Duke Medical Center Archives Blog

In this post we’re highlighting one of our favorite older publications: a 1940's brochure of Highland Hospital.

Founded in 1904 in Asheville, North Carolina, Highland Hospital was a psychiatric facility that treated patients with mental illness, depression, and substance abuse problems. The hospital was known for attracting an elite clientele from around the country, and even treated some well-known figures, such as Zelda Fitzgerald. In 1939 founder Robert Sproul Carrol donated the hospital to Duke, who owned it until 1980, when the institution was purchased by the Psychiatric Institutes of America.

The brochure is lavishly illustrated, and describes the institution’s services and facilities. Highland Hospital was a product of the relatively new, burgeoning field of...

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Photographs are among the most frequently requested items here at Archives and this week we spotlight one of our favorite collections of images. Most of our prints and negatives are housed in the Photograph Collection, but there are also caches of photos in other collections. One such collection is the Wilburt C. Davison Papers. As the first School of Medicine dean, Davison had a remarkable career that lasted over fifty years and took him across the globe. The photos and negatives in his papers range in date from the late 1800s to the 1970s and capture the many things he did, the places he travelled, and the people he knew.

Among the earliest photos are ones of Davison in school at Oxford and with the American Red Cross during World War I....

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In this “Collections Spotlight” post we’re featuring the papers of Dr. Eleanor Easley, an innovator in women’s health.

Easley is known for several “firsts”: She was the first woman to graduate from Duke medical school’s four-year program, the first female resident at Duke Hospital, and the first female president of the North Carolina Obstetrics and Gynecology Society. Yet she didn’t originally plan to go into medicine. Born in Bellevue, Ohio, in 1907, Eleanor Easley received a BA from the University of Idaho in 1928 and an MA from the University of Iowa in 1929. While working on a graduate degree psychology, she enrolled in an anatomy course after her advisor suggested that she minor in physiology. She became fascinated by the subject, and decided to pursue a career in medicine...

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While Duke Gardens is one of the most recognized destinations on campus, it’s less well known that the attraction’s origins can be traced back to the medical campus.

The gardens were the idea of Dr. Frederic Hanes (pictured right), a physician who joined Duke in 1930 and became chair of the Department of Medicine in 1933. His daily walks on campus often led him past a debris-filled ravine, the result of a stalled project to create a lake. An avid horticulturist, Hanes had thought that this would be a perfect site for a garden featuring his favorite flower, the iris.

In 1934 Hanes persuaded Sarah Pearson Angier Duke, widow of Benjamin Duke, one of the university’s founders, to donate $20,000 for the garden. Construction...

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Category: DUMC History

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Read Our Spring Newsletter!
Posted On: April 17, 2014 by Jolie Braun

The DUMC Archives Spring 2014 newsletter is now available! To read it, visit our newsletters page. 

In this issue:

  • From the Director’s Chair: THE DUMC Archives Acquires a Küntscher Nail with a Unique History
  • DUMC Archives at Work
  • Digitized School of Medicine Yearbooks Now Online
  • News Book Highlights the History of the Duke Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Beyond Boxes: The Archival Process
  • News & Notes
  • Upcoming Events

If you’d like to subscribe to our newsletter, email us at: dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu.

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This week the School of Nursing welcomes back its graduates for their annual Reunion Weekend. In honor of the occasion, we shine our spotlight on a special part of the School of Nursing Records: the scrapbooks. Coincidentally, it was during a Reunion Weekend in 2006 that these scrapbooks were donated to the Archives. There are 11 scrapbooks in all, covering a 30-year period, from 1952-1984.

Highlights include two scrapbooks from nursing conventions. The first is of the 1952 Biennial Nursing Convention held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It features a conference program, registration directory, and many newspaper clippings about the event. Pictured on the right are two pages and the cover. The second is from the 1965 National Student Nurses’...

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The Education of Ida Owens
Posted On: April 3, 2014 by Jolie Braun

Duke University Graduate School has released The Education of Ida Owens: Science, Civil Rights, and the Integration of Duke University, a documentary about the life and work of Ida Stephens Owens, the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from Duke University. Owens was recruited to the graduate school in 1962 by Dr. Daniel C. Tosteson, then chair of the Department of Physiology, and under the mentorship of Dr. Jacob J. Blum, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology, received her PhD in physiology in 1967. Owens went on to establish a well respected research lab at the National Institutes of Health.

The DUMC Archives contributed many images of the School of Medicine and Medical...

