Explore the Academy Library Timeline

By Robin Naughton, Head of Digital 

The New York Academy of Medicine Library began in 1847 with the intention of serving the Academy fellows, but in 1878, after the collection had expanded to include over 6,000 volumes, Academy President Samuel Purple and the Council voted to open the Library to the public.  It continues to serve both the Academy fellows and the general public, providing an unprecedented level of access to a private medical collection.  Today, the Academy Library is one of the most significant historical libraries in the history of medicine and public health in the world.

The Academy Library’s history spans almost 170 years and a glimpse into this history is documented in this interactive timeline. While the timeline does not represent everything that has occurred in the Library, notable milestones can be seen here. The story starts with the founding of the Library on January 13,1847, with a gift from Isaac Wood of Martyn Payne’s Medical and Physiological Commentaries and continues forward to the recent renovation and naming of the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room.

 

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Figure 1:  The New York Academy of Medicine Library Timeline (Created using Northwestern University’s Knight Lab Timeline JS).

 

Timeline Highlights


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New York Academy of Medicine, Archives.

 

 

 

Academy’s First Permanent Home: In 1875, the Academy purchased and moved into its first permanent home at 12 west 31st Street. This image of the Academy’s first building will take you back to a different time.

 

 

 

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New York Academy of Medicine, Archives.

 

 

 

 

Academy’s Current Home: In 1926, the Academy moved to its current location on 103rd Street and 5th Avenue. The architectural firm York & Sawyer designed the building.  A 1932 expansion added three new floors on the northeast side of the original structure above the existing floors.  Today, you can visit the Academy at this location and explore the historic building.

 

 

 

 

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Apicius’ de re culinaria, 830 A.D. 

 

 

Cookery Collection: In 1929, Margaret Barclay Wilson gave the Academy her collection of books on food and cookery, which includes a 9th-century manuscript (De re culinaria) attributed to Apicius, and sometimes referred to as the oldest cookbook in the West.

 

 

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George Washington’s lower denture, 1789.

 

 

George Washington’s Teeth:  Yes, that’s right!  In the spring of 1937, the descendants of John Greenwood gave the Academy the lower denture created by New York dentist John Greenwood for Washington in 1789. The denture is just one of the artifacts that the Library owns.

 

 

 

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Librarians Gertrude L. Annan and Janet Doe, both in The Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine., vol. 50, no. 10, 1974.

 

 

Honored Librarians: In 1974, the Academy honored Gertrude L. Annan and Janet Doe, long-time librarians for their contributions to the Library.

 

 

 

 

There are many more highlights in the timeline so click through and enjoy.

The Tech


The Academy Library timeline was created using Northwestern University’s Knight Lab open-source timeline tool called TimelineJS. The tool was released under the Mozilla Public License (MPL), making it possible for anyone to create timelines to embed and share publicly.

TimelineJS is an easy tool to create a timeline with just a few steps. Here are some things to keep in mind when creating a timeline:

Content: Have content ready prior to creating

It’s important to have content ready prior to creating the timeline.  For the Academy Library timeline, there was already a text version of the timeline that could be used to create the interactive timeline. Together Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Librarian and I edited, updated and added images to the timeline. Starting with some content allowed us to devote time to enhancing the timeline by finding and adding associated images.

Media:  Make media publicly available

It is important that the media resources used in the timeline are publicly available.  TimelineJS uses URLs to access and display the media files (images, videos, maps, Wikipedia entries, Twitter, etc.). Thus, items behind firewalls or logins will not be accessible to the public. Make sure to upload images to a publicly available server and use that URL for the timeline.

Google Sheets: Add all content and links into spreadsheet and publish

Google Sheets is the data source for the timeline and this means that all data for the timeline is managed in Google Sheets. Once the Google Sheets file is published, the URL is used by TimelineJS to create the timeline, link to the timeline and embed code for websites.

If you’re familiar with Google Sheets or have used any spreadsheet program, then you know the process of adding content to the spreadsheet. If you haven’t used any spreadsheet program before, think of Google Sheets as a table with multiple columns and rows where you’ll input data for the timeline.

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Figure 2:  TimelineJS Google Sheets Template

To get started, the TimelineJS template and directions provide a good guide to the parameters of the timeline with each row representing a screen and each column a component of that screen. For example, the date structures are very flexible and the timeline can include a full date and time or just a year. Also, in the background column, adding a hex number for color can change the background color or including a link to image will show a background image.

 

How One Small Box of Photos Inspired Our Staff

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.”

The box of Place's photographs.

The box of Place’s photographs.

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.

"Frank Place in Reading Room as moving was going on," 1926, 17 West 43rd St.

“Frank Place in reading room as moving was going on,” 1926, 17 West 43rd St.

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.

