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Medical Education From the Greeks to Duke
Editor's Note: Gabriel Aikens is a NC Central University student who is working as an intern this summer with the Duke Office of News and Communications.
Durham, NC - What does your doctor know? Or a better question: How does he know it? At the Duke Medical Center Library and Perkins Library, a new exhibit shows viewers the history of medical education from the days of ancient Greece to the founding of Duke Universityâs School of Medicine.
Behind some of the glass displays are papyrus fragments from an Egyptian magical handbook, a Latin manuscript dating back to the 12th century, an original sketch for Duke University Hospital and School of Medicine dating back to 1927 and a physician's bag with medical tools similar to those given to the first graduating class of Duke. The bag came from a collection of a 1944 Duke medical graduate.
"We were looking for a way to talk about Duke medical history as well as medical history as a whole," says Meg Brown, conservator and exhibits coordinator for the Rubenstein Library. "Last summer, Perkins received the History of Medical Collections and wanted to bridge something between the library and the Medical Center Archives."
"My favorite selection would be 'The Functional Anatomy of the Hand' film," says exhibit curator Adonna Thompson, assistant director for the Medical Center Archives. This film, dating to the 1950s, stays on continuous play at the exhibit with footage of how the arm and hand operates. It was originally used to teach medical students. (See video)
"Reactions to the film have ranged from it being a bit creepy to it being 'really cool,'" says Rachel Ingold, curator for the History of Medicine Collections, and co-curator for the exhibit. "One of my favorites is a 17th century copy of a 14th century Persian manuscript. Quite rare and beautiful, this manuscript has some of the first known representations of the human body in an Islamic work."
One display important to Duke medical history is the correspondence from famed physician Sir William Osler to his student Wilburt Cornell Davison, who later was the founding dean of Duke's School of Medicine. "Sir William is considered the 'Father of Modern Medicine' and served as a mentor to Davison during his student years at Oxford," Thompson says. The page on display in the Perkins Library is from a larger correspondence scrapbook that is currently on display at the Medical Center Library.
Brown believes the biggest takeaway from the exhibit is the central role of anatomy in medical education. "Anatomy is the core of teaching and learning medicine and the human body, and we want visitors to have a sense of that."
This exhibit is on view in Perkins and the Medical Center Library until July 31.
Below, a photo from the Medical Center Archives of Duke medical students in the lab.