Archive for the ‘History and Special Collections for the Sciences’ Category

This Just In: Recently Acquired Gifts and Purchases

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

A mini-exhibit of recent acquisitions in the History & Special Collections for the Sciences section of UCLA Library Special Collections is on display at the Louise M. Biomedical Library (4th floor public reading room) through 30 April 2014.

Items are headlined:

  • Collecting all sides of an issue
  • Everyone’s first book must be a book of verse
  • Failed separation of monozygotic (cow) twins
  • History of toilets
  • It’s a book … it was a book … it’s an artist’s book
  • Vaccination armband

This exhibit is part of an occasional series, “This Just In: Recently Acquired Gifts and Purchases”.

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

Grow(ing) Up! The UCLA Library Baby Record Books Collection

Thursday, February 6th, 2014


Selections from the UCLA Library’s Baby Record Books Collection are on exhibit in the UCLA Powell Library Rotunda through April, 2014.

“Grow(ing) Up!” celebrates the 10th anniversary of the collection’s founding.

Baby books contain categorized headings and spaces to guide parents to record memories about developmental milestones and activities in a child’s first few years. The memory books provide places to gather photographs, locks of hair, and other mementos.

In March, 2004, local antiquarian bookseller and UCLA alumna Barbara Rootenberg donated a copy of a London physician’s brief work from 1885, The Parents’ Medical Note-book. She asked us, “What medical information do baby books collect?” A lot, as it turns out, from physical developmental milestones to details about vaccinations, illnesses, and accidents.

No other libraries were collecting the books with vigor, so we bought a few (mostly through eBay, some at swap meets, some from booksellers) and accepted books as donations.  A decade later, we haven’t stopped, even at 1400 copies spread across more than 750 titles and editions since the 1870s.

Although our collection development strategy focuses on infant development, health, and illness, we are collecting comprehensively—every title and edition we do not have, and multiple copies of some when they are filled-out.

The books and their handwritten and pasted-in contents have been used for research and teaching in pediatrics, printing history, economic and social status, material culture, linguistics, architecture, advertising, folklore, depictions of family, and other topics and disciplines.

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

A Few Bones, Picked

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

Just in time for October 31: a mini-exhibit on skulls and skeletons, at the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

In the lobby, spend time with patent medicine calendars based on the late-19th century “skeleton sketch” illustrations of St. Louis physician/artist Louis Crucius. In the adjoining case, a skeletal tribute to the UCLA Tobacco-Free Campus initiative sits next to Frederik Ruysch’s early-18th century bizarre natural history tableaux.

We just received the Ruysch work back from the UCLA Library Conservation Laboratory. Amanda Burr recounts her experience with the volume in her October 30th posting on Preservation, “a weblog about preservation, conservation, and the stewardship of the UCLA Library’s collections.”

Upstairs, on the 4th floor, find Albinus’ human skeleton posing with Clara the rhinoceros (1767), Cheselden’s vignette of using a camera obscura to accurately draw his skeletons (1733), Jacques Gamelin’s work on bones and muscles intended specifically for artists (1779), and Bern Dibner’s 1963 history of Roentgenology.

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

This Just In: 1985 Fisher-Price “Childhood Memories” joins the UCLA Library Baby Books Collection

Monday, October 21st, 2013

The Fisher-Price Baby Book File and Organizer: Childhood Memories (BIOMED *HQ 779 F549 1985 RARE)  is one of the first “modern” baby books that provides ample space for stuffing ephemera and photos without bursting – because it comes as a loose-leaf binder. Covered in vinyl, however; I’m surprised that it hasn’t gotten sticky yet from extruded plasticizer.

But the breakthrough concept appears at the end of the sales pitch on the binder’s store-shelf box: “In fact, it’s so easy to use that even second children will have a baby book of their own.”

Sure, this may just have been a ploy to sell more product.  But as a third child (whose baby book — The Book of Baby Mine, BIOMED HQ 779 B724 1958 copy 15 RARE — contains my name … and that’s it, as far as any personal record goes), I appreciate the breakthrough.

For more information about the UCLA Library Baby Books Collection, read:

Baby books a mother lode for research

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

In the News: Stork Delivers Baby Boy; Need a Royal Record Book? (A new “flash” exhibit in the Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library)

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

In response to recent news out of St. Mary’s Hospital in London, we recommend a title or two from our UCLA Library Baby Books Collection to consider as the royal record book for George Alexander Louis.

Ethel Elaine Barr’s 1902 memory books—one (with a red cover, Biomed HQ 779 B268hi 1902 RARE) for a king, one (with a blue cover, Biomed HQ 779 B268h 1902 RARE) for a queen—are “illustrated in free-hand paper cutting” and include an appropriate coat of arms (or “diaper of arms”) for the nursery. (more…)

Labs on the Go: Scientific Tools for Collecting Empire, 1600 – Present

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Frontispiece portrait of the author from Georg Eberhard Rumpf’s Het amboinsch kruid-boek (Herbarium Amboinense), 1750 (Biomed * QK R937h 1750 v.1 RARE)

An undergraduate student-curated exhibition of scientific objects from UCLA Library Special Collections continues through September in two locations on campus: Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library (4th floor) and Powell Library Building Rotunda (2nd floor).

Marissa Petrou, the History of Science doctoral student whose GE Cluster students created the project from concept to completion, provided an introduction to the exhibit, which we share here with her permission: (more…)

The Hippocratic Oaths … Plural

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Portrait medal of HippocratesOn Friday, May 31st, students of the David Geffen School of Medicine Class of 2013 received their degrees and hoods, after which Dean/Vice Chancellor A. Eugene Washington administered the Hippocratic Oath.

