Shoot That Needle Straight (Item of the Month)

By Allison Piazza, Reference Services and Outreach Librarian

November is National Diabetes Month.  As one would assume, the New York Academy of Medicine Library has a large collection of books about the disease.  As I perused the stacks, however, one title jumped out.

Shoot that Needle Straight by Robert Rantoul was published in 1947, and tells the story of Richard “Dick” Hubbard. The book opens with Dick ill, and home from boarding school.  His symptoms are numerous and puzzling, including dry tongue, a constant craving for sweets, headaches, weakness, and a drastic increase in height.  It’s not long before Dick is told he has Diabetes Mellitus, a diagnosis that elicits a “What the hell is that?” from Dick.

rantoul_shootthatneedlestraight_watermarkWhat follows is an engaging, often-times laugh-out-loud narrative of Dick’s new life with diabetes.  Accompanying each chapter are charming illustrations by W. Joseph Carr.

After he is diagnosed, Dick and his mother travel to Boston, where he will have a two-week stay at a “diabetic home” known as the Carver Home, and see a diabetes specialist by the name of Dr. Anderson.  At the Carver Home, Dick learns about diabetes and how he must control it through a home routine of proper diet and exercise.  He also learns how to give himself insulin injections from his nurse, Miss Carver:

“Disinfect before you begin.
Press the needle firmly in.
Squeeze the plunger way down far.
Withdraw the needle and there you are.”

Dick’s new life as a diabetic is not without its hiccups.  In one chapter, he goes to see a physician who claims he can cure diabetes, which he explains is the result of “a nervous condition brought on by destructive and fearful thinking processes, as a result of strain, over-worry or disasters.”  Of course, the hope for a cure is too good to be true.  The doctor in question turns out to be the head of an international narcotic ring, wanted in Argentina, Mexico and California for peddling an “iron tonic” full of morphine to unsuspecting diabetes patients.

rantoul_shootthatneedlestraight5_watermarkIn another chapter, Dick agrees to be a diabetes research participant at a lab.  In a passage that would make any 21st century Institutional Review Board member cringe, the doctor explains to Dick what it means to be a “guinea-pig”:

“For this period you must be willing to do anything we ask, regardless of your feelings…. At certain times our requests will be difficult and will, no doubt, upset you emotionally, but you must realize the emotions cannot stand in the way of medical science, and content yourself with the thought that we look upon you as a medical specimen rather than a human being.”

rantoul_shootthatneedlestraight6_watermarkAnother highlight of the book is Dick’s (somewhat inexplicable) trip to Munich, Germany with his mother during Adolf Hitler’s reign.  During the trip, Dick is hospitalized with painful sores.  The situation is, understandably, quiet stressful for Dick, but he takes it in stride:

“Nazis. Heil Hitler! The Third Reich! You read ominous stories about them, you shuddered at what people said they intended to do to America and the world, but never in your wildest dreams did you imagine yourself sick and alone among more than one thousand of them in their homeland.  What a story to take home!”

These are just some of the situations Dick encounters as a diabetic.  While highly comical, the book is also meant to educate and inform the diabetic patient.  The American Journal of Digestive Diseases reviewed the book favorably in 1948, saying:

“This is a book that might safely be presented by a physician to a diabetic patient or by anyone to a friend suffering from the disease.  …  The general dietary regimen and the insulin therapy are described in exemplary fashion.”[1]

Another review in Science Education also speaks highly of the book, which they mention “has been checked for accuracy by eminent doctors.”[2]

While Shoot that Needle Straight may no longer be medically (or politically) correct, it is one of the gems of our collection.

References

[1] The American Journal of Digestive Diseases 1948 15(3):103.

[2] Science Education 1950, 34(4): 274-275.

Ambroise Paré on gunshot wounds (Item of the Month)

By Lisa O’Sullivan, Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health

The August item of the month is Ambroise Paré’s (1510 –1590) Les Oeuvres, or Works. Published in 1575 in 26 sections or books, the folio volume has 295 illustrations and includes Paré’s writings on anatomy, surgery, obstetrics, instrumentation, and monsters. This post focuses on Paré’s military surgery and is the first in a series of occasional posts looking at the relationship between medicine and war.

Pare_Oeuvres_1575_tp_watermark

Frontispiece of the first (1575) edition of Les Oeuvres, dedicated to King Henri III. Click to enlarge.

Dedicated to Henri III, Paré presents Les Oeuvres as an accumulation of his life’s studies and experience, and it incorporates many of his earlier publications. The French barber surgeon spent much of his life at war, serving in over 40 campaigns, and published numerous highly influential books, many of them directly based on his practice of military surgery.i Paré’s career was a prestigious one, progressing from working as an apprentice barber surgeon to great prominence as surgeon to Henry II, and subsequently his successors Francois II, King Charles IX, and Henry III.

Like his contemporary Andreas Vesalius, Paré is now celebrated as an emblematic figure of Renaissance thinking, willing to look beyond the established authorities and instead rely on the evidence of his own experience. In the Oeuvres, for instance, he mocks the use of “mummy” or “mummia,” a popular remedy ostensibly created from Egyptian mummies and used extensively by physicians.ii Such a position was particularly provocative given Paré’s identity as a surgeon, rather than a university trained physician with a formal education and knowledge of Greek and Latin.

