From the Archives: New “Computing at Mount Sinai” Exhibit

The latest quarterly exhibits from the collections of the Mount Sinai Archives are now on display in the Annenberg elevator lobby. This spring, the main exhibit focuses on the history of computing at Mount Sinai, from the mainframe era of the 1960s to the modern era of ubiquitous devices and Big Data. Did you know that in 1965 Mount Sinai was the first hospital in the world, and the first institution of any kind in New York City, to purchase IBM’s state-of-the-art System/360 mainframe computer? This is just one of many computing milestones celebrated by this season’s exhibit.


[Pictured: Dr. John Boland of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Dr. Jack Hahn of the Laboratory of Computer Science inspect a computer terminal, 1974.]

The spring Nursing exhibit, underneath the stairs to the Stern Auditorium, celebrates the life of Florence Nightingale, whose birthday is the reason Nurses’ Week is held annually in mid-May. Two original volumes of Nightingale’s work are on display, including a copy of Notes on Hospitals which belonged to Dr. S.S. Goldwater, Director of the Hospital from 1903 to 1929. The volumes will be opened to a different page every few weeks so that viewers can inspect a wide sample of Nightingale’s pioneering work.

More Mount Sinai Records Digitized

An artistic illustration from an article by Ely Perlman, “Near Fatal Allergic Reactions to Bee and Wasp Stings: A Review and Report of Seven Cases,” Journal of the MSH, v. 22, 1955, p. 377.

The Mount Sinai Archives is pleased to announce the online availability of over 51,000 additional digitized pages from 112 publications, across three different titles from our collection. As part of a recent grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO), The Mount Sinai Archives has digitized The Mount Sinai Journal of Medicine, initially known as the Journal of The Mount Sinai Hospital. The time frame covered is from its founding in 1934 to 2010. We have also made available additional material from The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing. The Archives’ collection of School Announcements/Bulletins/Catalogues (the title varied) for the years 1905-1973 has been scanned, along with a copy of a history of the School of Nursing written in 1981.

All of these publications are available from the Internet Archive (IA) website, Archive.org. This addition brings the total of Mount Sinai volumes on that website to 178. There have already been around 11,000 downloads of Mount Sinai material from IA, and we are sure that number will grow. This material will also be preserved in the Mount Sinai digital repository and linked to catalog records in the Levy Library catalog.

For more information about our digital collections, please contact the Mount Sinai Archives at msarchives@mssm.edu.

Mount Sinai Hires a Dean – or Three

Fifty years ago this month, on January 8-9, 1965, the proposed Mount Sinai School of Medicine had its first LCME survey visit. A group was sent to judge whether The Mount Sinai Hospital could successfully create and maintain a medical school. If the surveyors were favorably impressed, they would send a letter of support to the U.S Commissioner of Education expressing their reasonable assurance of success, and the School would then be eligible to receive matching federal funds to help build the new school. Mount Sinai had already submitted a grant for $26 million and so this visit was incredibly important.

The leaders of Mount Sinai thought it would demonstrate their commitment to the School project if they could have a Dean in place by the time of the visit. The Dean Selection Committee had been interviewing several candidates, and in December decided that they would ask Irving Schwartz, MD, to become Dean at Mount Sinai. Dr. Schwartz was then Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physiology at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. The negotiations were opened right before the LCME visit and Dr. Schwartz was introduced to the surveyors as “almost definitely” the first Dean of the young School. The visit went well, and the surveyors were very impressed with Mount Sinai’s efforts. The Summary and Conclusions of their report include these observations:

- The Mount Sinai Hospital is an almost unique institution because of its long traditions of academic pursuits, its unusually capable clinical faculty, its extensive research activity in basic fields, and the strong support it receives from the Jewish community.

- Throughout the institution one can sense an aura of over-all competence, a devotion to academic pursuits, and a soundness of educational philosophy which auger well for the future of the school.

