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Robert L. Brown History of Medicine

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Chart the future by exploring the past

Back-to-School Reading from History of Medicine!

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The History of Medicine recently added four “new” books to the Collection.

IMAG0750While ostensibly a book about customs and practices among the Kickapoo and other Native American tribes, Life among the Indians by Healy and Bigelow, 1886, is actually more of a catalog advertising the many products of the Kickapoo Indian Medicine Company.  Also, the authors may have actually “borrowed” images and text from Mary and Seth Eastman’s American aboriginal portfolio!

IMAG0753  Women’s medical guide: being a complete review of the peculiarities of the female constitution and the derangements to which it is subject……. (the title goes on!),  1848, by Dr. M.K. Hard.  In the introduction of the book (page 5) the author writes: “In the preparation of the following pages, our aim has been to provide for females a plain and simple means of instruction in reference to their distinctive peculiarities (!), whether manifested in the performance of necessary and healthy functions, or under the influence of disease.”  This work also contains a guide on how to manage children and their diseases and information on medicinal plants and compounds.

Catalogue of the Exhibits in the Museum of Hygiene: Medical Department of the United States IMAG0755Navy (1893) – The U.S. Navy’s Museum of Hygiene was open from 1883 – 1905. This catalog was compiled by the museum’s principal founder, Philip Skinner Wales (1837-1906), former Surgeon General of the U.S. Navy. Inside are details on more than 1,600 exhibit items; including anatomical specimens, parasites, architectural models, vast quantities of pipes and filters for water, ventilation, and waste, drawings, paintings, photographs, and numerous examples of material culture gathered by U.S. sailors and naval officers while on assignment around the world.

Women as army surgeons by Flora Murphy, 1920, is the history of the British Women’s Hospital Corps in Paris and Wimereux, France and at the Military Hospital on Endell Street in London.  Great photographs!


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Extra! Extra! Read All About It……

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Medical Newspaper Clippings 1901-1906On June 26th Keith and I presented our third and last program of the Spring Speakers Series at the Amherst Center for Senior Services entitled “Medical Newspaper Clippings, 1901-1906” that was accompanied by a Power Point presentation that included the background of the collection. Housed in the stacks of the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection for many years were three large volumes marked “Invoices”.  Upon closer inspection, the unassuming looking tomes turned out to be scrapbooks filled with fascinating articles, compiled by a clipping service, from various Buffalo newspapers during the years 1901 to 1906 that focused on public health and politics in Buffalo. The other interesting aspect of this collection is the fact that Buffalo had so many newspapers at that time. The articles were taken from papers including the News, the Courier, the Enquirer, the Times, the Review and the Express.  There are also clippings from newspapers in German and other languages.


Because the clippings are so fragile it was decided to try to either digitize or photocopy them to make the materials useable while preserving the originals.  The volumes were subsequently sent for reformatting to the University Libraries Preservation Department on the North Campus where the staff did an amazing job of photocopying and then digitizing these materials. Use of the clipping collection is now available through four acid-free, bound paper copies.  After the photocopying was completed, each volume was examined for articles of particular interest and good examples of the overall content of the collection were digitized.  This valuable resource is available for use by the University’s School of Public Health and Health Related Professions and other groups and individuals outside the University involved with or interested in public health issues.

The presentation focused on two specific diseases: smallpox and typhoid fever.  Some historical background was provided that pre-dated the clippings after which selected news articles that demonstrated how these diseases were addressed and dealt with  medically and politically over the years were shown.  The four photocopied volumes and one of the original volumes were made available for viewing by the people attending the program.

It was a great pleasure for Keith and me to participate in the Spring Speaker Series at Senior Center and we hope to be invited back in the future!








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Two Prominent Buffalo Physicians in Caricature

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If you’d like to see some of the prominent men of Buffalo and Western New York through the eyes of the Buffalo Press Artists’ Association in 1906 go to:

image Caricature          caricatureimage (2)



Dr. Joseph Fowler was a physician and the police surgeon in Buffalo, NY.  One of his daughters married Erastus Knight who became Mayor of Buffalo in 1902.

Dr. Joseph Fowler was a physician and the police surgeon in Buffalo, NY. One of his daughters married Erastus Knight who became Mayor of Buffalo in 1902.

image (1)

Dr. Roswell Park was Chair and Professor of Surgery at the University of Buffalo Medical School and he established the Gratwick Laboratory which evolved into the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.







