By Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian. Photographs by Library staff.
In our stacks sits an unassuming grey-blue box, labeled “[Photograph negatives and positives, taken by Frank Place of the New York Academy of Medicine staff and buildings…] 1925–1941.”
Frank Place worked as a reference librarian for the New York Academy of Medicine library for 40 years, from 1905 until his retirement in 1945.1 He was at the Academy when it was located at 17 West 43rd Street (its home from 1890), and documented its move in 1926. He took pictures of Central Park, of staff working and relaxing, and of spaces inside and outside the current and previous locations.
In celebration of Frank Place and library and Academy staff past and present, we have recreated a few of Place’s numerous photographs. We could not always take pictures in the original locations—Place took one of the selected pictures at 17 West 43rd Street and several office spaces have been renovated since his time. But we attempted to capture the essence of the photographs and honor Place’s documentarian spirit.
Where possible, we’ve identified the people pictured in the original pictures, but all we have to go on are minimal pencil notes Place scrawled on the backs of the photographs. Unfortunately, he did not always take his own advice, as expressed in the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association in 1944:
It is not a bad idea to have photographs of the library staff at different periods. And don’t forget to name everybody, and, yes, date the print and the negative. Why not assemble photographs of the members of your society or academy? Some one of you no doubt owns a “candid” camera and can take snapshots with little or no trouble.2
If you know the full names of anyone unidentified or incompletely identified, please let us know.
Click on an image to enlarge.
Left: Dr. Felicia Robbins, 1920. Dr. Robbins (1869–1950), born the Baroness von Autenried, was a gynecologist. A brief biography describes her as having “a more extensive medical literary knowledge than any living person. Most of her time was spent at the Academy among the book stacks.”3
Right: Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian, July 16, 2015.
Left: M. Schieck, A. Larsen, M. Roberts, Helen Field, October 1941. Right: Emily Moyer (Collections Care Assistant), Kate Bator (Past Collections Care Assistant), Erin Albritton (Head of Conservation), and Christina Amato (Book Conservator), July 22, 2015.
Left: “Westrom Dr. Clouting Maddocks.” Felix Wesstrom worked at the Academy from 1893–1935. He started “as an elevator boy, became janitor, and had done almost every kind of service in the forty-two years he served the Academy, including a brief period of collecting dues.”1 Harold Maddocks was the superintendent of the building.4 We were unable to uncover significant information on Dr. Clouting.
Right: As the original photograph features non-library staff, our recreation does the same. Left to right: Suhani Parikh (Coordinator, Office of Trustee and Fellowship Affairs), Tammy Cowart (Payroll Coordinator, Business Office), Sejal Gandhi (Director of the Education & Conference Center), July 28, 2015.
1. Van Ingen P. The New York Academy of Medicine: Its first hundred years. New York: Columbia University Press,; 1949.
2. Place F. Records off the Record. Bull Med Libr Assoc. 1944;32(2):214–6. Available at: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=194346&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract. Accessed July 29, 2015.
3. Bryant WS. Felicia Autenried Robbins, M.D., 1869-1950.; 1951.
4. Annual meeting. N Y State J Med. 1933;33:538.