History of Medicine

Francine Mary Netter Speaks at Friends Annual Dinner

This year’s Annual Dinner of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library was held on Thursday, November 5, 2015 at the Old San Francisco Steakhouse. One hundred and six registrants, including forty-eight students from the Health Science Center’s five schools and the Voelcker Biomedical Research Academy, enjoyed an evening of dining and fellowship.

 

Photograph of faculty and students at Friends Dinner

Faculty and Students Gather at the Friends Dinner

 

The highlight of the evening was Francine Mary Netter’s informative and entertaining presentation on the life and work of her father, famous medical illustrator Frank Netter, MD. She shared family memories and personal anecdotes about this extremely talented man, as well as images of sketches and paintings outside the realm of anatomy. Following her presentation, Francine Netter signed copies of her book, Medicine’s Michelangelo: The Life and Art of Frank H. Netter, MD.

 

Photograph of Francine Mary Netter signing a book

Francine Netter Signs  Dr. Irene Bober-Moken’s Book

 

For more information on the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 567-2406.

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.

When

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

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

Cost
$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.

RSVP
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gold Stemmed Pessaries: A Shadow of the Past

Pessary

Although the above medical device appears to just be a thingamajig from the local hardware store, it is not. It is a gold, spring-stem wishbone pessary first developed in Germany in the 1880s and used through the late 1930s. Generally, today’s medical pessaries are used for three types of issues: a supportive device for organ prolapse, a vaginal suppository for delivering pharmacologic preparations, and birth control. The type of spring-stem wishbone pessary found in the Nixon Library is described as a remedy for uterine malposition or bleeding complaints, yet it is also widely recognized as an early modern intrauterine device.

Stones and Goop

The word pessary derives from the Greek word pessόs, which means oval stone similar to ones used in ancient checkers.  Historically, stone pessaries were used to remedy organ prolapse and women in New Zealand were noted to place pebbles in the uterus to foster sterility. Stories abound of small rocks inserted into the uteri of camels during long desert journeys to disrupt the uterine cavity and prevent pregnancy. This could not have been at all comfortable for woman or beast.

For thousands of years, cultures around the globe used cervical pessaries and documented an understanding of barrier contraceptive methods.  Inventive birth control mixtures, often combined with magic and ritual, might include viscous pastes of honey, rancid oil, animal dung, tree resin, dates, or fermented acadia leaves soaked with lint.

By the time the late 19th century rolled around, pessaries evolved to include metal cervico-uterine models.  Physician Carl Hollweg patented a wishbone pessary in 1902 designed to “support the uterus”, and specifically, “prevent excessive and abnormal bending of this organ and to obviate and break apart any abnormal growth of tissue. . . ” Considering Hollweg’s description, it seems birth control was an unintended gain from this pessary. During the cervico-uterine heyday, the most well known wishbone spring-stem pessary in the United States was the Ideal, also known as the brooch, the butterfly, or the wishbone stem.

Arrangements and Regrets

Proper placement of the wishbone spring-stem pessary required a visit to a physician. The two flexible arms were squeezed together to create a linear form and encased in a gelatinous material to facilitate entry into the uterus. After insertion, the pessary’s concave button rested against the the external os and the spring stem sat within the cervical canal. When the gel casing melted due to body temperature, the arms would spring out laterally and the oval tips maintained the device’s position within the uterine cavity. Due to infection concerns, a physician typically left the wishbone pessary in place for only two to three months before removal. Once the uterus was free from a foreign object for several months, the pessary was reinserted.

Perforated uterus due to spring-stem pessary It eventually became clear that using a stem pessary, which left the uterus vulnerable to pathogens, could be dangerous. Wishbone stem pessaries fell out of favor as evidence of infection, uterine perforation, and death began to mount. Additionally, some women who used this type of pessary for birth control experienced a level of unreliability resulting in unintended pregnancy. These multiple side effects prompted improved intrauterine designs similar to what we see today.

Out of the Shadows

The Nixon Library owns two examples of gold-filled wishbone spring-stem pessaries. One is stamped “14K”, is approximately 0.5 inches in in diameter, and 2.5 inches in length.  The other is marked “GOLD”, approximately 1.0 inch in diameter, and 2.5 inches in length.  A concave disc supports a coiled stem at which two thin metal arms with flat, oval tipped ends project into a “V” position.

It would be our pleasure to bring these pessaries out of the historical shadows for viewing.  If you would like to examine these golden pessaries in person, please contact Mellisa DeThorne at DETHORNE@uthscsa.edu

Sources:

Cooper, J. F. (1928). Technique of contraception. New York, NY: Day-Nichols

Himes, N. E. (1934). Medical history of contraception. The New England Journal of Medicine, 210(11), 576-581.

Hollweg, C. (1902). U.S. Patent No. 709675. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Retrieved August 2017 from: https://www.google.com/patents/us709675.

Oliver, R., Thakar, R., & Sultan, A. H. (2011). The history and usage of the vaginal pessary: A review. European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology, 156(2), 125-130.

Image sources:

Fotinos, D. (2017). Gold Spring-Stem Pessaries [Digital photograph].

Penetration of the uterus by gold stem pessary. [Online photograph]. Retrieved August 2017 from: www.jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/242995. doi:10.1001/jama.1933.27420190001008

[Untitled photograph of spring stem pessary with box]. Retrieved August 2017 from: www.fcgapultoscollection.com

-Diane Fotinos, B.S., PA

 

 

Highlights in the History of the Army Nurse Corps

Photograph of postcard adapted from poster: Join the Army Nurse Corps

Lark A. Ford, PhD, RN will present Highlights in the History of the Army Nurse Corps on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 12 Noon in the Howe Conference Room on the 5th floor of the Library. Dr. Ford will discuss key memorials to nursing from 1902 through 2000, the first century of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

This lecture is being held in conjunction with the National Library of Medicine traveling exhibit, Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection, which will be on display on the 3rd floor of the Dolph Briscoe Jr. Library from April 4, 2016 to May 15, 2016.