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Historical Artifacts from the UB School of Pharmacy

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Guests look at artifacts from the Pharmacy collection

Guests look at artifacts from the Pharmacy collection

On Wednesday, May 20, 2015 we did a presentation entitled “Historical Artifacts from the UB School of Pharmacy.”  This was our second program in the “Spring Speaker Series” hosted by the Amherst Center for Senior Services.  More than twenty-five people attended including folks who had attended our first program on the Bullough Nursing History Collection and a retired pharmacist who answered some questions that were beyond our scope!

Accompanied by Powerpoint slides, the talk told the story of how the Brown History of Medicine Collection acquired furniture, display cases and a variety of artifacts from the Pharmacy School when it moved from the North Campus to its new home in Kapoor Hall on the South Campus in 2012.  Among the materials now housed in the Health Sciences Library are a large variety of medicines, lotions, tonics and other preparations in glass containers and boxes, quite a few manufactured in Buffalo; beautiful glass show globes in various sizes; scales; mortars and pestles and miscellaneous items used in early pharmacy/apothecary shops.  Images of the Pharmacy School’s turn-of-the-century “apothecary” and their displays that are now located throughout the building’s four floors were also included.

The talk was followed by a question period and the opportunity for the guests to look at some of the materials on display from the collection.  Again, we can’t thank Joanne Cole-Marshall and the staff at the Center for Senior Services for all their hospitality and for inviting us to take part in their 2015 Spring Speaker Series!


Pharmacy presentation at the Amherst Center for Senior Services

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The Bonnie and Vern Bullough History of Nursing Collection

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A slide presented highlighting the history of the Bullough Collection.

A slide presented highlighting the history of the Bullough Collection.

Display table featuring books of the Bullough Collection and historical nursing instruments and artifacts, as shown at the Amherst Center for Senior Services.

Display table featuring books of the Bullough Collection and historical nursing instruments and artifacts.

This past week, on Tuesday April 21st at 1:00pm, Linda and I were thrilled to present the first of our three-part lecture series at the Amherst Center for Senior Services. After a general overview of the Collection, during which we took participants on a photographic tour of our facility and some of its highlights, we had the opportunity to showcase the Bonnie and Vern Bullough History of Nursing Collection. This Collection was gifted to HSL in 1985 by Bonnie Bullough, then Dean of the UB School of Nursing, and her husband, Vern Bullough, then Dean of the Buffalo State College of Natural Sciences, to commemorate the dedication of HSL’s new location in what was the former Lockwood Library (Lockwood having relocated to North Campus).  To show the breadth of the Bullough Collection, we displayed a sampling of the books it contains, including the first British edition of Nightingale’s Notes on Nursing, works by early American nursing leaders such as Isabelle Hampton Robb and Clara Weeks-Shaw, and interesting additional holdings, such as cook books for nurses and civil war nursing.  In addition to the Bullough Collection, we also brought a number of historical instruments and artifacts that would have used by nurses when tending to sick patients and children.

Following the presentation Linda and I engaged in a lively question and answer session that lasted nearly an hour.  During that time the guests had the opportunity to examine the books and artifacts more closely.  It was our impression that those who attended seemed to enjoy the program and a number of them indicated that they planned to come back for the next sessions!  The Amherst Center for Senior Services could not have been more gracious or welcoming and they accommodated all our room and technical needs which further enhanced our program.  We look forward to returning to Center for our next talks, which are scheduled for Wednesday, May 20th @ 1:00 (Historical Artifacts from UB School of Pharmacy) and Friday, June 26th @ 1:00 (Local Finds: A Collection of Medical Newspaper Clippings from 1901-1906).

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Conversations No. 3

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Jan Henning

Jan Henning

This is the third installment of conversations with friends of the History of Medicine Collection both new and old. 

We first had the pleasure of meeting Jan Henning while working with Professor David Herzberg’s class: History of Health and Illness in America. We have enjoyed working with Dr. Herzberg for a number of years now, providing instruction in the research and use of historical primary medical resources. At the end of last semester (Fall 2014), Jan approached us with an interest in working with the Collection. As an international graduate student from the Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany, (Jan’s hometown), there were a couple of administrative hoops to jump through, but happily everything worked out and at the beginning of the Spring (2015) semester, we welcomed Jan as an official Graduate Student Intern! During his time with us, Jan skillfully contributed to a number of the Collection’s projects, including our ongoing digitization of the Dr. Jackson Collection, collection development activities, exhibit preparation, and a research project examining the connections between Spiritualism and three of the University’s founding professors (Drs. Austin Flint, Charles Coventry, and Charles Lee). After spending more than 6 weeks with us, Jan bid us (and Buffalo) farewell last week and returned home. Having thoroughly enjoyed working with him, we thought we would check in with him to see how things are going in Deutschland!

