by Matt Richardson, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
The McGovern Historical Center of the Texas Medical Center Library has been busy updating our collection records with information about related materials at neighboring archives. While different archives have different missions and collecting scopes, it’s not unusual for related or even overlapping collections to end up in two different places.
Similarly, both the McGovern Historical Center and the University of Texas Medical Branch’s Truman G. Blocker, Jr. History of Medicine Collections in the Moody Medical Library hold papers from Dr. William D. Seybold—MHC’s MS 004 and UTMB’s MS 37, respectively. Much of the material in UTMB’s collection relates to Dr. Seybold’s association with UTMB, as well as the Mayo Clinic. Meanwhile, the collection at the MHC spans Dr. Seybold’s career, including his work in the Texas Medical Center and Kelsey-Seybold Clinic.
Of course, it could get frustrating to think you’ve found a person or organization’s archives, only to later discover you had in fact only found some of them. Generally, archival repositories try to complement one another, and avoid scattering sets of manuscripts or records too widely. But, acknowledging that these things happen, we can at least try to help researchers navigate this landscape. To this end, we at the MHC have been updating our finding aids with links to related archival collections maintained elsewhere. It’s our hope that this will help researchers discover more resources and likewise help them plan ahead as they delve into research.
And, of course, no mention of resources spread across multiple Texas archives would be complete without an acknowledgement of our statewide portal, Texas Archival Resources Online. There researchers can search these and other archives across the state and discover a rich variety of holdings—in Texas medical history, or virtually any other topic. And, closer to home, the Archivists of the Houston Area maintain a Guide to Local Repositories.
Hopefully the updates to our finding aids will help researchers better navigate the rich array of archival resources located across the Houston/Galveston region.
Do you know of other people or organizations whose archives appear at both the MHC and elsewhere? Let us know!
The first film, called “Help Wanted,” was created 1958 by the Junior League of Houston to give an overview of the various mental health facilities and services in Houston.
Methodist Hospital and Jefferson Davis Hospital were both places that cared for mental health patients. The film shows images of Methodist Hospital from the 1950s! It also covers the education opportunities for psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers at the University of Houston and Baylor College of Medicine at the time.
The second film, “In Their Shoes,” is a more recent look at mental health services in Houston. It was produced by Dr. Schnapp, psychiatrist Dr. Spencer Bayles, and the Mental Health Needs Council of Houston in 1998. It gives first hand accounts of mental illness as well as explanations of these illnesses by doctors from the UT Mental Sciences Institute, the Harris County Psychiatric Center, and other Houston-based organizations.
Despite the four decades in between the films, they both speak to similar themes: lack of funding for mental health services and the need to improve the services.
The films are also interesting because they show different scenes from around Houston. The pictures here show downtown, a neighborhood, and a church.
The collection also includes a transcript of “Help Wanted” and a written list of credits for both movies.
If anyone has any more information on these films or notice any other Houston-related details, please click on the Help Describe This Item link under the Notes section for either “Help Wanted” or “In Their Shoes.”
R. Lee Clark (1906-1994) was a founder of the Medical Center and specifically of UT M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. His collection, MS 070, is filled with valuable information and is one of our most heavily-used assets.
It is also one of our biggest–the record tells me it’s 420 cubic feet, or 816 boxes. If you’re wondering what that looks like, it is a literal wall of boxes.
Also, it’s still organized in our older system of Collection > Series > Box > Folder, which can lead to some confusion in inventories of very large collections because if what you want is in box 28, you have to scroll back to see if it’s Series III, Box 28 or Series VIII, Box 28 or Series X, Box 28.
To make specialized searching a little easier we’ve created a sub-inventory that lists graphic works: Photographs, articles with illustrations, artwork, and charts.
The Clark graphic works sub-inventory can be viewed here on our website.
Since we spent all that time searching the finding aid for graphic works, confirming that there were, in fact, graphic works in the folders listed, and updating format and descriptive information, we thought we deserved to have a little fun by scanning a few of them to share on the blog.
Here is Dr. Clark with interviewer N. Don Macon (MS070 Series III, Box 112, folder 6):
Macon did extensive interviews on lots of Texas Medical Center personnel. The McGovern Historical Center has both recordings and transcripts of a lot of his TMC work. Thank you for Dr. Bryant Boutwell for bringing this image to our attention.
Army Hospital Tent, 1945 (MS070 Series II, Box 9, folder 17):
Dr. Clark was in the US Army Medical Corps during World War II. This image, which I assume is staged since it’s pristine and carefully-lit, but is still interesting, is of a well-equipped Army medical tent.
Clark and someone else on the grounds of the Baker Estate, circa 1949 (MS070 Series VIII, Box 58, folder 1):
The Baker Estate was the first home of MD Anderson Cancer Hospital. Clark is here in front of the laboratory building with the house in the background.
