History of Medicine

Special Collections receives preservation assistance from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Dr. Graham Watts was a founding member of the Bexar County Medical Society.

Dr. F.M. Hicks practiced surgery in San Antonio from 1888 to 1929 and was one of the first Texans to be elected to the American College of Surgery.

In January the Special Collections of the UT Health Science Center Libraries received a $5,547 Preservation Assistance grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).  Special Collections houses the P. I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, a collection of rare and historical books on the history of the health sciences; and the University Archives, a collection of historical papers and audiovisuals documenting the history of the university and of physicians and other health care professionals practicing in San Antonio and Central and South Texas in the 1800’s and 1900’s.   The books and archives are housed in several different locations on the 2nd, 3rd, and 5th floors of the Briscoe Library.

The NEH grant will pay for a preservation/conservation assessment of the collections by a professional materials conservator, who will help draft a long-range plan for the care of the collections.  The conservator , Rebecca Elder, will visit the Special Collections to assess policies, practices, and conditions affecting the care and preservation of the collections.  She will make recommendations for improving the storage or re-housing of collections, prioritize future preservation action on aging materials, and suggest appropriate preservation supplies.

The grant will also pay for the purchase of environmental monitoring equipment, allowing library staff to track environmental conditions in the various collection locations, and to adjust temperature, humidity, and dew point to create the best preservation conditions possible.

Anna Beyer, a University of North Texas Library and Information Science student, will work as an intern in Special Collections during Spring 2011.  She will help with the preservation needs identified by the consultant and record and analyze environmental data information.

Anne Comeaux, Assistant Library Director for Digital and Special Collections

Summer reading: Siddhartha Mukherjee to speak at Trinity University on August 28

The Emperor of All MaladiesSiddhartha Mukherjee, author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, will speak at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 28 in Laurie Auditorium at Trinity University.  The event, part of Trinity’s Reading TUgether summer reading program, is free and open the public.

The Emperor of all Maladies was a 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and the recipient of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. In it Mukherjee reflects on his experiences as a hematology and oncology fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital, while at the same time constructing a history of cancer research and treatment.   The Pulitzer jury, in awarding the prize, called it “an elegant inquiry, at once clinical and personal”.

More information about the August 28 program at Trinity University can be found on the Trinity University website.

Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian

 

 

The History of Medicine in Poetry – HOM Society Meeting in April

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 23, 2014, 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 can discuss their own original poems.

In conjunction with the meeting, an exhibit on The History of Medicine in Poetry will be displayed in the 3rd floor exhibit area of the library starting April 1.

 

Popular 17th century poem describing the plague doctor's costume.

Popular 17th century poem describing the plague doctor’s costume.  See the exhibit for an English translation.

Copper engraving of Doctor Schnabel [i.e Dr. Beak], a plague doctor in seventeenth-century Rome, with a satirical macaronic poem (‘Vos Creditis, als eine Fabel, / quod scribitur vom Doctor Schnabel’) in octosyllabic rhyming couplets.  Date: 1656.  Courtesy of Internet Archive.

Treasures of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

Students examine early anatomical texts in the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library.

Some of the most historically significant of the early illustrated anatomical works -- by artist-anatomists such as Vesalius (1514-1564), Albinus (1697-1770), Paolo Mascagni (1755-1815), William Hunter (1718-1783) and John Hunter (1728-1793) – can be found in the collection of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library.

The P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library began as the private collection of San Antonio physician Pat Ireland Nixon.  Born in Guadalupe County in 1883, Dr. Nixon studied at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he developed an interest in the history of medicine, as well as a love of rare medical texts, which he collected.  When Dr. Nixon moved to San Antonio in 1912 to open his practice, he sought out other physicians and organized a journal club, which eventually evolved into the Bexar County Medical Library Association (BCMLA).  Over the years the collection of the association grew to contain more than 15,000 volumes.

In 1970, the Bexar County Medical Society donated the rare books from the collection of the BCMLA to the new medical school in San Antonio — then called The University of Texas Medical School at San Antonio, but later becoming part of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio.  In 1983 the collection was officially named the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library.   At that time it was moved to its present location, on the fifth floor of the Briscoe Library.

Today, as one of the sites of an annual art and anatomy workshop, as well as of a course in the history of anatomy, the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library supports the teaching mission of both The University of Texas at San Antonio and the The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.  The library reading room is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  In addition to many historically significant volumes in the fields of anatomy, surgery, psychiatry and ophthalmology, the collection of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library also includes works of local importance, including Dr. Rudolph Menger’s Texas Nature Observations and Reminiscences (1913).  A Century of Medicine in San Antonio (1936) and The Medical Story of Early Texas (1946), both by Pat Ireland Nixon, are held in the library’s collection.

