A dentist puts his hand on a boy’s shoulder. March 03

“Come with me, into the visual instruction room”

By Michael Sappol A dentist invites a young boy: “Come with me, into the visual instruction room.” And with this, Ask Your Dentist, a silent dental film from around 1930 and a recent addition to NLM’s Medical Movies on Web, stages a cinematic revue of instructional techniques and tactics. In the course of 13 minutes […]

Two figures in white uniforms and on skis, carry an injured patient on a strectcher through the snow covered landscape. February 24

Winter Wounds, Paper Dressing

By Sarah Eilers It’s a black and white film, but it’s the white that overwhelms. A carpet of snow beneath Nordic pines, white uniforms head-to-toe, white planks used to construct a horse-drawn ambulance sleigh. Soon enough, an explosion, and the rising of white-clad figures from snow-covered foxholes, rifles at the ready. What is this? With […]

A group of people, black and white, men and women, in suits and dresses march under a banner reading Medical Committee for Civil Rights February 18

The History of Race in Randomized Controlled Trials

Laura E. Bothwell spoke today at the National Library of Medicine in recognition of African American History Month on “The History of Race in Randomized Controlled Trials: Ethical and Policy Considerations.”  Dr. Bothwell is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Medical School, Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Circulating Now interviewed her about her work. Circulating Now: Tell […]

A Valentine Message February 13

A Valentine Message

By Elizabeth A. Mullen Valentine’s Day has a complex and debated history.  A Valentine as a term of endearment has been traced back to Chaucer’s time in the Middle Ages while our current tradition of giving printed paper Valentines began in 18th century England.  By the Victorian era it was a wildly popular practice and […]

Mother and child, Nepal February 11

Global Healing

By Ginny A. Roth “I have always been drawn to people and have sought to see them compassionately and with understanding through the lens of my eyes, my heart and soul as well as the lens of my camera.” – Patricia Gallinek Serving in many roles such as caregiver, decision maker, patient advocate, and teacher, […]

Detail of the Hippocratic Oath in Greek characters. February 06

Aldus Manutius and Early Medical Humanist Publishing

By Michael North Today marks the 500th anniversary of the death of one of the most important figures in the printing of early Humanist texts in Greek and Latin: Aldus Manutius (1449 or 1450–February 6, 1515). His press in Venice produced many of the first and most important editions of ancient texts in an easily […]

An illustration of the anatomy of the face done in several translucent colored layers. January 28

The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate

Michael Sappol spoke today at the National Library of Medicine on “The Apotheosis of the Dissected Plate: Spectacles of Layering and Transparency in 19th- and 20th-Century Anatomy.” Dr. Sappol is a historian in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine and editor of NLM’s Hidden Treasure and Dream Anatomy. Circulating Now […]

A young man in a lab coat and plastic gloves holds up a glass tube in a laboratory. January 21

Deciphering the Genetic Code: A 50 Year Anniversary

By Christie Moffatt Fifty years ago, on January 18, 1965, Dr. Marshall W. Nirenberg (1927–2010) completed his first summary of the genetic code—one of the most significant documents in the history of twentieth-century science—a painstaking, handwritten chart of the discovery of how sequences of DNA, known as “triplets,” direct the assembly of amino acids into […]

A photograph of a nurse wearing a surgical mask and a list of tips "to prevent influenza" January 15

Influenza Precautions, Then and Now

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Blogger Tom Ewing, Professor of History and Associate Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.  Professor Ewing offers a comparison of health recommendations during the Spanish Influenza epidemic of 1918 and today.      On October 18, 1918, the Illustrated Current […]

A hand colored illustration of a stork holding a snake in its beak. January 08

Early Studies of Animals

By Michael J. North Some of the oldest materials in the historical collections of the National Library of Medicine are on the subject of natural history and describe the vast diversity of plant and animal life. These natural history texts document the development of thought and investigation into the biological sciences, which contributed significantly to […]

Document headed by a cartoon of a man in a breathing mask kicking a black robed skeleton. January 06

John F. Fulton’s Aeromedical Research

By James Labosier A new archival collection, The John F. Fulton papers (1929–1953),  is now available at the National Library of Medicine for those interested in World War II military and aviation history and particularly the effects of flight on health. John F. Fulton (1899–1960), born in St. Paul, Minnesota, was an internationally renowned physiologist, specializing with […]

Woodcut vesalius portrait with confetti December 31

Happy Birthday, Andreas Vesalius!