When the official report was received late in February, it had already been decided that Dr. Schwartz would not be the Dean of the entire Medical School, but would instead serve as Dean of the Graduate School of Biological Sciences, as well as Chairman of the Department of Physiology. The Dean Selection Committee went back to work, and by June had received the commitment of George James, MD to be the Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine, as well as the CEO of what would become The Mount Sinai Medical Center. On November 30, 1965, Mount Sinai held an investiture ceremony to install the first three official Deans of the new School: George James, MD as Dean of the School of Medicine, Irving Schwartz, MD as Dean of the Graduate School, and Hans Popper, MD, PhD, as Dean for Academic Affairs. (Dr. Popper had long been on Mount Sinai’s staff and was a leader in the effort to create a school.)

In 1967, after repeated submissions and revisions, Mount Sinai received its grant for $26 million, the largest such grant ever given by the government at the time.

The Mount Sinai Hospital News announces the investiture of the three Deans, December 1965

From The Archives: 3rd General Hospital Records Now Online

by Ramona Tirado
Mount Sinai Archives intern, Fall 2014

3rd General Hospital

The Mount Sinai Archives is proud to announce that the records of the U.S. Army 3rd General Hospital, Mount Sinai’s overseas unit during World War II, have been scanned and are now available to the public. This is the first Mount Sinai historical collection to be fully digitized and made freely accessible.

Establishing and maintaining a military hospital was a major undertaking that greatly taxed Mount Sinai’s financial and human resources. In total, Mount Sinai’s contribution to the war included 421 doctors, 216 nurses, 158 employees and 7 trustees, many of whom served as part of the 3rd General Hospital unit. The unit was established in August 1942 and trained at Camp Rucker in Alabama. They were sent overseas in May 1943, spending a year in Tunisia before following the Allied offensive into Italy and France. The unit was formally deactivated in September 1945.

The documents included in the 3rd General Hospital Collection span approximately 20 inches. The collection includes an unpublished unit history written by Dr. Ralph Moloshok, who meticulously detailed his experiences in the war from the arrival of the August 22, 1942 telegram announcing deployment orders to the unit’s official deactivation on September 16, 1945. The manuscript includes details of the officers’ training schedules, education, recreation, and travel. Photographs of their time in basic training at Camp Rucker, as well as their travels to North Africa, are affixed within its pages, and the manuscript also contains hand drawn illustrations by an unidentified artist. Also of note are two scrapbooks from the Department of Nursing and the Nursing Alumnae Association. These scrapbooks contain memorabilia and official documents associated with the Mount Sinai members of the Army Nurse Corps’ participation in World War II. They cover the time period from 1942 through 1945. The collection also contains a complete run of Grand Rounds: Memos from Mount Sinai Men to their Fellows in the Services, a newsletter that collected the correspondence of Mount Sinai’s overseas units for readers on the home front and abroad. Finally, of special note are the digital copies of 8mm films that were created by Dr. Henry Horn, a member of the Unit.  These are available for viewing on-site at the Archives.

A finding aid for the collection is available here. Scanned items can be viewed in the Mount Sinai Digital Repository.

Cover of the 3rd General Hospital Unit History

the logo of the 3rd General Hospital

Nursing’s Military Legacy: Isabelle V. Cedar Cook (November 1918 – July 2013)

by Ramona Tirado
Mount Sinai Archives intern, Fall 2014

Veteran’s Day is celebrated as an opportunity to reexamine past conflicts and acknowledge the men and women who have risked everything in a fight for their nations, their people and their beliefs. Military leaders recognize the great value of having clinicians available to attend those who have been wounded in battle and many Mount Sinai physicians and nurses have contributed their specialized skills in military service during wartime.

Mount Sinai’s Archives and Records Management division has among its holdings collections of documents detailing service of The Mount Sinai doctors and nurses in World War II. This Veteran’s Day, we would like to highlight one such nurse who represented the United States and The Mount Sinai Hospital in that war, Isabelle Cedar Cook.

Isabelle Cedar had just graduated from The Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing in 1940 when the U.S. Surgeon General proposed that Mount Sinai establish a 1000 bed hospital to treat soldiers overseas who had been wounded in the war. When the call was made for nurses to volunteer, Cook felt moved to action and enlisted to do what she felt was her duty to her nation. Cook was accepted into the Army Nurse Corps as part of Mount Sinai’s 3rd General Hospital unit, and in 1942 she reported for basic training at Camp Rucker in Alabama.