Dr. Lark Ford is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Restoration and Care Systems Management in the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio School of Nursing. She joined the nursing faculty in 2006 following 33 years of military service in the United States Army Nurse Corps, retiring at the rank of Colonel. Lark has earned a BSN in Nursing from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, an MSN in Nursing Administration from Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia, and an MA and a PhD from the School of Human and Organization Development at Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California.

 

Photograph of the Army Nurse Corps Vietnam Women's Memorial

Army Nurse Corps Vietnam Women’s Memorial

 

This event is free and open to everyone. Please, bring your lunch and join us for dessert!

For more information, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

Historical Anatomy Books on Display April 12

Illustration of Body Muscles

The P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library will be holding an exhibit of rare and historical anatomical texts on April 12 from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm in the Nixon Reading Room and the Howe Conference Room on the 5th floor of the Briscoe Library. View a 1st edition of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem by Andreas Vesalius published in 1543 and a 1481 edition of De Medicina by Aulus Cornelius Celsus, the Nixon Library’s oldest book. The display is open to the general public, and all are welcome to come see these treasures up close.

For more information on the collections of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library or to arrange a book display or tour, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

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.

History of Anatomy Class Visits P.I. Nixon Library

History of Anatomy Class Views Hooke's Micrographia

On April 12, 2016, the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library hosted this year’s History of Anatomy Class taught by Charleen Moore, PhD, Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology.

Faculty, students, and staff from the UT Health Science Center San Antonio Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, School of Medicine, School of Dentistry, and Dolph Briscoe Jr. Library gathered to view 50 titles from the historical anatomy book collection, along with two stereoscopes, accompanying multi-dimensional slides, and a rare tintype of surgeon and pharmacist Dr. Crawford Long.

Highlights of the event included a chance to see up-close a 1st edition of De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (1543) by Andreas Vesalius and a collection of early nineteenth-century books on surgery by brothers, Charles and John Bell.

roup Photograph of History of Anatomy Class

For more information on the collections of the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

History of Medicine in Poetry

Once again in honor of Poetry Month, the History of Medicine Society of the Friends of the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library will be meeting in the Howe Conference Room on April 22, 2015 at 6:00 pm to discuss the history of medicine in poetry. UTHSCSA faculty, students, and staff will be reading selected historical poetry, as well as their own original poems.

Take time from your work and study and come enjoy the readings and discussion.  Everyone is welcome!

Kindness First Known in a Hospital

The place seemed new and strange as death,
The white strait bed, with others strait and white,
Like graves dug side by side at measured lengths,
And quiet people walking in and out
With wonderful low voices and soft steps,
And apparitional equal care for each,
Astonished her with order, silence, law:
And when a gentle hand held out a cup,
She took it as you do a sacrament,
Half awed, half melted, – not being used, indeed,
To so much love as makes the form of love
And courtesy of manners.  Delicate drinks
And rare white bread, to which some dying eyes
Were turned in observation.  O my God,
How sick we must be ere we make men just!
I think it frets the saints in heaven to see
How many desolate creatures on the earth
Have learnt the simple dues of fellowship
And social comfort, in a hospital.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning.

Published in  The Doctor’s Window: Poems by the Doctor, For the Doctor, and About the Doctor. Ina Russelle Warren, editor.  Buffalo, New York; Charles Wells Moulton, 1898.

For more information on the History of Medicine Society, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

 

History of Medicine Society Draws Record Attendance

Sixty history of medicine enthusiasts attended the September 16th meeting of the History of Medicine Society, a student-led interest group of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. Charleen Moore, PhD, Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, presented Potent Potions and Healing Herbs: Medicinal Practices of the Renaissance. The Garden Health Interest Group provided Harry Potter themed snacks, including Snitch cake pops, chocolate pretzel wands, and “Butter Beer” topped with whipped cream!

Dr. Charleen Moore presents

Following the presentation, attendees adjourned to the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library to view some of the books referenced in Dr. Moore’s talk, as well as some historical herbals with magnificent illustrations.

Student views historical medical book

For more information about the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library or the History of Medicine Society, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2406.

History of Medicine Society: 18th Century M&M Conference

Image of Giovanni Morgagni

Shirley Nah, MS II, Charleen Moore, PhD, and Philip T. Valente, MD will present Morbidity & Mortality and Morgagni at the March 2016 History of Medicine Society meeting. Giovanni Morgagni systematically indexed almost 700 postmortem examinations correlating the autopsy findings with the patient’s symptoms.

The P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library will have on display two editions of his monumental work:

  • De Sedibus, et Causis Morborum per Anatomen Indagatis Libri Quinque
    • 2nd edition
    • Published in Padua in 1765
  • The Seats and Causes of Diseases Investigated by Anatomy: In Five Books
    • 1st English edition
    • Published in London in 1769

When
March 23, 2016
6:00 PM

Where
Briscoe Library
Howe Conference Room (5th floor)

Membership in the History of Medicine Society is free, and meetings are open to the public. Light refreshments (including M&Ms) will be served!

For more information on the History of Medicine Society or the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, contact Lisa Matye Finnie, Special Collections Librarian, at finnie@uthscsa.edu or 567-2406.