Despite Paré’s close connections with many of its members, the Parisian Faculty of Medicine attempted to block the publication of the Oeuvres, arguing that the Faculty needed to approve all publications relating to medicine and surgery. In addition, they objected to Paré’s use of French, as he was among a small but increasing number of practitioners writing in the vernacular rather than the more scholarly Latin, making such works vastly more accessible to students of surgery operating outside the universities and the lay public.iii

Pare_Oeuvres_1575_woundleg_watermark

Reminiscent of a “wound man,” this illustration demonstrates techniques for extracting broken arrows from the body. Click to enlarge.

Much of Paré’s renown was based on his early work in the military context. Throughout the Oeuvres, he returns to examples of treating soldiers wounded during conflict. Perhaps the most famous vignette describes how, during his first campaign in 1536, Paré found that he had insufficient boiling oil to use in cauterizing gunshot wounds, and instead used a liniment made of egg yolk, rose oil, and turpentine. The following day, he discovered that those soldiers treated with the liniment were in a better condition than those whose wounds had been treated according to the prescribed manner. He subsequently argued for the treatment of gunshot wounds with liniments and bandaging, as well as removing affected tissue from the wound.iv

Gunpowder, whether projected from cannons or shot from firearms, had become a significant factor on European battlefields in the late 14th century. The use of gunpowder dramatically changed the practice of warfare. Increasingly numerous and accurate firearms contributed to the number of soldiers killed and wounded. These weapons produced new types of wounds that penetrated into the body, carrying foreign materials with them and leading to gangrene, while also deafening and blinding those near blasts.v

Descriptions of surgical tools, including a variety of tools for extracting bullets from wounds. On the top left, "crane bill" forceps for fragmented bullets; on right a shorter "duck bill" instrument designed for extracting whole bullets. At bottom, "lizard noses" for drawing out flattened bullets.

A variety of tools for extracting bullets from wounds. On the top left, “crane bill” forceps for fragmented bullets; on right a shorter “duck bill” instrument designed for extracting whole bullets. At bottom, “lizard noses” for drawing out flattened bullets. Click to enlarge.

Surgeons based their treatment of gunshot wounds on the belief that the gunpowder carried into the body by the bullets brought poison with it. This idea came from Giovanni da Vigo (1450–1525), an Italian surgeon whose 1514 Practica in arte chirurgica copiosa and 1517 Pratica in professione chirurgica were highly influential surgical texts. Rapidly translated into multiple European languages, these books include da Vigo’s suggestion to cauterize (burn) the wound with boiling oil in order to counteract the poisonous traces of gunpowder and to seal any severed arteries. This procedure became considered standard practice.viParé, after his experience with liniment rather than oil, experimented further, and recounts seeking advice from other surgeons and testing a folk remedy for onion poultices for burns suggested by an older local woman. Concluding that they were effective against blistering offered Paré another rhetorical opportunity to emphasize his commitment to observation and experimentation.vii

The evidence found in earlier surgical manuals suggests that medieval surgeons had made similar experiments, and that it was the popularity of the more recent ideas promulgated by da Vigo that led to treatments with cauterization and oil.viii While he was not the only surgeon to be working towards more humane and effective treatment of gunshot wounds, Paré became the most well-known and is often celebrated today as the “father” of modern military surgery.ix This reputation rests on not only his work around gunshot wounds but his broad interests, influence, and innovation. A future post will explore other aspects of Paré’s Oeuvres and its long-term impact on military surgery.

References

i.  A full bibliography of his works was produced by Academy librarian Janet Doe in 1937. See Janet Doe, A Bibliography of the Works of Ambroise Pare; Premier Chirurgien et Conseiller du Roy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1937).

ii. Ambroise Paré, Les Oeuvres de m. Ambroise Paré … Avec les figures & portraicts tant de l’anatomie que des instruments de chirurgie, & de plusieurs monstres. Le tout diuisé en vingt six livres … (Paris : Chez G. Buon, 1575), p399.

iii. Paré defended his publication with a written defense and in the Parisian courts. While the verdict was not recorded, the book went on sale and sold out almost immediately. See Wallace B Hamby, Ambroise Paré, Surgeon of the Renaissance (St. Louis: W.H. Green, 1967), pp153-156.

iv. Ambroise Paré, Les Oeuvres de m. Ambroise Paré, pp357-359.

v. John Pearn, “Gunpowder, the Prince of Wales’s Feathers and the Origins of Modern Military Surgery,” ANZ Journal of Surgery 82 (2012): 240–244, 241; Kelly R DeVries, “Military Surgical Practice and the Advent of Gunpowder Weaponry,” The Canadian Bulletin of Medical History / Bulletin canadien d’histoire de la médecine 7(2) (1990):131-46, p135.

vi. DeVries, “Military Surgical Practice and the Advent of Gunpowder Weaponry,” pp141-142.

vii. Ambroise Paré, Les Oeuvres de m. Ambroise Paré, p359.

viii. DeVries, “Military Surgical Practice and the Advent of Gunpowder Weaponry,” p142.

ix. Frank Tallett, War in Context: War and Society in Early Modern Europe : 1495-1715 (London, US: Routledge, 2010), pp108-110.

The Right to Health (Item of the Month)

By Paul Theerman, Associate Director, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health

Does one have a “right to health”? And if so, what does that right entail? Access to healthcare? Access to all healthcare? Equality of health outcomes?