Dr. Felicia Robbins, 1920. Right: Johanna Goldberg, Information Services Librarian, 2015.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.

“F. Kinsley among duplicates,” 1926. Right: Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian, among duplicates, July 7, 2015.Left: “F. Kinsley among duplicates,” 1926. Right: Danielle Aloia, Special Projects Librarian, among duplicates, July 7, 2015.

Left: Florence Duvall, Head of the Cataloging Department, February 13, 1929. Right: Rebecca Pou, Archivist, July 7, 2015.Left: Florence Duvall, Head of the Cataloging Department, February 13, 1929. Right: Rebecca Pou, Archivist, July 7, 2015.

Left: “A. White, maybe 1932.” Right, Paul Theerman, Associate Director, July 16, 2015.Left: “A. White, maybe 1932.” Right, Paul Theerman, Associate Director, July 16, 2015.

Top: Helen Field in the Rare Book Reading Room, July 1933. Bottom: Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Librarian, July 16, 2015.Top: Helen Field in the Rare Book Reading Room, July 1933. Bottom: Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Librarian, July 16, 2015.

Left: E. W. Evans, April 11, 1941. Right: Christina Amato, Book Conservator, July 23, 2015.Left: E. W. Evans, April 11, 1941. Right: Christina Amato, Book Conservator, July 23, 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: 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: Helen Field, March 1942. Right: Robin Naughton, Digital Systems Manager, July 16, 2015.Left: Helen Field, March 1942. Right: Robin Naughton, Digital Systems Manager, July 16, 2015.

Top: M. Roberts, March 1942. Bottom: Anne Garner, Curator, July 7, 2015.Top: M. Roberts, March 1942. Bottom: Anne Garner, Curator, July 7, 2015.

Left: “Westrom Dr. Clouting Maddocks.” 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.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.

References

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.

Presentations Announced for the Fifth Annual History of Medicine Night: Insights from the Early Modern Period

The New York Academy of Medicine’s Section on History of Medicine will hold the “Fifth Annual History of Medicine Night: Insights from the Early Modern Period” on March 11 from 6:00 pm–7:30 pm at NYAM, 1216 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 103rd Street. Register to attend here.
RBR shelfPresenters will address historical topics relating to medicine with a focus on the Early Modern period.  This year’s presenters are:

Barbara Chubak, MD
Urology Resident (PGY-5), Montefiore Medical Center
“Imagining Sex Change in Early Modern Europe”

Jeffrey M. Levine, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and Palliative Care
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
“A Fresh Look at the Historiated Initials in the De Humani Corporis Fabrica”

John E. Jacoby, MD, MPH
Assistant Clinical Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
“On the Life of Dr. Robert Levett: The Philosophy of Primary Care”

Nina Samuel, PhD
Center for Literary and Cultural Research
University of Berlin
“The Art of Hand Surgery”

Michelle Laughran, PhD
Associate Professor of History
Saint Joseph’s College of Maine
“The Medical Renaissance among Three Plagues: Epidemic Disease, Heresy and Calumny in Sixteenth-Century Venice”

Sharon Packer, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
“Epidemic Ergotism, Medieval Mysticism & Future Trends in Palliative Care”

Part two of this lecture series, “History of Medicine Night: 19th– and 20th-Century Stories,” will take place on May 6, 2015.

Who Becomes a Medical Doctor in New York City: Call for Papers

RBR deskThe New York Academy of Medicine’s Section on History of Medicine is pleased to announce “Who Becomes a Medical Doctor in New York City: Then and Now—A Century of Change” to be held on December 11, 2014 from 6:00 pm–7:30 pm. The event will take place at the Academy, located at 1216 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 103rd Street.

We are inviting all those interested in presenting to submit an abstract with one aspect of how individuals were selected, or excluded from, the study of medicine in New York City over time. These might include, but need not be limited to, decisions based on academic qualification, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, economics, and country of origin. The influence of career expectations for the profession and social and cultural factors motivating individuals to become a medical doctor may also be considered.

Note the following submission requirements:

  • Applications must include an abstract, with a 250-word maximum, and this form.
  • Abstracts must be submitted no later than October 30, 2014

The time allotted for presentation is 12 minutes with an additional 3 minutes for questions/discussion. Papers selected for presentation will be determined by a committee of History of Medicine Section members and staff of The New York Academy of Medicine.

Abstracts should be submitted electronically to Suhani Parikh at sparikh@nyam.org.  Questions may be directed to Suhani via email or phone (212-419-3544).

The Advent of the New York Surgical Society

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

In last Friday’s episode of The Knick, the main character, Dr. John Thackery, worries about being upstaged at an upcoming meeting of the New York Surgical Society. Indeed, that was (and is) a real society. It met at the New York Academy of Medicine, and NYAM’s archives hold its early minute books.

