New Online Exhibit: Smallpox Eradication in India, 1972-1977

Report Smallpox

“The rapid eradication of smallpox from the place that was for many years the world’s principal endemic focus of the disease [i.e., India] has been singled out as one of the great victories in the history of public health: only twelve months separated a peak of more than 8,000 infected villages in May, 1974, and 188,000 cases in that year, from the last indigenous case in May, 1975.”  — Dr. Larry Brilliant

It’s amazing what you find when you have to move “stuff” out of a building that you’ve occupied for over 30 years.   Last December, as we were madly packing boxes prior to the start of the Taubman Health Sciences Library renovation, we emptied out closets and storage areas.  I came across several boxes of materials of unknown content.    The boxes were labelled “Brilliant Collection” and looked “oldish”.  Since I was in cleaning mode (and on a deadline), I decided I would empty these boxes, repack the items in sturdier boxes, and put the whole thing back into storage.  I estimated it would take me about 90 minutes to do this.   Then I opened the first box.

Five months later, our online exhibit, Smallpox eradication in India, 1972-1977,   showcases some of the documents that I found.  The exhibit tells the story of the World Health Organization’s extraordinary global campaign to end naturally occurring smallpox in India.    The content is drawn from the collection of materials donated by Dr. Larry Brilliant, a member of the World Health Organization team which was charged with this massive effort.   The Brilliant Collection includes primary source documents such as disease surveillance reports, raw data on containment procedures for infected regions, multi-lingual training materials for native-born health workers, briefing documents, marketing posters, and lots of epidemiological data.     We’re still processing the materials and expect to have these documents available for public use later this year.  In the meantime, think of the exhibit as a teaser.

Today, students from our Medical School’s Class of 2014 will graduate.  Their commencement speaker is Dr. Lawrence Brilliant.

Binding Wounds | Pushing Boundaries – New Exhibit @ THL

Starting today and on display through August 31, 2013, come see the Binding Wounds Pushing Boundaries exhibit at the Taubman Health Sciences Library. binding wounds screenshot

Focusing on African Americans in Civil War medicine, the exhibit highlights the far too frequently overlooked contributions of African American nurses, surgeons, and hospital workers in one of America’s greatest conflicts as their efforts “challenged the prescribed notions of both race and gender.”

Learn about uniformed Union Army surgeons, as well as how nurses and hospital workers cared for injured soldiers at hospitals in the North and South as well as camp hospitals. 

You can visit the exhibit’s website here for additional educational materials, or better yet, come see the exhibit in person!

University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library

Fourth Floor, 1135 E. Catherine Street.

This exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health with research assistance from the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.

New Blog from NLM’s History of Medicine Division

Circulating Now

The absolutely phenomenal History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine has just launched a new blog, Circulating Now. Circulating Now is designed to bring this division’s treasured (and truly priceless) collections to a wider audience than ever before. Read the introductory post from the division’s Chief, Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, here.

Circulating Now kicked off the month of July with a series of posts reenacting bulletins from the assassination of the 20th American president, James A. Garfield, exactly 132 years ago on July 2nd, 1881. From the series’ introductory post:

America—and eventually the world—reacted to Garfield’s attempted assassination with deep despair. The President’s physicians issued daily progress reports which the public eagerly awaited and newspapers quickly reprinted for their readers. Letters by the bushel basket came daily to the White House offering advice on various forms of treatment. The famous American inventor, Alexander Graham Bell, volunteered to come to Washington and help with Garfield’s case.

Through the blog, readers can experience the updates on the President’s condition almost like the rest of the nation did in 1881 (just with a little more of a technological intermediary).

“The attack on the President’s life—Scene in the ladies’ room of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot—The arrest of the assassin,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 1881 July 16, pp. 332-333 Courtesy Library of Congress

“The attack on the President’s life—Scene in the ladies’ room of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad depot—The arrest of the assassin,” Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 1881 July 16, pp. 332-333 Courtesy Library of Congress

You can join the thousands of others who follow the blog by subscribing to the RSS feed or subscribing via email. headlines Deadly Medicine Exhibit at THL

Reposted from

U-M Taubman Health Sciences Library exhibit presents chilling look at Nazi ideology

The 1938 words of Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Nazi minister of propaganda, stand above the display panels of what is undoubtedly the most somber exhibit Ann Arbor will see this year, “Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race” at the University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library.

