History of Medicine

Department of the Army medical historian to speak in January

Army logo

Thursday, January 24, 6:00  p.m.

Howe Conference Room, 5th Floor, Briscoe Library

On the evening of  Thursday, January 24 Dr. Sanders Marble, Senior Historian with the Office of Medical History at Fort Sam Houston, will speak to the History of Medicine Society on the topic,  Medical History and the Military: Opportunities and Differences.  The event is open to all UT Health Science Center affiliates as well as members of the wider community.

The History of Medicine Society is a newly-formed interest group of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library.  For information about history of medicine programs or membership in the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, contact Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian: Email hunnicutt@uthscsa.edu, or call 567-2406.

Earth Day Display of Rare Herbal Books

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.  ~Marcus Tullius Cicero

In honor of Earth Day, the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library will display several rare herbal books from its collection. Stop by the Nixon Library on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22 to view these illustrated treasures.

 Image of Blackberry

 This display will include:

  • American Medical Botany, one of the first books published in the United States to contain colored plant illustrations
  • William Withering’s 1785 An Account of the Foxglove
  • An 1824 edition of Culpeper’s Complete Herbal
  • A reprint of the 1633 edition of Gerard’s General History of Plants

For more information on the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, contact Anne Comeaux, Assistant Director for Special Collections, 210-567-2428 or comeaux@uthscsa.edu.

Blackberry Image Courtesy of American Medical Botany, Volume II ©1818.


Exhibit in the Briscoe Library highlights the science and art of anatomical illustration

Carlos Machado, MD

An exhibit, The Artistic Style of Carlos Machado, MD: Selected Illustrations from the Netter Art Collection, is currently on display on the third floor of the Briscoe Library.

In the mid-1990s Carlos Machado was selected to continue the work of Dr. Frank Netter, a 20th century physician and artist who had come to be known as “Medicine’s Michelangelo.”   Starting in the late 1940s, Netter had initiated a series of illustrations that were based on painstaking research and study of the human body.  He developed groundbreaking techniques for presenting anatomical information in ways that enhance its accessibility to students, and over the next 40 years the collection grew into an eight-part series, with each part depicting a body system.  It is a classic resource on human anatomy for students of medicine and the health sciences.

Carlos Machado, who received his medical degree at the Faculdade Medicina de Teresopolis in Rio de Janeiro and later trained in cardiology at Santa Casa de Misericordia, has been a principal illustrator for the Netter Collection of Medical Illustrations for the past 19 years.  Dr. Machado has added over 1,000 new illustrations to the collection, and also updated many of the Netter images to reflect current medical practice and knowledge.  His work can be seen in Netter Presenter, a database containing images from the Netter: Atlas of Human Anatomy 5th Edition. 

Netter Presenter can be accessed from the library’s database pages

The exhibit will remain on display through the summer.  It  is on loan from NetterImages.com, ©Elsevier.

Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian


Exhibit: Antique medical instruments from the collection of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

“Ouch, that looks painful!”

That is a common reaction from viewers of the library’s new exhibit on antique medical instruments, located next to the Administrative Offices on the 3rd floor.  The exhibit highlights several aspects of medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries, displaying instruments donated to the library’s historical collections by the Bexar County Medical Society and individuals.  A scarificator, lancet, and blood cups were used with bloodletting to cure diseases such as fever, madness, anemia, and debility, often making the patient worse, rather than better.

An old amputation kit and tourniquet and an Army Civil War surgical kit remind us that amputation was often the only way to prevent gangrene resulting from traumatic war injuries, although the lack of antiseptic practices often caused rather than prevented problems.  A reproduction of a tintype held by the University Archives illustrates Dr. Crawford Long’s discovery of the use of ether for surgical anesthesia in 1842. There is also an old saddlebag used by physicians riding horseback and an ophthalmological testing kit belonging to Dr. Ferdinand Herff, a physician who moved to Texas from Germany in 1849 and became a prominent surgeon in San Antonio.  Finally, the display features a medical case belonging to Dr. Charles Dixon, a physician who lead the fight against medical quackery and nostrums in San Antonio in the early 1900s.

More information on these as well as other interesting items in the library’s historical collections can be found in the Treasures of the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library blog.  The library has many other  medical and dental instruments that have not yet been cataloged, and archival staff would welcome help in identifying how they were used.

For more information, contact Anne Comeaux, phone 567-2428 email: comeaux@uthscsa.edu, or Mellisa DeThorne, phone 567-2470 email: dethorne@uthscsa.edu.

The P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library houses a collection of approximately 5000 rare and classic texts in the history of medicine, nursing, dentistry and other health care disciplines, dating from the 15th to the early 20th centuries. The library is named after Dr. Pat Ireland Nixon, a distinguished San Antonio physician and historian who worked  to build an exceptional medical history collection.

To learn more, visit the library blog Treasures of the P.I. Nixon  Medical Historical Library.