But which “Hippocratic Oath”?

The pledge to practice medicine conscientiously and honorably comes in many varieties.  The current UCLA oath was adapted by now-Dean Emeritus Sherman Mellinkoff and differs significantly from the version recited by the first graduating class in 1955, for example.

A mini-exhibit by History & Special Collections for the Sciences, in the Biomedical Library (1st floor, in the lobby), includes six-century old texts, commencement programs, an academic medical badge presented by Nicholas II of Russia to a new doctor in 1915, portrait medals, and a leaf from “the” Hippocratic tree at Kos, to briefly illustrate the history of the Hippocratic Oaths … plural.

The Hippocratic Oaths … Plural (Six Centuries of Texts, Six Decades of Commencements) is on view through June 23rd.

[The portrait medal of Hippocrates (copper, 95 mm), seen above, was designed by Jacques Devigne for the Paris Mint in 1983. It is Sonnenschein #0650 in the Ralph R. and Patricia N. Sonnenschein Collection of Medical and Scientific Portrait and Commemorative Medals.]


Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

Smoking in the Library, the Lab, the Cafeteria … Before the UCLA Tobacco-Free Campus

Friday, May 10th, 2013

MEDUCLA 1958 (UCLA School of Medicine student yearbook)

On Earth Day, April 22nd, the whole of UCLA joined the hospitals and health science campuses to become tobacco- and smoke-free environments, according to an announcement from the UCLA Newsroom.

A mini-exhibit in History & Special Collections for the Sciences, in the Biomedical Library (4th floor, up the ramp from Stack level 9), uses yearbooks, archival photos, postcards, and advertisements to show the other side of the coin, when smoking and tobacco use were taken for granted in surprising (to us) circumstances.

UCLA’s Tobacco-Free Campus [facebook page]

UCLA Tobacco-Free Task Force

UCLA’s Tobacco-Free Policy

UCLA Policy 810: Tobacco-Free Environment

Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections

UCLA History of Medicine and the Medical Humanities Forum – Bob Frank on Yellow fever in Providence (April 12, 2013)

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013


The Bio-Social Ecology of Epidemics: Yellow Fever in Providence ca. 1800

Robert J. Frank, Jr., Ph.D.
Professor, UCLA Department of History

12:30 p.m., Friday, 12 April 2013

image of mosiquito


Location: Rare Book Room, History & Special Collections for the Sciences, UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, 12-077 CHS

Seating is limited. To reserve a seat, please call 310.825.6940

Epidemics happen. And since Thucydides, historians and literati have written extensively and graphically on the chaos that epidemics bring. This narrative mode has largely characterized the voluminous writings on yellow fever outbreaks in the United States from 1790 to 1905, when it seemed that no coastal town or city—especially southern—was safe from “yellow jack.” As I started exploring the epidemics ca. 1800 in the port town of Providence, Rhode Island (the 9th largest city in the young U.S.), I discovered an unusually rich trove of thousands of documents from which I could write a similar detailed narrative.

But I also found an even more interesting story—of the way in which the epidemics, in their timing and course, were shaped by what I call the “bio-social ecology of disease.” This ecology, is comprised of many interacting components: the nature of the yellow fever virus, the detailed characteristics of its vector (the mosquito Aedes aegypti), how the two cause the clinical picture of yellow fever, the weather and climate of the town, the topography of the port, the patterns of trade to the Caribbean, the characteristics of the merchant fleet, the activist nature of the town’s citizens, their hands-on political institutions, the medical care delivered to patients, and the preventative measures (such as patient isolation and ship inspection/ quarantine) that the town put in place. My presentation will privilege the structural, rather than the narrative, elements of this case study.

This series provides opportunities for faculty, students, staff, and visiting researchers to present recent work or unfinished work-in-progress in an informal, presentation-and-discussion format. Seating is limited and is not guaranteed without a reservation. Reservations may be made by contacting History and Special Collections for the Sciences (voice: 310.825.6940; email:

<submitted by Russell Johnson>

2013 = 1889

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Need a pocket-, wallet-, desk-, or fridge-calendar for 2013? Download and print our Hoyt’s German Cologne & Rubifoam advertising trade card for 1889, which matches the coming year day-for-day.


History & Special Collections for the Sciences has a small but growing Collection of medical and scientific calendars (Biomed Ms. Coll. no. 511).  Many, like this one, carry a scrapbook-worthy image along with details about a health product of service and perhaps even a testimonial or two.


E.W. Hoyt’s Rubifoam was a liquid dentifrice for cleaning and polishing teeth. It was sold in small, elegant glass bottles, much like the manufacturer’s colognes. Freely-distributed trade cards – a little larger than baseball cards – helped establish brand-identification and consumer loyalty. Hoyt’s cards carried an added bonus—a drop or two of the actual cologne (which has long since evaporated, but would not digitize well for this blog posting anyway). For a well-illustrated history of the company and its products, see Cliff and Linda Hoyt’s This Card Perfumed with “Hoyt’s German Cologne”.


Click on the images below for printable reproductions of the 1889 Hoyt calendar:







Come to think of it, 1895 = 2013 as well, so we also offer:







And, coming soon, the pièce de résistanceAntikamnia’s 1907 calendar (because 1907 = 2013, too), not to be missed!


Russell Johnson
History & Special Collections for the Sciences
UCLA Library Special Collections