This 25-panel display of posters, photographs, charts, and maps—equipped with four television monitors showing vintage film clips drawn from the Nazi Germany era—has been crafted by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a 2004 traveling exhibition. Through the co-sponsorship of a dozen U-M colleges, departments, and programs, it’s here in Southeast Michigan…

Read the full story at

A panel discussion will be presented today on deadly medicine at 3:00pm in the Seminar rooms of the Taubman Biomedical Research Science Building.  Full details of the panel event can be found here.

New History of Medicine and Nursing Resources Available

Two resources which concentrate on the history of medicine and the history of nursing are now at your fingertips.



Nursing, History and Health Care provides historical background information on issues regarding the nursing profession and the provision of nursing care in the United States.  The site includes essays on the history of public health nursing, nursing education, and workforce issues.  This resource was created by Penn Nursing Science at the University of Pennsylvania’s.


Medical Heritage Library, hosted by the Internet Archive,  is an ongoing digitization project of rare medical books from New York Public Library, the National Library of Medicine, and the medical libraries of Columbia, Yale, and Harvard universities.  The collection currently has over 14,000 texts from all aspects of medicine.  You can browse by title, author, subject/keyword, and date.   The Medical Heritage Library includes such gems as Dr. Moses Gunn’s recollections of the establishment of the University of Michigan’s medical school, including the appointment of “new and comparatively unknown men for a faculty, three of whom were yet, in medical parlance, boys, and none of whom could show a gray hair.”


Both of these resources are freely available on the Internet and through SearchTools.

Deadly Medicine Opening Reception and Keynote

Reposted from the MHealthy Communities Blog – Read the complete post here.

The University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library and the Center for the History of Medicine announce the opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s traveling exhibition, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race. The exhibition illustrates how Nazi leadership enlisted people in professions traditionally charged with healing and the public good to legitimize persecution, murder, and ultimately genocide.

Exhibition Opening Reception

Thursday, February 9th
Taubman Health Sciences Library – 4th Floor
1135 E. Catherine
Ann Arbor, MI

Join us for refreshments and a tour of the exhibition. The keynote address and book signing will immediately follow the reception.

Keynote Address: “The Legacy of American Eugenics: Buck v. Bell in the Supreme Court”
Thursday, February 9th
A. Alfred Taubman Biomedical Research Science Building
Kahn Auditorium
109 Zina Pitcher Place
Ann Arbor, MI

EXHIBIT: Deadly Medicine – Creating the Master Race

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s traveling exhibition, Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, examines how the Nazi leadership, in collaboration with individuals in professions traditionally charged with healing and the public good, used science to help legitimize persecution, murder and, ultimately, genocide.“Deadly Medicineexplores the Holocaust’s roots in then-contemporary scientific and pseudo-scientific thought,” explains exhibition curator Susan Bachrach. “At the same time, it touches on complex ethical issues we face today, such as how societies acquire and use scientific knowledge and how they balance the rights of the individual with the needs of the larger community. We are pleased to be bringing this important exhibition to the United Nations and an international audience.”

This version of Deadly Medicine is based on the acclaimed exhibition of the same name that originally opened at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., in April 2004.

Deadly Medicine will be on view from February 3 through April 13, 2012 in the Taubman Health Sciences Library.  Visiti the exhibit web site for more information.
This exhibit is sponsored by the Taubman Health Sciences Library and the University of Michigan Center for the History of Medicine.

Classic, Rare Medical Books Added to the Medical Heritage Library

The Medical Heritage Library, a digital curation collaborative among some of the world’s leading medical libraries that promotes free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine, has announced the addition of 286 new volumes  from the Lamar Soutter Library, University of Massachusetts Medical School.

These books represent a wide variety of primary works in the history of medicine, “including works by Caspar Wistar, William Smellie, John Hunter, Sir Astley Cooper, and John Bell, as well as landmark classics in medicine, such as the 1761 edition of Morgagni’s De sedibus et causis morborum with a 1769 English translation and a 1631 edition of Spigelius’ De formato foetu–the earliest item in the Soutter collection.” 

Read more here.

Public Health Films of WWII at the National Library of Medicine Digital Library

The National Library of Medicine’s History of Medicine Division has created a new online resource: “The Public Health Film Goes to War.” It features eighteen rare films on public health from the World War II era. They range from Private McGillicuddy cartoons promoting personal cleanliness to documentaries on public health issues such as tropical diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, and the stress of war. All of the films have searchable transcripts and commentaries as well as complete bibliographic data. All are in the public domain.