Francine Mary Netter to Speak at 45th Annual Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library Dinner

Medicine’s Michelangelo: The Life and Art of Frank H. Netter, MD

Francine Mary Netter, daughter of famous medical illustrator Frank Netter, MD, will be the guest speaker at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. Drawing on her personal remembrances, her father’s autobiographical notes, and hundreds of interviews, she will discuss his life and work and provide a personal glimpse into the man behind the art.


Photograph of Frank Netter, MD and Francine Mary Netter

Frank Netter, MD and Francine Netter
Photograph courtesy of Francine Netter

Thursday, November 5, 2015
Cash bar 6:30 PM
Dinner 7:00 PM

Old San Francisco Steak House
10223 Sahara Street (off San Pedro north of Loop 410)

$55 per person
$35 for students (Student price includes dinner and annual membership in the Friends)

The Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library invite students to attend the dinner and to become members of the Friends. Students are encouraged to apply for sponsorships to cover the cost of registration and membership.

Advanced registration is required.

Send completed Reservation_Form and sponsorship requests to Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu by October 23, 2015 or call 210-567-2406 for more information.








Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library- Annual Dinner and Presentation is November 7

Hieronymous Brunschwig, 1494

The Annual Dinner and Presentation of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library will take place the evening of November 7, 2012 at 6:30 in the evening at the Airport Doubletree Hotel.  Richard Ludueña, Ph.D., Professor of Biochemistry in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, will speak on the topic, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly:  Inbreeding and Incest in Royal Families.

The Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library invite students in all of the schools to attend the dinner and become members of the Friends’ group.  The cost to students for the dinner and annual membership is $30.  Students are encouraged to apply for sponsorships which cover the cost of registration and membership for one year.

For all others, the cost of the dinner is $55.

All who are interested in the history of medicine are invited to an intriguing presentation and an enjoyable evening of good food and conversation.

Complete information about the dinner and presentation, as well as the year’s activities of the Friends group, can be found in the organization’s newsletter, which is available online or in the Special Collections Reading Room on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library.

Students interested in requesting a sponsorship for the dinner should contact Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian: Hunnicutt@uthscsa.edu.  The general registration form for the Annual Dinner and Presentation can be found here:  Registration Form.



Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library: Spring lecture series focuses on infectious disease discovery and epidemiology

U.S. Public Health Service Poster- Syphilis

U.S. Public Health Service poster: Images from the History of Medicine database, National Library of Medicine

The Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library and the Briscoe Library launched a spring lecture series in February featuring Dr. Gregory Anstead of the School of Medicine speaking on the topic, Beyond Bugs and Drugs: Infectious Disease Discovery and Epidemiology.  The second installment in the series, focusing on Syphilis, will take place at noon on Thursday, March 24 in the Howe Conference Room, on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library.

Dr. Anstead, whose interests include clinical trials of new antiretroviral and antifungal drugs and the historical epidemiology of infectious diseases, is director of the Immuno- suppression and Infectious Diseases clinics of the South Texas Veterans Healthcare System.

As always, the event is free and open to everyone.  Please bring your lunch and join us!

The series will continue in April and May with talks on Hantavirus (April 28) and HIV in America (May 26).

For more information about the spring lecture series, contact Pennie Borchers, Special Collections Librarian, at borchers@uthscsa.edu.

Historical Bexar County Medical Society Membership Records Available Online

Picture of John M. McIntosh, MD

John A. McIntosh, MD, specialist in nervous and mental diseases. Born Oct. 19, 1878, in Brownwood, Texas. Graduated from UT Galveston in 1903.

Last fall the Special Collections of the UT Health Science Center Library received a Rescuing Texas History Grant from the University of North Texas to fund digitization of applications and photographs of members of the Bexar County Medical Association born 1910 or earlier. Many of these records are a unique resource for historical and genealogical research as they provide the names of family members (spouses, children, parents, siblings) in addition to date and place of birth of members, education, training, and current and previous work experience.

The project has been completed, and the records can now be viewed in the History of Medicine collection of the Digital Archive.  They may also be browsed on the University of North Texas’s Portal to Texas History website.

Historical Book of the Month on Digital Signage

The P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library has many wonderful rare and historical books that are very interesting to read, have wonderful illustrations, or were extremely important in the history of the health sciences. To highlight some of these treasures, the staff of the Nixon Library have started a new program that features one book each month. Brief information about the book is displayed on the digital signage throughout the Health Science Center.  The “book of the month” is available for viewing in the Nixon Library from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday – Friday. Blog entries with more detailed information on the author and the book also appear in the Treasures of the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library blog.

This month’s book is Anthropometamorphosis: Man Transform’d: or, the

Example of face piercing

Illustration of face piercing from Bulwer’s book

ArtificiallChangling, a delightful book published by English physician John Bulwer in 1653 describing and illustrating tattooing and body mutilations described in old literature or reported to him by sea captains and others traveling throughout the world.

For more information or to arrange to visit the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, contact Anne Comeaux, Assistant Director for Special Collections, phone: 210-567-2428 or email: comeaux@uthscsa.edu