Almost there!

There hasn't been a post with a renovation update for a while now – not because there is nothing happening, but because there has been too much happening! The temporary walls at the Library entrance have been taken down, revealing new carpeting, a new ceiling, the new services desk…and about a dozen contractors hurrying to finish everything. Things are still changing every day, with various parts of the Library blocked off by plastic or yellow tape, but we are getting close to being finished with the major portions of the renovation. As always, ask us if you have any questions about where things are (you can call too, at x47791 or x47793), and look out for some new pictures on the blog and Facebook as soon as we resuscitate the battery in our trusty old camera…

Mount Sinai in LIFE

As an archivist, I am kind of schizophrenic about the web.  I fight hard against the easy – and totally wrong – assumption that, "Everything is on the web."  NO, it's not. And even though archivists are certainly working hard to put more and more of our primary resources online, at this point we are lucky to make overview descriptions of our collections available, let alone the documents themselves.


Still, there are a lot of neat things out there that are fun to look at.  One I just played with is the complete run of LIFE Magazine, made available by Google Books.  I did my usual Mount Sinai seach and found a few articles of interest.  In the February 10, 1947 issue are photographs taken at Mount Sinai documenting a research project in gastroenterology.  The article is called "Inside the Stomach."  In the November 2, 1959 issue there is an interesting article on medical costs called "The Challenge of Mounting Expenses." (Very interesting reading to see what they were saying on health care costs 50 years ago.)  In this article they use two images taken at Mount Sinai, one showing our new 25 million volt betatron used in treating tumors, and the other showing a man at work in our kitchen.  The latter was used to demonstrate the rising cost of hospital personnel.  The caption notes that the employee is a $42.50 a week helper, which comes out to $2,210/year if you do the math!

There are also two articles in LIFE Magazine centered around famous Mount Sinai physicians, Drs. Bela Schick (October 28, 1957 issue) and Samuel Rosen (July 27, 1962 issue).  Dr. Schick was Director of Pediatrics from 1923-42. He helped establish the concept of allergy (and coined the term), and developed the Schick test that allowed doctors to test for immunity to diptheria.  This was the focus of a massive public health campaign in the 1930s, with the tagline of, "Have You Been Schicked?"  Dr. Rosen was an otolaryngologist who in 1952 re-discovered and popularized the procedure of mobilization of the stapes to cure deafness in otosclerosis.  He also was well known for travelling around the world to study the impact of the sounds of modern society on hearing loss.  The LIFE story discusses his trip to Africa to study the hearing of isolated tribes.  Rosen also travelled to Georgia in Eastern Europe and was one of the first westerners into China in the early 1970s. 

So, while not everything is on the web, thanks Google Books for adding another interesting piece to the puzzle.

Oops! Historical Truths Versus Historical Facts

    Recently I was processing some minutes from Mount Sinai's Social Service Auxiliary (today's Auxiliary Board).  This group of dedicated women was founded in 1916 to support the Social Service Department here and it has funded scores of projects around the Hospital and Medical Center over the years, most devoted to understanding and improving the experience of the patient.  (One obvious exception was when they paid one half of my salary my first year here to help underwrite the creation of the Archives.  Thanks!)  Anyway, I was perusing the Report of the Social Service Dept. for 1917 and it noted that the department was formed in 1906 (knew that) and was one of the first such programs in the country (knew that) and the first social worker hired was a graduate of The Mount Sinai Hospital Training School for Nurses (knew that), Miss Rose Johnson.  Wait, what?!  For years now people who have studied the history of the Hospital and the department have all noted that Jennie Greenthal, also a graduate of our school, was the first social worker hired here in 1906.  Who was Rose Johnson?!

    This set me off to look through the records that I have that might shed light on this.  I searched the Board of Directors (now Trustees) minutes for 1905-06: nothing on this but endlessy fascinating. (The doctors asked the Directors to please study the administrative functions because the floors were dirty and the food was bad.  The Directors disagreed, but it wasn't long after this that new people were brought in to oversee the housekeeping, laundry, and food service.  Hmm.)  I checked the annual reports for 1905-1908 and no social worker is noted until the report covering 1907.  So I went back to the minutes of the Board and started searching the minutes from 1907.  For good measure, I also searched the Executive Committee of the Board for 1907. And that's when I realized that we had probably been wrong about this for the last 90 years! 

    In the July 15, 1907 minutes of the Executive Committee, the Superintendent of the Hospital reported that he had made "arrangements for the summer months with Miss Greenthal to act as social Nurse and friendly Visitor in the wards".  Later that year, Mr. Paul Warburg offered to give $1,000 to support the efforts of the now named Social Welfare Department, and that is what is reported in the 1907 annual report. Another source says that Rose Johnson, RN, took over from Miss Greenthal after the summer.<social $1,000="$1,000" 1907="1907" after="after" and="and" annual="annual" another="Another" department,="Department," efforts="efforts" friendly="friendly" from="from" give="give" greenthal="Greenthal" in="in" is="is" johnson,="Johnson," later="Later" miss="Miss" mr.="Mr." named="named" now="now" nurse="Nurse" of="of" offered="offered" over="over" p="P" paul="Paul" report.="report." reported="reported" rn,="RN," rose="Rose" says="says" social="Social" source="source" summer.

    But why had we ever started using the 1906 date?  Well, we knew we were an early program in the new field of medical social work (the first was in 1905) and memories are not perfect.  In fact, I have some typed notes from an interview with Jennie Greenthal where she says that she started the social work department in 1906.  But this was 30 years after the fact and the surviving documentation does not support that.  Perhaps they started talking about doing this in 1906; certainly Dr. Goldwater was very interested in this new area of hospital work.  We'll never know exactly how the earlier date crept in, but I, for one, am convinced that our Social Service Department began in 1907 and we've been wrong all of these years. 

    Now I wonder if anything else could be mis-dated…..   

EndNote X3 for Macs

Endnotex3 EndNote X3 for PCs came out a little while ago, with a few new features. Probably the most useful is that you can now use the Find Full Text feature to automatically locate full-text for articles in your EndNote library, even when you are off-campus. As usual, the version for Macs was a little bit behind, but now X3 is available for both Macs and PCs at a discounted rate from Levy Library Computing. And remember that we're always here to answer EndNote questions too - while we're under construction we're not teaching our regular EndNote drop-in classes, but you're welcome to contact us to ask a question or set up an individual or group session to learn more!