The debate in this country over passage of the Affordable Care Act brought to the fore the differing assumptions over a “right to health.” Yet since at least 1946, members of the United Nations have asserted the right to health as a fundamental global human right. The constitution of the World Health Organization “enshrines the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.”1 This right was further stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948—framed as the right to a standard of living “adequate for health and well-being.”2 The right to health remains a formative principle in global health. For example, three of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals are explicitly health related, and all have a health component.3

Though this right to health reached its full flower in the mid-20th century, it originated some 50 years earlier. In the late 19th century, urban and industrial ills had pushed their way onto the political agenda across the western world. Many reformers thought that supporting political rights was not enough: social and economic rights needed to be affirmed as well. One of these thinkers was the New York City-based urban researcher William Harvey Allen. In a series of books, and most notably Civics and Health (1909), Allen laid out the reasons why health was a human right.4

“Necessary to Efficient Democracy,” the way that experience in schools and other institution is brought to the public, in William Harvey Allen, Civics and Health, 1909), p. 310.

“Necessary to Efficient Democracy,” the way that experience in schools and other institutions is brought to the public, in Allen, Civics and Health, 1909, p. 310.

Allen made granting the right to health the apex of moral development, both in the individual and the society. He placed “rights” as the last and best of the seven motivations for public health action, starting with instinct and ranging through commerce to humanitarianism.5 Indeed, to promote health Allen said one could not rely on the love of money or the joy of human sympathy: “So long as those who suffer have no other protection than the self-interest or the benevolence of those better situated, disease and hardship inevitably persist.”6 By society’s affirming the right to health, it acknowledged that the citizenry’s well being had a claim on its attention and resources, and it made itself accountable to provide it. “Health administration is incomplete until its blessings are given to men, women, and children as rights that can be enforced through courts, as can the right to free speech, the freedom of the press, and trial by jury,” wrote Allen. The political rights claimed in the eighteenth century meant little if one did not have the physical means to exercise them in the twentieth. Those “permanently incapacitated . . . cannot appreciate the privilege of pursuing happiness.”7

According to Allen, it was not that people did not know what to do to secure public health—for the most part they did. It was rather that the means were often shunted aside, a problem of enforcement—and hence his argument for health as a right! Allen looked to find the most practical way to correct health deficiencies, and as co-director of the city’s newly established Bureau of Municipal Research, he looked upon all of New York as a test site.8 Here, he turned his attention to the health of school children, “the best index to community health.”9 Determining the status of children’s health was a comprehensive way of judging the health of the whole community, as children from all ranks of the community were available to reformers, and the mechanisms were already in place to examine and collect data. Allen saw children’s health as the indicator, not just to the health of the city, but to the right to health. Much of his book was devoted to measuring as well as intervening in children’s health, in such ways as enforcing milk purity laws, quarantines for communicable diseases, and vaccination for smallpox. He was concerned with controlling germs, paying attention to eye and ear health, and promoting school play and physical education. He saw the health of teachers as crucial to that of their charges. And, as detailed in our earlier blog post, he supported removal of tonsils and adenoids.

Sample record card for school physical examination, as found in Allen, Civics and Health, 1909, p. 34. As Allen noted: “Weight, height, and measurements are needed to tell the whole story.”

Sample record card for school physical examination, as found in Allen, Civics and Health, 1909, p. 34. As Allen noted: “Weight, height, and measurements are needed to tell the whole story.”

Yet, Allen did not think that the solution lay only in better school health. Society as a whole needed to address the health of its members throughout their lives. He suggested measures such as coordinating school health with other social agencies, requiring work physicals and promoting industrial hygiene, waging war on the “white plague” of tuberculosis, providing physicians with training not just in restorative medicine but also in preventive medicine, discouraging tobacco and alcohol use, and setting up institutions for large-scale information gathering and coordination through a national bureau of health.10

Many of Allen’s practical ideas today seem commonplace in the wake of the great shifts in public health that took place in the 20th century. But one thing stands out: seeing health as a right brought it out of the realm of enlightened self-interest and humanitarian relief. Health became social, health became enforceable, health became a right. That legacy, contested though it now is in American society, remains present today.

References

1. World Health Organization, Fact Sheet No. 323, “The Right to Health,” reviewed November 2013, http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs323/en/#, accessed September 23, 2015.

2. United Nations, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” Article 25, http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/, accessed September 23, 2015.

3. For the UN Millennium Development Goals, see http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/, accessed September 23, 2015; for a summary of international conventions, see Mervyn Susser, “Health as a Human Right: An Epidemiologist’s Perspective on the Public Health,” American Journal of Public Health 1993 March; 83 (3): 418–26.

4. William Harvey Allen, Civics and Health, with an introduction by William T. Sedgwick (Boston, New York, Chicago, and London: Ginn and Company, 1909). For information on Allen (1874–1963), see in addition to the Recchiuti book below: “Reminiscences of William Harvey Allen: oral history, 1950,” Columbia Center for Oral History, http://oralhistoryportal.cul.columbia.edu/document.php?id=ldpd_4072329.

5. Allen, Civics and Health, pp 11–22. The seven motivations are Instinct, Display, Commerce, Anti-Nuisance, Anti-Slum, Pro-Slum [Abatement], and Rights.

6. Allen, Civics and Health, 20.

7. Allen, Civics and Health, 20.

8. For Allen and the Bureau of Municipal Research, see John Louis Recchiuti, Civic Engagement: Social Science and Progressive-Era Reform in New York City (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), Chapter 4, pp. 98–124.

9. The phrase comes from the title of Chapter 4, “The Best Index to Community Health is the Physical Welfare of School Children,” page 33.

10. Allen, Civics and Health, Part III, “Coöperation in Meeting Health Obligations,” and Part IV, “Official Machinery for Enforcing Health Rights.” For an earlier attempt at a national bureau of health, see Jerrold M. Michael, “The National Board of Health: 1879–1883,” Public Health Reports 2011 Jan-Feb; 126(1): 123–29.

