Coming on the heels of the Library of Congress’ flickr experiment, The Commons, the National Museum of Health and Medicine has just put a portion of their photo collection up on flickr announced that they have been sharing their photo collection on flickr since 2006.  There are some amazing things up, see links below. This announcement has been making the rounds of the history of science listservs, and I’ll reproduce it below, but I found out about the project from Morbid Anatomy, and then Boing Boing. Unfortunately, bb called the museum “The National Museum of Public Health,” adding a layer of confusion to the museum’s name. I myself have a hard time remembering the NMNH’s full name and generally call it the Army Medical Museum, its previous name (and in my opinion still more descriptive of their exhibit/programming bent, with their excellent resources on Civil War pathology).

The Otis Historical Archives of the National Museum of Health and Medicine (Armed Forces Institute of Pathology) has recently digitized several texts of historical significance, including
* The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, a
six-volume, in-depth study of Civil War wounds and diseases, based on specimens collected from the battlefield;
* A History of the United States Army Medical Museum, 1862-1917, a formerly unpublished manuscript;
* A Catalogue of Surgeons’ Instruments, Air and Water Beds,
Pillows, and Cushions, Bandages, Trusses, Elastic Stockings, Inhalers, Galvanic Apparatus, and Other Appliances Used by the Medical Profession (1866);
* The Medical Department of the United States Army in the World
War, 15 volumes recording “…the permanent written record of the
accomplishments of the Medical Department in [World War I]…;”
* A Medical Survey of the Bituminous-Coal Industry (Report of the Coal Mines Administration, 1947), well-illustrated with photographs of life in coal towns; and
* A collection of several medical texts and journals, some
hand-illustrated, from a captured Viet Cong physician. We hope to have these materials available soon. Most are too large to provide access through on our website.

We’ve been mostly digitizing photographs, working with Information Manufacturing Corporation (IMC), to scan the Medical Illustration Service (MIS) Library. The MIS Library is one of the NMHM’s largest collections, with 4,500 boxes of medical photographs. The Library was transferred to the Museum in late 2004, and houses millions of photographs from World War II through the 1990s representing diseases and their effects on humans and animals. Included in the collection are rare illnesses such as smallpox and the Asian flu. Over 191,000 images have already been scanned and are currently almost completely catalogued and indexed including the Army Medical Museum collection of pictures of the Spanish-American War, Museum and Medical Arts Service (MAMAS) photographs taken by Museum staff during WWII in Europe and Asia, images from the “Atlas of Tropical and Extraordinary Diseases,” historical portraits, medical pictures dating from US involvement in World War I through World War II, the Medical Museum’s 19th-century logbooks, Korean War pictures from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR), AEF autopsy and other photographs from WWI, Anita McGee’s pictures of the Russo-Japanese War, Signal Corps medical images (a subset of those held by the National Archives), and Vietnam War images (especially of surgery) from the Swan and Hansen collections while also scanning inhouse thousands of photographs from the Civil War.

Additionally, Otis Historical Archives has just begun to digitize a
collection of about 8,000 combat casualty cases from the Vietnam War known as WDMET (Wounds Data Munitions Effectiveness Team), comprised of approximately 200,000 pages of original documents, 120,000 slides, and several filing cabinets of bullets and shrapnel, collected from 1967-1969. The project is expected to take somewhat over one year.

We are working on solutions to providing access to these images on the internet, including a plan to load the Museum’s entire catalogue for online use. For slightly over a year, we have been uploading selected images on Flickr, and http://www.boingboing.com [sic] recently noted that and dramatically increased viewership of our photographs. Links to our 3 Flickr sites are below as is a link to the museum’s website.

Mike Rhode & Kathleen Stocker

http://nmhm.washingtondc.museum
http://nmhm.washingtondc.museum/collections/archives/archives.html
http://www.flickr.com/photos/99129398@N00 and
http://www.flickr.com/photos/7438870@N04/ and
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22719239@N04/ – favorite photos from the
Archives staff

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