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.

Two different designs of Lebenswecker. Items 436 and 242, UCSF Archives Artifact Collection.

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.

Categories: Brought to Light