By Michael J. North Today we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Andreas Vesalius (December 31, 1514–October 15, 1564), one of the most celebrated physicians of the early modern era. Over the past year in a series of posts, we have looked at many facets of his life, death, publishing, and the way […]

Christmas-Dinner_feature December 27

Christmas in Wartime: a formal dinner in cap and apron

By Jeffrey S. Reznick One-hundred years ago this week, Mary Dexter wrote to her mother, Emily Loud Sanford, about her experiences as a volunteer with the British Red Cross at the American Women’s War Relief Hospital in Paignton, South Devon. Christmas was approaching as Dexter and the other staff of the hospital braced themselves for […]

American Women's War Relief Hospital, Oldway, Paignton, a large columned building with a large paved courtyard. December 25

Christmas in Wartime: You should have heard the shouts

By Jeffrey S. Reznick One-hundred years ago this week, Mary Dexter wrote to her mother, Emily Loud Sanford, about her experiences as a volunteer with the British Red Cross at the American Women’s War Relief Hospital in Paignton, South Devon. Christmas was approaching as Dexter and the other staff of the hospital braced themselves for […]

1937 Christmas Seals December 24

Season’s Greetings

By Ginny A. Roth   The name Emily Bissell may not strike a chord with most people, but you can thank her for introducing colorful and festive Christmas Seals to the United States that have been produced every year since 1907. This Christmas Seal from 1937 marked the 30th year that the seals were produced, […]

Arrival-of-Wounded-at-Paddington-Station_feature December 23

Christmas in Wartime: gauze stockings for 200 men

By Jeffrey S. Reznick One-hundred years ago this week, Mary Dexter wrote to her mother, Emily Loud Sanford, about her experiences as a volunteer with the British Red Cross at the American Women’s War Relief Hospital in Paignton, South Devon. Christmas was approaching as Dexter and the other staff of the hospital braced themselves for […]

Mary Dexter in a nurses uniform posing in a columned portico. December 22

Christmas in Wartime: Mary Dexter and the Great War

By Jeffrey S. Reznick One-hundred years ago this week, Mary Dexter wrote to her mother, Emily Loud Sanford, about her experiences as a volunteer with the British Red Cross at the American Women’s War Relief Hospital in Paignton, South Devon. Christmas was approaching as Dexter and the other staff of the hospital braced themselves for […]

A group of men sit talking in a reserved section at the front of an auditorium holding programs. December 18

Thomas C. Chalmers: Clinical Research Pragmatist

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Blogger Laura E. Bothwell, a postdoctoral fellow in Health Policy, Law, and Ethics in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Harvard Medical School.  Recently, Laura’s research brought her to NLM to consult the Thomas C. Chalmers’ Papers held in the archives of the Library’s History of Medicine Division, for details about Dr. Chalmers’ role […]

Faint signatures. December 16

NLM’s Unique De Fabrica

By Michael J. North and Laura Hartman This year we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) who is best known for changing how we do medical research with his groundbreaking book, De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (Seven Chapters on the Structure of the Human Body), published in 1543 and […]

A cross sectional drawing of a house showing its sanitation systems. December 11

Dangers to Health in Our Own Home, 1877

NLM historian Michael Sappol was a recent guest blogger at The Ultimate History Project.   The post explores a whimsically illustrated and persuasive Victorian era pamphlet, Dangers to Health in Our Own Home (1877), by T. Pridgin Teale (1831–1923), an eminent British surgeon. Sappol explains: “Teale sought to educate ‘the public in the details of […]

Insulin now part of the plasmid is returned to the bacteria. December 09

Partners in Illuminating Science

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Blogger Aline Lin,  co-founder and principal of Link Studio, an interactive design and medical illustration company.  Aline worked with the Exhibition Program to bring our recent exhibition, From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry, to the web. Collaboration with the Exhibition Program at the National Library of Medicine […]

A simple bar graph style chart titled American War Deaths and ranking deaths from various wars in comparison to AIDS deaths, with AIDS at 319,849 (through 1995) and World War Two at 291,557. December 01

Surviving and Thriving: The Making of an Exhibition

Dr. Jennifer Brier spoke today at the National Library of Medicine on “Surviving and Thriving: The Making of an Exhibition.” Dr. Brier is director of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Circulating Now interviewed her about her work. Circulating Now: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? […]

