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Robert L. Brown History of Medicine

History of Medicine News

Chart the future by exploring the past

Introduction to History of Medicine Classes!

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The Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection was established in 1972. The collection was named in 1985 for Robert L. Brown, MD, former Associate Dean of the School of Medicine, in recognition of his strong support of the Health Sciences Library for more than twenty-five years. The collection includes historical books and print materials in all areas of the health sciences, including dentistry, medicine nursing, pharmacy, & public health and the Edgar R. McGuire Historical Medical Instrument Collection that contains instruments and artifacts from medicine and health sciences disciplines.

The courses will offer a tour of the collection followed by a discussion of research resources both in the collection and online that are related to the history of the health sciences.  The dates are: Thursday March 15th from 6pm to 8pm and Wednesday April 18th from 1pm to 3pm.  We hope to see you there!


Related LibGuide: History of Medicine by Linda Lohr






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Debate: a contention by words or arguments………..

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Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital

On January 8th and January 11th Liz Stellrecht and Linda Lohr were delighted to attend the annual Erie 1 BOCES Connections debates at Buffalo General Medical Center and Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, respectively.  Christine Tillman and Shatonia Thornton, the Connections Instructors, brought their classes to the Health Sciences Library in November where they worked with librarian Liz Stellrecht who taught them how to search for scholarly information to support their debate arguments on a hot topic in health care and to help them write a paper about the topic.   Following the instruction session the groups spent time visiting the History of Medicine Collection.

Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital


The topics for the debates were “Resolved: It is ethical to suspend HIPAA in an emergency” and “Resolved: Prescription Opiates Should Remain Legal”.  The programs began with a background of each topic presented by students who made up the Education Team followed by the Affirmative and Negative sides stating their arguments.  Each side then asked questions of the other side after which came their closing statements.  Regardless of who won, the teams did an excellent job of demonstrating the hard work and research that went into supporting their arguments.  Their passion and conviction was evident which made the experience even more enjoyable.  Liz and Linda look forward to working with BOCES/Connections in the future and to attending these debates!

Buffalo General Medical Center


Buffalo General Medical Center








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BOCES/Connections Classes Return!

Millard Fillmore Suburban

It’s that time of year!  The History of Medicine Collection was pleased once again to host visits from students involved in the Erie 1 BOCES New Visions Connections Health Related Careers program. This 1-year  program gives honors-level high school seniors from schools around Western New York the opportunity to observe careers in many allied health areas through a mentor relationship with a practicing professional in fields including Anatomy, Physiology and Disease, Health Core/Internship, English 12 and Social Studies: Participation in Government & Economics.


Shatonia Thornton and Millard Fillmore Suburban class

Shatonia Thornton from Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital and Christine Tillman from the Buffalo General Medical Center brought their students to the History of Medicine on September 25th and October 20th, respectively.  I gave both groups a tour and prepared a “hands on” display of some the book and instrument highlights of the Collection.  It’s always exciting to share the history of medicine and the health sciences with these very bright students who may never have seen these kinds of materials up close and personal.  The groups responded very enthusiastically to the visit!  As always I learn from them as much as I hope they learn from me. I look forward to doing it again next year.

Christine Tillman and the Buffalo General Medical Center class











Cleveland Rocks!

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On October 13th and 14th I had the opportunity to attend the Symposium: Technology in Museums and Education at the The Dittrick Medical History Center which addressed the expanding role of technology in museums and education. The Symposium marked the official Grand Opening of the How Medicine Became Modern digital exhibition wall, a touch-screen interactive that previews the Dittrick’s collections through stories and images. The Symposium began on Wednesday with a thought-provoking lecture titled “Medical Museums and the Digital Turn” by Lisa O’Sullivan, PhD, who serves as Vice President and Director of the Library and Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health at the New York Academy of Medicine. Following the lecture, guests went upstairs to the Museum for a reception and the opportunity to experience first-hand the digital exhibition wall. The next day’s activities began with morning talks dedicated to the use of digitization and interactives at the Dittrick Museum, as well as a presentation of Case Western Reserve University’s HoloLens project and its impact on medical education. Participants had the opportunity to don a holographic augmented reality headset and interact with the projected image of the human body. I was able to peer into the chest and see the beating heart and blood vessels in action!    The Cleveland Clinic/Case Western Reserve University Health Education Campus is scheduled for completion in 2019 and will include the CWRU schools of medicine, dental medicine and nursing, and the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine. There will no gross anatomy lab in the complex!