Membership in the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library is open to anyone who is interested in the history of the health sciences.    Dues are $10/year for students, $25 for individual members, and $50 for patrons. Membership in the Friends and gifts to the library  help to assure that we will be able to maintain, build and promote the use of the collection, both on the campus of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and in the academic communities of the surrounding area.

For more information about membership in the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library, or about any of its programs, please contact Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian, at (210) 567-2406, or email Hunnicutt@uthscsa.edu. Information about membership can also be found on the library’s website.

Turning the Pages Online: Beautiful images from rare medical books

Foxglove

Foxglove

The image featured on the cover of the July newsletter, a tomato or “love apple,” is from Elizabeth Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal, an 18th century book composed almost entirely of  illustrations of medicinal plants. Blackwell, who was trained in drawing, produced A Curious Herbal in an effort to obtain her husband’s release from a London debtor’s prison.  She engraved and colored the illustrations, drawn from plants growing in the Chelsea Physic Garden, and released them in weekly editions between 1737 and 1739. Each weekly release contained four plates and a page of text. The book became quite popular among the physicians and apothecaries of London, and she was able to raise enough money to secure her husband’s release.

The images shown here are from Turning the Pages Online, a project of the National Library of Medicine that makes digitized images of rare and remarkable texts in the history of the biomedical sciences accessible from desktop computers and digital devices.  Click on the images at right to access a larger view.

St. John's Wort

St. John’s Wort

Viewers of the Turning the Pages Online website are able to ‘touch and turn’ the pages, zoom in for greater detail, and read or listen to explanations of the text, sometimes in the form of curators’ notes.

Other book that are available for viewing at the Turning the Pages website include:

Robert Hooke’s Micrographia

Conrad Gesner’s Historiae Animalium

Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Johannes de Ketham’s Fasiculo de Medicina

Physical copies of several of these books, including Hooke, and Vesalius, are held in the collection of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library.

Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian

Upcoming events: Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library

Wonder Bugs vs. Super Drugs: Dr. Jose A. Cadena Zuluaga to speak

Thursday, September 19 at noon

Howe Conference Room, Briscoe Library 5th Floor

Jose A. Cadena Zuluaga, M.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Medical Director, Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology for the South Texas Veterans’ Health Care System, will talk about the struggle to preserve the utility of our antibiotic arsenal.

Dr. Cadena’s lecture is the first in a three part noon lecture series organized by Gregory M. Anstead, M.D., Ph.D., current president of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library.

 

History of Medicine Society: Ron Philo, Ph.D., will talk about the anatomical art of Leonardo DaVinci

Wednesday, September 25, 6:00 p.m.

Howe Conference Room, Briscoe Library 5th Floor

The History of Medicine Society is a newly-formed interest group within the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. The student-led History of Medicine Society meets monthly to discuss the historical development of medicine and the health sciences, and the impact of medicine on society.  Membership is open to everyone who is interested in the history of the health professions.

Ron Philo, Ph.D., retired Senior Lecturer, will speak about The Anatomical Drawings of Leonardo DaVinci at the group’s first fall meeting on September 25.

More than 100 individuals from the campus and the community attended meetings of the History of Medicine Society in 2012-2013.

 

BasilPruittSave the date: Basil A. Pruitt, Jr., M.D. to speak at Annual Meeting of the Friends 

Thursday, November 7, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Old San Francisco Steak House

Basil A. Pruitt, Jr., M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.C.M., will be the guest speaker at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library. The evening’s program, to be held at the Old San Francisco Steak House, will explore a significant chapter in San Antonio’s history, reviewing the treatment innovations developed at the Army Burn Center that have revolutionized care and improved the survival of even massively burned patients.
Dr. Pruitt received his M.D. degree in 1957 from the Tufts University School of Medicine. He was drafted in 1959. Assigned to the U.S. Army Institute for Surgical Research (ISR) at Fort Sam Houston, he completed his residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in 1964 and went on to serve 31 years with the ISR. For 27 of those years, he was its commander and director.

Nixon Dinner InformationComplete information about the Annual Dinner and Presentation, and other activities of the Friends, can be found in the organization’s newsletter:

Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library – Newsletter 2013

Friends of the Nixon Library – Membership and Dinner Reservation Form

Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian

Hunnicutt@uthscsa.edu

Upcoming lecture: Doctors and Dollars May Not Always Be Enough

Dr. Fernando Guerra, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the UT Health Science Center, and recently retired Director of Health for the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, will be the speaker at the 41st Annual Meeting, Dinner and Presentation of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library.  The event will take place Monday, November 7, 2011 at 6:30 p.m. at the Doubletree Airport Hotel.

