Digitizing Medical Journals of State Societies

By Robin Naughton, Ph.D., Head of Digital

State medical journals digitized for the MHL collective project.

State medical journals digitized for the MHL consortium.

The New York Academy of Medicine Library is digitizing state society medical journals as part of a mass digitization project with the Medical Heritage Library (MHL), a digital curation consortium. The Academy Library is one of five collaborators on the project, along with the College of Physicians of Philadelphia; the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University; the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland; the Founding Campus; and the University of California at San Francisco.

Together, the MHL team is actively working to digitize 48 state society journals, more than 3,800 volumes that span much of the 20th century. Digitizing the state medical journals will provide open access to quality historical resources in medicine for researchers and the general public, letting them explore connections between medicine and society.

State medical journals digitized for the MHL collective project.

State medical journals digitized for the MHL collective project.

Evenly splitting the volumes among the MHL team makes the process of mass digitization more manageable and very collaborative. The Academy Library has already digitized almost 50% of the state medical journals assigned to it since Fall 2015. The journals are scanned by the Internet Archive (IA) and are publicly available as part of the Library’s and MHL’s collections on the IA site. Our digitized assets are open for anyone to access and use. Thus far, we have digitized journals representing 24 states and almost 238, 000 images.

The volumes are digitized in their entirety, showing the journals’ articles and  advertising. For example, in Alaska Medicine (vol. 29, 1987), as you read the article “Alaska State Hepatitis B Program – Past, Present and Future” by Elizabeth A. Tower, you can’t help but notice the advertisement for medical transcription. It is hard to resist the “Hello …. Museum of Primitive Civilizations and Hieroglyphs?”

Scan from Alaska Medicine, vol. 29, 1987.

Scan from Alaska Medicine, vol. 29, 1987.

State medical journals are valuable resources that should lead to many new and novel projects for researchers in the history of medicine. Look for more on the project as it progresses.

Explore our collection.

View our Cartes-de-Visite

By Robin Naughton, Digital Systems Manager

Through the Culture in Transit: Digitizing and Democratizing New York’s Cultural Heritage grant, the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) sent a mobile scanning unit to the New York Academy of Medicine Library to digitize our collection of cartes de visite, small inexpensive photographs mounted on cards that became popular during the second part of the 19th century.

Carte-de-visite of Emily Blackwell (1826-1910), English born physician. Photograph by W. Kurtz.

Carte-de-visite of Emily Blackwell (1826-1910), English born physician. Photograph by W. Kurtz.

Our collection consists of 223 late 19th– and early 20th-century photographs of national and international figures in medicine and public health (individuals on three cartes remain unidentified).

This collection contains portraits both of lesser-known individuals and of famous New York physicians, such as Abraham Jacobi, Lewis Albert Sayre, Willard Parker, Stephen Smith, Emily Blackwell, and Valentine Mott. It also includes many with international reputations: Robert Koch, Louis Pasteur, Hermann von Helmholtz, Rudolf Virchow, and others. New York photographers took a number of the photographs; others were created by the New York offices of such establishments as Mathew Brady, as well as by photographers in Paris, Berlin, and London.

We are thrilled to share our entire collection on the Digital Culture website. You can view the front and back of each carte, and find out brief information about the physicians and scientists pictured. View all of the Library’s digitized collections.

Do You Recognize These Men? Help Us Identify 19th-century Carte de Visite Photographs

By Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Librarian, and Robin Naughton, Digital Systems Manager

The Project

Earlier this year, the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library received a collaborative Knight New Challenge on Libraries grant, Culture in Transit: Digitizing and Democratizing New York’s Cultural Heritage. The grant allows METRO to send a mobile scanning unit to libraries and cultural institutions around the city to digitize small collections and make them available through METRO’s digital portal and the Digital Public Library of America.

The New York Academy of Medicine proposed to METRO that we digitize our collection of cartes de visite, small inexpensive photographs mounted on cards that became popular during the second part of the 19th century. Individuals sat for portraits and sent the cards to family members and friends, but photographs of well-known people became popular as souvenirs as well. Their standardized size and the ease with which they could be sent through the mail increased their popularity. Creating souvenir albums of cartes de visite became a popular pastime.

A handwritten note from the box in which our cartes are stored.

A handwritten note from the box in which our cartes are stored.

Our 223 images are portraits of physicians and scientists, both European and American. From a handwritten note in the box in which our cartes are stored, we know that Dr. Edmund Randolph Peaslee collected some of them while he was in Europe in 1867. His son, Dr. Edward Henry Peaslee, presented them to the Academy in 1924. Unfortunately, we do not know which photographs comprised the original gift. Some of the cartes came to the Academy from other donors and do have the donor information on the versos.

The Challenge

We have been able to identify almost all of the individuals pictured on the cartes, but there are four who still puzzle us. In three cases, we have a last name but have not yet found enough information to make a full identification. For one image, we have no information at all.

Do you recognize these men? Information on the cartes tells us that two of the portraits were taken at the same photographic studio in New York and the other two were taken by different photographers in Germany. Your challenge: if you recognize a face or surname, please help us figure out who the portraits depict.

Maus, Ruf & Dilger Atelier für Photographie & Malerei.

Maus, Ruf & Dilger Atelier für Photographie & Malerei.

Dr. McMurray, Rockwood & Co Photographers.

Dr. McMurray, Rockwood & Co Photographers.

Dr. Minor, Rockwood & Co Photographers.

Dr. Minor, Rockwood & Co Photographers.

Unknown man, studio of Franz Hanfstaengl, Munich.

Unknown man, studio of Franz Hanfstaengl, Munich.

The NYAM Lectures: Medical Talks by Eminent Speakers (Items of the Month)

By Latrina Keith, Head of Cataloging

WNYC-LogoThe New York Academy of Medicine and New York Public Radio (NYPR) have digitized and cataloged some 40 radio broadcasts produced by NYAM and originally broadcast over WNYC radio in the 1950s. These lectures are drawn from the more than 1,500 original lacquer discs transferred from NYAM to the NYPR Archives in 2008. The digitization and cataloging resulted from a joint project between NYAM’s Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health and the New York Public Radio (NYPR) Archives, and with a grant from METRO, the New York Metropolitan Library Council.

The New York Academy of Medicine and WNYC-FM began their radio relationship in 1946 with the launch of The Laity Lectures—later to become Lectures to the Laity—a popular series of Academy lectures and talks on culture and medicine that had started in 1935. By mid-1950, this series was joined by For Doctors Only, which aimed to bring “the best of the meetings, conferences, and roundtable discussions held at the academy” to the medical profession and also addressed critical analysis of issues of society and medicine, as well as the application of the social sciences to medicine, and provided academic presentations in the history of medicine.

The current periodicals room of the New York Academy of Medicine Library, circa ____.

The current periodicals room of the New York Academy of Medicine Library, photographed by Irving Underhill, 1872-1960.

Lecture topics include gerontology, aging, nutrition, cancer, public health, heart disease, dermatology, psychiatry, and the role of the physician and the law, among others. Along with such informative topics, there were notable guest lecturers such as American anthropologists Margaret Mead and Ralph Linton; Dr. Sidney Farber, the father of modern chemotherapy and pediatric pathology; noted gerontologist Dr. John Steele Murray; and Dr. Leona Baumgartner, the first female commissioner of New York City’s Department of Health from 1954-1962. Baumgartner will be the focus of the upcoming Iago Galdston Lecture, “Making Public Health Contagious: The Life & Career of Leona Baumgartner, MD, PhD” to be presented by Dr. Hilary Aquino on December 4, 2014 at NYAM.

Making these historical hidden treasures available to all is a great achievement for both NYAM and NYPR. We hope that one day the entire radio broadcasts will be restored for the educational and cultural benefit of all.