Anatomical Theatre Web Exhibit

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A new web exhibit from Historical Collections is now available!

The Anatomical Theatre at the University of Virginia

Detail of the Anatomical Theatre from View of the University … by E. Sachse & Co., 1856. Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Detail from View of the University… E. Sachse & Co., 1856. Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

Some of you might remember the physical display about UVA’s Anatomical Theatre which was in the library lobby last year. Now, an expanded version has joined 34 other online exhibits hosted on the Historical Collections exhibits webpage.

While an anatomical theatre was not included in the earliest plans of the University, the need for one became clear before the first classes were held in 1825. Thomas Jefferson himself drew the design which included two floor plans, a front elevation view, and a cross section. The web exhibit documents the initial construction and traces later changes to the building into the first third of the twentieth century.

Photograph of the Anatomical Theatre by Atcheson Laughlin Hench, 1937. Prints07408, Special Collections, University of Virginia Library, Charlottesville, Va.

The exhibit also explores events surrounding the uses of the building. Through the letters of an early faculty member, John Staige Davis, the reader gets a glimpse of what anatomy professors in the nineteenth century did to procure “subjects” or cadavers so their medical students could perform dissections. Davis described arrangements with “resurrectionists” or body snatchers who frequented the cemeteries of the poor and the enslaved. Letters were also written to request the bodies of those sentenced to death, as when Davis asked for those “Convicts awaiting execution,” referring to men who were to be hung for their participation in John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry.

Wish you could visit this Jeffersonian building? Sadly, that is no longer possible as it was demolished in 1939 following the construction of Alderman Library. However, a generous number of images in the exhibit illustrate the Theatre’s location, appearance, and demise.

The Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library houses many of the photographs, the John Staige Davis papers, and numerous official University of Virginia documents which were useful in telling the story of the Theatre. Janet Pearson from Historical Collections wrote The Anatomical Theatre at the University of Virginia, but the initial spark for the exhibit came from the late M.C. Wilhelm, M.D.

Blog post written by Janet Pearson.

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Meet the Author of “Flatlining: How Healthcare Could Kill the U.S. Economy”

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flatliningLIVE BROADCAST THURSDAY MARCH 16, 2017  2:00 – 2:30 PM

Issues surrounding healthcare – and the ways to improve it — are constantly in the news, more so now than in recent memory. With a changing political climate in Washington, and across the country, lawmakers on all sides are trying to figure out the best course of action to address this critical issue. “Flatlining: How Healthcare Could Kill the U.S. Economy” takes these issues head on, with a mission to provide a deeper understanding of the health industry.

Join Ron Howrigon, author of “Flatlining: How Healthcare Could Kill the U.S. Economy” to learn more about this important issue.


This free webinar is sponsored by Rittenhouse Book Distributors, Inc.

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Projection Now Available in Detmer Room

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The Detmer Room in the after hours space of the library has become a popular meeting place for our Health System patrons.  To meet the needs of patrons who wish to project something when using the room, we recently purchased a smart TV.  A Service Desk team member will deliver the TV to the room, when requested.

Please contact the Service Desk at 924-5444 if you would like to reserve the room or if you have any questions.


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Cancer: The Road Ahead

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The journal Cell has just published a special issue entitled “Cancer: The Road Ahead.” In it, the Cell editorial team writes:

“Fighting cancer has been the life mission for generations of biologists and clinicians, and to this effort we dedicate this issue of Cell. This reviews issue highlights the converging paths in cancer research that are enabling changes in clinical treatment and removing obstacles between patients in need and access to effective care. Empowered by these breakthroughs, it is possible to imagine major gains against cancer’s relentless advance.”   Cell 168(4), 9 February 2017, Pages 545–546

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ColorOurCollectionsThis week marks the second annual #ColorOurCollections event! #ColorOurCollections is a project launched last year by the New York Academy of Medicine Library. Inspired in part by the recent popularity of coloring books (even among adults!), #ColorOurCollections strives to take advantage of the great coloring content that can be found in special collections held by libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions around the world. Last year over 200 institutions joined in the fun by sharing images from their collections and encouraging users to unleash their inner creativity. On you can find and download hundreds of coloring pages taken from everything from children’s classics to botanical texts, anatomical atlases, university yearbooks, and much more!

