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 serveral 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 […]

a030307_featue-sharp September 10

Rare Footage of FDR at NIH

By Rebecca C. Warlow On October 31, 1940, just days before President Franklin Delano Roosevelt would be elected to an unprecedented third term as President of the United States, he traveled to Bethesda to dedicate the National Cancer Institute and the new campus of what was then the National Institute of Health (NIH), before it […]

Students seated in front of the "A Voyage to Health" Exhibition banners listen to a man holding up a lai September 04

A Voyage to Health, a Connection to Communities

By Alicia Yanagihara When you think of the National Library of Medicine, what comes to mind? Is it a Polynesian canoe? That definitely wasn’t my first thought either, yet South Pacific seafaring traditions have a connection to the National Library of Medicine. When I found out I would be interning at NLM in the History […]

A woman in a dark overcoat and hat sits on a motercycle on a cobblestone road by a lake. September 02

Dr. Julia Hallam on Pictures of Nursing

Dr. Julia Hallam spoke today at the National Library of Medicine on “Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection.” Dr. Hallam is curator of NLM’s newest exhibition of the same name and a Reader in Film and Media at the University of Liverpool. Circulating Now interviewed her about her work. Circulating Now: Tell us a […]

Compoite image of a postcard featuring a drawing of a Red Cross nurse and the hadwritten back of a postcard set over a map. September 02

Pictures of Nursing: The Zwerdling Postcard Collection

By Erika Mills For over a century, images of nurses and nursing have been featured frequently as the subjects of postcards—so much so that nursing postcards offer a visual history of the profession and shine a light on the cultural values that inform perceptions of nurses. The imagery that decorates these mailers and mementos reflects […]

Still from a black and white film, a priest speaks to a woman in a headscarf. August 26

Medicine, Morality, Faith, and Film

By Sophie Lipman Religion and science, two concepts sometimes viewed as incompatible today, were seen by many in the 1930s and ‘40s as mutually supportive components for promoting the health of Americans. During a time of political and economic calamity—the conflict in Europe, the Depression at home—the nation’s health was threatened as well. Venereal disease, […]

CPBBBZ_feature August 21

Back to School with the Best of ‘Em

By Courtney Jefferies Around this time of the year, many of us, including myself, are preparing to go back to school. Throughout my summer internship in the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine, I have been delving into Profiles in Science—an online collection of historical manuscripts of twentieth century leaders in […]

A group of about 30 women pose in uniform. August 18

A Remarkable Career in Psychiatry

In 2012 Dr. Lucy Ozarin was interviewed at the National Library of Medicine as part of an oral history project related to the US Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED). In honor of our remarkable friend and colleague Circulating Now offers excerpts from that interview today on the occasion of her 100th birthday. Lucy […]

Detail of the title page of Dr. Moore's Journal article. August 15

A Physician’s Perspective on the Russian Flu

In November 1889, a rash of cases of influenza-like-illness appeared in St. Petersburg, Russia. Soon, the “Russia Influenza” spread across Europe and the world. This outbreak is being researched by teams of Virginia Tech students as a case-study of the relationship between the spread of the disease and the spread of reporting about the disease. […]

C05532_Tending-Patients August 13

The 1889 Russian Flu in the News

In November 1889, a rash of cases of influenza-like-illness appeared in St. Petersburg, Russia. Soon, the “Russia Influenza” spread across Europe and the world. This outbreak is being researched by teams of Virginia Tech students as a case-study of the relationship between the spread of the disease and the spread of reporting about the disease. […]

Detail of map of Europe. August 11

Mapping the 1889-1890 Russian Flu

In November 1889, a rash of cases of influenza-like-illness appeared in St. Petersburg, Russia. Soon, the “Russia Influenza” spread across Europe and the world. This outbreak is being researched by teams of Virginia Tech students as a case-study of the relationship between the spread of the disease and the spread of reporting about the disease. […]

French poster warning of danger to sun exposure. August 07

A Call To Action to Prevent Skin Cancer

By Ginny A. Roth   In the fun summer months, it is often difficult to remember that outdoor activities in the hot sun can cause serious damage to the skin. This 1997 French poster, “Le soleil peut être dangereux, travail ou loisirs, protégez-vous” (“The sun can be dangerous, at work or play, protect yourself”), published […]

In front of a wall of masks a man holds one up, facing it in profile. August 05

Plastic Reconstruction of the Face, 1918

One hundred years ago, in August 1914, the powers of Europe embarked upon a calamitous war which resulted in the death, mutilation, and suffering of millions. This silent motion picture fragment from the collection of the National Library of Medicine documents the work of a small workshop in Paris where men with terribly disfiguring facial […]

A vignette photograph of Mary Putnam Jacobi. July 29

The Question of Rest for Women

By Susan Speaker The Question of Rest for Women During Menstruation is an extended version of an essay that won Dr. Jacobi the Harvard Medical School’s esteemed Boylston Prize in 1876. It was a significant event, as Jacobi was the first woman ever to win the competition. Beyond that, however, the book gives us a […]

Intricate woodcut illustration of a man with many wounds. July 22

The “Wound Man” in Two Recent Acquisitions

By Margaret Kaiser The “wound man” was a most popular image, especially in early printed books. Pierced by a variety of weapons, he demonstrated the possible wounds and injuries a physician might be called on to treat. Two of the Library’s recent sixteenth century acquisitions have examples of the “wound man.” The first is from […]

A man in a tie, holding papers, stands in front of a chart showing stages of a process that begins with Mars. July 18

Invasion from Mars? Microbes!

By Gregory Pike Since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, it’s easy to forget there was a time when America’s space program dominated the headlines. Born in the “fires” of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, the U.S. space program became an exciting chapter in the race between […]

A detail of a sketch of people transporting and caring for wounded people outdoors; covered wagons stand in the background. July 15

The Anatomy Acts and the Social Contract

Dr. Dale Smith spoke today at the National Library of Medicine on “Anatomy Acts and the Shaping of the American Medical Profession’s Social Contract.” Dr. Smith is a Professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences Department of Military and Emergency Medicine. Circulating Now interviewed him about his work. Circulating Now: Tell us […]

A shady looking car mechanic grins as he slides out from under Ed's car. July 10

Cartoons, Comedy, and Cancer in 1952

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Blogger David Cantor. Dr. Cantor has published on the histories of cancer, meat, medical film, and the after-life of Hippocrates, the father of medicine. His most recent book, co-edited with Edmund Ramsden, is Stress, Shock, and Adaptation in the Twentieth Century. When in 1952 the American Cancer Society (ACS) released the […]

Illustration from Vesalius's De Fabrica showing Vesalius conducting a dissection for an audience. July 08

Illustrating De Fabrica

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 […]

Colored newspaper illustration of Marie Curie in a lab. July 03

The Revolutionary who Discovered Radium

By Elizabeth Fee Albert Einstein said “I have always admired . . Marie Curie. Not only did she do outstanding work in her lifetime, and not only did she help humanity greatly by her work, but she invested all her work with the highest moral quality. All of this she accomplished with great strength, objectivity, […]

A photo collage of feature images from Circulating Now. July 01

Circulating Now…Full Circle

Today is Circulating Now’s one year anniversary! Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our success in sharing with the world the amazing, diverse, and inspiring historical collections of the world’s largest biomedical library: Our committed staff, who collect, catalog, preserve, and interpret the collection Our brilliant staff authors and guests YOU! ~ our […]

Blue poster for the Gay Men's Health Crisis' HIV hotline. June 27

Take the Test, Take Control

By Ginny A. Roth This 1995 poster, “You Are Not Alone,” from the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), attempts to quell the fear that was, and still is, deeply entrenched in getting tested for HIV. Since 1982, the GMHC has been a leader in HIV prevention, care, and advocacy.  In this poster, they reached out […]

Detail of a poster showing photographs of soccer teams. June 25

Kick Polio out of Nigeria

By Erika Mills During the World Cup, the globe is consumed by The Beautiful Game. Soccer is everywhere—even in public health messages! This poster encouraged parents to have their small children vaccinated against poliomyelitis during the 1998 National Immunization Days in Nigeria. It points out that a healthy child may grow up to play on […]

Three people in business clothes pose in front of a banner that is headed "Microbes" June 19

Hosting AOTUS: David S. Ferriero

By Jeffrey S. Reznick David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States (AOTUS), recently honored the National Library of Medicine with a visit to share his expertise and discuss common challenges and opportunities facing archives today. Mr. Ferriero oversees the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), “the nation’s record keeper” of an astonishingly diverse and […]

Antibiotics don't work on colds. June 17

Losing the Miracle?

Maryn McKenna spoke today at the National Library of Medicine on “Losing the Miracle? Agriculture, the FDA, and the Controversy over Farm Antibiotics.” Ms. McKenna was recently named recipient of the 2013 Byron H. Waksman Award for Excellence in the Public Communication of Life Sciences and finalist for a James Beard Foundation Award. Circulating Now […]

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

Ground-Breaking Reflections: Melvin R. Laird

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 the Armed Forces […]

Book cover illustration of an ambulance. June 10

(Re)Discovering The Great War

By Simon Chaplin and Jeffrey S. Reznick Commemorations of the centenary anniversary of World War I have begun in countries around the world. For the next four years, and probably a few beyond that, interest in the “war to end all wars” will reach a height not seen since the fiftieth anniversary of the conflict. […]

Surgeons operate under a tent while soldiers in fatigues look on. June 06

Dr. Swan writes from Normandy, 1944

By Susan Speaker “Operation Overlord”—the invasion of France’s Normandy coast that began on June 6, 1944—was the largest amphibious military operation in the history of warfare, and the turning point for the Allied Forces in World War II. Among the thousands of troops that waded onto the beaches, there were over forty surgical teams from […]

A man sits at a table looking into a microscope. June 04

How To…See with the Microscope

By Michael Sappol Microscopy was the coming thing in late 19th-century medicine. If you were an ambitious doctor, no matter what your field of interest, you probably wanted to own a good microscope, and apply it to the questions at hand. What do the structures of human and non-human bodies look like? How does that […]

Banner for Confessions of a Teenage Aspie blog. May 30

Autism and Alzheimer’s on the Web

By Maureen Harlow Capturing websites and keeping copies of them for the future to represent how they looked and what they said at a certain moment in time (“web collecting”) is an important activity for cultural heritage institutions because so much of our lives is now conducted online. Whereas in earlier decades, people regularly kept […]

A carved stone plaque featuring an American with the dates 1917 and 1918 to either side and In Memory beneath.. May 26

The Spirit of Memorial Day

By Kenneth M. Koyle The origin of the Memorial Day observance in America is disputed, with several states and communities claiming primacy as the first to hold an official celebration or first to place a holiday on the books, but we know that it began in the years following the U.S. Civil War. Decoration Day, […]

Clyde Snow, back to the camera, presents images of physical evidence in a trial. May 22

Remembering Clyde Snow, 1928–2014

By Erika Mills and Elizabeth A. Mullen Poring over bones left in mass graves and clandestine burial sites, seeking answers that might shed light on some of the darkest episodes in recent history, Clyde Snow made it his life’s work to unearth the truth. The celebrated forensic anthropologist exhumed and examined the skeletal remains of […]

Three men in suits look at a report during the President's Commission on Heart Disease Cancer and Stroke. May 13

“you are going to find the answers”

By Sarah Eilers Regional Medical Programs You have, among you, some of the great doctors, some of the great public servants of our time. And somehow, some way, sometime, you are going to find the answers…. With these words 50 years ago, in the spring of 1964, President Lyndon Baines Johnson asked Congress and the […]

In a room filled with a chaos of bleeding and bandaged soldiers, a woman comforts a bandaged man lying on a cot. May 12

The Lady Who Became a Nurse

By Elizabeth Fee and Mary E. Garofalo Florence Nightingale was born on May 12, 1820 of wealthy British parents who expected her to do all the things young ladies of her class did: to spend much of her time in the drawing room entertaining her sister or her friends; to take occasional rides in carriages, […]

A tray of labeled plastic tubes with snap on caps. May 08

Bacterial Sex: A building block for biotech

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Bloggers Diane Wendt and Mallory Warner from the Division of Medicine and Science at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History back for a final post in this series. As curators of our recent exhibition, From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry, Diane and Mallory spent months researching […]

Nurse May 06

Nurses—The Heart of Healing

By Ginny A. Roth  Nursing is an art: and if it is to be made an art, it requires an exclusive devotion as hard a preparation, as any painter’s or sculptor’s work; for what is the having to do with dead canvas or dead marble, compared with having to do with the living body, the […]

Two patients in smocks, one standing, one seated on the floor, in a hallway lined with barred metal doors. May 01

Tearing Down the Walls in Mental Health Care

By Susan Speaker May is Mental Health Month, an annual opportunity to raise public awareness about mental health problems and reduce the stigma associated with mental illness through advocacy and education. For the history-minded, it’s also a chance to see how much things have changed since the first Mental Health Week was observed, back in […]

A metal plack mounted on a stone that marks the significance of the NLM's Hippocrates tree. April 25

Planting the Tree of Hippocrates

By Stephen Greenberg Just a few hours ago, on a bright, windy day in Bethesda, MD, a group of dignitaries and guests gathered in front of the National Library of Medicine to plant a tree. The dignitaries included Dr. Lawrence A. Tabak, Principal Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Health; Mr. F. Anthony Clifford, […]

Illustration of a cartoon-character mosquito sitting on a pillow on what appears to be an Army bed. April 25

World Malaria Day

By Ginny A. Roth Every year on April 25th the world commemorates the global effort to control malaria by recognizing World Malaria Day, instituted by World Health Organization (WHO) Member States during the World Health Assembly of 2007. This year’s theme, “Invest in the Future. Defeat Malaria,” supports the organization’s goal for nations to solidify their […]

Nine young professionals pose at the Lister Hill Center at the National Library of Medicine. April 22

Emerging Trends in Digital Stewardship

Sharing new projects and experiences in digital stewardship was the theme of a recent National Digital Stewardship Resident (NDSR) symposium “Emerging Trends in Digital Stewardship,” held in NLM’s Lister Hill Auditorium. Throughout the day-long event the residents moderated panel presentations and guided lively discussions on a wide range of topics in digital preservation and digital […]

An illustration of a baby. January 22

A Peek at Some Pamphlets

By Shannon Lu Every year, with half the school year behind them, high school and college students begin to fret about summer plans, jobs, and internships.  I am currently a sophomore at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, pursuing a double major in Economics and Computer Science and a minor in Russian, and I was fortunate enough […]

Diseases of the Army. By Sir John Pringle, Bart. Late Physician extraordinary to the King, and Physician in ordinary to the Queen of Great Britain. January 15

Sir John Pringle, MD and the Origins of Modern Military Medicine

Dr. Stephen Craig spoke today at the National Library of Medicine on “Sir John Pringle, MD, Early Scottish Enlightenment Thought & the Origins of Modern Military Medicine.” Dr. Craig is an Assistant Professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine. Circulating Now interviewed him about his work. […]

6951 Penicillin Lab History of Pharmacy featured image November 19

From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine and Industry

By Erika Mills For some, the word “biotechnology” conjures images like super crops and cloned sheep—things created in a laboratory by manipulating DNA. While many equate biotechnology with genetic engineering and contemporary advancements in science, the practice of using organisms and biological processes as tools to make products like foods and medicines—biotechnology at its core—is […]

Word cloud in which influenza, chicago, warning, close, and disease, figure prominantly November 05

Exploring Chicago’s Spanish Flu of 1918

Circulating Now welcomes Guest Blogger E. Thomas 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’s recent research in the historical collections of the National Library of Medicine includes new methods of analyzing textual information. Professor Ewing is the […]

Detail of the title page of President Garfield's autopsy report stamped Surgeon General's Library. September 20

“The President is Somewhat Restless…”: Aftermath

By Jeffrey S. Reznick and Lenore Barbian The Beginning of the End While the ocean air of Elberon initially caused some improvement in Garfield’s condition, and he was delighted to be near the sea, he eventually took a turn for the worse, complaining of chills, fever, a troublesome cough, and weakness. The bulletins of his […]

garfield stands wounded while others help support him and apprehend the assasin July 02

“The President is somewhat restless…”

By Jeffrey S. Reznick and Lenore Barbian Reenacting the Summer of 1881, and the Days Following the Assassination of President James A. Garfield One-hundred and thirty-two years ago today—on July 2, 1881—the 20th president of the United States, James A. Garfield, entered the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station in Washington, DC to board a train […]


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