 Now that you are back home in Germany, fill us in…what are you up to!?

I just took an exam for the Winter Semester here in Darmstadt where I was also enrolled during my time in the US. Our Summer semester starts in April and I am planning to write my Master’s thesis. The project will analyze the notion of race and tuberculosis in 19th and 20th century USA. It is a topic I found very interesting while attending Prof. Herzberg’s class. Afterwards I will look for universities that offer an interesting position where I can write my dissertation.

What made you decide to study here in Western New York, at the University at Buffalo? Did anything about this area surprise you?

The University at Buffalo was my top choice because it is a partner university of my home university TU Darmstadt. It surprised me that since ten years I was the first student in history to come to UB from Darmstadt even though the partnership started through our departments of history. Dr. Georg Iggers and Prof. Dr. Böhme sent the first exchange students in the 1970s.  I think buffalo is a beautiful city and is very diverse. It surprised me how well daily life works with all that snow. The multicultural experience studying at UB was a blessing to me.

While you were with us here in the Collection, you worked on a number of projects. Which ones did you enjoy most, and why?

The UB doctors and the Fox Sisters

The UB Doctors and the Fox Sisters

Honestly, I enjoyed every part of it because I think the Medical Collection is an outstanding part of UB Libraries. It preserves documents that represent the foundation of the University of Buffalo which started as a Medical College. The study of medical history is very important in my eyes. Linda and Keith were so friendly and welcoming, how could I not have enjoyed working here?  What I liked the most, though, was collaboratively working on an article with Keith. The topic, the notion of Religion, science, medicine and the unknown is very interesting. The close connection to Western New York and our university was fascinating, especially considering the wide spread of spiritualism even today.

You explored the history of health and medicine quite a bit while in Buffalo. Why do you think you are drawn to these particular topics? Do you have any future plans for additional studies, or for a career in an historical field?

The history of life and death, health and sickness is as old as humanity itself. The perception of certain illnesses have dramatically changed over the course of history. It shows us how extraordinarily our perception of being sick is culturally constructed.  I think it is the task of historians to reveal the political and social dimensions of this topic. I will start to do this by writing my master’s thesis about race and tuberculosis.

Random Question:  What is the fastest speed you have ever reached while driving on the Autobahn?

It is – in German terms – a poor driving speed of 180km/h (112 mp/h) achieved with my Golf Volkswagen. If you want to brag about your experience on the Autobahn you should at least have driven more than 250 km/h (155 mp/h).



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UB’s First Medical Faculty: What Were They Like?

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Founding fathers

The Founding Faculty of UB. We have never found a picture of Dr. Webster

Dr. Cornelius C. Wyckoff wrote a wonderful little article in the May, 1896 issue of the Buffalo Medical Journal entitled “Establishment and Early Days of the Medical Department of the University of Buffalo.”  As a graduate of the Medical Department in 1848, Dr. Wyckoff was able to share an intriguing glimpse into the personalities of the men who established the University at Buffalo and taught him and the other students at the fledgling medical school.

“I wish I could present to you a graphic picture of these first seven professors as they appear to me in memory-  the dignified and serious Hadleys father and son;  the courtly Christian gentleman, Professor Coventry, whose innate modesty put him to the blush upon demonstrating his obstetrical lectures upon the manikin; the agile and oftentimes brilliant Hamilton, entering the amphitheater almost upon a run, lecturing as he came and seeming only desirous of improving every moment to give us the benefit of his vast store of learning; the more dignified Flint, who at the beginning of his career as a lecturer was somewhat inclined to verboseness, but who afterward attained an eminence in this branch of the profession as may make us justly proud of having given him to the world; the daring White, who raised such a storm of abuse, which he manfully met when he introduced “demonstrative midwifery;”  the companionable, convivial Webster, his own worst enemy, who was masterly at dissection, lecturing as rapidly as the scalpel cut into the tissues of the subject, never for a moment at a loss for words to explain the hidden course of nature.  Oftentimes Dr. La Ford* would have to perform the duties of a lecturer as well as those of a demonstrator of anatomy but it was at no loss to the students.  Professor Lee was perhaps less known to us, as he always retained his home in New York, but his uniform kindness made him popular, although his subject was dry and prosy.”


