Duke Medical Center Archive Blog

The Davison Building Shields
Posted On: July 15, 2014 by Jolie Braun

84 years ago this month, July 1930, construction of the Davison Building was completed. Then simply known as the School of Medicine Building, the structure was built to resemble the collegiate gothic architecture found throughout Duke’s main campus, and included common features of the style such as arches, buttresses, and parapets.

Buildings on the main campus also frequently displayed shields connected to the department or discipline they housed, and the Davison Building was no different: 15 prominent medical and educational institutions are represented above the entrance. Included are some of the most influential medical schools throughout the world, such as the University of Virginia, McGill University, Royal College of Surgeons, University of Padua, and Trinity College (… MORE

Category: DUMC History

The Oral History Collection here at the Archives is one of our oldest and most interesting collections. There are over 300 interviews with key figures in the Med Center’s history that date from 1955 to as recent as 2012. This post is the first in a series we are launching to highlight major subjects and individuals featured in this collection. As July 3 marked the 72 anniversary of Duke’s 65th General Hospital Unit receiving orders to report for duty at Fort Bragg, we wanted to begin our Oral History series with Dr. Ivan Brown, who served in the unit and played an integral role in preserving its memory.

Dr. Brown began his career at Duke as a student, and after graduating with his MD in 1940, joined the 65th General Hospital Unit in 1943. Though he went on to accomplish much… MORE

Category: Collection Highlights

African American soldier

New Exhibit and Upcoming Lecture Highlight Civil War Medicine
Posted On: June 16, 2014 by Jolie Braun

We are happy to announce that our new exhibit, “Civil War Medicine,” is now on display at the Medical Center Library. Featuring rare books, medical instruments and artifacts, and historic images and documents from the Rubenstein Library, the exhibit explores health care during the Civil War. It will be on display from June to September.

In addition to this exhibit, the Library & Archives is hosting a six-banner traveling exhibition, “Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine.” Produced by the National Library of Medicine, this display highlights the contributions of African Americans as nurses, surgeons, and hospital staff during the war. It will be on Level 2 of… MORE

Category: News

Duke blazer available for purchase by students.

What to Wear? New Styles added to the Archives!
Posted On: June 11, 2014 by Matthew Shangler

As it’s graduation season, we thought it would be fitting to celebrate in style with two recent accessions. The first item, pictured on the left, is a blazer that was donated to us by alumna Gladys Lewis at the Nursing Alumni Weekend in April. The blazer was available for purchase by Duke undergraduates and could be had with or without the Duke seal on the breast pocket. Mrs. Lewis earned both her Bachelors in Nursing (’60) and Masters in Nursing (’62) at Duke and taught nursing students on Osler Ward from 1961-1963. Afterwards she went on to work in hospice care and raise a family before returning to nursing later in her career. Mrs. Lewis was proud of her achievements at Duke and the blazer symbolized that sentiment. Though the blazer is not specific to the School… MORE

Category: News

Highland Hospital brochure

A Closer Look at the Highland Hospital Brochure
Posted On: June 5, 2014 by Jolie Braun

In this post we’re highlighting one of our favorite older publications: a 1940's brochure of Highland Hospital.

Founded in 1904 in Asheville, North Carolina, Highland Hospital was a psychiatric facility that treated patients with mental illness, depression, and substance abuse problems. The hospital was known for attracting an elite clientele from around the country, and even treated some well-known figures, such as Zelda Fitzgerald. In 1939 founder Robert Sproul Carroll donated the hospital to Duke, who owned it until 1980, when the institution was purchased by the Psychiatric Institutes of America.

The brochure is lavishly illustrated, and describes the institution’s services and facilities. Highland Hospital was a product of the relatively new, burgeoning field of… MORE

Category: Collection Highlights

Wilburt Davison

Depicting Davison: Pictures from his Papers
Posted On: May 21, 2014 by Matthew Shangler

Photographs are among the most frequently requested items here at the Archives and this week we spotlight one of our collections of images. Most of our prints and negatives are housed in the Photograph Collection, but there are also caches of photos in other collections. One such collection is the Wilburt C. Davison Papers. As the first School of Medicine dean, Davison had a remarkable career that lasted over fifty years and took him across the globe. The photos and negatives in his papers range in date from the late 1800s to the 1970s and capture the many things he did, the places he travelled, and the people he knew.

Among the earliest photos are ones of Davison in school at Oxford and with the American Red Cross during World War I. Davison… MORE

Category: Collection Spotlight

Women’s Health and Eleanor Easley Papers
Posted On: May 12, 2014 by Jolie Braun

In this “Collections Spotlight” post we’re featuring the papers of Dr. Eleanor Easley, an innovator in women’s health.

Easley is known for several “firsts”: She was the first woman to graduate from Duke medical school’s four-year program, the first female resident at Duke Hospital, and the first female president of the North Carolina Obstetrics and Gynecology Society. Yet she didn’t originally plan to go into medicine. Born in Bellevue, Ohio, in 1907, Eleanor Easley received a BA from the University of Idaho in 1928 and an MA from the University of Iowa in 1929. While working on a graduate degree psychology, she enrolled in an anatomy course after her advisor suggested that she minor in physiology. She became fascinated by the subject, and decided to pursue a career in medicine.… MORE

Category: Collection Spotlight

Dr. Hanes and the Beginnings of Duke Gardens
Posted On: April 23, 2014 by Jolie Braun

While Duke Gardens is one of the most recognized destinations on campus, it’s less well known that the attraction’s origins can be traced back to the medical campus.