Dr. William Edmund Aughinbaugh, Medical Adventurer (Item of the Month)

By Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Reference Librarian

Dr. Aughinbaugh, circa 1915. In:

Dr. Aughinbaugh, circa 1915. In: “A Globe-Trotting Physician,” American Magazine, Nov. 1915, 34.

In the November 1915 issue of The American Magazine, the “Interesting People” section profiled an unusual physician. The article described Dr. William Edmund Aughinbaugh (18711940) as being “round like the earth; and he has rolled around it often. He has sawed bones and prescribed pills in every degree of latitude on both hemispheres.”1

As the article, and his autobiography, I Swear by Apollo, make clear, Aughinbaugh lived a life of adventure, traveling the globe for decades. Cuba, Venezuela, India, Peru, and Mexico were all early destinations where he treated lepers, studied the plague, and set up hospitals. He was a founder or early member of the Explorers, Adventurers, and Circumnavigators Clubs; taught courses about foreign trade at New York University and Columbia; and spent many years writing about and helping negotiate foreign trade agreements in Latin American countries and for South American natural resources.

The Academy’s manuscript collections contain a small album of photographs donated by the New York Public Library in 1952 (NYPL began sending items of medical interest that were given to them to the Academy in 1900). NYPL has a small collection of Aughinbaugh’s papers, mostly related to his work as the foreign editor of the New York Commercial. Aughinbaugh probably assembled the album between 1897 and 1906. Most of the photographs are unlabeled and trying to contextualize them has presented interesting challenges, demonstrating both the ways in which the written record helps us uncover more information and how much will probably remain forever unknowable.

It’s pretty clear that the first couple of photographs date to around 1895–97, when Aughinbaugh was a medical student at Columbian University (now George Washington) in Washington, D.C., and then an intern at Emergency Hospital there.

As both Aughinbaugh’s autobiography and his New York Times obituary attest, he helped finance his medical education by founding, with several other students, the Hippocratic Exhumation Corporation, essentially a grave-robbing operation. Aughinbaugh justified the less than savory labors of the corporation by assuring his readers that “care was always taken to undress the corpse and return the clothing to the grave…” as, according to court decree “a naked body belonged to no one—no crime would be committed by taking it.”2

Aughinbaugh insisted that he and his friends were not alone in this enterprise. Most medical students were desperate for bodies to dissect, and few legitimate ways to procure them existed. John Harley Warner and James Edmonson, in their recent book, Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine: 1880-1930, corroborate this assertion, noting that in Washington, D.C., as well as in many states, there were no legal ways of obtaining bodies at that time, even though students were required to complete dissections to graduate. These two photographs, of Aughinbaugh (on the left) and two other students dissecting a body, and of Aughinbaugh and a fellow physician with a skeleton companion, fit right into the tradition of medical students posing with their cadavers in dissecting rooms.3

The album also contains posed portraits of patients suffering from diseases or showing the results of surgical operations. In some cases, Aughinbaugh pasted multiple photographs of the same patient into the scrapbook. The album dates from a time that witnessed the expanded use of photographs to document treatments and disease. While there is no way to be certain, these photographs may have been taken by Aughinbaugh himself.

Another group of pictures shows groups of people that include Aughinbaugh himself (here in a white coat and hat). These images must date to Aughinbaugh’s years in Cuba. Having been denied the opportunity to enlist during the Spanish-American War in 1898 because of a heart condition, Aughinbaugh signed on as the ship’s surgeon for a vessel ferrying sick and wounded soldiers between Cuba and the United States. After the signing of the Treaty of Paris, he jumped ship while the boat was docked in Havana and stayed on as a civilian surgeon, working at the largest hospital in Cuba devoted to the care of leprosy patients, which, although he does not name it, must have been the hospital at San Lazaro, on the outskirts of Havana.4

Aughinbaugh’s autobiography provides real documentation for only a single photograph in his album. Aughinbaugh spent about four years (ca. 1902–1906) in India during a bubonic plague epidemic, working for the Indian Plague Commission. The picture shows an Indian ascetic suspended upside down over a fire. “I photographed one man who hung suspended by his feet from a banyan tree, while his youthful assistant built a fire of dried cow dung within a foot of his head,” Aughinbaugh writes, “When he was lowered, I… could not detect one sign of a burn”.5 He later submitted the photograph to a contest run by the New York Herald, won a prize, and added the clipping to the album.

This album raises many questions, both about the use of photography by physicians to record information about medical practice and about the ways in which individuals choose to save images that document their own life experiences. Aughinbaugh’s choice to conflate the personal with the professional is part of what continues to make the album an intriguing part of our collections.

References

1. Barton, Bruce, “Globe Trotting Physician,” The American Magazine v.80 (Nov 1915), p. 34. Accessed online on July 29, 2015: http://hdl.handle.net/2027/coo.31924065598967?urlappend=%3Bseq=446

2. Aughinbaugh, W.E., I Swear by Apollo (New York: Farrar & Rineharrt, 1938), pp. 44-49. NYTimes obituary: http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=9C06E5D91F3CE73ABC4152DFB467838B659EDE Accessed online on July 29, 2015.

3. Warner, John Harley and James Edmonson, Dissection: photographs of a right of passage in American medicine, 1880-1930 (New York: Blast Books, 2009), pp. 17-19.