A little more about the author of this piece, Dr. Wyckoff:

Dr. Cornelius Cox Wyckoff, a well-known physician of Buffalo, died at His residence in that city on November 7th. The doctor was a graduate of the University of Buffalo, Class of 1848. He was a member of The American and the New York State Medical Associations, the Medical Society of the County of Erie and the Buffalo Academy of Medicine. He was also consulting physician to the Buffalo General Hospital.

*“Corydon La Ford, who afterward became one of the most famous teachers of anatomy in this country, was appointed demonstrator of anatomy.  He was untiring in his efforts as a teacher, and if all the students did not become good anatomists under his teaching and that of Professor Webster it was entirely due to their own indolence or inattention.”

Buffalo Medical Journal.  Vol. XXXV (n.s. 51), Issue #10. p. 775

Obituary. New York State Journal of Medicine, Volume 3: 1903  478-479




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Ten Cent Beer and Pickled Herring!

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University of Buffalo's 3rd Medical School 24 High Street

University of Buffalo’s 3rd Medical School Building 24 High Street


While searching for some unrelated information, I came across an interesting article by Bruce Kershner in the December, 1986 Buffalo Physician on the history of the UB Medical School buildings.  It seems that the third building that housed the Medical School (1898-1953), on 24 High Street, was located opposite the German-American Brewery and its tavern.  Apparently the tavern was considered by the inhabitants of the school to be part of the school’s “campus”.  Mr. Kerchner described the appeal of the “campus” as written in an article by Dr. Berhardt Gottileb in the Buffalo Medical Review in 1968:


“With the purchase of a schooner of beer for 10 cents, the Brewery supplied to its students and faculty…pickled herring, pea soup, small franks, fair-sized hamburgers, pickles galore, a mountain of rye bread on every table, not to mention the onions….. Students made use of their “captive audience” situation with the faculty.  No matter how faculty longed to escape from the smell of onions and garlic reeking from students always eagerly pursuing them to ask endless questions, the nominal price and the huge quantities of good food proved too strong an incentive to forego”

1. Bruce Kershner.  140 Years of Medical Buildings. Buffalo Physician. Vol.20: no.1 December 1986,  p. 9

2. Bernhardt Gottlieb, MD. The Medical School of 1930. Buffalo Medical Review. Spring 1968, p. 26

3. Image of the German-American Brewery from the University at Buffalo Libraries Pan American Exposition Exhibit, 2001.

German-American Brewery. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: A History of the City of Buffalo : Its Men and Institutions : Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens. Buffalo, N.Y. : Buffalo Evening News, 1908. p.135wery.

German-American Brewery. Photographer: Unidentified. Source: A History of the City of Buffalo : Its Men and Institutions : Biographical Sketches of Leading Citizens. Buffalo, N.Y. : Buffalo Evening News, 1908. p.135












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The Stereoscope: 3D for the 19th Century

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You may have heard of a View-Master…If you were like me, you might have even had one as a child (I loved mine). Using lenses and standard two-dimensional photographic images, these devices provide glimpses into a three-dimensional (3D) world, all contained within a bright plastic box.  Before the View-Master however, 3D images were already being enjoyed by earlier generations thanks to an invention known as the Stereoscope (seen in the image below). Using stereo cards placed at a fixed distance from the viewer’s eyes, those from the mid-19th century and onward could visit foreign countries, witness ghostly manifestations, or observe historical events in all three of life’s dimensions!

Holmes-style stereoscope, late 19th c., with a collection of dermatological stereo cards 1911)

Holmes-style stereoscope, late 19th c., with a collection of dermatological stereo cards.










The first stereoscope was invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1838. Relying on a pair of mirrors mounted at 45 degree angles, viewers could fix an eye upon the left and right images to experiences a fusing of the images into one solid three-dimensional (3D) image.  In 1849, David Brewster of Britain refined Wheatstone’s creation with the development of a lens-based or lenticular stereoscope. Lenses enabled a reduction in the size of the stereoscope, allowing for the production of handheld devices.  Known as Brewster Stereoscopes, these devices were a hit when demonstrated at the Great Exhibition of 1851, famously gaining the admiration of Queen Victoria.