Coloring sheets

Look for coloring sheets just inside the lobby of the CMHSL, near the top of the staircase.

The Claude Moore Health Sciences Library is excited to offer a “coloring book” this year featuring 8 images from our collections. The images are from volumes of Galen (from 1537), Avicenna (1527), Gerard (1633), and Culpeper (1807-1810), and from an early 20th century Virginia public health publication. Coloring sheets can be downloaded in PDF form (Click to download: Claude Moore Health Sciences Library-Coloring Pages-2017.PDF) and are also available through our Facebook page. Print copies will be available in the Library as well. Be creative and have fun! And after you’ve created your masterpiece, we’d love to see it! Upload your colorings to social media with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections (on Facebook if you tag us in your post @historical.collections or @uvahsl we’ll be sure to see it!) Questions about #ColorOurCollections? Contact Emily Bowden in Historical Collections at

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New Exhibit: Frankenstein and the Secrets of Nature

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Frankenstein Exhibit PosterToday Frankenstein’s reputation as a “monster story” has perhaps partially eclipsed the rich history of scientific inquiry, medical progress, and social evolution that underlies the text. Frankenstein was published in 1818, a time when a strong sense of scientific curiosity permeated academic circles and the general public alike. Popular topics of interest included understanding the so-called “secrets of nature” and probing the elusive boundary between life and death. Scientists and physicians sought to better understand the definition of life through the study of human anatomy and physiology, dissections of other organisms, experiments involving electricity, and other medical and scientific investigations, such as attempts to resuscitate victims of drownings. Author Mary Shelley was among those fascinated by this pursuit of “the secrets of nature,” an interest clearly reflected in her novel Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus. From Victor Frankenstein’s fervent efforts in his laboratory to the monster’s musings on the essential properties of life, the book poses profound questions about science, ethics, and society.

Frankenstein Exhibit

Frankenstein exhibit on display in the lobby of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library.

A new travelling exhibit that examines these intersecting subjects is now on display in the lobby of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library. Frankenstein: Penetrating the Secrets of Nature was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine; the exhibit explores the life of author Mary Shelley, her remarkable novel, and the defining era of scientific inquiry and social change in which it was written. An online version of the exhibit with additional digital content can be found on the website of the National Library of Medicine. The exhibit will be at the Health Sciences Library until March 24, 2017. Accompanying the exhibit panels are anatomy texts from the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library’s rare books collection and 19th century instruments from the Library’s medical artifacts collection. For questions or comments, contact Historical Collections & Services.

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Remembering Dr. M.C. Wilhelm

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On January 18, 2017, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library was saddened to learn about the death of Morton “M.C.” Wilhelm. Dr. Wilhelm was a professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and was renowned for his contributions to the treatment of breast cancer. In recent years, M.C. had volunteered his time to the Historical Collections and Services Department of the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library. In his brief time with us, M.C. assisted in a number of projects, the most notable being his co-authorship of the book, A History of Cancer Care at the University of Virginia: 1901-2011. M.C. was more than a colleague to us, he was a dear friend who took a genuine interest in the lives of those who surrounded him and was always ready to lend a hand and a word of advice. In remembrance of Dr. Wilhelm, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library would like to share this interview from 2013. More information about his life and memorial celebration can be found here: 


Joan Klein and M.C. Wilhelm (2013)

Morton C. (M.C.) Wilhelm, M.D. is the Joseph Helms Farrow Professor Emeritus in Surgical Oncology at the University of Virginia School Of Medicine.  He is an accomplished surgeon and has contributed to many publications, including A History of Cancer Care at the University of Virginia 1901 – 2011.  Last fall, Dr. Wilhelm was honored by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons for his early work in emphasizing support practices for cancer patients. He is the first recipient of the award.  I sat down with Dr. Wilhelm in early February and quickly found out that having a conversation with him is like a cup of hot cider on a cold winter’s day.  His stories are engaging and his opinions are based on years of experience.  His words linger like the sweet smell of apples and cinnamon.