4. Aughinbaugh, pp. 103-113.

5. Aughinbaugh, p. 165.

The Women’s Prison Association and “The Modern Way” (Item of the Month)

By Anne Garner, Curator, Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health

orange-is-the-new-blackHow do the experiences of the inmates of Orange Is the New Black’s fictional Litchfield Prison differ from those of incarcerated women a century before? “The Modern Way,” a pamphlet published in 1913 by the New York State Women’s Prison Association, offers a snapshot of the conditions in New York State prisons one hundred years ago. Today, as Netflix drops season three of the series, we thought it would be instructive to have a closer look at this remarkable feminist pamphlet, produced by New York’s oldest advocacy group for women.

Cover of "The Modern Way."

Cover of “The Modern Way.”

As with Orange Is the New Black, “The Modern Way” begins by telescoping the faces and stories of individual prisoners—in this case, the residents of an unnamed “Workhouse” 20 minutes from New York City’s Fifth Avenue.

It is 1913. There’s Maggie, “a strong sturdy woman of forty,”1 in and out of prison for public drunkenness for the last two years. She plans to drink again as soon as she’s released, even as she’s resigned to serving more jail time as a consequence. Jennie, age 37, has been in and out of Workhouse for two decades, incarcerated for the same cause. When interviewed, she says she’s done with jail. But without the guidance of a rehabilitating hospital, she claims she can’t stay away from the saloon.

And then there’s Mary, described by the warden as “one of the best dispositioned women [she] ever knew.” She’s the mother hen of the group, “stopping to comfort a sobbing prisoner, now scolding a vigorously quarrelsome one.” This model inmate keeps a medal in her cell, earned the day she was working on Riker’s Island in 1904 and brought in three drowning passengers from the steamship PS General Slocum (two survived). When interviewed, she’s back at the Workhouse again, after a trip to the saloon.2

Mary. In "The Modern Way," 1913, page 2.

Mary. In “The Modern Way,” 1913, page 2.

What binds together these three inmates is the impossibility of creating a new identity once they’ve served their sentences—which may remind OITNB fans of inmate Tasty’s plight. As Mary says, “A girl can’t do it once she has gone wrong. The plain clothes fellows remember you and they follow you up. There isn’t any use trying.”3

In 1912, New York State committed 20,616 women to correctional institutions.4 Unlike contemporary men’s prisons, prisons established for women in the late 19th and early 20th century were not philosophically bent towards reform.5 In most cases, as with the unnamed Workhouse featured in the pamphlet, prisons for women had no chaplain, physician, or teacher, unlike their male counterparts. Medical care was especially scarce. The Workhouse, a facility that accommodated 15,818 prisoners in 1911, had only thirty beds available for sick patients.6 With resources so limited, the Workhouse routinely discharged hundreds of women with no healthcare at all.

"Workhouse—Cell for Women." In "The Modern Way," 1913, page 11.

“Workhouse—Cell for Women.” In “The Modern Way,” 1913, page 11.

The inequitable treatment of male and female prisoners is a particular sticking point for the authors of “The Modern Way,” who are dismayed by the sexism inherent in the current penal system:

No crime which a man may commit excludes him from readjustment, rehabilitation. Alcoholism and immorality unless excessive are ignored and condoned, but the conviction by the Courts of a girl charged with loitering or a woman charged with intoxication places a ban upon her, ostracizes her from Society, is remembered against her through life no matter how correct her after life may be [italics theirs].7

They argue that female inmates need a setting hospitable to rehabilitation, a place “far-removed from temptation and made attractive by healthy employment and friendly supervision of [the prisoners’] moral and physical well-being.”

By 1908, the Women’s Prison Association had successfully lobbied for 315 public acres for such a place, the State Farm for Women Misdemeanants, in Valatie, New York.8 The site was planned in accordance with the early 20th-century trend of cottage-designed prisons, which placed inmates in small cottages scattered across a rural setting. The cottages were set up like small homes, with a dining room, kitchen, and sitting room. Household tasks were divided among the women. The idea was to engender self-esteem in the inmates, who then might be better positioned to take on these roles once released.9

"Cottage on State Farm for Women."  In "The Modern Way," 1913, page 14.

“Cottage on State Farm for Women.” In “The Modern Way,” 1913, page 14.

Bordered by the foothills of the Adirondacks, the Berkshires, the Matteawan Mountains, and the Catskills and Helderbergs, State Farm in Valatie offered tillable land, ample space, and a healthy environment. At completion, the farm was projected to have 27 buildings on the cottage plan, and would stress rehabilitation and careful supervision by an all-female staff (except for typically male roles, i.e. leadership roles like warden). Prisoners over 30 who had been convicted five times in two years qualified for accommodation.10

"Inmates' Room, State Farm for Women." In "The Modern Way," 1913, page 17.

“Inmates’ Room, State Farm for Women.” In “The Modern Way,” 1913, page 17.

When “The Modern Way” went to print, two cottages were ready for occupancy. Fifteen hundred New York women were eligible. According to the pamphlet’s writers, every farm implement had been purchased, and the grounds were populated with horses, cattle, and poultry.11 And yet, the pamphlet’s frustrated authors argued, the land remained vacant. Appeals to two different governors and the Senate Finance Committee to fund the opening of the cottages all stalled.12 At the close of “The Modern Way” we are left wondering what happened to State Farm. Was it ever operational?

"Cattle on State Farm for Women." In "The Modern Way," 1913, page 20.

“Cattle on State Farm for Women.” In “The Modern Way,” 1913, page 20.

