Links to Great Archival Resources Online

The American College of Surgeons is getting ready to start celebrating the centennial of their founding in 1913.  As part of the events marking this milestone, they have created a wonderful timeline that highlights the history of American surgery, as well as the the history of the College itself.  It is a fascinating, well done look at their past, using images, documents, and video clips.  (I loved the 1972 M*A*S*H video.)

Online representations of history are becoming more frequent from archives around the world. Here are a few I have noticed recently:

The history pages of the Massachusetts General Hospital are a great example of technology making history available in an exciting format. Be sure to check out the flying numbers and dates. 

This year the New York City Municipal Archives announced the availability of 88,000 images relating to the City.  They are available here. These images are in the same software as those placed online by the National Library of Medicine, including 100 images of the home of Mount Sinai's World War I affiliated unit, Base Hospital No.3 in Vauclaire, France. (Use the search term 'Vauclaire' to find these.)

Archives around the world are trying to find the staff time and resources to place more and more online every day, and although this represents only a small amount of what exists in their collections, it is wonderful to look through the treasures to be found.

Graphics Search in UpToDate

UpToDate unveiled a useful new feature this week- the ability to search for graphics. You can now search UpToDate's 23,000 images by selecting Graphics from the drop down menu next to the main search box. UpToDate's graphics include the pictures, tables, illustrations, diagrams, graphs, algorithms and movies that appear in their clinical topics.

Images are first displayed in thumbnails, and are easily viewed in full, emailed, printed or exported to powerpoint:


To read more specifics about the new graphics search feature, click here.

Access UpToDate from the library's homepage or by going to while on Mount Sinai's campus. UpToDate is available on-site only.


BrainNavigator: a customizable online brain atlas

Brainnav A question we answer frequently at the library is whether we have any mouse or rat brain atlases. And we sure do! One of our favorites is the online BrainNavigator, which takes information and images from print brain atlases and, thanks to technology from the Allen Institute for Brain Science, generates interactive 3D brain models for rat, mouse, human and rhesus. Not only can you turn the brain model around on the screen to look at it from different angles, you can also set markers, slice the model at various angles, and even simulate injections into the brain.

BrainNavigator is hosting on online seminar at 11 am on June 2 that will show you how to go beyond even those capabilities listed above and generate custom atlases to meet your needs. You can learn more about the webinar and register for it here.

From the Archives: Document of the Week – Bad Signs

This entry starts a new series for the Mount Sinai Archives.  Each week (we hope!) we will post some individual item that we have come across that strikes us as historical, interesting, historically interesting, or in this case, weirdly fascinating.  It will be called Document of the Week, using the broadest definition of the word "document": something tangible that records communications or facts.  For our purposes, photographs are documents because they serve to, well, 'document' an instance in time. 

Surgery wash room sign 

The photograph above shows two signs found in one of the scrub areas in a Mount Sinai Hospital operating room suite. The photo is not dated, but seems to be from the 1970s or 80s. The sign on top provides important information.  The sign below it strikes us as something that should, perhaps, go without saying….

From The Archives: Dr. Arthur Sohval and the Ciba Collection of Medical Illustrations

Sohval Blog - Sketch Sohval Blog - Page Proof 

Above: pencil sketch by Dr. Arthur Sohval (left); page proof of final illustrations by Dr. Frank Netter (right)


In 1963, the editors of the Ciba Collection of Medical Illustrations asked distinguished Mount Sinai endocrinologist Dr. Arthur Sohval to contribute text and demonstrative illustrations to the Collection. Dr. Sohval, who specialized in disorders of the human reproductive system, was responsible for entries on infertility and on the pathogenesis of sex-chromosomal abnormalities.

The above images show the initial design and page proofs for the entry on “Diagnostic Studies in Female Infertility.”  Dr. Sohval’s initial design suggestions were rendered in paint by the celebrated medical illustrator Dr. Frank Netter, whose signature can be seen to the right of the uterine diagram in the upper right hand column. The X-Ray plates in the final illustration come from Dr. Sohval’s files.

These images have been scanned from the Dr. Arthur Sohval Papers in the Mount Sinai Archives. In addition to the records of Dr. Sohval’s work on the Ciba Collection, this collection includes a wide array of research notes and draft manuscripts that document Dr. Sohval’s long career as an endocrinologist and his pioneering work in electron microscopy. A native of New York City, Dr. Sohval was associated throughout his career with The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

The Arthur Sohval Papers are just one of the many manuscript collections in the Mount Sinai Archives that document Mount Sinai’s rich history. More information is available at the Archives website. – Nicholas Webb

Rounds on a Gastrointestinal Ward in 1951

Rounds GI 1951 

Rounds are a tradition in medical education: junior doctors present cases and senior doctors expound on them in such a way as to be instructive.  The residents learn, and hopefully the patient benefits by this meeting of the minds. 

