Edison Speaks!

We all know that technology is a double edged sword: it provides new ways to do familiar things better and can even create new needs that we never knew we had.  (Who knew we needed to send strangers personal information about ourselves in blocks of 140 characters or less?!)  But it also has a downside, including the loss of masses of information and images as technologies become obsolete.  (Have you played that 8 track tape lately, or looked at those old 8 mm home movies?) 

But sometimes technology can also work to save treasures that have been passed over by time.  Such is the case with some recently restored radio broadcasts that were recorded by a pallophotophone.  This was invented by Charles Hoxie, a GE engineer, in the early 1920s. Using 35 mm sprocketless film, each strip contained eight to 10 parallel soundtracks etched on acetate and nitrate film.  Light bouncing off a tiny mirror exposed each strip of film and captured the sound.  A series of the pallophotophone recordings were found by an archivist, but he could not listen to them without a player.  Enter two engineers who developed a way to emulate the pallophotophine using modern technology.  Two years later, the hidden sound emerged, including a speech by Thomas Edison from 1929.

To read the full article and hear the audio of Edison speaking, please go to this link:


Could You Please Tell Me…..

Some weeks are incredibly quiet here in the Mount Sinai Archives, both literally (we are tucked away the Levy Library) and figuratively (no one's asked me a question in hours). And then there are other weeks that reference questions come fast and furious and on such a variety of topics that your head spins. The past two weeks have been a good example of the head spinning reference level. So, in case you ever wondered just what the Archives is for, well, here is what other people have thought to ask us lately:

Who was on the attending staff for Rehabilitation Medicine from its founding in 1910 until 1960? (It's a long list.)

Where did The Mount Sinai Hospital bury the Jewish patients who died while at the Hospital? ( Various synagogues in the City provided burial plots and then we used our own plots in Cypress Hills.)

Do I have information on Gustave L. Levy, the Mount Sinai Chairman of the Board and former Senior Partner of Goldman Sachs? (That came from two different people doing projects on Goldman Sachs, which seem very popular just now.)

Can I send them a photo of the first class (1883) of The Mount Sinai Hospital Training School for Nurses? (Of course!)

May a new member of the Nursing Magnet Committee look at the most recent re-application submission? (Of course!)

Can I provide Mount Sinai trivia for Inside Mount Sinai? (ditto)

Do I have information on S.S. Goldwater, MD, Director of The Mount Sinai Hospital from 1904-28? (Some, but his papers are really at the Archives of American Art.)

Could I send Risk Management a copy of the 3/09 version of Nursing policy #514 for a legal matter? Also, #604 from 2006, and #215 from 2007, etc. (Yes.)

Can I tell the Fire Marshall when 5 E. 98th Street was built? (Yup, 1927.)

Do I have an old metal film can they could use in an Employee Recognition film? (Done!)

Does the Archives have a record of my great, great grandfather who was a wounded Civil War soldier? (No, the medical records of soldiers that we treated were bound and are in the National Archives Military Records branch.)

Do our records contain any information on Central Eurpean Jewish doctors who emigrated to the US before and during World War II? (Some, but not much.)

Anyway, you get the idea. Mount Sinai history touches on many different themes and times, and it is fun helping people make that connection to the past.