The answer was yes. State Farm at Valatie was completed in 1914. But in total, the Columbia County facility accommodated only 146 inmates. These were mostly white women between the ages of 30 and 60, accused of public drunkenness. Funding was always scarce. By 1918, all the inmates had been paroled, and the grounds were turned over to a treatment center for women suffering from venereal disease.13 The efforts of the Women’s Prisoners’ Association to install State Farm as a viable alternative to the Workhouse model appears to have been only successful in the short term. Nevertheless, “The Modern Way” captures an important moment in the history of the Women’s Prison Association of New York, an organization still very active in lobbying for the rights of women prisoners today.

References

1. Women’s Prison Association of New York. “The Modern Way.” New York: The Association, [1913.] p. 14.

2. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 3-4.

3. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 9.

4. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 15.

5. Banks, Cyndi. Women in Prison: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. p. 36.

6. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 12.

7. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 14.

8. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 16.

9. Dodge, L. (2005). Cottage system. In M. Bosworth (Ed.), Encyclopedia of prisons & correctional facilities. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. Accessed at http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781412952514.n77 on June 8, 2015. For more on the cottage model, see “Preparing Delinquent Women for the New Citizenship,” by Dr. Mary B. Harris, in The Delinquent Girl and Woman. New York: National Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor, 1919.

10. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 18 and Dodge, 2005.

11. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 22.

12. Women’s Prison Association of New York, p. 20-22.

13. Banks, 37.

What Lies Beneath: Semi-Limp Parchment Bindings in The Academy’s Rare Book Collection (Items of the Month)

By Erin Albritton, Head of Conservation, and Christina Amato, Book Conservator, Gladys Brooks Book & Paper Conservation Laboratory

In the summer of 2013, conservators in the Gladys Brooks Book and Paper Conservation Laboratory began investigating conservation treatment options for a 17th-century Parisian imprint. As part of this process, we undertook an examination of a significant portion of The Academy’s early modern parchment volumes and became fascinated with a particular binding style—known as a semi-limp parchment binding—that has received very little attention in the published literature. For April’s item of the month, we offer a sneak peak at some of these bindings and the features that make them unique.1

A group of semi-limp parchment bindings in The Academy’s rare book collection

A group of semi-limp parchment bindings in The Academy’s rare book collection

Parchment2 bindings can be grouped into three basic categories: limp, semi-limp, and stiff. As the name implies, limp bindings are supple structures characterized by the absence of boards beneath their simple covers. Stiff board bindings, on the other hand, live up to their name through the addition of two rigid pieces of board inserted at the front and back. Semi-limp bindings—the category on which we focus here—fall somewhere in between: supple, but due to the presence of flexible boards, not quite limp.3

The most common type of semi-limp binding represented in the The Academy’s collection has two flexible boards that “float,” unadhered, beneath its parchment cover (see picture below).

Floating boards within the detached parchment cover of a  17th-century Belgium binding. Tournai, 1668.

Floating boards within the detached parchment cover of a 17th-century Belgium binding. Tournai, 1668.

During our research, however, we were excited to discover a style of semi-limp parchment binding previously unknown to us—a structure distinguished by the fact that it has a single piece of thin moldable board (rather than two floating boards) inserted beneath its cover (see picture below). The board is wrapped around the whole textblock, the outer parchment cover is folded over it, and both are attached to the textblock at the head and tail via laced endband cores. For lack of any historical name, and to distinguish it from the floating boards binding mentioned above, we have called this structure a wrapped board binding.4

Wrapped board binding with inner paper board stiffener visible through damaged outer parchment cover. Lyon, 1641

Wrapped board binding with inner paper board stiffener visible through damaged outer parchment cover. Lyon, 1641

As illustrated in the photographs below, the two styles outwardly appear very similar and can be almost impossible to tell apart without access to and close examination of the inner joints and spine.

Left: Floating boards binding, Paris, 1645. Right: Wrapped board binding, Paris, 1628.

Left: Floating boards binding, Paris, 1645. Right: Wrapped board binding, Paris, 1628.

To learn more about these structures, we undertook a two-part survey of The Academy’s rare book collection. Part one was a big-picture analysis, in which we examined approximately 20,000 volumes and collected basic information about every parchment binding we found; part two involved a detailed look at the semi-limp structures we identified during part one.

The results of our survey indicate that semi-limp bindings were much more popular in Europe during the early modern period than we suspected. Indeed, given the proportion of scholarly literature devoted to limp parchment bindings and their profile within the pantheon of historical binding structures, we were surprised to count nearly four times as many semi-limp bindings (of both the floating boards and wrapped board varieties) as limp bindings in our collection—with 194 and 48 respectively. Within our survey sample, the wrapped board structure was relatively uncommon—appearing on only 28 (or 14 percent) of all semi-limp bindings—and its use seems to have been limited to France in the late 16th and early 17th centuries.5

Title page from a Parisian wrapped board binding, 1639.

Title page from a Parisian wrapped board binding, 1639.

Almost all of the semi-limp parchment bindings we surveyed were simple structures—small in size and unornamented, featuring a number of structural shortcuts (including abbreviated sewing patterns on only two or three supports; simple endbands with minimal tie-downs; and plain endsheets of very basic construction) typical of retail (or, perhaps, less expensive bespoke) bindings of the time. While evidence indicates that these bindings were probably intended to be permanent,6 they were cheaper and easier to make (and, therefore, also likely less expensive to buy) than leather bindings. Hence, it appears that both the floating boards and wrapped board bindings were, in all probability, part of a larger strategy within the early modern book industry aimed at binding more books for a bigger audience quickly without going broke.