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Historical Images Added to MEDSpace
Posted On: March 24, 2014 by Jolie Braun

The DUMC Archives is happy to announce that we have added more historic photographs to MEDSpace. Over two dozen images from the 1930’s to the 1990’s have been uploaded to the digital repository. Included are portraits key faculty and staff, views of campus buildings, and photos of medical and nursing students (such as the 1950's image of nursing students to the right).

The new additions can be viewed by scrolling down to the bottom of MEDSpace’s homepage and clicking the “Recent Additions” tab on the far right. While some of the people in these images have been identified, others have not. You can help us identify individuals by visiting our ...

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The architecture of Duke’s campus has been long admired for its gothic features and manicured gardens. Even modern structures, like the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education, are gorgeous from every angle. Yet it is beneath their exteriors that these walls become truly interesting.The Davison and Seely G. Mudd buildings, for example, share a design feature not found elsewhere in the medical center: each has a columbarium.

The idea for a columbarium began in 1949 when the Executive Committee of the Medical School formed a subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Wiley Forbus, to draft a proposal on how to commemorate the founding of the medical school. The initial proposal recommended murals be painted to honor significant events and...

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We are happy to announce that our new exhibit, “The Medical Garden,” is now on display at the Medical Center Library. Highlighting herbs and flowers from the Library’s medical garden, the exhibit features plant specimens, botanical illustrations, and archival materials. Items from the DUMC Archives on display include Wilburt Davison's botany notebook from his undergraduate days at Princeton and materials on poisonous plants from the Jay Arena Papers.

The idea for a medical garden was first suggested by Susan Carlton Smith Cavanagh, the Assistant Curator of the Trent Collection, who also worked as a botanical illustrator. In 1976, she and the Curator of the Trent...

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The Medical Center Archives is happy to announce that our collection of The Aesculapian, the Duke University School of Medicine yearbook, has been digitized and is now available online. The collection consists of 34 volumes that span more than 60 years of DUMC history, from 1950 to 2013. In addition to portraits of medical and nursing students, the yearbooks also feature photographs of faculty and staff, clubs and organizations, events, and campus buildings. Several volumes include essays on notable events or key figures in the medical center’s history. The collection was digitized by the...

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Duke’s African American LPN Program
Posted On: February 20, 2014 by Jolie Braun

This article first appeared in the February 2014 issue of the Medical Center Library's newsletter.

In honor of Black History Month, this look back at DUMC history features Duke’s licensed practical nursing (LPN) program. When it began in 1948, there were already several others in the state. Duke’s was unique, however, as it was the only one in North Carolina established exclusively for training African American nurses. (To the right is a photo of some of the program's first students.)

The program, known as the Practical Nurse School at Hillside High School, was a collaborative effort between Duke University Hospital, the Durham City Schools, and the North Carolina Department of...

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Category: DUMC History

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Love is in the air! This week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, we highlight two notable couples from Duke Medicine’s past. These men and women were not just couples, but also colleagues, committed to the work and mission of Duke Medicine. 

First are Dr. Joseph Beard and his wife, Dorothy (pictured right). The Beards came to Duke in 1937 after meeting at Vanderbilt University in the late 1920s. Dorothy trained as a surgical nurse and became an important part of Joseph Beard’s research team. Joseph Beard was one of the few Duke doctors at the time to focus entirely on research and teaching. Just one year after arriving at Duke, the Beards developed the first usable vaccine for equine encephalomyelitis, a...

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Category: DUMC History

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The Archives has many publications created over the course of Duke University Medical Center's history. One we're especially fond of is Shifting Dullness, a newsletter produced entirely by Duke medical students.

When Shifting Dullness began in 1968, its earliest issues were often a single page of announcements and events. Over the years, though, it grew, and by the 1990’s the publication had become a space for medical students to discuss professional issues as well as personal interests. Issues averaged 16 pages and included a wide variety of content: articles about the student code of conduct...

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Similar to badges, patches are a form of official identification often affixed to a uniform. These range from simple name tags to much more elaborate designs. Historically patches feature symbols and colors of importance to the organization. While there are different varieties of patches, embroidered are the most common. 

Over the years, Duke has produced patches for various staff and units affiliated with the Medical Center. The Archives has a representative selection of these within our collection. Pictured on the right is the patch from a Cadet Nurse uniform. In the center is a white Maltese Cross on a scarlet and gray background. The cross symbolized caring for the sick. The Cadet Nurse Corps began...

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