The gardens were the idea of Dr. Frederic Hanes (pictured right), a physician who joined Duke in 1930 and became chair of the Department of Medicine in 1933. His daily walks on campus often led him past a debris-filled ravine, the result of a stalled project to create a lake. An avid horticulturist, Hanes had thought that this would be a perfect site for a garden featuring his favorite flower, the iris.

In 1934 Hanes persuaded Sarah Pearson Angier Duke, widow of Benjamin Duke, one of the university’s founders, to donate $20,000 for the garden. Construction… MORE

Category: DUMC History

Front page of Spring 2014 newsletter

Read Our Spring Newsletter!
Posted On: April 17, 2014 by Jolie Braun

The DUMC Archives Spring 2014 newsletter is now available! To read it, visit our newsletters page. 

In this issue:

  • From the Director’s Chair: THE DUMC Archives Acquires a Küntscher Nail with a Unique History
  • DUMC Archives at Work
  • Digitized School of Medicine Yearbooks Now Online
  • News Book Highlights the History of the Duke Division of Infectious Diseases
  • Beyond Boxes: The Archival Process
  • News & Notes
  • Upcoming Events

If you’d like to subscribe to our newsletter, email us at: dumc.archives@mc.duke.edu.

Category: News

Bound for Posterity: School of Nursing Scrapbooks
Posted On: April 9, 2014 by Matthew Shangler

This week the School of Nursing welcomes back its graduates for their annual Reunion Weekend. In honor of the occasion, we shine our spotlight on a special part of the School of Nursing Records: the scrapbooks. Coincidentally, it was during a Reunion Weekend in 2006 that these scrapbooks were donated to the Archives. There are 11 scrapbooks in all, covering a 30-year period, from 1952-1984.

Highlights include two scrapbooks from nursing conventions. The first is of the 1952 Biennial Nursing Convention held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. It features a conference program, registration directory, and many newspaper clippings about the event. Pictured on the right are two pages and the cover. The second is from the 1965 National Student Nurses’… MORE

Category: Collection Highlights

The Education of Ida Owens
Posted On: April 3, 2014 by Jolie Braun

Duke University Graduate School has released The Education of Ida Owens: Science, Civil Rights, and the Integration of Duke University, a documentary about the life and work of Ida Stephens Owens, the first African American woman to receive a doctorate from Duke University. Owens was recruited to the graduate school in 1962 by Dr. Daniel C. Tosteson, then chair of the Department of Physiology, and under the mentorship of Dr. Jacob J. Blum, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of Cell Biology, received her PhD in physiology in 1967. Owens went on to establish a well respected research lab at the National Institutes of Health.

The DUMC Archives contributed… MORE

Category: News

Historical Images Added to MEDSpace
Posted On: March 24, 2014 by Jolie Braun

The DUMC Archives is happy to announce that we have added more historic photographs to MEDSpace. Over two dozen images from the 1930’s to the 1990’s have been uploaded to the digital repository. Included are portraits key faculty and staff, views of campus buildings, and photos of medical and nursing students (such as the 1950's image of nursing students to the right).

The new additions can be viewed by scrolling down to the bottom of MEDSpace’s homepage and clicking the “Recent Additions” tab on the far right. While some of the people in these images have been identified, others have not. You can help us identify individuals by visiting our Demystify… MORE

Category: News


Hallowed Halls: Columbaria at Duke Medicine
Posted On: March 17, 2014 by Matthew Shangler

The architecture of Duke’s campus has been long admired for its gothic features and manicured gardens. Even modern structures, like the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education, are gorgeous from every angle. Yet it is beneath their exteriors that these walls become truly interesting. The Davison and Seely G. Mudd buildings, for example, share a design feature not found elsewhere in the medical center: each has a columbarium.

The idea for a columbarium began in 1949 when the Executive Committee of the Medical School formed a subcommittee, chaired by Dr. Wiley Forbus, to draft a proposal on how to commemorate the founding of the medical school. The initial proposal recommended murals be painted to honor significant events and… MORE

Category: DUMC History

New Exhibit Features the Library's Medical Garden
Posted On: March 10, 2014 by Jolie Braun

We are happy to announce that our new exhibit, “The Medical Garden,” is now on display at the Medical Center Library. Highlighting herbs and flowers from the Library’s medical garden, the exhibit features plant specimens, botanical illustrations, and archival materials. Items from the DUMC Archives on display include Wilburt Davison's botany notebook from his undergraduate days at Princeton and materials on poisonous plants from the Jay Arena Papers.

The idea for a medical garden was first suggested by Susan Carlton Smith Cavanagh, the Assistant Curator of the Trent Collection, who also worked as a botanical illustrator. In 1976, she and the Curator of the Trent Collection, G.S.T.… MORE

Category: News

Duke’s African American LPN Program
Posted On: February 20, 2014 by Jolie Braun

This article first appeared in the February 2014 issue of the Medical Center Library's newsletter.

In honor of Black History Month, this look back at DUMC history features Duke’s licensed practical nursing (LPN) program. When it began in 1948, there were already several others in the state. Duke’s was unique, however, as it was the only one in North Carolina established exclusively for training African American nurses. (To the right is a photo of some of the program's first students.)

The program, known as the Practical Nurse School at Hillside High School, was a collaborative effort between Duke University Hospital, the Durham City Schools, and the North Carolina Department of… MORE

Category: DUMC History