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Our initial findings indicate that, like their limp parchment cousins, semi-limp bindings played a significant role in bookbinding history. This role has been both underappreciated and underexamined in the scholarly literature, however, and much research remains to be done. Consequently, we encourage readers to take a look beneath the covers of the parchment bindings that line the shelves of their collections and start documenting what they see.7

Notes

1. For definitions of some of the bookbinding terms used in this post, see Roberts, Matt and Don Etherington. Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology. Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1982 (accessible online at http://cool.conservation-us.org/don//) or Carter, John and Nicholas Barker. ABC for Book Collectors. 8th ed., New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2004 (accessible online at https://www.ilab.org/eng/documentation/29-abc_for_book_collectors.html).

2. Parchment is any animal skin that has been limed, de-haired, dried under tension, and then scraped and thinned. Although definitive species identification is not possible without DNA analysis, most parchment-bound books are made from sheep, goat or calf skin.

3. From the early 16th century on, binders began replacing traditional wooden boards with a variety of different types of cheaper paper ones. Most parchment bindings with boards were made using these.

4. Although much has been written about limp parchment bindings, we have found very little scholarly literature about their semi-limp cousins. The one notable exception is Nicholas Pickwoad’s 1994 study of the Ramey collection—a group of 359 volumes at the Morgan Library, printed mostly in France between 1485 and 1601—in which he identifies (for the first and, as far as we can tell, only time in an English-language resource) 46 examples of the wrapped board structure we describe here. See Pickwoad, Nicholas. “The Interpretation of Bookbinding Structure: An Examination of Sixteenth-Century Bindings in the Ramey Collection in the Pierpont Morgan Library.” The Library 6th s., XVII, no. 3 (September 1995): 209-249.

5. In The Academy’s collection, the wrapped board binding appears most frequently on French imprints published in Paris between 1620 and 1649. Although floating boards bindings were produced in a variety of different countries throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, in The Academy’s collection they appear most often on Italian imprints published after 1640.

6. Unlike temporary bindings—which were made so that they could be removed and replaced with a more elaborate binding—these structures lack features (such as long sewing supports) that would have made rebinding easy, and are marked by others (such as trimmed and decorated textblock edges) that indicate permanence.

7. For those interested in learning more about this research project, a discussion of our survey results is anticipated to be published by The Legacy Press in 2016 as part of a collection of essays on the history of bookbinding titled Suave Mechanicals (Volume III).

Happy Bird-day, Conrad Gesner (Item of the Month)

By Rebecca Pou, Archivist

Gesner_historiae_v3_1585_395-bMarch 26 marks the birthday of the man behind one of my favorite books in our collection.

Conrad Gesner was born in Zurich in 1516. His family was not wealthy, but thanks to various benefactors he was able to study and travel to Straussburg, Paris, Basel, and elsewhere. He became knowledgeable in many topics, including linguistics, botany, and zoology. He also received a medical degree and was a practicing physician.

His most famous work, Historia Animalium, is a well-illustrated, enormous encyclopedia on animals. The work was influential not only due to the quality and quantity of the woodcuts, but also because of its descriptions. Gesner relied heavily on existing works about animals, but he also included his own observations and enlisted many contributors who provided descriptions and specimens.1,2

Five volumes were published in total, the first in 1551 and the last, posthumously, in 1587. The first volume was on quadrupeds that gave birth to live young, the second on quadrupeds that laid eggs, the third on birds, the fourth on fish and aquatic animals, and the last on serpents. Since it is Gesner’s bird-day (get it?), we’re celebrating with some of his flying friends from Liber III of the Historia Animalium. In our copy, a 1585 edition, the woodcuts are hand-colored and many of the birds’ French names were added in by an early reader.

Click on an image to view the gallery:

References

1. Locy, William A. The growth of biology. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1925.

2. Locy, William A. Biology and its makers. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1915.

Recipes for Cooking by Electricity (Item of the Month)

By Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian

In 2015, our programming will focus on food, including a day-long festival on October 17. This is part of a series of blogs featuring the theme.

It’s difficult to imagine a modern kitchen without electric appliances. But in the early 1900s, most people had to be persuaded to use them—often unsuccessfully.

As Doreen Yarwood explains in An Encyclopaedia of the History of Technology, electric cookers made their debuts in the 1890s and catalogs started selling them by 1900. Still, people found them difficult to use. They were unreliable and often burnt out, they weren’t aesthetically pleasing, they were difficult to clean, and it was easy to burn yourself while using them. As so few people had electric current in their homes at the turn of the century, it’s not surprising that it took three more decades for electric cooking to become commonplace.1

But the New York Edison Company saw an opportunity. In 1911, it published Recipes for Cooking by Electricity, a slim cookbook that not only gave recipes (ranging in cost and complexity from toast to lobster a la Newburg), but also specified the cost of the electric current used. The cookbook also included a page with tips for the care of the electric appliances, such as not immersing the heating elements in water, cleaning a warm stove top with Vaseline, and keeping a coffee percolator “sweet and clean” by rinsing it with cold water after each use and boiling water with a tablespoon of baking soda in it each week. The cookbook concludes, “It is a simple thing to cook with electricity and the cost is surprisingly small.”2

Here are some sample recipes:

Toaster_watermarkLobster_watermarkBoiledEggs_watermarkCrullers_watermarkReferences

1. Yarwood, D. (2002). The Domestic Interior: Technology and the Home. In I. McNeil (Ed.), An Encyclopaedia of the History of Technology. London: Routledge.