What is now UT MD Anderson Cancer Center is Institutional Collection 014 at the McGovern Historical Center.
Captain James A. Baker (1857-1941) was an attorney and banker and an associate of William Marsh Rice. He left “The Oaks” to Rice University, which sold it to the Cancer Hospital. He was credited with solving Rice’s 1900 murder and defending his will against a forgery. His papers are held by the Woodson Research Center at Rice University.
The stables-turned-laboratory from the previous image under reconstruction, circa 1948.
. . . and that’s what the laboratory building looked like when it was completed. There are also a few shots of the interior, which was extremely plain and painted white.
MD Anderson Cancer Hospital, circa 1958 (MS070 Series VIII, Box 188, folder 3):
This is the hospital’s second home–it’s still there, buried under decades of additions. It opened in 1954 but you can tell from the cars that this is a few years later. The big dark-colored car to the left of the no-parking sign is a 1958 Buick.
Check out this sweet little 1950 Studebaker Champion.
Patients being wheeled into the new hospital, 1954 (MS070 Series VIII, Box 185, folder 5):
Patients being wheeled on gurneys into the new Cancer Hospital. Note the distinctive swirly stone on the exterior walls.
“First cobalt unit”, circa 1954 (MS070 Series VIII, Box 185, folder 7):
If you want more information on the particulars of cobalt-60-based gamma ray therapy you’ll need to ask someone else, but this was apparently the Cancer Hospital’s first cobalt unit. This is part of a large series of images that we think might have been a tour when the 1954 building first opened.
There are a lot of slides of what might be described as the bowels of the hospital, but unfortunately little to no documentation of what they are. This might be part of the laundry?
Nurse paging a patient (MS070 Series VIII, Box 188, folder 4):
It’s fun to see pictures of little everyday things. This collection suffered some water damage during Tropical Storm Allison in 2001, when the Texas Medical Center Library archives were stored in the street level, which is about half underground, of the Jesse Jones library building. The archives have been in a warehouse near the South Loop, well above ground, since 2002. This photo was apparently housed next to something blue.
Nurse wields a Geiger counter next to transport van (MS070 Series VIII, Box 188, folder 4):
I think this might be part of a series of images of a large, um, apparatus, of some sort being unloaded from a truck. I have to wonder here what the van driver thought of all this.
A Red Cross nurse serves drinks to some people with much better fashion sense than mine.
People in costumes (MS070 Series VIII, Box 189, folder 1):
There were apparently plays put on either to entertain patients as the audience, or entertain patients as the actors, or maybe both? Alas, these also have no documentation.
. . . I’m sure animal costumes seemed like a good idea at the time but this feels a bit ominous.
Cleaning the halls, circa 1950s (MS070 Series VIII, Box 188, folder 3):
This is part of a large set of photos that were rejected for use in a history of the first twenty years of MD Anderson. This one was apparently considered since it’s been edited.
“Volunteer ham radio operator who used to send messages to patients’ home town[s]”, 1950s (MS070 Series VIII, Box 185, folder 7):
Another one that didn’t quite make it into the book. It did not fare well in TS Allison but it’s still a fun bit of history.
Truman Blocker, circa 1980 (MS070 Series XIV, Box 1, folder 23), surgeon and educator for whom UTMB Galveston’s archives and rare book collections at the Moody Medical Library are named.
Franz Enzinger and Wataru Sutow, 1976 (MS070 Series XIV, Box 1, folder 23):
Franz Enzinger was a notable Austrian pathologist and Wataru Sutow was a pediatric oncologist who worked for the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission and then later for MD Anderson Cancer Hospital. Sutow is Manuscript Collection 035 here at the McGovern Research Center. A number of ABCC physicians and researchers also worked for the Cancer Hospital because of their familiarity with the effects of radiation.
One of the funny things about working here–and probably in a lot of other institutions–is that you get really used to seeing pictures of people like Clark, Blocker, and Sutow and they start to seem like distant uncles.
Last but not least . . .
Fluffy contemplates the meaning of life, September 1974 (MS070 Series VIII, Box 409, folder7):
This kitten’s name wasn’t given but “Fluffy” seems appropriate. And she might just have been reconsidering her choice of bed linens. We do know, though, that the world has never been able to resist a cute cat. This is one of many personal and travel photos, but I’m not sure where it was taken.
Also not to be overlooked: This is in box 409. Of a single series. I told you this collection was big.
by Matt Richardson, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
The Texas Medical Center Library, McGovern Historical Center is excited to announce the availability of the MS 236 Paul Lensky, MD Photograph Collection. A complete guide to the collection has now been published, and all 27 black and white snapshots have been digitized and posted online.