Following lunch the afternoon was spent at the amazing Cleveland Museum of Natural History where participants toured the new Human Health Galleries and the Hamann-Todd Osteological Collection with more than 3,000 cadaver-derived human skeletons (I actually got to hold a human leg bone in my hand!) and learned about the Centennial Campaign to transform CMNH galleries. In the evening guests enjoyed a fabulous meal at a restaurant in Cleveland’s Little Italy. Kudos to James Edmonson, Brandy Schillace, and all the folks involved in making this a truly memorable and educational event!






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2017 Buffalo/Niagara Dental Convention

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Liz S. working the table!

2017 Buffalo Niagara Dental Convention

Once again the School of Dental Medicine Alumni Association graciously allowed the Health Sciences Library and the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection to have a presence at the annual Buffalo Niagara Dental Meeting, held this year on October 4-6, 2017 at the Buffalo Convention Center.  Liz Stellrecht, Pamela Rose and Linda Lohr manned a table displaying a variety of books, instruments and photographs as well as informational handouts about the library and the History of Medicine.

And the band played on…….

The Convention attracted local practicing dentists, dental hygienists and dental hygiene students, dental assistants and other office staff as well as faculty, staff and students from the School of Dental Medicine.  It was most enjoyable to meet new people and get reacquainted with individuals from previous meetings. Entertainment was provided on the first night by an all-dentists band! We look forward to participating in this wonderful event next year!



PS – Congratulations to the UB School of Dental Medicine on its 125th Anniversary!






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Special Librarians Discussion at WNYLRC

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Regional discussion on issues of organizations having little or no space to store and display collections was held at the Western New York Library Resources Council yesterday.

Over 20 attendees from organizations in the Buffalo Niagara region heard from speakers representing three different “space sharing” experiences: Hamburg municipal governments (Brian Wielinski), The Niagara Arts & Cultural Center (the NACC; Rachel  Macklin Olszewski) and the Buffalo Irish Genealogical Society (BIGS) at the Heritage Discovery Center (Diane Blaser and Donna Shine). Brian described how four different government entities share and manage a physical records storage space in Hamburg, Rachel described the genesis of the NACC and how it has evolved into an anchor for the community, offering space for individuals and organizations in the performing arts, music, culture, folk art, and more; Donna and Diane shared their experiences at the Heritage Discovery Center where their BIGS collection is housed in a physical space owned by the WNY Railway Society as part of an exchange in services that the Railway group gets help from them in cataloging their railroad collections.

Discussion topics included grants and other funding sources for building physical spaces; the pros and cons of owning versus renting a physical space; balancing exhibit, storage and processing spaces; ways that organizations can connect among themselves and with other community groups to identify common interests and collecting strengths, facilitating moving towards a shared space experience and more! One main thought that came out of the event was that perhaps there is a need to conduct a major assessment of collections content across the region. Knowing what collections are held by different organizations (what topics or subjects they cover) as well as physical attributes like volume of materials, physical condition, degree to which a collection is processed  and or is cataloged in some fashion – all this could go a long way towards mobilizing a plan of action.






Heidi Bamford

WNYLRC Watch 9/15/2017


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Visitors from China

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Dr. Li, Dr. Zhong and Dr. Yang

On December 1st and 2nd the Health Sciences Library and the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection were delighted to host three visitors from China, Dr. Zhongjie Li, Dr. Jianxiong Yang, and Dr. Zhihua Zhong.  All three are from Sichuan Province, home of the giant panda. Dr. Li is a dentist and faculty member at the West China Hospital of Stomatology, Sichuan University, in Chengdu and Drs. Yang and Zhong are engineers at the Sichun Anhengli Denture Technology Co. Ltd. in Mianyang.  The reason for their visit was to gather information regarding the development of dental articulators in early 20th century. According to Dr. Li, during this period a large number of dental articulator designs came out and some of the most important designers were from the University of Buffalo including George Snow and DeWitt Gritman. Others such as Rupert E. Hall and Rudolph L. Hanau lived in Buffalo. Except for Hanau, who was an engineer, this group was referred to as the Buffalo Study Club of Dental Engineering. Together with other scholars, their work lead to important developments in the study of dental occlusion.  The History of Medicine Collection was able to locate both online and print resources regarding the subject.