Know the ones that came before you.  Learn from their mistakes so you can be a pioneer instead of someone who reinvents the wheel.  Reach your pinnacle. These were the words that resounded after my conversation with Dr. Wilhelm.  So much so that I found myself with a thirst to revisit the masters of library science, such as Dewey, Garfield, Billings, and Ranganathan.

Who are the masters in your profession?  What thinking contributed to the design of the processes that you encounter at work?  How often do you ask why?

And how did a prominent surgeon end up spending his retirement years in Historical Collections & Services at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library?  Read on.

What brought you to Historical Collections?

I sort of got started by accident.  One time I ran into Gretchen (Arnold) and Joan (Klein) and I told them I was bored and needed something to do.  They both agreed that there was work for me to do, and Joan invited me to Historical Collections.  About that time, my good friend, Oscar Thorup, died after a long illness.  Oscar was a Hematologist and understood the value of medical history.  His research interests focused on Thomas Jefferson’s correspondence with physicians.  He published on the topic and spoke about it around the world.  Oscar’s family asked me if I’d like to have his papers, and, in a weak moment, I said yes, and soon ten boxes showed up at my house.  I spoke with Dan Jordan at Monticello, who knew Oscar.  He said they would like his materials at Monticello and he asked me to curate the papers, because they needed a physician to do it.  For almost four years, I worked at Monticello editing Jefferson’s correspondence with about six physicians.

At the same time, I started working here, and we started our work on the history of cancer care at the University of Virginia.  I liked doing the research and, since I could no longer do surgery and I needed more than golf, I continue to spend my time here in Historical Collections.  Currently, I’m working with Historical Collections staff on a web page about Jefferson and medical education.  So, again, I fell into it, and I like it.

Let’s talk about the Internet.  At what point did you start doing research on the Internet?

When I was at Monticello, I needed to look at other letters, which I was able to find on the Internet.  I’m not comfortable sitting in front of a screen for a long period of time, so I still use print materials.  I think we also need to be aware that on the web you are often looking at something that someone else has culled, so it’s important to look at original sources.

What would your advice be to someone just entering the medical profession about the importance of knowing the history of medicine?

As a surgeon, I needed to know the history of the surgical treatment of a particular disease.  In other words, you need to know the background on why an operation was done the way it was.  In the 70s, right after Medicare, the federal government realized they had no standards of practice.  So they formed a group called EMCRO (Experimental Medical Care Review Organization), and our medical society applied for and received a major grant.  Our job was to develop standards of care in a number of different areas.  We read all the literature in order to justify each step in a surgical procedure, which shaped my thinking as a surgeon.

Where do you get that information?

You go through old textbooks written by people considered to be good surgeons.  If you don’t know the history, generations will end up making the same mistakes as previous generations.

At what point in the education process do you instill medical history?

I think medical students now get a little more exposure to history than we did.  And maybe medical students have a broader background coming into medical school than we did; we were strictly science.  Therefore, I think the medical student today is more broadly educated to appreciate the value of history.  If you are in a certain field of medicine, you need to know how it was done, who are the masters, and why did they did it the way they did it.  If all of this was done twenty years ago, you don’t need to make the same mistakes, so you can spend your time advancing your field.  And the value of history, of course, doesn’t apply just to medicine.  There was a PBS special a while back that featured Paul McCartney sitting down with master musicians, all of whom had studied music before they had entered their chosen genre.  The music was incredible.

You may have a talent that is truly remarkable, but if you don’t go back and get the background you will never reach your pinnacle.  We should all be striving to reach our pinnacle, and making our imprint on future generations.