Dr. Paul Lenksy was a pediatrician practicing in Houston. The snapshots in this collection date from 1947-1948, when he was recently out of the University of Texas’ medical school and working at Jefferson Davis Hospital in Houston.
The images depict Dr. Lensky’s friends and colleagues—often hanging out on the Hospital’s rooftop! Dr. Lenksy’s photographs is a glimpse into the lives of a group of young doctors and their colleagues: socializing, sunbathing, and even taking the occasional trip to Mexico.
After Dr. Lensky’s time at Jefferson Davis, he went on to practice at Hermann Hospital and Texas Children’s Hospital. For more on Dr. Lensky’s life and career, check out our Biographical Note. We were able to piece together a good chunk of his CV, as well as his social life, by consulting a number of articles available on the Houston Chronicle Historical Archive via the Houston Public Library. The paper reported Dr. Lensky’s medical school graduation, his internship and residency, and his marriage to Eleanor Ruth Waldman–not to mention some of the parties the couple attended!
Thankfully, each photograph has the names of the people pictured written on the back, and this information has been added to our searchable descriptions. There were a couple of instances where we couldn’t quite make out the handwriting, so please send us an email if you recognize someone.
One added bonus of the rooftop perspective is that several photographs also show the surrounding neighborhoods, including Buffalo Drive and the San Felipe Courts in Houston’s Fourth Ward.
Since distinguishing between Houston’s two historical Jefferson Davis Hospitals can get a little tricky, views like these–along with the dates on the backs of the photographs–helped us pin down the right location.
Houston’s original Jefferson Davis Hospital was located at 1101 Elder Street in the First Ward. That Hospital operated from 1924-1938, in a four-story brick building designed in Classical-revival style. While the Hospital closed up shop long ago, the building itself still stands. The later Jefferson Davis Hospital—where Dr. Lensky’s photographs are largely set—was located along Buffalo Drive (now Allen Parkway) in the Fourth Ward. The new building was noticeably more modern and more vertical. Designed in Art Deco style, those facilities date from 1937, and were demolished in 1999. To help navigate this bit of historical geography, our descriptions of the photographs include geographic coordinates indicating the Hospital site where most of the shots were taken.
The TMC Library, McGovern Historical Center is proud to announce that the of the Mylie E. Durham oral history audio and typescripts are available online. The interviews were conducted by Ellen Durckel and the Harris County Medical Society in 1985. Topics include Dr. Durham’s childhood, education, personal and professional life, military history, and much more. The documents and audio cover the periods from 1940-1985, mostly centered around Houston and the medical field.
On March 17, 2021 the Texas Medical Center lost long-time leader Richard E. Wainerdi.
Dr. Wainerdi had an interesting and diverse career. Following a stint in the Air Force, Dr. Wainerdi earned a Master’s and then a Ph.D. in engineering at Pennsylvania State University. He began his career in nuclear engineering at Dresser Industries before moving to Texas to teach nuclear and petroleum engineering at Texas A&M University. In twenty years at TAMU he established TAMU’s Nuclear Science Center and contributed to the foundation of both its Cyclotron Institute and its College of Medicine. In 1977 he moved on to 3D/International and then, in 1982, to Gulf Oil.
In 1984, Dr. Wainerdi accepted what he expected to be a short-term position as president of the Texas Medical Center (TMC). He stayed for twenty-eight years. Dr. Wainerdi’s combined experience in academics, research, and business uniquely prepared him to build the TMC into the burgeoning medical complex we know today. He encouraged institutions to collaborate and complement each other’s expertise. Even after his retirement as President Emeritus in 2012 he remained a supporter of the TMC as a whole, of individual member institutions, and of numerous charitable organizations.
The McGovern Historical Center holds two collections that Dr. Wainerdi generously donated.
Richard Wainerdi’s Texas Medical Center Memorabilia Collection: contains three-dimensional objects presented to Dr. Wainerdi during his tenure as president of the Texas Medical Center. The collection includes numerous scrolls, fabrics, desktop items such as paper weights, pen sets, commemorative plaques, ceramic, toy-like models and other objects. Many items came from Houston-area institutions and businesses as well as numerous international organizations.
by Hannah Towbin, Student, Medical Humanities, Rice University I had the great opportunity to listen to recordings by Hilde Bruch and Harry Stack Sullivan as part of my Medical Humanities Practicum at Rice University. I had next to no experience dealing with the archival process, but I was interested in the ways in which archivists set out to select what is worthy or archiving, how to organize what is archived, and how to disseminate the information to the public. Though my studies are focused more towards science and medicine, I have acknowledged and appreciated the importance of history and being aware of past events and persons. Thanks to my phenomenal mentor, Phil Montgomery, I was able to interact closely with the materials I studied and garner new appreciation for the work of archivists.
