Annette Smith Burgess: Ophthalmological Illustrator

By Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Librarian

An earlier blog post of ours highlighted the work of Gladys McHugh, a medical illustrator who used transparent acetate sheets to create her illustrations for The Human Eye in Anatomical Transparencies and The Human Ear in Anatomical Transparencies.  McHugh studied medical illustration with Max Brödel at Johns Hopkins in the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine, one of a significant number of women who trained with him to become well-known medical illustrators.

Annette Smith Burgess (1899-1962), was another of Brödel’s students.  Burgess studied with Brödel for three years starting in 1923 before becoming the first ophthalmic illustrator for the Wilmer Eye Institute, a position she held for the next 35 years, until her retirement in 1961.  Beginning in 1946 (and more officially in 1948), she took on an additional role as an instructor in the Art as Applied to Medicine program.

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Portrait of Annette Smith Burgess.[1]

In 1934, William Holland Wilmer published his Atlas Fundus Oculi, illustrated with one hundred color plates, all of which were reproduced from paintings made by Burgess.  These lushly colored lithographs took quite a bit of work to make.  As Wilmer states in his foreword to the atlas, “The accurate printing of fundus drawings in colour is a very laborious and costly undertaking; sometimes in offset-lithography from eight to sixteen impressions (one mat for every colour) are required to produce one plate.  The cheaper processes are far from satisfactory…”[2]

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“Papillo-retinitis, with Papilledema, Toxic and Mechanical” (plate 30), from Atlas Fundus Oculi (1934).

Burgess was more than qualified to take on this challenge.  To make her paintings, she became a skilled user of the ophthalmoscope and the slit lamp.  Writing about the process by which she created her illustrations, Dr Alan C. Woods explained that to show the ocular lesions related to a particular disease “she would make six drawings from different eyes depicting the various lesions and gradations thereof, rather than paint and sign her name to any drawing which was not a faithful portrayal of the lesions actually present in the eye under study.”[3]  This meticulous work increased the value of the illustrations for users of the atlas, as their level of accuracy was extraordinary, rendering the experience of looking at the illustrations very close to that of looking through an ophthalmoscope itself.  Some of Wilmer’s descriptions also include detailed half-tone illustrations of particular features he wanted to highlight; these, too, were drawn by Burgess.

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“Choroiditis, Diffuse, with Ascending Perineuritis” (plate 34) from Atlas Fundus Oculi (1934).

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“Choroiditis, Diffuse, with Ascending Perineuritis” (plate 34) halftones from Atlas Fundus Oculi (1934).

Burgess also collaborated with Woods, providing the illustrations for Endogenous Uveitis (1956) and Endogenous Inflammations of the Uveal Tract (1961), although in both of those volumes her paintings were reproduced using photographic processes rather than lithography, and reduced in size.  While still extraordinarily beautiful, the texture found in the earlier lithographs disappears in the reproductions in these later publications.

Plates XXVII and XXVIII (left) and plates XXIX and XXX (right), from Endogenous Uveitis (1956).[4]

For decades after her death, the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Hopkins continued to celebrate Annette Burgess’s legacy with an award to honor excellence in ophthalmological illustration.

References:
[1] Davis RW. Annette Smith Burgess (1899-1962).  Journal of the Association of Medical Illustrators. 1963; 14:25-28.
[2] Wilmer WH. Atlas Fundus Oculi. New York: MacMillan; 1934, p. 7.
[3] Woods AC.  Obituary in “News and Comment.” Archives of Ophthalmology. 1962; 68(6): 880.
[4] Woods AC. Endogenous Uveitis. Baltimore: Wiliams & Wilkins, 1956.

The “Best” Tonic: Pabst Malt Extract Pamphlets in the Academy Library

By Anne Garner, Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts

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Girl in yellow embracing a Pabst Malt Extract bottle. Click to Enlarge.

Guinness enthusiasts are well familiar with the brewery’s famous tagline “Guinness Is Good for You.”  But did you know that the American company Pabst staged a successful marketing campaign in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries built on the idea that their own Milwaukee-based malt extract could cure a range of ailments?  A series of pamphlets produced by the Pabst Brewing Company tells the story.

Pabst has its origins in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a city well-situated for a brewery with its harbor, its caves (nature’s coolers, before refrigeration), and its large population of German immigrants.[1]

An 1897 edition of Henriette Davidis’ Praktisches Kochbuch, published in Milwaukee in both German and English for an audience of German-Americans, includes some fourteen recipes using the beverage, including beer soup, beer with raisins, and beer eggs.