2. New York Edison Company. (1911). Recipes for cooking by electricity. New York: Edison Company.

A Finer Sight Can Scarcely Be Imagined: Curtis’ Botanical Magazine (Item of the Month)

By Rebecca Pou, Archivist

It’s been a cold and snowy January, and with almost two months of winter still to come I’m drawn to the botanical selections in our collection. My choice for item of the month is a periodical, the Botanical Magazine (most commonly known by its later title, Curtis’ Botanical Magazine).

“Elizabeth Christina, one of the daughters of Linnaeus, is said to have perceived the flowers to emit spontaneously, at certain intervals, sparks like those of electricity, visible only in the dusk of the evening, and which ceased when total darkness came on.” (Plate 23, volume 1 reissue, 1793)

“Elizabeth Christina, one of the daughters of Linnaeus, is said to have perceived the flowers to emit spontaneously, at certain intervals, sparks like those of electricity, visible only in the dusk of the evening, and which ceased when total darkness came on.” (Nasturtium, plate 23, volume 1, 1793.) Click to enlarge.

In addition to being a very beautiful publication, the Botanical Magazine is notable for being the longest running botanical periodical featuring color illustrations of plants.1 The first issue of the magazine was published in 1787 by William Curtis (1746-1799) and today it is published by Kew Gardens.1,2 Curtis, an apothecary turned botanist, was the botanic demonstrator to the Society of Apothecaries at Chelsea in the 1770s.2,3 He also gave public lectures and maintained a botanic garden in London.2 Before the Botanical Magazine, Curtis began publishing the Flora Londenensis, a grand, folio-size work documenting local plant life. This proved too costly and Curtis gave up the venture in 1787.2,3

The Botanical Magazine; or, flower-garden displayed : in which the most ornamental foreign plants, cultivated in the open ground, the green-house, and the stove, will be accurately represented in their natural colours was smaller and more affordable than the Flora Londenensis; Curtis created it in response to demand for a publication concerning foreign plants.2,3 Most of the plants represented in the early volumes are from Europe, Eastern North America, and the Cape of Good Hope.   According to Hemsley, author of A new and complete index to the Botanical magazine, “Scarcely any very striking or noteworthy subjects appeared, and new species . . . were exceedingly rare,” but this did not hinder the magazine’s sales. The work was quickly a success, selling 3,000 copies a month. Volumes 1-6 were later reissued, presumably due to their popularity (some of our volumes are reprints).2

Each monthly issue contained three hand-colored plates accompanied by descriptive text.2 An exception, Strelitzia, had a fold-out plate and more in-depth description. As you will see below, variation in format was not something Curtis took lightly. The majority of the early illustrations were drawn by Sydenham Edwards.2,3 While the plates are the highlight of the magazine, Curtis’ enthusiasm for the plants is also engaging, and so each image is accompanied by a quote from the plant’s description.

Click on an image to view the gallery of plates. Enjoy, and stay warm!

References

1. Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. Curtis’s Botanical Magazine. Available at: http://www.kew.org/science-conservation/research-data/publications/curtis-botanical-magazine. Accessed January 23, 2015.

2. Hemsley, W. Botting. A new and complete index to the Botanical magazine. London: Lovell Reeve, 1906. Available at: https://books.google.com/books?id=OlhNAAAAYAAJ&pg=PR3#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed January 23, 2015.

3. Curtis Museum Alton. William Curtis the Botanist. Available at: http://www3.hants.gov.uk/curtis-museum/alton-history/william-curtis.htm. Accessed January 23, 2015.

“Good Cakes Like Us Are Baked With Care and Royal Baking Powder!” (Item of the Month)

By Arlene Shaner, Reference Librarian for Historical Collections

Some of the most engaging materials in the cookery collection of the New York Academy of Medicine’s Library are late 19th and early 20th century advertising pamphlets. Small books of recipes, histories of coffee, tea, spices, and other foods, and brochures touting the health benefits of one product or another offer a window into the changing tastes of the American public, new innovations in the mass production of foods, and the development of mass market advertising. A number of these pamphlets came to us as part of NYAM Fellow Margaret Barclay Wilson’s collection of books on food and cookery, donated to the library in 1929.

RoyalBakingPowderCo_TheLittleGingerbreadMan_1923_cover_watermarkOne charming example is The Little Gingerbread Man, published in 1923 by the Royal Baking Powder Company, located at 108 East 42nd Street in New York. Written in rhyme, the pamphlet tells the story of the land of Jalapomp, where baking has been declared illegal because of the ineptitude of the cook. Poor Princess Posy, whose birthday is approaching, worries that she won’t have a cake. Alerted to the sad state of affairs by a little Flour Fairy, the Queen of Flour Folk sends Johnny Gingerbread and his friends off in a chocolate plane to save the day. Toting a tin of Royal Baking Powder and a copy of the New Royal Cook Book for the cook, the fragrant baked treats convince the king that baking powder and new recipes will set things right before they head back home to Cookery Land.

A tin of Royal Baking Powder features prominently in most of the pamphlet’s illustrations, and the cookbook appears as well. You, too, can try your hand at making some of the Royal treats, as almost every page also contains a recipe for baked goods, including one for gingerbread men. Readers of the pamphlet (or their mothers, since the book itself was clearly meant for children) could obtain free copies of the New Royal Cook Book by writing to the company as instructed on the final page of the story.

Although she is uncredited, the author of the pamphlet was probably Ruth Plumly Thompson, who wrote more than 20 volumes of the Oz series, a continuation the stories told in L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its many sequels. The illustrations are attributed to Charles J. Coll.

Click the images to read the full pamphlet: