Glass slide with color image of a nightmare. April 20

Illuminating St. Elizabeths at the National Building Museum

Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger Sarah A. Leavitt, Curator at the National Building Museum. Her latest exhibition Architecture of an Asylum: St. Elizabeths 1852-2017 includes materials on loan from NLM historical collections. They had me at “Nightmare Turtle.” The National Library of Medicine has a robust collection of scholarly books and fascinating pamphlets. But what […]

Detail of a handwritten page of a book titled: a wound drink. April 13

Digitizing Material Culture: Handwritten Recipe Books, 1600–1900

By John Rees Cookbooks and recipe books have always been popular with students of history and family genealogy. They are tangible artifacts of past lives lived that we can often trace back directly to our immediate or distant relatives offering a historical window perhaps even into dishes and remedies we still use today or fondly […]

Three nurses and a dog pose wear white with the red cross symbol outside a red cross tent. April 06

World War I Centenary Forum: A Call to Service

Ginny A. Roth, will speak at 2 PM ET today, April 6 in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium on “A Call to Service: Women Represented in American Red Cross Posters and Postcards During World War I” as part of the Library’s World War I Centenary Forum. Circulating Now interviewed her about her work. Circulating Now: […]

A group of nurses pose in a city. April 05

World War I Centenary Forum: The Frances Dupuy Fletcher Photo Album

Stephen J. Greenberg, will speak at 2 PM ET on April 6 in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium on “The Frances Dupuy Fletcher Photo Album” as part of the Library’s World War I Centenary Forum. Circulating Now interviewed him about his work. Circulating Now: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? […]

A bearded man holds a mask by his face. April 04

World War I Centenary Forum: Masking Devastation

Sarah Eilers, will speak at 2 PM ET on April 6 in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium on “Masking Devastation: Inside Anna Ladd’s Paris Studio” as part of the Library’s World War I Centenary Forum. Circulating Now interviewed her about her work. Circulating Now: Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? […]

The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World War April 03

World War I Centenary Forum: Stories from the NLM Collections

By Jeffrey S. Reznick and Anne Rothfeld One hundred years ago, on April 2, 1917, US President Woodrow Wilson spoke to the US Congress requesting a declaration of war against Germany, arguing that “the world must be made safe for democracy.”  Four days later, on April 6, Congress declared war on Germany and her allies. […]

Woman with glasses screaming March 30

LSD: Insight or Insanity?, 1968

Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger Erika Dyck, PhD, Professor and Canada Research Chair in the History of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. Today, Dr. Dyck shares some insights on a recently digitized film in the Library’s collection highlighted in our Medical Movies on the Web project. For Rebels, it’s a Kick… It’s the late […]

Faye Abdullah holds a plaque next to Koop, in uniform, in an office in front of flags. March 24

Faye Glenn Abdellah: Nurse, Officer, Educator

By Douglas Atkins In honor of Women’s History Month, Circulating Now pays tribute today, to Rear Admiral and Nurse, Dr. Faye Glenn Abdellah, Ed.D., LL.D., Sc.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. who died last month at the age of 97. At a time when Flag Officership among health care professionals within the uniformed services remained strictly the purview […]

Detail the edge painting image. March 22

Art on the Edge

By Ken Koyle, Ginny Roth, and Krista Stracka Hedley Vicars was not a war hero. He was not a renowned strategist or tactician; his presence on the battlefield did not strike fear in the hearts of his enemies. In fact, Captain Hedley Vicars was killed by a Russian musket ball during his first direct combat […]

March 16

Michael E. DeBakey and the National Library of Medicine

George P. Noon, MD, and Shelley McKellar, PhD will give the inaugural Michael E. DeBakey Lecture on March 21, 2017 at 2:00 ET in the Lister Hill Auditorium at the National Library of Medicine. Today, Circulating Now presents an interview with Dr. Noon. George P. Noon is the Meyer-DeBakey Chair in Investigative Surgery and Professor […]

Detail from a manuscript book in German with figures depicting cirles and celestial orbits in red and black ink. March 14

A Piece of Pi: Historical Perspectives from NLM

By Kenneth M. Koyle and Jeffrey S. Reznick Today is Pi Day, the internationally-recognized event when communities of various disciplines come together to celebrate the importance and significance of the Greek letter π, the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant—the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter—which is approximately 3.14159. […]

Debakey, in a doctor's coat stands between the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. March 09

“Intentional Impact:” The Legacy of Michael E. DeBakey

Shelley McKellar, PhD and George P. Noon, MD, will give the inaugural Michael E. DeBakey Lecture on March 21, 2017 at 2:00 ET in the Lister Hill Auditorium at the National Library of Medicine. Today, Circulating Now presents an interview with Dr. McKellar. Shelley McKellar is the Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of […]

March 01

Sitting by the Fireside: African American History, Women’s History, and Food

Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger, Psyche Williams-Forson, PhD. Dr. Williams-Forson is an associate professor and chair, Department of American Studies, University of Maryland-College Park and the guest curator of NLM’s exhibition, Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America. Leaving the month of February, when we celebrate Black History Month, and entering March, when […]

A bar chart shows percentages by age. February 27

Protection or Poison? The Fluoride Debate in Film

By Sarah Eilers Fluoride, a pedestrian topic? You may not think of it as an agitating one, or a source of community division and debate. Your tap water likely includes fluoride, as does your toothpaste. Your dentist may rub it onto your teeth after a cleaning. But the introduction of fluoride into public water supplies […]

A map of the continental United States with blue dots. February 21

The Power of Aggregation

By John Rees We all appreciate the convenience of the modern shopping experience. Who doesn’t love visiting a local farmer’s market on a Saturday morning to browse all the variety of local produce and meats from nearby farms, or logging in to your favorite online shopping site to find that perfect shoe for a fancy […]

An illustratration of a man bowing to a woman under a canopy in the desert in silhouette. February 14

The Lay of the Lonesome Lung, 1881

By Krista Stracka Since the end December, the aisles of most drug stores have been awash in red and pink products in anticipation of today, Valentine’s Day, a holiday often expressed through gift-giving—a retailer’s favorite tradition. The flood of love-themed commercials, advertisements, circulars, billboards, and clickbait pour in on every side through today hopeful to […]

Men in scrubs lift a person onto a stability board while others watch. February 07

Collaboration and Curation

Loren Miller, PhD, will speak at 2 PM on February 14 at the NIH Natcher Conference Center on “Collaboration and Curation: Creating the Exhibition Collaboration and Care.” Dr. Miller is guest curator of NLM’s exhibition Physician Assistants: Collaboration and Care and a Curatorial Assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. […]

Cover of the coloring book from the National Library of Medicine February 06

Color Our Collections – National Library of Medicine

By Ginny A. Roth In 2016, The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) launched a week-long, international, social media coloring event called, #ColorOurCollections, providing historical and cultural institutions the opportunity to share images from their collections in a new and interactive way. Inspired by the recent adult coloring book trend, the event allows participating institutions […]

Late 19th century advertisement for Dr. Seth Arnold's Cough Killer, featuring a little girl holding a dog. February 01

Cough Killer’s Secret Ingredient

By Ginny A. Roth Whereas the statement from Dr. Seth Arnold Medical Company on this late 19th century advertisement, “we are all liable to catch a cold at any moment” is true, the makers of Dr. Seth Arnold’s Cough Killer do not explicitly describe how the medicine will cure consumers of their ailments. This innocently-illustrated […]

A four story brick building with a covered porch on a wide dirt road and a wooden stockade fence to one side. January 26

Behind the Scenes on Mercy Street

Circulating Now readers recently learned about a unique register of patients from Mansion House Hospital dating from the 1860s and 1870s, which NLM holds in its collections alongside many other materials from that era, and about our exhibitions that helped to mark the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Today, we feature an interview with […]

Enlarged view of patient record page with Mansion House Hospital heading. January 19

Mercy Street’s Mansion House Hospital

By Stephen J. Greenberg Mercy Street, the popular PBS series now entering its second season, tells the complicated story of a U.S. Army hospital during the American Civil War.  The story is told from many points of view: doctors, nurses, soldiers, patients, including such usually under-represented groups as escaped slaves (“contraband,” as they were called) […]

A banner reading "UUU are Great Marshall" hung in a hallway. January 12

Molecular Biology Behind the Blackboard

By Paul Theerman Originally published in Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine, 2011. The photograph is dramatic, more dramatic in its own way than the famous one of James Watson and Francis Crick. Like that photograph, this one portrays two young scientists in the throes—the joys—of collaboration. The names are not as well known: […]

A teacher reviews a classroom's vaccination status on a blackboard. January 05

The Road to Health and Happiness, 1937

By Sarah Eilers The road to abundant life is not hard to follow and it is not expensive. So we are told in the opening frames of the 1937 silent film The Road to Health and Happiness, produced by Salem, Oregon dentist and filmmaker David Bennett Hill. Mental as well as physical habits are key. […]

Caricature of food consumption; two men and a woman eating ice cream. December 29

Sup on a Syllabub

By Anne Rothfeld Want an intriguing dessert from the past to satisfy your present day holiday palate? Serve the syllabub: a cream-based treat, mixed with sweet wine and lemon juice, then whipped with cream until frothy, and garnished with a seasonal herb. The acids, which rise from the lemons to firm the cream, then separate […]

The decorative cover of a hardback book, green with a holly-like decorative border. December 23

Mr. Kris Kringle, 1893

By Margaret Kaiser It is Christmas eve, a Christmas with no presents and the loss of the family home, until a surprising visitor appears… Mr. Kris Kringle is the charming and sentimental story of a young family reunited at Christmas through the intercession of a mysterious visitor.  It was written by Silas Weir Mitchell to […]

A nurse in dark goggles sits by a patient lying with skin exposed to a bright electric light. December 20

Don’t be SAD: A Very Brief History of Light Therapy

By Michael Sappol As December 21, the shortest day of the year approaches, when the gray and dark is at its height and golden sunshine is scarce, it’s easy to feel gloomy. Doctors have a diagnosis for that, Seasonal Affective Disorder (conveniently acro­nymed as “SAD”), a name coined in the 1980s by Norman E. Rosenthal, […]

The Cry for Help title still. December 14

The Cry for Help, 1962

By Sarah Eilers Fifty years ago, renowned American documentary filmmaker George C. Stoney made a series of short training films tackling a tough topic:  how police respond to people who are mentally ill, suicidal, or alcoholic, how to do so more effectively, and why the officers should care. One film in that series, The Cry […]

A man receives an award before a room full of people in formal dress. December 09

Celebrating the Nobel Prize

By Christie Moffatt The Nobel Prize Award Ceremony takes place tomorrow, December 10, in Stockholm, Sweden, as it does each year, on the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death. These prestigious international awards recognize outstanding achievements in chemistry, economics, literature, peace, physics, and physiology or medicine. On this exciting occasion, and in the spirit of celebrating […]

A pass of heavy paper or cloth with grommets at the corners. December 06

A Nurse’s Scrapbook from The Great War

By Stephen J. Greenberg Anniversaries can be funny things. As we observe (“celebrate” somehow seems wrong in the context) the 100th anniversary of the First World War, it’s not always easy to pick a precise date to mark. What day, exactly, did the war begin? Was it June 28, 1914, the day the Archduke Franz […]

Drawing of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. December 01

Trade Cards in The Fight Against AIDS

By Ginny A. Roth     World AIDS Day is an international observance held on December 1st each year and an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV, and to commemorate those who have died. World AIDS Day was the first ever global […]

November 29

A Book Unfinished: Paracelsus in Hand-Press Sheets

By Stephen J. Greenberg Books today, as physical objects, have reached a very odd place in our consciousness. Readers are increasingly offered books (or at least texts—there is a difference: books are physical objects; texts are their intellectual contents) in a bewildering array of electronic alternatives. Print (on paper) is dead, we are told, at […]

Congressman Laird pauses to chat with Dr. James A. Shannon, Director of the National Institutes of Health, in front of the NIH Administration Building. November 18

Remembering Melvin R. Laird, 1922–2016

By Jeffrey Reznick The NLM’s History of Medicine Division mourns the passing of Melvin R. Laird, former Republican congressman from Wisconsin (1953–1969), Secretary of Defense under President Richard Nixon (1969–1973), and senior White House Domestic Affairs Advisor (1973–1974) during the resignation of Spiro Agnew and the installation of Vice President Gerald Ford. During the spring […]

A chef prepares a chicken on a cutting board. November 17

Scrub Away the Thanksgiving Troublemakers

By Sarah Eilers Pine-cone crafts, cranberry sauce, and…poultry handling. As Thanksgiving and other winter holidays approach, many of us find ourselves thinking about these things. More than 60 years ago, and not just for the holidays, the Communicable Disease Center (now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) was thinking about food safety, too. In […]

A woman examines the throat of a young girl. November 15

The Birth of the Physician Assistant

Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger Loren Miller, PhD. Dr. Miller is a curatorial assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and guest curator of NLM’s exhibition, Physician Assistants: Collaboration and Care. The physician assistant (PA) profession started as a uniquely American career that developed as a reaction to the changing […]

A typed index card with a photo and printed obituary pated to it. November 11

Physician Veterans of WWI

By Anne Rothfeld Doctors are vital to the U.S. military branches, and despite the volumes of historical research on their contributions to military medicine, less is said about their professional careers as civilians once their service is done. As America embarks on the centennial of its entry into World War I, and in honor of […]

A handwritten page listing titles beginning with A. November 09

$150 for Medical Books 180 Years Later

By Kenneth M. Koyle Those who are familiar with the history of the National Library of Medicine know that the Library traces its roots to the U.S. Army Surgeon General’s Library. In 2011, the celebration of NLM’s 175th anniversary reminded us that our institution began in 1836. On this, the 180th anniversary, we take a […]

A realistic line drawing of the palm of a left hand marked with lines, numbers and symbols. October 31

Palmistry: The Future in the Palm of Your Hand

By Atalanta Grant-Suttie Some people think palmistry (or chiromancy as it is sometimes known) is hocus pocus and that it is all nonsense.  How can lines and bumps in the palm of the hand foretell your future?  Yet, you can find palm readers all over the world; you may have one in your area.  Palmistry […]

A detail from a painting showing a black woman carrying a tray between buildings. October 27

Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America

Psyche Williams-Forson, PhD, will speak at 2 PM on November 3 at the National Library of Medicine on “Fire and Freedom: Food and Enslavement in Early America.” Dr. Williams-Forson is guest curator of NLM’s newest exhibition of the same name and Associate Professor and Chair, Department of American Studies, University of Maryland College Park, College […]

Ravitch oversees the work of two men in an operating training room. October 25

Mark M. Ravitch: A Surgeon’s Surgeon

By  James Labosier and John Rees A new archival collection, The Mark M. Ravitch Papers, 1932-1989, is now available at the National Library of Medicine for those interested in the history of surgery, surgical techniques, and pediatrics. An internationally recognized pediatric surgeon, medical educator, author, and historian, Mark Mitchell Ravitch was born on September 12, […]

October 20

The Punitive Expedition, 1916

By Stephen J. Greenberg The political situation in Mexico, always a matter of great concern to the United States, was particularly volatile in late 1915 and early 1916.  There were several revolutionary armies in the field, fighting the remnants of the government of Victoriano Huerta as well as each other.  The fragmented opposition, with a […]

A comparison of a normal and drugged brain showing higher l-dopa in the treated brain. October 14

Truly Translational: Louis Sokoloff and PET Brain Imaging

By Susan Speaker Twenty-first century medical practitioners have many ways of making images of the inside of the body, including x-rays, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized axial tomography (CT scan), and positron emission tomography (PET). These technologies allow physicians to “see” structural abnormalities, and in the case of functional MRI and PET, can show […]

October 12

Marshfield Clinic’s 100-Year Contribution to the Future of Medicine

Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger Rachel V. Stankowski, PhD, scientific research writer at the Marshfield Clinic, located in Marshfield, Wisconsin.  Dr. Stankowski offers a view of the Marshfield clinic on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.  The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and its National Library of Medicine (NLM) are widely recognized as representing the […]

Four nurses pose for smiling candid photos outdoors. October 06

Fresh Air and the White Plague

Circulating Now welcomes guest blogger Cynthia Connolly. Dr. Connolly is Associate Professor of Nursing at the Barbara Bates Center for the Study of the History of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. She is a pediatric nurse and historian. She studies the history of children’s health and social welfare policy and practice in the […]

#AskAnArchivist Day ad, for October 5, with text bubbles holding questions about archives. October 04

Celebrating American Archives Month

By Rebecca C. Warlow Here at the National Library of Medicine (NLM), and at archives across the country, we are spending October celebrating the unique and interesting collections to be found in archives. Archives are collections of documents and records, in varying formats including hand-written papers, images, audiovisuals, databases and others, that are kept for […]