Upon further refinement by the Frenchman Jules Duboscq, a creator of stereoscopes and stereoscopic daguerreotypes (stereo cards), the 3D industry developed rapidly within the Western world. [1] Our Collection’s particular stereoscope most resembles the “American Stereoscope”. First developed by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (a prominent physician and father of the well-known Supreme Court Justice of the same name),  during the 1850’s, these stereoscopes allowed more light for visualizing, weighed less, and could comfortably be held in one hand. [2]

The medical profession found usages for the stereoscope, particularly for educational purposes. Stereo cards, able to provide a sense of space and dimension, introduced viewers to medical diseases and conditions, human anatomy, as well as procedural and technological standards. Using this method of instruction, doctors published both boxes of instructional images (textual descriptions explaining the images of the stereo card were printed on each card’s verso) and printed volumes which attached stereo cards to the bottom of thick, traditional-sized descriptive pages (See image below).

A page within Dr. James Case's Stereoroentgenography of the Alimentary Tract (1914), providing an example of the proper way to perform a vertical roentgenoscope; note on the cabinet (from which the man is reaching out for a cup of, most likely, bismuth) is specialized attachment for making stereoroentgenograms.

A page within Dr. James Case’s Stereoroentgenography of the Alimentary Tract (1914), providing an example of the proper way to perform a vertical roentgenoscope; note on the cabinet (from which the man is reaching out for a cup containing, most likely, bismuth) is specialized attachment for making stereoroentgenograms.

With the invention of reontgenography, or X-Ray technology, the interior of the living body itself was able to be captured in 3D. This was the first time technology could provide a 3D view of the living body’s interior for medical appreciation and study. The following quote offers a glimpse into the process of creating stereo-roentgenograms (and stereo cards in general, if we swap mention of “X-ray tubes” for “camera”). It is provided by James T. Case, M.D. within the introduction to his 1914 publication, Stereoroentgenography of the Alimentary Tract:

“Stereoscopic roentgenography involves the making of two roentgenograms, the second plate having exactly the position of the first. Before exposing the second plate, the tube [X-ray tube] should be shifted laterally a distance of six centimeters, which is the average interpupillary distance. A roentgenogram is thus made for each eye. The two roentgenograms are then studied in some device [a stereoscope] which permits the fusion of the two images upon the retina.” [3]  

Despite its initial popularity and utility, medical instruction moved away from the stereoscope sometime after the 1920’s. Perhaps this was due to the increasing availability of cadavers, or the availability of moving pictures for instruction, or maybe this change was due to the ready availability of plastic anatomical models.  Perhaps the rise of the beloved View-Master, introduced in 1939, shifted the opinions of medical educational community away from this form of 3D education. After all, medicine at this time was experiencing a professional upswing. The utilization of an object like the View-Master, which provided the public with such amusement, might have no longer been welcomed in medical classrooms, looking as they were to instill a sense of professionalism among their students.

If you are interested in learning more about the stereoscope, stereo cards, or the story of their rise and fall in medical education, feel free to stop by the Collection. There is so much history here just waiting to be uncovered!


Works Cited:



3. James T. Case (1914). Stereoroentgenography of the Alimentary Tract: Southworth Compnay, p.4 .

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Boces 2014!

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On October 24th the History of Medicine Collection was pleased once again to host a visit from students involved in the Erie 1 BOCES:Connections Health Related Careers program. This 1-year  program gives honors-level high school seniors the opportunity to observe careers in many allied health areas through a mentor relationship with a practicing professional in fields including Anatomy, Physiology and Disease, Health Core/Internship, English 12 and Social Studies: Participation in Government & Economics. Participants spend three hours each day at a designated hospital site taking course work and observing all aspects of health careers.” The two hospitals involved are Veterans and Millard Fillmore Suburban.  This group was guided by their always enthusiastic instructor, Christine Tillman.  The students also worked with HSL librarian Liz Stellrecht on how to locate and evaluate quality health sciences literature using UB Libraries’ resources.  Following a tour of the History of Medicine Collection, the students had the opportunity to explore old books and medical instruments “up close and personal.”  It was a most enjoyable experience to meet this new group of bright and motivated students!



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