Artifacts from Historical Collections: Forgotten Views of the University of Virginia Hospital

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Public Ward, University of Virginia Hospital, circa 1920

A few months ago, the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library scanned a collection of around 30 glass plate negatives dating from the 1920s and 1930s. Many of them show subjects that are very recognizable to the library’s historical collections staff. There is a portrait of a former dean, a view of the Old Medical School Building, and an image of the Rotunda. However, there were some images that required a little detective work to identify.

 

Is this a still from the latest film adaptation of Great Expectations?

Is this a still from the latest film adaptation of Great Expectations?

We came across this photograph of a building that would look right at home in a film adaptation of Oliver Twist. Based on the background scenery, we could determine that the structure stood on the location of the Old Medical School building sometime between 1916 and 1927. We then researched the hospital’s annual reports from this period and discovered that, during the 1920s, the university constructed a service building to house the hospital’s laundry and kitchen facilities. We think that the service building only stood for a few years before it was demolished to make way for the Old Medical School Building. This still does not explain why trash was strewn all over the grounds surrounding the structure, but maybe that is a mystery that would best remain unsolved.

This structure was most likely located where the entrance to UVA's Old Medical School Building now stands.

This structure was most likely located where the entrance to UVA’s Old Medical School Building now stands.

We also had some difficulty identifying this annex attached to the hospital’s Steele Wing. We are certain that the image dates from between 1916 and 1927. Based on information in the hospital’s annual reports from that period, we now believe that the annex only stood for a few years during the 1920s and it housed a pediatric ward.

 

 

If we only knew what was being taught in this classroom ...

If we only knew what was being taught in this classroom …

Finally, we know that this photograph shows a teaching laboratory during the 1920s, but we were unsure about its location or if it was even a part of the medical school. So, using Photoshop, we examined small details in the photograph that were captured in a high-resolution scan. We still haven’t determined for certain where the laboratory was located, but we are certain that it was a part of the medical school. The negative is of such a good quality that we can zoom in on the blackboard at the front of the classroom and clearly see that notes were left on it by a former UVA Professor of Surgery, William Goodwin.

Luckily, Dr. Goodwin didn't erase his course questions before the photographer arrived

Lucky for us Dr. Goodwin didn’t erase the blackboard before the photographer arrived

If you have any information about these images that you would like to share, feel free to contact our historical collections curator, Joan Echtenkamp Klein, at jre@virginia.edu. Also, you can learn more about historical collections and services at the Claude Moore Health Sciences Library by visiting our web site and Facebook page.

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