One of my very first assignments under the guidance of Phil Montgomery was to listen and describe recordings from Hilde Bruch and Harry Stack Sullivan, two renowned psychiatrists during the early 20th century. My job was to listen to the recordings, describe the contents of the recordings, and process them by listing important features of the recordings, such as the date, the medium on which they were recorded, the language, keywords, and other important elements. Upon my first run-through of the recordings, I realized that a working knowledge of who these psychiatrists were and what they were passionate about would make the descriptions easier to elucidate. As such, I spent a good deal of time researching both Hilde Bruch and Harry Stack Sullivan, reading about their areas of interest, finding out about their backgrounds and motivations, and even reading through some of their written works. With those elements of their persons in mind, I was able to appreciate what each had to say in their respective recordings much more than I would have without that research.
Harry Stack Sullivan was an influential American psychiatrist in the early 20th Century. He developed the foundations of interpersonal psychoanalysis in which the basis of psychiatric treatment should connect an individual’s personality to the larger context of interpersonal relationships within their life. Hilde Bruch was a German-born American psychiatrist who studied under Sullivan among other leaders in social psychiatry and expanded research into eating disorders.
The Hilde Bruch, MD papers at the McGovern Historical Center contain correspondence, research, published works, and patient records. Perhaps, most interesting, the collection contains wire recordings of Harry Stack Sullivan talking to Hilde Bruch about child anxiety, social behaviors, interpersonal experience and the “self system,” and personality. During his lifetime, Sullivan did not publish many books, so these recordings are very unique, providing lectures on his studies in his own words. Other recordings feature more personal content, like Hilde Bruch dictating letters to various colleagues and family, or what might be Sullivan and Bruch discussing different people as well as directions to certain locations and scheduling for future meetings.
The utility of radiation is vast and complex as it can be used for cancer treatment, medical diagnostic tests, environmental sustainability, and space exploration; however, at the same time, large-scale radiation events such as the Chernobyl explosion, a disaster that affected more than 3.5 million people, can induce public anxiety and result in adverse health effects such as certain cancers and acute radiation syndrome. The project includes a series of interviews discussing not only the health effects of radiation but also the cultural, social, and political effects that radiation exposure and disasters can have on the public. Common themes seen across the series of interviews are the use of outdated treatments, the differences in treatment between countries, the necessity for effective communication with the public, and more. Personally, through these interviews, I was able to gain a more comprehensive overview of the effects of radiation as well as its utility outside of a medicinal context. I learned that some radiation events have captured the public’s attention, like the Chernobyl disaster, while others have not, such as the nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. By learning about some of these unspoken radiation events, I was able to better understand the role of ethics and the importance of transparency in the context of radiation events and nuclear testing.
April 26 is the date in 1986 when the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident occurred. April 26 is a day in 2020 that we find the world, our country, our community considering how to move forward with the uncertainty, fear and realities of the COVID-19 Pandemic. There have been those who describe Wuhan as China’s Chernobyl. I believe time, data, scholarly analysis and transparency are the equivalent to our finding effective treatment and a vaccine for the virus itself. As someone who participated in studying the impact of Chernobyl in the initial decade following the accident I have the advantage of looking back and understanding how the intersection of science, public policy and government played out. It made designing studies difficult where even those with data about exposure came to view it as a commodity. I hope the many lessons, such as this, will permit us to manage the current Pandemic better. The advent of social media and the decline in trust of the traditional media may well prove to be a critical variable that frankly didn’t exist in the Chernobyl incident. In short the time for information dissemination, transmission of facts are countered by rumor, intentional misinformation, and there appears no natural buffering of these by time. It now is instantaneous. Ultimately it is my hope that the efforts to share what was learned through our archive’s collections will prove helpful to those now beginning to manage and study this COVID-19 pandemic.
Finding historical information about the people and institutions in the Texas Medical Center just got easier! We’re excited to launch a web-based tool that simplifies online research of our collections. Researchers can search across all 323 collections and over 53,000 individual item descriptions. The site provides access to more than 1,200 digital images and documents with more to come.
Image of main McGovern Historical Center website homepage highlighting links to collection search site.
The platform is an archival management system called Access To Memory (AtoM) that is developed and maintained by Artefactual Systems. AtoM is a web-based, open source application for standards-based archival description and access.
We first learned about AtoM by working with archivists and archival graduate students in Japan on a project to make records from the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC) available online. Since the McGovern Historical Center has a large collection of ABCC materials, adopting AtoM for the entire TMC-related collection seemed like a natural evolution. The process of testing and implementing AtoM took more than five years.
“Our decision to use AtoM developed through our international collaborations over the last few years,” said Philip Montgomery, Head of the McGovern Historical Center. “AtoM is based on international standards and facilitates access to materials in several languages. It’s easy to use for everyone — researchers as well as archives staff.”