A portrait of Dr. Robert Fulton Weir.

A portrait of Dr. Robert Fulton Weir.

The New York Surgical Society was founded in 1879 at the home of prominent surgeon Dr. Robert Fulton Weir, later a president of The New York Academy of Medicine. By the early 20th century, membership had grown from an initial 12 members to 60. Its early founders were also instrumental in the establishment of the American Surgical Association in 1880. The surgeon on whom the Thackery character is based, Dr. William Halsted, was a member, as he worked in New York until joining the faculty at Johns Hopkins in 1889.

Schedule of papers in the New York Surgical Society Minutes, 1880-1897.

Schedule of papers in the New York Surgical Society Minutes, 1879-1897. Click to enlarge.

The rise of surgical societies reflected a two-fold movement: the increasing prominence of surgery within the medical profession, coupled with increasing medical specialization overall. That is, surgery was becoming glamorous, and more and more surgeons wanted to mingle, and learn from, like-minded professionals. General medical societies date at least from the 1840s—NYAM and the American Medical Association were both founded in 1847, and the College of Physicians of Philadelphia a full 60 years before that. But in the 1870s and 1880s, specialized medical societies began to flourish, motivated by sociability and professional advancement. Presenting papers on their work, members began building a publication record and a reputation. Societies prized innovation and skill—in some organizations, priority for one’s work could be established through the minute books of the meetings, even before publication.

The New York Surgical Society still exists. Find out more about it here.

The Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room – the panoramic view

The Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room captured by Ardon Bar-Hama.

The Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room captured by Ardon Bar-Hama. Click for the full panoramic experience.

The Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room has reopened. Renovations improved environmental conditions for the collections, including a new HVAC system, restored the historic windows, and a return to the cork floor’s former glory. We are once again welcoming readers and visitors to the room and were delighted to have the chance to host the wonderful Ardon Bar-Hama, who kindly captured the space in its full panoramic glory. Click through on the image to see the interactive (and highly zoom-able) panoramic view.

History Night Presentations Announced

The New York Academy of Medicine’s Section on History of Medicine will hold the “Fourth Annual History of Medicine Night – Part One: Spotlight on New York” on February 6 from 6:00 pm–7:30 pm at NYAM, 1216 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 103rd Street. Register to attend here. A second evening of presentations is being planned for spring.

RBR deskThe night will feature the following presentations, as described by the speakers:

“Psychiatric Criminology in the Eugenic Era: The New York Police Psychopathic Laboratory, 1915-1929”
Sara Bergstresser, M.P.H., Ph.D., Columbia University, Bioethics

“First, I explore the historical background of North American and European psychiatry, criminology, and eugenics in the nineteenth century, including threads of early convergence. Next, I examine the development of eugenic psychiatry and its intersections with eugenic criminology, with a particular emphasis on New York State in the early twentieth century. I then present a case study from that time period, which is based primarily on materials from the archives of the New York Police Psychopathic Laboratory. I go on to argue that in this case the workings of psychiatric criminology were more eclectic and uncertain than they may otherwise appear based on broad descriptions of the eugenic era.”

“Not for Self but Others: The Presbyterian Hospital Goes to War”
Pascal J. de Caprariis, M.D., Lutheran Medical Center

“On March 11, 1940 the U.S. Surgeon General reached out to Presbyterian Hospital’s medical board president to develop a military hospital to support US troops in an eventual war. Structured to receive patients from combat areas and follow American troops throughout war, it was to provide complex medical and surgical care over the course of three years and two months abroad.”

“The Cancer Education Campaigns in Progressive Era New York City: The Role of Women”
Elaine Schattner, M.A., M.D., F.A.C.P., Weill Cornell Medical College

“At the start of the 20th century, myths about cancer’s causes and treatments were widespread. Fear of the disease—and of inept surgeons—was rampant. Many afflicted fell prey to hoaxers selling bogus salves, patent medicines and painless “cures.” In April 1913, a prominent New York City surgeon and gynecologist, Dr. Clement Cleveland, invited a group of well-to-do ladies, bankers and physicians to his home. They heard from statisticians and public health specialists, and considered what might be done to reduce cancer’s mounting toll. The group met formally again in June 1913 at the Harvard Club in New York City. They formed the American Society for the Control of Cancer (ASCC), which three decades later became the American Cancer Society.”

“A Diagnosis of Philanthropy: Carnegie and Rockefeller and the Medical Profession”
Catherine (Katia) Sokoloff, Sarah Lawrence College

“Through exploring the evolving interests of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller during the Progressive Era, this paper unearths how these philanthropists and their advisers facilitated and funded the writing of the infamous Flexner Report in 1910. The report, also called Bulletin Number Four, exposed the inadequacies of medical schools and catalyzed dramatic education reforms.”