Pabst was first established as the Empire Brewery in Milwaukee in 1844 by German immigrant Jacob Best.  In 1872, Frederick Pabst, married to Best’s granddaughter, became president of the company.  It was renamed after Pabst in 1889.

Henriette Davidis’ Praktisches Kochbuch (1897). Click to Enlarge.

Milwaukee from “Wedding Secrets,” Page 33. Click to Enlarge.

Beginning in 1876, Pabst won awards for its formula.  The company began to tie blue ribbons around the necks of their bottles to mark its first place status. The name stuck, and was later incorporated into their brand in 1895).[2]

By the 1890’s, many American breweries were manufacturing malt extract for medicinal purposes.  This thick, syrupy liquid derived from barley and grains certainly contained sugar and may have contained some nutrients.  Malt Extracts were widely used as a digestive aid, and for the recovery of convalescents.

Convalescent double-page spread from “Heart Darts” (ca.1908). Click to Enlarge.

But they also contained alcohol.  In 1896 at a meeting of the Boston Society of Medical Sciences, Dr. Charles Harrington shared his findings after a study of the ingredients of these preparations:

“Twenty-one different brands of liquid malt extract were obtained and analyzed. That they were not true malt extracts is shown by the fact that in no one was there the slightest diastatic power; all were alcoholic, some being stronger than beer, ale, or even porter. In a number of specimens a large amount of salicylic acid was detected.”[3]

Pabst promotes their Malt extract in a series of pamphlets in our collection.  In the earliest of those here at the library, “More Secrets,” (1889), the text asserts that their tonic is:

“a simple extract of Malt and Hops, precisely similar in nutrition and medicinal value to those hitherto so extensively prescribed by the entire medical profession.  It is not a patent medicine.”

Two years earlier, a paper given by author and researcher S.P. Sharples, showed that Pabst’s malt extract contained 5.16 cubic centimeters of alcohol in a 100 cubic centimeters of the liquid.[4]  Like many patent medicines, a full list of the formula’s ingredients is not given in the advertising material.

The pamphlets also suggest use for ailments similar to those treated by patent medicines.  A pamphlet called “Heart Darts” (ca. 1908) recommends Pabst Extract for the overworked, the nervous, the dyspepsic and the old aged, and includes charming illustrations of the afflicted:

Dyspepsia, insomnia, nervousness and overworked, all from “Health Darts” (1908).

Pabst also claimed to cure insomnia.  “100 Points of Perfection” (ca. 1894) argues against taking drugs for sleep, but recognizes the necessity of sleep to produce calm nerves. How to sleep?  According to “100 Points,” choose Pabst, and “Take a bottle a day, for two weeks.”  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Ghosts and sleep from “100 Points of Perfection” (ca. 1894). Click to Enlarge.

During the 1890’s, Pabst ran a series of ads in women’s medical journals to target nursing mothers.

Ad from Women’s Medical Journal (1895). Click to Enlarge.

As their pamphlet “Baby Secrets” explains, the extract is “an ideal preparation for nursing mothers, giving them abundant nourishment to resist the extra drain upon the system” and aids in sleep. Harried mothers are also promised that a bottle a day for 24 days will restore beauty.

The back cover of “Baby Secrets” (1897) features a conspiring Cupid whispering into a stork’s ear. Click to Enlarge.

“Baby Secrets” is one in a series of “Secrets” pamphlets produced in the 1890’s, available by mail order for free.  The Academy Library has eight in total. Click on images to enlarge.

“More Secrets” (ca. 1889) opens with the assertion that Pabst malt liquor is not a patent medicine, but “a simple extract of Malt and Hops, precisely similar in nutrition and medicinal value to those hitherto so extensively prescribed by the entire medical profession.”

“Still More Secrets” (1890) offers guidance for nursing mothers: Do nurse him, do help him,/ Throw bottles away;/ You take the “Best” Tonic,” / He’ll come here to stay.”

“Untold Secrets” (ca. 1892) emphasizes the importance of sleep.

“Ominous Secrets” (1894) which contains stories of mysteries and omens, journeys and old world luxuries, shows an old man kneeling in front of the Sphinx.

“Wedding Secrets” (1895) features a sheepish Cupid, next to the discarded flowers and shoes belonging to the bride and groom.

“Home Secrets” (1898) features a smiling woman with her head resting languidly on her hand, waving an empty teacup.

“Open Secrets,” (ca. 1895) recommends Pabst malt extract as a meal and as a remedy to young mothers, whose children have “almost drained their young lives away.” It closes with a plug for their beer– “we will see that you get [it] without difficulty.”

Malt Tonic from “100 Points” back cover (ca. 1894).

When Prohibition went into effect in 1920, Pabst had the manufacture of malt extract to fall back on (as well as another Wisconsin no-brainer of a product: cheese).  That same year, Pabst began to market it for its cooking properties, as a sugar substitute and to leaven bread.  But it really came in handy for bootleg home-brews.  The newspaper of Lima, Ohio reported in 1929 that the weekly sales of malt there could produce the equivalent of 400,000 pints of beer.[5] 

McGuiness menu cover and beer list.

When the Volstead Act was repealed, Pabst reprises their production of their Blue Ribbon brand with a vengeance.  This New York menu, probably from the 1940’s from the midtown New York Irish bar McGinnis shows a range of beers available, including both Guinness and Pabst.  We’re wondering if the 5 cents price difference implies that while Guinness might be good for you, Pabst was banking on an audience that thought it might be even better.

References:
[1] Smith, Gregg.  Beer in America:  The Early Years – 1587-1840.  Boulder:  Brewer’s Publications, 1998.
[2] From “The Whole Story.”  Accessed March 2, 2017 at http://pabstblueribbon.com/pbr-history/.
[3] See Martha Meir Allen’s Alcohol:  A Dangerous and Unnecessary Medicine.  Marcellus, N.Y. : National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, c1900. P. 316.
[4] Allen, p. 317.
[5] Lima News, March 31, 1929.

Infectious Madness, the Well Curve and the Microbial Roots of Mental Disturbance

3cfce0fe054a12627f41292ec26e6b22Today’s guest post is written by Harriet Washington, a science writer, editor and ethicist. She is  the author of several books, including Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Experimentation from Colonial Times to the Present. On Wednesday, March 15 at 6pm, Washington will discuss: “Infectious Madness, the Well Curve and the Microbial Roots of Mental Disturbance.” In this talk, based on her book Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness, Washington traces the history, culture and some disturbing contemporary manifestations of this ‘infection connection.” To read more about this lecture and to register, go HERE.

“Mind, independent of experience, is inconceivable.” —Franz Boas

Psychological trauma, stress, genetic anomalies and other experiences that limit the healthy functioning of the mind and brain are widely recognized as key factors in the development of schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder.  However, despite a plethora of examples and evidence of microbial disorders from rabies to paresis, infection has been slow to join the pantheon.  This aversion persists largely because the perceived causes of mental disorders have evolved not only with our scientific knowledge of medicine but also with our tenacious cultural beliefs and biases.  Instead, we have long clung to what  Robert Sapolsky calls a “primordial muck” of attribution that includes broken taboos, sin—one’s own or one’s forbears’— and even bad mothering.

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Representation of the dancing mania by Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Younger.Source.

Flemish painter Pieter Brueghel the Younger (1564–1636) painted the above representation of the dancing mania known as choreomania or St. Anthony’s Fire, which has seized a pilgrimage of epileptics en route to the church at Molenbeek. Such compulsive dancing was originally ascribed to satanic influence such as bewitchment, and later to a collective hysterical disorder, but is now ascribed to ergotism— the  infection of rye and other grains by the fungus Claviceps purpurea.  When people ate the tainted bread, their symptoms included compulsive dancing. Some have ascribed the mass hysteria of the Salem witch trials to ergotism.  Streptoccocal infections have also produced cases called Sydenham’s chorea.

Not all traditional “causes” of mental illness are confined to the past.  As late as the 1980s, the alternating rage, coldness and oppressive affection of domineering “schizophrenogenic mothers” was taught in psychology classes as the root of schizophrenia, just as Tourette’s syndrome initially was laid to poor parenting.

For Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We “Catch” Mental Illness, I interviewed scientists working on the effects of infections on mental health such as Susan Swedo, chief of the pediatrics and developmental neuroscience branch at the National Institute of Mental Health, who studies the role of Group A strep (GAS) infections in children in rapid-onset cases of obsessive compulsive disorder, anorexia, and Tourette syndrome. Other visionary researchers, such as E. Fuller Torrey, executive director of Maryland’s Stanley Medical Research Institute, and Robert Yolken, director of developmental neurovirology at Johns Hopkins University, have for decades investigated the role of microbes in mental illness and have traced the path of viruses such as influenza, herpes simplex and Toxoplasma  gondii, among other microbes, in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

There are a myriad of ways in which infections cause or encourage mental disease. In order to suit its own need to reproduce within the stomach of a cat, the unicellular parasite Toxoplasma gondii changes the behavior of rodents — and incidentally, use it to gain entry. This seems strange, but changing the behavior of a host to suit its own needs is a common stratagem of parasites. The Cordyceps fungus, for example, manipulates an ant in the Amazon into climbing a tree where the fungal spores can be more widely disseminated. The spore- bearing branches extend from the corpse of the ant pictured below.

