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Highlights from the Collection

As the Alan M. Chesney Medical Archives hits its 30-year mark, we offer a small sampling from that very large assortment of historical materials.

For more than 30 years, the Alan M. Chesney MedicalArchives has been the guardian of all things historical for the Johns Hopkins Hospital and the schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Public Health. Scores of photographs, motion picture films, documents, personal papers, and other cultural materials have been collected, pampered, preserved, and made available for ongoing reference and research.

Now, to mark that anniversary, the Chesney Archives is embracing the digital age with a user-friendly Web site that should make this significant collection more accessible to the public. The entire catalog will be online, as will a significant portion of its photographic collection, biographical and historical information, and even Web exhibitions. What's more, the Archives staff will be easily available through the new MedArchives OnCall service, which enables visitors to get answers to general questions or to request reproductions, permission to use material, and research assistance.

The following pages offer the slightest suggestion of everything the Chesney Archives has to offer. For more information, visit
—Catherine Pierre

There are thousands of photographic portraits in the Archives. Here is a 1905 portrait of William H. Welch, first dean of the School of Medicine and founding director of the School of Public Health.

Alan M. Chesney, dean of the School of Medicine from 1929 to 1953, uncovered a trove of documents while researching his history of the medical school and hospital. Having completed his three-volume work, he launched the effort to establish an archival program.

There are more than 10,000 objects in the Archives' Material Culture Collections, including decorative and fine arts, medical illustrations and equipment, and memorabilia. This early closed-chest defibrillator was developed by William Kouwenhoven, James Jude, and Guy Knickerbocker.

This photograph of the hospital's Women's Ward G, taken ca. 1900, is one of the nearly 400,000 photographic items included in the Archives. Many of those images — which date from the 1880s and document the evolution of health care practice — are already accessible through the Web site. Archives staff and volunteers continue to digitize photographs to add to the online collection.

Archives photographs document the rise of clinical specialization at Johns Hopkins. Here, an intern is administering ether anesthesia in 1892. Over the course of the 20th century, specialized programs were introduced for the training of nurse anesthetists and physicians for certification in anesthesiology.

Public health nursing has been an area of specialization and practice at Johns Hopkins since the 1930s. This photograph from the Archives was taken in the 1950s.

This photograph of Hugh Hampton Young performing perineal prostatectomy was taken in 1927. Young, the first director of the Brady Urological Institute, performed the first-ever such surgery in 1902.

The Archives also documents important events. Here, the Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School for Nurses graduation, ca. 1926.

The Johns Hopkins School of Anesthesia for Nurses, founded by Margaret Boise, trained registered nurses from 1922 to 1985. This photo of a nurse administering gas anesthesia dates to about 1956.

The Archives holds millions of historicallysignificant documents, many from the more than 500 personal paper collections of alumni, faculty, and clinical and administrative staff. This letter, dated February 25, 1893, was written by Florence Nightingale to Isabel Hampton Robb, head of the Johns Hopkins Hospital Training School for Nurses from 1889 to 1894 and founder of the American Journal of Nursing.

Return to February 2009 Table of Contents

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