“Organizing Orthopaedic Societies in New York City in the 1880s: The New York Orthopaedic Society, the New York Academy of Medicine Section of Orthopaedic Surgery and the American Orthopaedic Association”
Jonathan B. Ticker, M.D., College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University

“After the seventh general meeting of the New York Orthopaedic Society (NYOS) on January 4, 1886, steps were taken to merge NYOS into a section of the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM). Thus, on January 29, 1886, NYOS adjourned and the NYAM Section of Orthopaedic Surgery began. On January 29th, 1887, the chairman of the Section and 15 others “[met] and [discussed] the organization of a national orthopaedic society.” This led to the founding of the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA).”

History Night: Call for Papers

RBR desk

The New York Academy of Medicine’s Section on History of Medicine is pleased to announce its Annual History of Medicine night to be held on February 6, 2014 from 6:00 pm–7:30 pm. The event will take place at the Academy, located at 1216 Fifth Avenue at the corner of 103rd Street.

We are inviting all those interested in presenting to submit a narrative on a historical subject relating to medicine for consideration.

Note the following submission requirements:

  • Applications must include an abstract, with a  500-word maximum, and this form
  • Abstracts must be submitted no later than January 15, 2014

The time allotted for presentation is 12 minutes with an additional 3 minutes for questions/discussion. Papers selected for presentation will be determined by a panel of History of Medicine Section members.

Abstracts should be submitted electronically to Donna Fingerhut at dfingerhut@nyam.org.  Questions may be directed to Donna via email or phone (212-419-3645).

Thank You! Festival of Medical History and the Arts Wrap-Up

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

Whew!

Our first Festival of Medical History and the Arts was a great success; more than 1,000 people attended and responded enthusiastically to our mix of talks, demos, films, etc. Now that we have had a chance to draw breath, here are a few details from the day:

It’s hard to pick highlights, although of course Dr. Oliver Sacks speaking about his intellectual influences and the patients who inspired his Awakenings was hugely exciting for all of us. We are grateful to Dr Sacks and all the speakers who came and shared their knowledge.

Our guest curators did an amazing job. Lawrence Weschler’s Wonder Cabinet started with a (big) bang, a banjo-accompanied cosmic/neuronal slapdown, and ended with fascinating insights from Riva Lehrer into how an artist’s body can affect her art and her anatomy teaching. In between, spectators had the chance to get a glimpse into the experience of having an epileptic fit; share anatomical adventures; and witness some cringe-inducing treatments suffered by monarchs through the ages.

The cosmic/neuronal smackdown.

The cosmic/neuronal smackdown. Photo by Amy Hart.

Joanna Ebenstein’s Morbid Anatomy presentation of 12(!) talks throughout the day were standing-room only, forcing us to move to a larger room, which filled up just as quickly. The day started with Mexican traditions around death, took a detour to human zoos, wax anatomical models, medical library pleasures, memento mori, and skull theft before ending with the little-discussed practice of bookbinding with human skin.

Sigrid Sarda gives a medical wax moulage demonstration.

Sigrid Sarda gives a medical wax moulage demonstration. Photo by Amy Hart.

Our conservation team prepared a wonderful exhibit of models demonstrating development of the book over time (no human skin involved), as well as a whimsical look at the life of miniature books. We put highlights from our collections on display, and welcomed visitors to our conservation laboratory. Meanwhile, visitors could learn the art of making anatomical wax moulage and see Gene Kelly struggle with combat fatigue.  And the after party cocktails and cartoons were just the things needed to wind down after the long day.

Cocktails and cartoons at the after party.

Cocktails and cartoons at the after party. Photo by Amy Hart.

With so many people, some events did fill up. Particular apologies to those who couldn’t make it on a behind-the-scenes tour. With such overwhelming demand, we’re planning to make them a much more regular feature, so if you missed out you’ll get another chance at a future event. Our two anatomical workshops were also full; for those of you in New York, we are investigating offering courses on a more regular basis, so please let us know if you are interested!

A tour of the Gladys Brooks Book & Paper Conservation Laboratory. Photo by Amy Hart.

A tour of the Gladys Brooks Book & Paper Conservation Laboratory. Photo by Amy Hart.

Pictures from the day are up on our Facebook page, and winners of the caption competition and the raffle will be announced soon.  Meanwhile, keep an eye out for more details of our Performing Medicine mini-fest, coming in the spring. Hope to see you then, if not before for some of our stand-alone events!

Eighty Years and Counting

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By Arlene Shaner, Acting Curator and Reference Librarian for Historical Collections Many of you are aware that the Malloch Suite of rare book rooms (the Coller Rare Book Reading Room and the Seminar Room) has been under renovation since early … Continue reading