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The Cordyceps fungus manipulates an ant in the Amazon into climbing a tree where the fungal spores can be more widely disseminated. The spore-bearing branches extend from the corpse of the ant.Photograph © Gregory Dimijian, MD.

Infection, redux

“Everything has been thought of before, but the problem is to think of it again.” —Goethe

There is a long, all but forgotten history of infectious theories of mental illness. In his 1812 psychiatry text Medical Inquiries and Observations upon the Diseases of the Mind, for example, Benjamin Rush, MD, included a first detailed taxonomy of mental disorders, each with its own physical cause. He cited disruptions of blood circulation and  sensory overload as the basis of mental illness, and he treated his patients with devices meant to improve circulation to the brain, including such Rube Goldberg designs as a centrifugal spinning board, or to decrease sensory perceptions, such as a restraining chair with a head enclosure.

Restraining Chair

Pictured here is the “tranquilizing chair” in which patients were confined. The chair was supposed to control the flow of blood toward the brain and, by lessening muscular action or reducing motor activity, reduce the force and frequency of the pulse.Photograph © 2008 Hoag Levins.

Paresis, an infectious mental disorder

In 1857, Drs. Johannes Friedrich Esmark and W. Jessen suggested a biological cause for paresis: syphilis. Many researchers started to view paresis as the tertiary stage of syphilis, which often attacked the brain indiscriminately, and they began referring to it as neurosyphilis. This theory held out hope that if syphilis was ever cured, paresis could be too.

Nineteenth-century asylum keepers, however, persisted in viewing paresis as wholly mental in character. The long-standing insistence on divorcing physical illnesses from mental ones had to do with religious philosophy and culture but also with the politics of the asylum, which remained a battleground between physicians and religious and philosophical healers.

Matters were complicated by the fact that most physicians, despite the evidence that paresis was the mental manifestation of a physical disease, continued to treat paretics with the same ineffectual therapeutics given other mentally ill patients. Traditional treatments such as “douches, cold packs, mercury, blistering of the scalp, venesection, leeching, sexual abstinence, and holes drilled into the skull [trephination]” continued—without positive results. Even when toxic mercury-based treatments for syphilis were replaced by Paul Ehrlich’s safer, more effective arsenic-based Salvarsan (also called arsphenamine and compound 606), it was not used against paresis.

But in June 1917, Professor Julius Wagner-Jauregg of the University of Vienna Hospital for Nervous and Mental Diseases undertook a radical approach. He had noticed that some paretic patients improved markedly after contracting an infectious illness that gave them fevers. He decided to fight fire with fire by turning one disease against another: he sought to suppress the symptoms of paresis by infecting its sufferers with malaria.

Before Wagner-Jauregg won the Nobel and Freud forged the future of psychiatry, a paradigm shift had already taken place that transformed science’s approach to the nature of disease. It is the very framework that supports the role of infection in mental illness—germ theory. Developed by Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch, germ theory posits that specific microbes such as bacteria, viruses, and prions (infectious proteins) cause illness.

For more on this fascinating topic, join Harriet Washington on Wednesday, March 15 at 6pm.  More information can be found here

“Feminist Futures” Class Review

By Audrey Sage Lorberfeld, Digital Technical Specialist

For three hours each Monday evening, January 30 through February 20, the Academy hosted a Brooklyn Institute for Social Research class called Feminist Futures, for which I was lucky enough to be the staff liaison. My classmates ran the gamut from PhD students to artists to professors to web developers to librarians and archivists. Our professor, Danya Glabau, guided us through the intellectual history of the intersection of science studies and feminist theory. Professor Glabau’s syllabus included the writings of such luminaries as Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, Evelyn Fox Keller, and Emily Martin. To complement these readings, the Academy was able to provide some of its own treasures as well.

