Duke Medical Center Archives
Category: DUMC History

archival collections

Online Resources Round-Up
Posted On: August 13, 2018 by Rebecca Williams

While we always welcome visitors to our physical location, the Archives has a variety of online resources to help users learn about the collections and the Medical Center’s history. The resources listed below can all be found or linked to elsewhere on our website, but they are grouped here together for your convenience. 

MEDSpace – If you’re looking for historic images, our digital repository, MEDSpace, is an excellent place to start. MEDSpace contains nearly 700 photographs documenting the history of Duke Medicine. You can also find early publications, medical illustrations and artwork, and medical artifacts.

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VA Hospital

On This Day: VA Hospital Opens
Posted On: April 6, 2018 by Rebecca Williams

On April 6, 1953, the Veterans Administration Hospital opened here in Durham, NC. The Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a part of the federal Veterans Health Administration (VHA) which seeks to provide medical care and services to America’s military Veterans. The origins of the VHA date back to the Civil War when President Abraham Lincoln “authorized the first-ever national soldiers’ and sailors’ asylum to provide medical and convalescent care for discharged members of the Union Army and Navy volunteer forces.”{1}  Today the VHA manages one of the largest health care systems in the world, partners with medical schools across the country to provide training for health professionals, and oversees medical research programs. 

The Durham hospital has grown since it first...

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Robert Randolph Jones Jr.

Murder Mystery
Posted On: December 21, 2017 by Rebecca Williams

If you were to stack every box contained in the Duke Medical Center Archives, it would equal the height of approximately 54 Duke Chapels! While we work hard to arrange and describe the over 11,000 linear feet of materials in our collection, it is both impossible and inadvisable for us to read or catalog every individual piece of paper. As foolish as it is to think that an archivist could possibly know all of the stories held within these collections, it is often tempting to believe that the institutional knowledge accumulated through time in the archives creates an omniscient historian or at least something pretty close. Recently I was reminded that I certainly do not know everything and more importantly that archival research can be a thrilling treasure hunt.  

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Archives contain many stories. Departmental records, photographs, scrapbooks, and old brochures all trace the historical record in different and occasionally surprising ways. Former faculty papers can show the process of scientific discovery. Oral histories can reveal past institutional knowledge. Old memos provide a glimpse into working conditions. Sometimes the stories are painful. The original sketches of the hospital floor plans show segregated wings. Sometimes the stories are incomplete. We certainly have not saved every document from the history of Duke Health. Sometimes the stories are just simple and fun. That’s the type of story that we’d like to share on the blog today.

When browsing through old...

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Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is a yearly celebration of the valuable work done every day by clinical laboratory personnel around the country. During the last full week of April every year, the medical laboratory professional community aims to educate and promote awareness about the profession. To commemorate this week and the work done by laboratory professionals here at Duke the Archives would like to share some documents from the earliest days in the Pathology Department. 

The Department of Pathology has been at Duke since the very beginning of Duke Hospital and the School of Medicine with Dr. Wiley D. Forbus serving as the founding chair of the department. His...

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School of Nursing Table Display

School of Nursing Alumni Weekend
Posted On: April 12, 2017 by Rebecca Williams

This past weekend Duke welcomed back alumni from a variety of academic disciplines and classes and the Archives were honored to participate in the celebrations on Friday at the School of Nursing. We set up a table display (shown below) with a historical timeline, photographs, old brochures and handbooks, and even a nursing uniform and cap. 

 

 

We heard many fun stories about campus life, nursing classes, and changes in nursing over the years.  Many alumni recognized the nursing uniform on display from their student days, but several commented that ours did not have nearly enough starch! 

Alumni and current nursing...

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In honor of Black History Month, our blog this week features Donna Allen Harris, the first African American woman to graduate from Duke’s School of Nursing in 1971.

On December 4, 2008, Jessica Roseberry conducted an oral history interview with Harris at the Medical Center Archive. During the interview, Harris recalls the isolation she felt while helping integrate the high school in Elizabeth City. Coming to Duke, she worried about the continuation of that isolation but found a close group of friends among the nursing students. Harris contends, “It was that this social aspect of it was so much different from high school and that was my solace.”

Donna Allen Harris was born in Elizabeth City, North...

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Dr. W. Delano Meriwether, the first black student admitted to the Duke School of Medicine, came to Duke in 1963. Dr. Charles Johnson, the first black faculty member, came to Duke in 1970. While black students and faculty were unfortunately not welcomed to Duke until more recently in history, African Americans have been a part of the Duke Medical Center since the very beginning. 