A cartoon of a man lying in a bed labeled home. November 26

Thanksgiving DeLuxe, 1918

By Jeffrey S. Reznick and Elizabeth A. Mullen Between 1918 and 1919, across twenty-one states and the District of Columbia, dozens of military hospitals and related institutions produced official in-house magazines, or “house organs,” as they were frequently called at the time. Endorsed by the Surgeon General’s Office, these publications were brought to life by […]

Illustrations of two birds from a Danish edition of the Origin of Species. November 24

First editions of Darwin’s Origin of Species

By Margaret Kaiser On November 24, 1859, Charles Darwin’s On the origin of species by means of natural selection… was published in London. From the beginning, the book was popular and the first edition sold out on the first day. The Origin is Darwin’s great work and considered to be one of the most important […]

Interior view of a trolley or train car, where a man is smoking and causing considerable discomfort among the other passengers November 20

What’s Your Quit Day?

By Ginny A. Roth For nearly 42 million Americans, smoking is a hard habit to break.  The American Cancer Society (ACS) calls tobacco use the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the United States, yet for most smokers, quitting seems an unattainable goal. The public areas in which individuals are permitted […]

Colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealing some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion.Photo Credit: Frederick Murphy November 19

Future Historical Collections: Archiving the 2014 Ebola Outbreak

By Christie Moffatt When future researchers look back at the current Ebola outbreak, what resources will they want to explore?  What will they want to know?  Of the news and information about Ebola that is created and shared digitally over the web, what will remain to be examined one, ten, or even fifty years from […]

A complex hand drawn and colored chart labeled in Asian script and featuring many small boxes filled with text and stylized illustrations of a long green snake and a man with a snakes body holding a round red object in his hand. November 13

Mongolian Manuscript comes to Turning the Pages

By Michael J. North The latest addition to the Turning the Pages collection is a Mongolian manuscript entitled, Manual of Astrology and Divination. This colorfully illustrated handwritten book is part of the National Library of Medicine’s collection of about 50 manuscripts from Mongolia, many of them dealing with astrology, astronomy, and divination from a Buddhist […]

John Galsworthy seated at a writing desk reviewing a document, left profile. November 10

The Sacred Work: Galsworthy’s Advocacy for WWI Veterans

By Jeffrey S. Reznick This Veterans Day is the first to occur during the four-year centenary anniversary of World War I. As media outlets feature stories about medical care and philanthropic support provided to men and women who have sustained permanent injury through military service in recent wars, we have an opportunity to look back […]

A photograph of a doctor and patient and four others. Names of all but the patient are handwritten on the photograph. November 05

Antibiotic Pasts and Futures

Dr. Scott Podolsky spoke today at the National Library of Medicine on “Antibiotic Pasts and Futures: Seven Decades of Reform and Resistance.” Dr. Podolsky is director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine. Circulating Now interviewed him about his work. Circulating Now: Tell us a little about […]

One lamb chop and a single pea on a plate. November 03

The Story of Wendy Hill

By Sarah Eilers The Story of Wendy Hill, 1949 A “fine and wholesome” young woman, newly married, steps into the street below the office where she works as a secretary in small-town Greendale. A car appears and slows to a stop. She looks, pauses, then hurries into the road. Suddenly a truck barrels toward her, […]

Medical Costume Greek Physician October 31

Costume Conundrum?

By Ginny A. Roth   Still looking for a costume idea for Halloween?  You have a few hours left to make this important decision. There’s always the option of going as the ubiquitous vampire.  Or you can grab a cape and dress as one of the many super-heroes protecting our streets during the scariest night of the year.  […]

A woodcut illustration of the sarsaparilla plant including leaves and roots. October 29

The First Medical Book Printed in the New World

By Michael J. North Just over thirty years after the first printing press arrived in the New World from Spain, the first medical book was printed in Mexico City: Francisco Bravo’s Opera Medicinalia, published by Pedro Ocharte in 1570. While it is well within NLM’s mission to collect, preserve and give the world access to […]

Promotional image for Kellogg's Pep. October 27

Pure Food: FDA Notices of Judgment

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Blogger Dr. Suzanne Junod, a historian in the FDA History Office. In celebration of the completion of NLM’s digital archive of court case summaries published as the Food and Drugs Act Notices of Judgment, Dr. Junod offers a brief history of U.S. food and drug regulation and a use case for […]

A line drawing of a crossection of a cow's skull. October 22

How To… Kill Animals Humanely

By Michael Sappol Is empathy innate? Are we all born with the ability to identify with the emotions of others, to feel someone else’s pain? Today’s media is chock full of stories about experiments in neuroscience and child psychology that seem to show that the emergence and growth of the ability to empathize is a […]

A book in Latin open to the title page showing handwritten Latin on the opposite page. October 15

The Death of Andreas Vesalius

By Michael J. North This year we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) who is best known for changing how we do medical research with his groundbreaking book, De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (Seven Chapters on the Structure of the Human Body), published in 1543 and generally known as […]

A woman holding a newborn sits by a woman lying in a bed. October 09

Midwives of St. Croix

By Alexsandra Mitchell Documents within the American College of Nurse-Midwives archival collection in the National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine Division address the importance and history of the midwifery and nurse-midwife traditions. In this collection are a handful of items providing a unique Caribbean context for this subject; specifically the history of midwifery in […]

hand colored illustrations of a cactus in bloom and an insect on a cactus. October 08

Early Latin American Medicine in the NLM Collections

Michael J. North spoke today at the National Library of Medicine in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month on “Early Latin American Medicine in the NLM Collections.” Mr. North is Head of Rare Books and Early Manuscripts in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine. Circulating Now interviewed him about his work. […]

a013679_feature October 07

Male Midwives in Ethiopia

By Alexsandra Mitchell This photograph from our Images from the History of Medicine database (IHM), is one of many gems in our collection.  This 1960s image shows a class of male medical assistants being trained in the sacred art of midwifery by Margaret Mitchell at the Haile Selassie Public Health College and Training Center in […]

A halftone reproduction of an etching of Einstein. October 02

Einstein: The Shy Genius

By Elizabeth Fee Once Einstein became famous, people would stop him in the street and cry out: “Professor Einstein!” He would say; “Oh yes, many people tell me I look just like him,” and walk on by. After his Nobel Prize, he was constantly being asked to speak in public and accept various awards. He […]

Recruitment poster for graduate nurses. September 30

National Library of Medicine Now Part of The Commons on Flickr

By Ginny A. Roth   The National Library of Medicine is pleased to announce its partnership with Flickr as a new member of The Commons.  Public domain images from the History of Medicine Division’s historical collections are now accessible through The Commons on Flickr via a photostream, where visitors are encouraged to contribute information about images by adding comments and […]

A detail from a diary hadwritten in pencil. September 25

A Mystery in Manuscripts

By James Labosier Among the History of Medicine’s manuscript collections rests a small group of letters and diaries from Army Surgeon Jonathan Letterman. However, these papers, donated to the Library in 1924 by Dr. Joseph T. Smith, Jr., a Baltimore physician and Letterman’s nephew, include two diaries which Letterman did not write. There is some […]

A sheet of three identical stamps featuring a reproduction of the portrait of Vesalius from his De Fabrca. September 23

Andreas Vesalius in Stamps

By Michael J. North This year we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the birth of Andreas Vesalius (1514–1564) who is best known for changing how we do medical research with his groundbreaking book, De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem (Seven Chapters on the Structure of the Human Body), published in 1543 and generally known as […]

Poster of Alaska Native teenager jumping in a gymnasium September 19

Actively Fighting Childhood Obesity

By Ginny A. Roth   The rise in childhood obesity has been growing at an alarming rate. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Although steps need to be taken year–round to prevent childhood obesity, special […]

Detail of a large paper chart constructed of several pages taped together, handwritten in several colors of ink. September 16

Preserving Nirenberg’s Genetic Code Chart

By Kristi Wright and Holly Herro The National Library of Medicine is home to a series of very important documents in scientific history—Marshall Nirenberg’s Genetic Code Charts. The charts contain original, handwritten data from experiments that determined how protein sequence was dictated by the sequence of precursor ribonucleic acids (RNAs). Conservators at NLM have been […]

A crossection of a torso illustrated with industrial scenes labeled in German. September 12

A Poster to Pittsburgh

By Stephen Greenberg As a rule, items are included in the NLM’s History of Medicine Division collection because of their medical or, more broadly, their scientific significance.  But the boundaries between science and art have always been porous, and an exhibition loan request from an art museum is not unusual. Recently, we were contacted by […]

A concept sketch of the unbuilt National Library of Medicine June 12

Ground-Breaking Reflections: Melvin R. Laird

By Jeffrey Reznick During the sunny and warm afternoon of June 12, 1959, dignitaries gathered on the campus of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to break ground for the National Library of Medicine (NLM). It was only a few years earlier that legislation proposed the transfer of the Library, then known as […]

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