Additional Information:

Sharp, Henry and Morton C. Wilhelm. A History of Cancer Care at the University of Virginia, 1901 – 2011. Lancaster: DEStech Publications, 2011. This book can be purchased at the UVA Bookstore, or signed copies can be purchased at Historical Collections for $35 (payable by check).  Please call 982-0576 for further information.



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HIT Fair Fun Next Week

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Experience and learn about the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library Virtual Reality Studio from 10am - 1pm on February 1st

The Health Sciences Library Hosts Activities Feb 1st, 9am – 1:30pm

Drop by the Health Sciences Library anytime between 9am – 1:30pm, grab some refreshments and discover the following:

  • Put on the gear and try out the library’s virtual reality studio for yourself.
  • The latest web conferencing technology available for free checkout.
  • The video production studio and how to use it for your project.
  • The latest Dell mobile computing available for free checkout.
  • Apple iPads with iHealth peripherals available for free checkout.
  • Podcasting sound booth and how to reserve it for your project.
  • The library’s new event space, The MILL.
  • Upgraded collaboration spaces and more!

Health Information & Technology Week: Jan 30 – Feb 2 (more activities)

The Health Information & Technology Division at UVA Health System in partnership with the School of Medicine (SOM), the University Physicians Group (UPG), the Health Sciences Library, and the Patient and Family Library is excited to host Health Information & Technology Week from January 30th to February 2nd, 2017. This annual event will provide technology end-users across the Health System with relevant information about current and soon-to come Health Information & Technology product and services. The week will feature interactive demonstrations, informational booths and posters, and informative presentations addressing a variety of technology topics.

For more details, and information about times and locations visit


Health Information & Technology Week Event Schedule

Wireless Infusion Pump Day

  • Monday, January 30th
  • Location: Main Hospital Dining Conference Rooms

Epic Phase 2 Workflow Walkthrough

  • Tuesday, January 31st

For schedule and location information visit

Health Information & Technology Fair Day: Booths and Demos

  • Wednesday, February 1st

Location: Main Hospital Lobby, Glass Link at PCC, Health Sciences Library Link, and the Main Hospital Dining Conference Rooms

Additional Presentations

Monday, January 30th and Thursday, February 2nd

Locations: Pinn Hall Conference Center (formerly Jordan Hall Conference Center)

Spread the word and tell your friends about the exciting events at this year’s Health Information & Technology Week. All presentations and select events will be lived-streamed and made available following the event.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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Medical Journal Podcasts

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podcastMany of our online journals offer subscribers free podcast services which provide a rich variety of audio content including author interviews, highlights of new articles, discussions of medical controversies and developments, and many other topics of interest to busy medical professionals and students. If you don’t have time to sit and read the latest medical information, you can listen on the go with any or all of these podcasts provided by some of our most popular journals:

Annals of Internal Medicine




Cell and other Cell Press Journals




Journal of the American Medical Association








New England Journal of Medicine






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Alzheimer’s Disease Film Available Now

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AlzheimerYou’re Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don’t is the first documentary to be filmed entirely in an Alzheimer’s care unit, and also the first told entirely from the perspective of a woman living with Alzheimer’s disease. The film received its national television broadcast on PBS’ Emmy Award-winning Independent Lens series, and has garnered acclaim from both medical professionals and film critics.

In Danville, California, Lee Gorewitz wanders on a personal odyssey through her Alzheimer’s & Dementia care unit. From the moment she wakes up, Lee is on a quest – for reminders of her past and of her identity. A total immersion into the fragmented day-to-day experience of mental illness, You’re Looking At Me Like I Live Here And I Don’t is an Alzheimer’s documentary filled with charismatic vitality and penetrating ruminations that challenge our preconceptions of illness and aging. Here is one extraordinary woman who will not let us forget her, even as she struggles to remember herself.

“This riveting film grabbed my attention immediately and held it through the final scene. When it ended I felt sad — not because of the subject matter but because I wanted to spend more time with this unique and endearing woman with whom I’d fallen in love. I missed her, so I turned around and watched the entire movie again.” – Marie Marley, Huffington Post

“Deeply moving [and] unforgettable!” – PBS


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