The topic of Dr. Guerra’s presentation, “Doctors and Dollars May Not Always Be Enough!” will provide the occasion for him to reflect on the health care system, its institutions, professionals, personnel, technology and investments, as well as measurable progress in the delivery of health care over the past forty years. Dr. Guerra will also consider ongoing challenges and opportunities, especially in light of the Affordable Health Care Act.  How is it possible to fill the gaps when doctors and dollars may not be enough?

The Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library invite all those interested in the history of medicine   to an enjoyable evening of good food and conversation.

The cost of attendance is $40/person.  Advance registration is required.  Student attendance is $30 and includes Friends membership.  Opportunities to sponsor student attendees at the dinner are available.

Please RSVP by October 31, 2011:  The registration form should be mailed to Briscoe Library – MSC 7940 UTHSCSA 7703 Floyd Curl Drive, San Antonio, TX 78229-9674.  For more information, contact Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian: Hunnicutt@uthscsa.edu.

Visit the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library: Get acquainted with the book as artifact

Bartisch, Georg, Ophthalmodouleia:das ist, Augendienst. 1583.

Hold the book in your hands, feel its weight, turn its pages, admire its binding and the texture of the paper, breathe in the musty smell of age, delight in the illustrations, read the inscriptions and learn of its provenance.

Only this way, first-hand, can you truly appreciate a great book.

Visit the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library and get to know some of the finest books in the history of medicine, nursing, dentistry and the sciences.

For more information, contact Pennie Borchers, Special Collections Librarian, at Borchers@uthscsa.edu.

Visitors to the Special Collections Reading Room in March

Visitors to the Nixon LibraryJacqueline Rosenkranz and her mother Laura Rosenkranz, M.D., Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, visited the Special Collections Reading Room of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library two times in early March.

On their first visit, Dr. Rosenkranz and Jacqueline looked through the library’s Catalog of Rare Book Treasures to learn about the collection, and to prepare a list of books they wanted to view.  Their list of nine books included Leonardo da Vinci on Movement of the Heart and Blood by Kenneth D. Keele (1952); Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery by Sir Charles Bell (1821); and a 1582 Latin edition of Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine.

Visitors to the Nixon LIbrary

Laura Rosenkranz, M.D. and her daughter Jacqueline visited the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library in early March.

When Jacqueline and Dr. Rosenkranz returned to the library a few days later Mellisa De Thorne, Special Collections Library Assistant, had organized the books so that they could spend the morning examining them.

One of the main differences between the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library and the Briscoe Library general collection is that visitors to the Nixon library need to request that specific books be arranged for viewing by the library staff.  The books must be used in the Special Collections Reading Room, and returned at the end of the visit.

Other visitors to the Nixon library in March included:

  • Big Brothers and Big Sisters– Kipp Academy:  Three mentors and their charges visited on March 5, asking to see “the oldest book in the collection”.
  • Dr. Dan Peavy, D.D.S., M.S.D., from the Department of Developmental Dentistry:  While waiting for a meeting in the Howe Conference Room, he inquired about the library’s orthodontics collection.

The P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library contains more than 5000 rare and historical medical texts dating from the 15th to the early 20th century.  Among its treasures are important works by Vesalius (De Humani Corporis Fabrica– 1543), Albinus (Tables of the Skeleton and Muscles of the Human Body — 1749), Burton (The Anatomy of Melancholy — 1632), and Hooke (Micrographia — 1667).  The oldest book in the collection– the one requested by the visitors from Kipp Academy– is the 1481 edition of De Medicina, written in 30 A.D. by Aulus Cornelius Celsus.  The De Medicina (1481) that is owned by the library was one of the first books to be produced after the invention of the printing press.

The core of the collection of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library was donated to the Health Science Center in the early 1970s by the Bexar County Medical Society.

The library is open to the public, and the staff of the library welcomes visitors.   To schedule an appointment, email SpecialCollections@uthscsa.edu.

Susan Hunnicutt, Special Projects Librarian

What’s in a name? History of Medicine lecture will present an informal approach to “Hispanic” genetics and history

The ten largest Latino population groups in the U.S. by country of origin (based on self-described family ancestry or place of birth). By Permission: Pew Hispanic Center.

Monday, August 8, 12 noon to 1:00 p.m.

Howe Conference Room Briscoe Library

In this noon hour presentation, Dr. Richard F. Ludueña, Ph.D., distinguished Teaching Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, will explore multiple aspects of Hispanic identity in the U.S. “If we start drawing medical conclusions,” he says, “we need to be clear what we are talking about.” 

The talk will move in the direction of a working genetic definition that takes account of the variety of Hispanic populations in the U.S., including Peninsular, Native American, African, and others.

Dr. Ludueña’s lecture is a sponsored activity of the Friends of the P.I. Nixon Medical Historical Library and is open to the public. 

For more information about this event, or about how to become a member of the Friends group, contact Pennie Borchers, Special Collections Librarian, at Borchers@uthscsa.edu.