In 1930, when the hospital and the School of Medicine were about to open, Donald Love was busy with the many necessary preparations for the new hospital wards. Love is considered the first African American hire. He was hired in 1930 and worked at Duke until his retirement in 1974. In a 1970 issue of the Intercom, Donald Love...

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February is Black History Month and we will be celebrating it all month long here at the Duke Medical Center Archives. On our blog this month, we will highlight some important people and events in Black history at Duke Medicine. 

We encourage you to check out the Archives’ research guide African American History at Duke Medicine. The guide aims to introduce researchers to materials documenting the history of African American faculty, students, and staff at Duke Medicine. Included are oral histories, archival collections, photographs, audiovisual materials, and publications, selected key dates and key figures, and links to recommended digital resources.  

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Dr. James M. Young, SOM '55

White House Physician
Posted On: January 10, 2017 by Rebecca Williams

Today President Obama will deliver his farewell speech as he prepares to leave office and President-elect Trump prepares for his inauguration on January 20th. In this time of transition, there have been many news stories about the cabinet members, policy advisors, and the many 4,000+ jobs that the new administration must fill. There are a lot of people that work in the White House with varying backgrounds and responsibilities—including doctors! The White House Medical Unit is an important, but perhaps lesser known department that provides important healthcare services for the president, his employees, and everyone who visits the White House each day.

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On This Day: The Eye Center Opens
Posted On: November 8, 2016 by Rebecca Williams

On November 8, 1973, the Duke Eye Center (now called the Wadsworth Eye Center) was opened and dedicated. The $3.7 million project was the result of more than eight years of planning. Prior to its construction, patients with serious or unusual eye diseases often had to be referred to eye centers in distant places like New York, Baltimore, or Miami.

The three-story structure built in 1973 contained a 43-bed inpatient unit, operating rooms, a 22,000-square-foot outpatient clinic and one complete floor of research laboratories. It was built from funds received from individuals, foundations, and other private sources. The fact that no government funds or tax money was used on the project was a big source...

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Remembering Robert Blake
Posted On: February 25, 2015 by Matthew Shangler

This week the Archives honors the life and work of medical artist Robert Blake, who recently passed away at the age of 98. Blake came to Duke in 1941 as part of Civilian Public Service Unit #61. The picture on the right shows Blake during his service with Unit #61. He contributed illustrations to the unit newsletter and his artistic ability was noticed by medical artist, Elon Clark, who hired him on as part of the Division of Medical Illustration after the war.

Blake remained at Duke through his retirement in 1983. During his long career, he contributed artwork for medical exhibits, such as one on Accidental Poisoning for Dr. Jay Arena; calligraphy for Duke medical diplomas; and countless illustrations for Duke physicians. Blake, alongside...

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Last month the School of Medicine welcomed alumni back to campus for the annual Medical Alumni Weekend. This week, we look at the origins of this tradition in honor of the first medical reunion which was held on November 29th, 1940.

The Duke Medical Alumni Association was established in 1940 and organized the first reunion later that year. The second meeting, held April 24-26, 1947, was attended by 281 alumni and featured presentations on various medical topics and a business meeting. The program for this meeting is pictured on the right. Reunions were held every three years (with a hiatus for World War II) until 1959 when an alumni weekend in its current form was proposed.

The first...

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Did you know that Duke’s School of Medicine was one of the first in the nation to offer hospital administration courses? When Duke Hospital and the School of Medicine opened in 1930, hospital administration was a new, relatively small field. Yet for the first School of Medicine Dean, Wilburt Davison, it was an issue of special importance, as the process of organizing and establishing the hospital had made him well aware of the need for good hospital administrators. He also believed it was crucial to have more well-trained administrators throughout the South in order to help raise the standards of health care in the region. Inspired in part by Michael M. Davis’ 1929 publication, Hospital Administration: A Career, which stressed the importance of training for hospital...

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The Davison Building Shields
Posted On: July 15, 2014 by Jolie Braun

84 years ago this month, July 1930, construction of the Davison Building was completed. Then simply known as the School of Medicine Building, the structure was built to resemble the collegiate gothic architecture found throughout Duke’s main campus, and included common features of the style such as arches, buttresses, and parapets.

Buildings on the main campus also frequently displayed shields connected to the department or discipline they housed, and the Davison Building was no different: 15 prominent medical and educational institutions are represented above the entrance. Included are some of the most influential medical schools throughout the world, such as the University of Virginia, McGill University, Royal College of Surgeons, University of Padua, and Trinity College (...

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