In May 1943 Cook traveled from Alabama to Casablanca, Morocco, where she and the rest of the unit awaited orders to report to the 3rd General’s site in Tunisia. Cook arrived in Tunisia as part an advance team that included 10 nurses. Upon their arrival, the nurses took over the French army barracks that the Germans had used as a hospital. The nurses were surprised to find the barracks still occupied by severely wounded Germans and a single doctor, all of whom had been left behind when the fighting ended. The nurses assumed the responsibility of caring for the wounded, and the doctor and all of the German soldiers became prisoners of war.

Over the next three years, the 3rd General Hospital would follow the front into Italy and then France. Cook celebrated the end of the war by marching in the VE (Victory in Europe) Day parade in Aix-en-Provence, France alongside Allied soldiers. The order came to close down the 3rd General in August 1945. She received her formal discharge in December 1945 having earned the rank of First Lieutenant.

In 1999, she published a book describing her experiences in the war. The book is titled In Times of War: Memoirs of a World War II Nurse.

“What is records management?”

I hear that a lot when I tell people that I’m the Records Manager here at Mount Sinai. And I will admit it is a fair question.

One fact that I can point out is that everyone has records that they manage. A very common example would be credit card bills. Whether you get an envelope in your mailbox or an email, every month you receive a statement telling you what you’ve charged and how much you need to pay. These statements are records. After paying the bank or American Express or the credit union, some people will save the statements, while others will delete or throw them away. That decision is a records management decision.

Mount Sinai creates or receives an enormous number of records every day, many with specific legal and regulatory requirements that must be met. One of the jobs of records management is to make sure that we keep these records long enough to meet these obligations. This is called setting retention periods and it is, in some ways, the simple part; most people like to hang on to their stuff.

The more difficult part is getting people to destroy records once their retention period is over. A few records do have long-term value; others are simply sent to storage and forgotten. Part of my job here is identifying those records that we no longer need to keep and convincing those responsible that it is okay destroy them. Since the expense of keeping records longer than necessary, in whatever format, is not trivial, this is important.

These two things are part of how Records Management helps Mount Sinai to actively manage our records. It sounds a lot like a parent trying to get a child to keep his or her room neat. It often feels like that but without the childish temper tantrums or teenage surliness. This is a serious business after all.

- Andrew Shultz, Records Manager

Celebrating American Archives Month

October is American Archives Month, when archivists around the country try to explain to the public just what it is that we do and why it matters. Most people probably have the vague sense that archives preserve information about the past so that history, individual rights and responsibilities can be defined and protected. But what does that actually mean to real people?

This past year, the Mount Sinai Archives has answered over 300 requests for information from the Mount Sinai community and interested outsiders. As part of that we have:

  • provided documents proving that a father’s military service was spent abroad so that his proud daughter could join the Veterans of Foreign Wars;
  • helped children/grandchildren/family members learn more about a loved one, now gone, who attended the Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing as a young woman;
  • provided documents to various Mount Sinai departments to support them in their everyday activities, from report creation to lawsuits;
  • supplied information and images to scholars and authors from around the world as they wrote articles, books and blog posts;
  • sat with an actress to talk about her role as a nurse in 1900, showing her documents, notebooks and uniforms to give her a sense of what it would have felt like to be a nurse then, her duties and her training.

We have helped real people touch a piece of the past and that has made an impact on their lives. Not a bad way to spend your day.

Howard Lilienthal and the Creation of Modern Thoracic Surgery

A portrait of Howard Lilienthal, MD done by Frank Netter, MD. Netter served in a Mount Sinai surgical clinic in the early 1930s.

This year marks the centennial of the creation of the Thoracic Surgery Service at The Mount Sinai Hospital, today’s Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery. Howard Lilienthal, MD was the first Chief of the Division and was a pioneer in the field. Later that same year (1914), he performed the first successful pulmonary lobectomy for inflammatory disease of the lung in the United States.  Much of his surgical work was made possible by the 1910 development by Charles Elsberg, a fellow surgeon at Mount Sinai, of a successful method of endotrachial anesthesia, allowing for open chest surgery.