One such item was the Traité d’osteologié, published in 1759 with text by the Scottish anatomist Alexander Monro and illustrations supervised by Marie Geneviève Charlotte Thiroux D’Arconville.  D’Arconville studied anatomy at the Jardin Du Roi and translated Monro’s earlier text into French for this volume. Although her name does not appear anywhere in the text (her plates were published under the protection of Jean-Jacques Sue, a member of the French Royal Academy), it is generally accepted that d’Arconville is the hand behind the gorgeous images. Among her plates are incredible depictions of male and female skeletons that display features associated with each gender. She renders the male skeleton as large and statuesque and places him in front of a backdrop of Classical architecture. Her female skeleton, on the other hand, is more petite and stands in a less assertive position. Noticeably, her rib cage is extremely narrow while her wide hips and pelvis are very emphasized. There is speculation that the image of a narrow rib cage is meant to associate the skeleton with upper class women who usually wore corsets.

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Female skeleton from Traité d’osteologié (1759)

Paired with this item for a unit titled “Feminist Objectivity” were Donna Haraway’s “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective,” Karen Barad’s “Meeting the Universe Halfway: Realism and Social Constructivism Without Contradiction,” and Michelle Murphy’s “Immodest Witnessing: The Epistemology of Vaginal Self-Examination in the U.S. Feminist Self-Help Movement.” Among other topics, we guessed at what our authors might have thought of today’s quantified-self movement and whether or not data about the self could be categorized as an extension of that self. Further, we asked: what happens to this paradigm when you engage with its exponential commodification? Could self-awareness excuse the self from the ‘wrong type’ of objectification? We also spent a significant part of the class analyzing what Haraway’s idea of “seeing from below” might mean in our current political climate.[1] We queried, is it possible to adopt Haraway’s type of situated knowledge and avoid being ableist?

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“Feminist Futures” class taking place at the Academy.Image source: Suzanne Schneider, Director of Operations and Core Faculty at Brooklyn Institute for Social Research.

One of my favorite quotes from this part of the course was “rational knowledge does not pretend to disengagement.”[2] I took this to mean that pushing for a type of feminist objectivity that highlights seeing from below and/or something Barad calls “agential realism” does not mean that you are disengaging from your subject.[3] Rather, it means that you are striving towards a feminist typology of embodiment that focuses its recuperative energies on welcoming emotions and relationships as data, all the while keeping in mind that “no knowledge is innocent.”[4] This was a very powerful idea to me as a woman working at the Academy in a nexus of technology, history, and public service.

We rounded out the class with a viewing of Crania America, a book published in 1889 by Samuel George Morton, a famed phrenologist. Included in his tome are illustrations of different race’s skulls along with commentary on their corresponding mental abilities. He describes his project as demonstrating that  “a particular size and form of brain is the invariable concomitant of particular dispositions and talents, and that this fact holds good in the case of nations as well as of individuals.”[5] He goes onto say that:

A knowledge of the size of the brain, and the proportions of its different parts, in the different varieties of the human race, will be the key to a correct appreciation of the differences in their natural mental endowments, on which external circumstances act only as modifying influences….[5]

As you can imagine, this item generated a passionate conversation. Highlights included discovering that the roots of cybernetics (a field which began in WWII) come from the ancient Greek adjective κυβερνητικός, meaning ‘good at steering’ (n.b. the militaristic and authoritative implications); the theory behind Chela Sandoval’s term “US third-world feminist”; and the layered irony within our assigned texts regarding authority and boundaries.

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Skull from Crania America (1889)

While this course was challenging, we made sure to keep the conversation approachable and friendly. This litmus test of a Brooklyn Institute for Social Research-The New York Academy of Medicine Library collaboration solidified our belief that:

Together [our two institutions] can make the histories, presents, and futures of science and technology relevant to the lives of work adults, supporting the development of knowledge and interest in these crucial aspects of our complex and ever-changing society. (Professor Glabau)

We hope you join us next time!

References:

[1] Haraway D. Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective. Feminist Studies. 1988; 14(3): 575-599. (Quote on p.583).
[2] Haraway D. Simians, cyborgs, and women: the reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge;1991. (Quote on p. 196).
[3] Barad K. Meeting the Universe Halfway: Realism and Social Constructivism without Contradiction. Feminism, Science, and the Philosophy of Science. 1996;256: 161-194. (Quote on p.179).
[4] Warren K, Cheney J. Ecological Feminism and Ecosystem Ecology. Hypatia. 1991;6(1): 179-197. (Quote on p. 191).
[5] Morton S. Crania americana. Philadelphia: London, J. Dobson; Simpkin, Marshall & Co;1839. (Quote on p. 274).