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History of the Health Sciences
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History of the
Health Sciences Section

[Blood transfusion from animal to human] / Elsholtz, Johann Sigismund. 1667

Abstracts for the 2008
MLA Annual Meeting Program, Chicago IL

Program: History of the Health Sciences Section; and African American Medical Librarians Alliance SIG

Opening Doors: The African American Connection in Medical Librarianship

Lisa M Boyd
Quest for Equality: Opening Librarianship to Librarians of Color.

Objective: Describe the beginning of the legal process for opening librarianship as a profession for African Americans. Show how the successful legal strategy used by the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in the case of Louise Kerr versus the Enoch Pratt Free Library (1943 - 1945) opened librarianhsip including health sciences librarianship as a profession for African Americans and other people of color.
Methods: Researched the primary literature on the legal strategy and historical case of Louise Kerr Versus the Enoch Pratt Free Library at the [State] Historical Society using the manuscript collection of [resource], president of the [local] chapter of the NAACP and the archival collection of the [local] Chapter of the NAACP; the papers of [resource], NAACP lobbyist at the Special Collections of the [institution] and the historical and special collections of the [institution]that includes a collection of the Afro American Newspaper.

Cynthia L. Henderson
Those Who Made a Difference: A Qualitative Study of Firsts

This study will interview African American Medical Librarians who were the first to achieve milestones in Medical Library Association participation such as Chairing a National Committee or Taskforce, Chapter Chair, Section Chair, Special Interest Group Convener, Board Member, MLA Fellow and MLA Award Winners. The interviews will be audio taped and the tapes will be transcribed. After the interview of each selected individual a qualitative analysis will be conducted to discover if there are common themes to be found in the backgrounds or work lives of the interviewees. Tentatively to be interviewed are: Sandra Franklin, Craig Haynes, Rosalind Lett, Sandra Martin, and Madeline Taylor. Other Interviewees will be identified and added. This presentation will celebrate the Medical Library Association accomplishments of these individuals. It will raise awareness of African American participation in the Medical Library Association. It will identify any similar attributes of these unique individuals and hopefully result in increased African American participation in Medical Library Association activities.

Richard Nollan
The First Blood Bank in the South: The John Gaston Hospital Blood Bank in 1938

Blood is the part of the body identified as the essence of life. Loss of blood is loss of life, and replacing it when necessary has for centuries been recognized as a desirable if elusive procedure. As an understanding of blood composition improved and technology advanced, the feasibility of transfusion grew. Attempts in the nineteenth century met with mixed success, but by the beginning of the twentieth century the transfusion of blood stored outside of the body became safe and reliable. The first blood bank in the South opened its doors in 1938 at the John Gaston Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Although the technological barriers were nearly all overcome, social barriers remained. Before blood banking, donors had to come from family and friends: race was of little concern since patients and their families made the decision as to who would donate blood. Once blood banking was instituted, donors became anonymous and the origin of the blood for transfusion became more closely associated with social fears about the mixing of blood from different races. Separating blood by race was medically unsupported, but the Gaston Hospital blood bank acquiesced for a number of years. Disease transmission, such as syphilis and hepatitis, was linked with the issue of race. As the importance of blood banking became apparent, especially during World War II, the number of volunteer donors grew. Eventually the medical opinion of the sameness of blood became the norm in blood banking, not so much because superior knowledge prevailed but because blood banks were able to conceal social fears behind the benefits of banked blood. The racial arguments for the segregation of blood could not be arranged to alter the generalizations of medicine.

Jill Newmark & Margaret Hutto
Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Surgeons

This presentation will feature highlights of Opening Doors: Contemporary African American Academic Surgeons, an exhibition celebrating the contributions of African American academic surgeons to medicine and medical education. It tells the stories of four pioneering African American surgeons and educators who exemplify excellence in their fields and believe in continuing the journey of excellence through the education and mentoring of younger physicians and surgeons. Through contemporary and historical images, the exhibition takes the visitor on a journey through the lives and achievements of these academic surgeons, and provides a glimpse into the stories of those that came before them and those that continue the tradition today. Opening Doors was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture - the largest medical library in the world and the largest African American Museum on the east coast. An online web version is available at and a traveling version is currently touring throughout the United States through February 2011.

Program: History of the Health Sciences Section, Veterinary Medical Libraries Section, & Mental Health SIG

Interconnections: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Medical History

Kevin O'Brien
A Philosopher’s medical utopias: Ernst Bloch and the history of medicine

Objectives: Ernst Bloch (1885-1977) was an influential German philosopher whose life spanned much of the tumult of the twentieth century. His wide-ranging work centered around his concept of utopia, which he defines in part as the ability of human beings to create intimations of an existence free from social and other forms of limitations that confront them in their lives. While medicine was not a central concern of Bloch’s philosophy, his three-volume work The Principle of Hope, which is widely recognized as his masterpiece, contains a fascinating chapter titled “Medical Utopias.” In this chapter, the first in a section titled "Outlines of a Better Life", Bloch ranges widely over the history of medicine and discusses such figures as diverse as the early Greek physician Galen and the English political economist Thomas Malthus. In this talk, my purpose will be to show to what degree, if any, medicine and health contribute to Bloch's idea of human longing for a better existence.
Methods: I will discuss Bloch's life, his body of work, and conclude by focusing on his discussion of medicine.

Judy Chelnick
Artificial Hearts, Endoscopes and Other Cool Stuff

Researcher’s often overlook artifacts as a source of information as they investigate their subject matter. Artifacts like any other document such as a diary or laboratory notebook can expose the nuances of a society’s beliefs, values, ideas and attitudes. A historical artifact, such as the Star Spangle Banner, the flag which survived the English bombardment over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812, not to mention the good intentioned folk in the late 19th century who clipped pieces of the flag and gave them away as souvenirs, possess an emotional quality which is not always tangible and cannot be measured.
Whereas two pieces of molded plastic held together by a strip of Velcro which is the Jarvik-7 artificial heart, the very same artificial heart implanted in Barney Clark twenty-five years ago this December and kept him alive for 112 days, evokes a morbid fascination. My talk which will be supplemented by power point will discuss medical artifacts as primary documents, and explore ways in which the tools of the health care profession can be incorporated into the fabric of a research project.

Diane Fagen
Veterinary Medicine's Contributions to Human Health

Veterinary medicine is inextricably linked to human medicine. This presentation will examine historical examples of cooperation between the fields from the earliest days of organized veterinary medicine in the United States through the third decade of this 20th century.

Kathel Dunn
Claudius Mayer and Frank (Brad) Rogers: the End of the Index-Catalogue and the Origins of the Modern Index Medicus, a Personal History

Claudius Mayer was the editor of the Index-Catalogue when the decision was made to discontinue it; Frank B. Rogers was the Director of the Library who made the decision to cease publication. From the present day the decision has the aura of inevitability: that the desire for current information quickly obtained was the obvious choice. For Mayer, however, the Index-Catalogue was a "perfect key" to the medical literature used by those who were thoroughly trained in medicine. The users of the Index-Catalogue, he would assert, expected to find "genuine gold ¼ when they [took] the Index-Catalogue in their hands." It was the historical nature of the Index-Catalogue that made it gold. The medical historian would use his knowledge of the past to make connections, synthesize and analyze current literature and present both together as an integrated whole. This paper reviews the actions that immediately preceded the closing of the Index-Catalogue.

2008 Program