Howard Lilienthal lived from 1861-1946.  Over his long career, he developed seven instruments and devices (a bullet probe and forceps, a portable operating table, a rib spreader, etc.), pioneered new operations, wrote many articles, and served in a variety of roles in various professional groups.  He was President of the New York County Medical Society as well as both the New York and the American Society for Thoracic Surgery, and a founder of what became the American Cancer Society.  In 1925 he published a two volume work on Thoracic Surgery, the first such textbook in this country; it was an instant classic.  Lilienthal was an officer in World War I, serving with Mount Sinai’s Base Hospital No.3 in France, as well as being placed in other hospitals that needed his expertise.  He was cited for a Distinguished Service Medal, but it never arrived. His only son, Howard Jr., died in 1918 while serving with a British regiment.

Lilienthal has been described as “elegant and aristocratic, very much in keeping with the Mt. Sinai tradition” of his time. He enjoyed fly fishing and painting, and when his failing eyesight ended his artist’s career, he wrote short stories for children. When he died in 1946, Mount Sinai mourned the loss of one of their best and most beloved surgeons.

 

Annenberg Building Dedicated 40 Years Ago This May

Vice President Gerald R. Ford and Walter Annenberg at the dedication of the Annenberg Building, May 26, 1974

On May 26, 1974, Vice President Gerald R. Ford was the principal speaker at the dedication of Annenberg Building, the home of the then new Mount Sinai School of Medicine. This celebration marked the culmination of two decades of work by Mount Sinai trustees and staff to raise the $152 million necessary to hire the faculty, create the curriculum, build the needed facilities and then find students willing to come to a new school with new ideas on medical education. The building was named for the Annenberg family because the eight children of Mrs. Moses (Sadie) Annenberg were early supporters of the fund raising campaign that created the School. The building was built to house the School of Medicine, but ultimately also had important spaces for The Mount Sinai Hospital, as well.

When the Annenberg Building opened, it had all the latest in technology, including ‘playback equipment for taped teaching aids’ and overhead closed circuit televisions. The Hospital side boasted a “computerized drug profile” for each patient and an automated medical record retrieval system. The radiology equipment was the latest, including a new ultrasound machine capable of displaying the anatomy of heart valves.

In his address, Ford said (as quoted in the NY Times), “I believe that cooperation and compromise are the only means by which our form of government – in this field and others – can move ahead successfully.” He had “hope and belief” that a national health insurance program would be enacted later in 1974.

In less than three months, Gerald Ford became President of the United States when Richard Nixon resigned. He had not mentioned Nixon’s name in his speech at Mount Sinai.

Mount Sinai in the First World War

A detail from a display case showing the dog-tags that belonged to Charles F. Naumberg. He is in the picture to the left.

This summer marks the centennial of the beginning of the First World War, sparked in June 1914 by the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.

When the United States entered the war in 1917, the U.S. Army called on American hospitals to enlist their doctors and nurses to serve the war effort. Members of the Mount Sinai staff were organized as U.S. Army Base Hospital No. 3 and stationed at Vauclaire, a fourteenth-century monastery in southern France that had been converted to a hospital.

Two of the display cases highlight Mount Sinai’s Base Hospital No. 3. The third case features pages from a scrapbook created by Marion Moxham, RN, a graduate of the Mount Sinai Training School for Nurses. She started at Base Hospital No. 3 and was then transferred to units in Germany. Her scrapbook provides a fascinating look at life in the Army medical services during World War I.

A page from the Moxham scrapbook. Note the memo from the Chief Nurse top left: “Nurses are not allowed to dance outside of their own hospital”.

This exhibit of material from the Mount Sinai Archives demonstrates how the hospital responded to one of the twentieth century’s first major crises. Twenty-five years later, with the outbreak of the Second World War, the government would once again ask The Mount Sinai Hospital to form and support an Army unit.