The image above shows a combined Department of Medicine and Surgery rounds on a gastrointestinal ward of The Mount Sinai Hospital in 1951.  Such an event would never happen today, primarily for logistical reasons.  And what an event it was, with GI pioneers from both medicine and surgery scattered around the room! 

The man standing in the center in the gray suit with his back to us is Surgeon Ralph Colp. Medicine’s Albert Cornell is the man in the dark suit to Colp’s left.  The man left of center with his hand on his chin is Dr. Burrill B. Crohn, who in 1932 described Crohn’s disease with two surgical colleagues.  Standing next to Crohn in the lab coat is Franklin Hollander, Ph.D., a researcher hired by the Dept. of Surgery to help in basic research in GI disease.  The doctors are grouped around the light box holding the x-rays (with the house staff in short, white coats) and the nurses on the left.  Note that all the Attendings here were on the voluntary staff.  There were very few full-time physicians at Mount Sinai at this time.  The woman in the darker coat on the left is probably a social worker.  The woman in a white coat and no cap may be a dietician.

This is just one of thousands of images in the Mount Sinai Archives.  To see more, search the Image Database found on the Archives' website:



Each one = 1,000 words

NCBI has a new images database! At, you can find images from articles in NCBI’s full-text collections: that is, any article that has been deposited to PubMed Central (so, any recent NIH funded research). Find clinical photographs, graphics of molecular mechanisms, graphs of data, anatomical diagrams…anything you might find published in an article.

You’ll also see images appearing in PubMed records now – so even before you get to the full-text, you’ll see the figures in articles like “Fauna used in popular medicine in Northeast Brazil” (parrots!). A warning to the squeamish though – you’re also going to start seeing imagesScreenHunter_01 Oct. 29 11.55 for articles like “Viscoless Microincision Cataract Surgery“. So be careful!

New History of Vaccines Website

  I recently was sent a notice about a new website dedicated to the history of vaccines.  It was created by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.  Most of the images and information on the website come from the Historical Medical Library of the College, which is known for its rare books, manuscripts, and archives.  Here is the Mission Statement of the project:

The College has created The History of Vaccines to provide a living, changing chronicle of the compelling history of vaccination, from pre-Jennerian variolation practices, to the defeat of polio in the Western Hemisphere, to cutting-edge approaches to novel vaccines and vaccine delivery. The site aims to increase public knowledge and understanding of the ways in which vaccines, toxoids, and passive immunization work, how they have been developed, and the role they have played in the improvement of human health.

The site will also discuss some of the controversies about vaccination and some of the challenges, difficulties, and tragic events that have occurred in the use of vaccines.


There is a lot of good information and imagery here.  Well worth the look.


The Art of Science at Princeton


Princeton University has just opened their latest Art of Science online exhibition.  These 45 'artworks' come from the science that is being done by Princeton faculty and students. The theme this year is Energy.  If you click on one of the thumbnail images, you see an explanation of what you are looking at and the science behind it.  There are also links to previous years' galleries with other themes. Some of these are just beautiful – all of them will make you say "Wow!".

Get Your Daily Dose….

Now that the warm weather is here, isn't it nice to get outside?  The sun feels warm, the air is fresh, and it just feels good.  It should be no surprise that hospitals noticed that all that fresh air and sunshine was good, and took steps to make sure that their patients experienced it.  Hospitals were built with large windows and transoms over the doors so air could circulate freely.  This was true in the 1800s (see the photo of a ward at Mount 2nd MSH Ward male 1891 Sinai's Lexington Ave. site in 1891) and remains true today.  Mount Sinai's current I.M Pei designed hospital building provides sunlight to every patient room, and a sophisticated air handling system for temperature control. 

The building that Pei's Guggenheim Pavilion replaced was opened in 1904.  The architect, Alfred Brunner, used a much simpler approach to providing patients with environmental healing.  His design for the buildings, called Light and Air, provided the usual large windows and cross ventilation, but he also designed porches on the roofs of the buildings that allowed adult patients to be rolled out in their beds for Outdoor ward 1938c fresh air.  (The image shown is from 1936.) Pediatric patients used the roof for barbeques and entertainment.  Peds outdoor clowns

So, take a lesson from those hospital architects:  head outside and get your daily dose of Light and Air.