History of Medicine

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.

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

Historical exhibit documents the resourcefulness of health professionals and volunteers in the aftermath of Hurricane Beulah

Hurricane Beulah is still recognized as one of the most significant storms to make landfall in Texas.  On September 21, 1967 the storm moved into the mouth of the Rio Grande and inundated South Texas with heavy rainfall.  The memories of the hurricane and its aftermath were still fresh in the minds of many who attended the May 6th opening of a photography exhibit which chronicles the response of health professionals and local volunteers to refugees displaced by flooding in Starr County.

Hurricane Beulah caused extensive flooding on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.  To escape the rising floodwaters, over 14,000 refugees from Camargo, Tamaulipas crossed the border into the small town of Roma, Texas.  The refugees were in desperate need of food, shelter, and medical care.  It was in Roma that Dr. Mario E. Ramirez, the only physician in town and Starr County’s Public Health Service Director, rose to action in the face of a crisis.  For several weeks, Dr. Ramirez along with volunteers from the local community, UT Medical Branch in Galveston, Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio as well as the U.S. Army worked to help the hurricane victims.

In 2007 the Library at the UT Health Science Center Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen was named for Dr. Mario E. Ramirez. The Ramirez Library subsequently received materials from Dr. Ramirez’ personal archive and library, a rich collection of photographs, letters, and documents. Many of the materials donated by Dr. Ramirez are related to Hurricane Beulah, including 139 photographs and 185 pages of letters, newspaper clippings, and personal journal entries.  The photographs were taken by George Tuley, a Rio Grande City teacher, who would later go on to a 39-year career as a photojournalist at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

The photographs portray the use of makeshift medical equipment in the absence of IV poles, incubators, and oxygen tents.  The photographs also document the transformation of a high school into a packaged disaster hospital where blackboards were used to record patient information including diagnoses and treatments.

In 2009 the Ramirez Library received a Library Technology Award from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM) to support the digitization, cataloging, and uploading of the Hurricane Beulah photographs to the UT Health Science Center Libraries Digital Archive as well as the creation of a traveling exhibit.  The full collection of Hurricane Beulah photographs from the Ramirez Collection can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/beulahphotos.  The photography exhibit will remain on display at the Ramirez Library, and a traveling version of the exhibit will be made available to local schools, libraries and museums.  For more information, please contact Graciela Reyna, Assistant Director, Mario E. Ramirez, M.D. Library at (956) 365-8850 or reynag@uthscsa.edu.

Kathleen Carter
Ramirez Library Librarian

History of Anatomy class visits the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

Ten students from the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences visited the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library on the evening of Tuesday, April 24 to view more than 40 items from the library’s rare book collection.  The visit was the conclusion of the School of Medicine’s enrichment elective, ELEC 5022, and the graduate school’s CSBL 5015. The class, which was taught by Dr. Charleen Moore of the Department of Cellular and Structural Biology, covered the history of anatomy from ancient times through the 19th century.

Among the items on display:

ALBINUS, Bernhard Siegfried (1697-1770), Tables of the skeleton and muscles of the human body, London, 1st edition in Latin – 1749

HOOKE, Robert (1635-1703), Micrographia, London, 1667

VESALIUS, Andreas (1514-1564), De humani corporis fabrica libri septem, Basel, 1543

Students also viewed the oldest book in the Nixon library’s collection, CELSUS, Aulus Cornelius, De  medicina, 2nd edition, 1481.  De medicina is a member of a class of books known as incunables,  the first books to be produced by the printing press in the late 15th century.

The P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  To schedule a visit, contact Anne Comeaux, Assistant Library Director for Special Collections, comeaux@uthscsa.edu or Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian, hunnicutt@uthscsa.edu.


P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library- class visit

Dr. Charleen Moore and students from the School of Medicine and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences visited the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library on April 24.


ALBINUS, Bernhard Siegfried (1697-1770) Tables of the skeleton and muscles of the human body, 1747

Among the books on display in the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library on April 24: ALBINUS, Bernhard Siegfried (1697-1770), Tables of the skeleton and muscles of the human body, 1749.

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, beginning at 6:00 pm, to discuss the history of medicine in poetry.  UTHSCSA faculty and students will be doing readings of selected poems and members and visitors can read 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

Alexandra Hospital, East Clandon: a ward in which some children are in bed while others stand around a piano being played by a nurse. Photograph, 1913(?).

Alexandra Hospital, East Clandon. Approximately 1913.

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, contact Anne Comeaux, Assistant Director for Special Collections, at comeaux@uthscsa.edu or 210-567-2428.

Image: Courtesy of Wellcome Images, http://wellcomeimages.org/.  Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/