Bodies of Knowledge: Histories of Medical Teaching and Research at the Huntington

Introduction by David Zeidberg, Avery Director of the Libary
Melissa Lo, Dibner Assistant Curator of History of Science, Medicine & Technology Introducing history of medicine collection
Rare holdings related to teaching and innovation in the medical arts
16th-through 18th-century anatomical treatises, notebooks kept by Louise Patseur
Dept. chairs from USC Keck School of Medicine peruse manuscripts from archives of William Osler
November 11, 2014 - 6:30pm - 9:00pm
The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

Guests of Coreen Rodgers and Anne and Jim Rothenberg, Vice President for Financial Affairs, were treated to a taste of the rich history and culture of medical teaching and research in the Ahmanson Reading Room at the Huntington.  This select group of medical department chairs and administrators engaged in conversation and shared their wonder at the foresight and wisdom of their medical forebears exposed to them by enthusiastic Dibner Assistant Curator of History of Science, Medicine and Technology, Melissa Lo.

The Growth of Southern California is a recent phenomenon and so, in a sense, is the Library of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, usually for the sake of brevity, referred to as  the LACMA Library.  

A medical department was organized in the fledgling University of Southern California in 1885. Ten years later, having outgrown its makeshift quarters, the medical college moved into its own building, constructed for the purpose, on North Broadway, then Buena Vista Street.  A pathology laboratory was built at the school in 1899 with a room assigned for a library.  Many physicians in Southern California added to the collection with gifts of books and journals. By the turn of the century, the collection contained between three and four thousand volumes and was outgrowing its space.

Dr. Barlow (1868-1937) realized the need for an adequate medical library and provided additional temporary space at the Barlow Sanatorium for the management of pulmonary disease in a time when sufferers from tuberculosis flocked to the Southwest.  Through many sources the relatively young LACMA Library has grown to become the leading county medical library in the nation and one housing over two thousand rare books and upward of three thousand titles in medical history and ancillary fields.  

Guests left with a renewed understanding that growth really begins with lessons learned in the early days and slowly built upon through cross department, cross organizational and cross national sharing and making better existing resources. There have been all manner of ups and downs in the growth of clinical and research medicine and the administrative practice governing them, but we learn at every stop and we can use those lessons to make ourselves better.  The USC Institute for Genetic Medicine Art Gallery, its Advisory Council and partners look forward to further collaboration with the Huntington Library's programs and visionary staff.