At the Dental School

While they were here Dr. Pamela Jones, Assistant Dean of the School of Dental Medicine, graciously provided the guests with a tour of the Dental School where they were able to see a number of dental articulators.  Before they left for the next leg of their travels, they had the opportunity to visit Niagara Falls! It was a great pleasure to spend time with Dr. Li, Dr. Yang and Dr. Zhong and hopefully they may be able to return in future.





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Maxillofacial Prostheses Through the Decades

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Prosthetic devices

Prosthetic devices

The History of Medicine Collection received a marvelous donation of various maxillofacial prostheses produced from pre-1940 through the 1990’s. These items are a gift from Norman Schaaf, D.D.S. and David Casey, D.D.S. and are made from materials ranging from vulcanized rubber to Polymethyl methacrylate (acrylic glass) to silicone and acrylic. Some of the uses for the prosthetic devices were for head and neck cancer patients, individuals with Multiple Sclerosis and people with cleft palates. These implements included ears, noses, eyes and a variety of dentures and cleft palate and maxillary speech aids and obturators.

In 1958 Dr. Schaaf met Dr. Harold Solomon, the only dentist in the Department of Dental Surgery at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute, and later worked with him until his retirement in 1968. In1967 with a grant he received from the U.S. Public Health Service, Dr. Schaaf established a Regional Center for Maxillofacial Prosthetics and in 1969 was awarded a grant from NIH to develop a Residency in Maxillofacial Prosthetics. Another grant in 1970 enabled research into facial prosthetic materials. In 1998 a new clinic was established in the present RPCI Hospital. Dr. David Casey joined the Department in 1980. Both Dr. Schaff and Dr. Casey are retired Emeritus Faculty of the School of Dental Medicine’s Department of Restorative Dentistry.





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Then and Now: Nursing in Remote Communities

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“Is he dead?” I whispered.

Sallie shook her head. “I don’t think so … there is a faint pulse … He must have jumped,” Sallie continued. “See there is his plane. Clear across the field.  Jammed into a haystack …”

We were enormously relieved when one of the nurses came tearing up to the fence and through the corn to the place where the patient lay. She was a fresh faced English girl and we came to know her later under the name of Jim … Jim took charge of the situation like a general on the field of battle. We thanked God for Jim. “Get an axe,” she directed. “Cut a couple of stout poles. Get ready a stretcher. We are going to have to take this man to the center. One of you men take my horse and ride like the wind to Manchester. Get the doctor. Bring him here as fast as you can come.”

FNS LOGOThe above scene illustrates an event experienced by nurses who were members of the Frontier Nursing Service. The Frontier Nursing Service was an organized midwifery service in the United States founded in 1925 by Mary Breckinridge. It was established to elevate the level of healthcare in very rural areas by bringing trained midwives out to homes in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains region. The midwives not only participated in delivering babies and providing prenatal care, but also in preventative care for citizens. According to the Frontier Nursing University Website, Mary Breckinridge demonstrated that care provided by nurse-midwives acting as nurses to the total family would drastically cut infant and maternal mortality and also morbidity and mortality for the entire community.


Still today, nurses and students participate in programs similar to the Frontier Nursing Service – even our very own UB nursing students and faculty, along with other health professions students at UB! The UB School of Nursing offers various service learning experiences, one of which is through the Remote Area Medical (RAM) Program. RAM provides student volunteers the opportunity to travel to a rural area, where a mobile clinic has been situated, to provide medical care to an undeserved, isolated or impoverished community – much similar to the assistance the Frontier Nursing Service provided.

While health care in the United States has come a long way, there still exists a need for services such as these – programs like RAM continue to provide individuals and families with vital services – and we can credit Mary Breckinridge as the forerunner in establishing a program that provides health care to those who may otherwise lack access.


UB Nurses working in the Remote Area Medical Program (RAM).



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Getting to Know the Western New York Library Assistants!

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Library Assistants + Ben Kutas from the Radiology Museum

Library Assistants + Ben Kutas from the Radiology Museum

Getting to Know the Western New York Library Assistants!

Members of the Western New York Library Assistants group held a “Getting to Know You” program in the Robert L. Brown History of Medicine Collection on April 12, 2016.  WNYLA is a member of the New York State Library Assistants’ Association.  The afternoon included a tour of History of Medicine and the UB Radiology Museum, refreshments and a delicious cake and an opportunity to socialize.  It was a great pleasure to be a part of this event!











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