Resources in Arkansas History: The UAMS Library's Historical Research Center

By Johnson, Margaret Ann | The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2000 | Go to article overview

Resources in Arkansas History: The UAMS Library's Historical Research Center


Johnson, Margaret Ann, The Arkansas Historical Quarterly


Editors' note: This is the first of what we hope will be a series of essays describing archival collections of interest to students of Arkansas history. We encourage archivists and librarians to submit similar essays about their own collections or briefer items for inclusion in our "News and Notices" section.

THE HISTORICAL RESEARCH CENTER, LOCATED in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Library in Little Rock, consists of two collections, the archival collection and the History of Medicine Collection. The History of Medicine Collection, housed in the Robert Watson History of Medicine Room, contains classic and rare books in the health sciences. Donations from the personal collections of early UAMS faculty members formed the core of this collection of approximately 4,500 volumes. The collection also contains works that document early Arkansas medicine, such as a handwritten book composed in 1844 by Dr. A.W. Webb of Chicot County entitled "Medical Notes and Reflections."

The Hans G. Schlumberger Collection is included within the History of Medicine Collection. This collection contains books from Dr. Schlumberger's private library. Dr. Schlumberger served as the chairman of the pathology department at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences from 1957 to 1960. He died in 1967 after lingering in a coma for seven years following an automobile accident. He was a popular teacher at the university, but he gained international recognition as a pioneer in the study of comparative oncology. The collection of over 400 books focuses on pathology but also contains definitive texts on a variety of other subjects. There is an emphasis on the basic sciences, as well as medicine. The basic science texts reflect Dr. Schlumberger's interest in the study of tumors in lower animals: The publication dates of the books range from 1744 to 1958.

The archival collection supports a primary goal of the Historical Research Center, which is preservation of both University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences history and the history of the health sciences in Arkansas. The emphasis on the history of Arkansas health sciences makes this a unique collection in the state. The archives contain administrative papers of departments and colleges at the university, as well as personal papers and correspondence of faculty, staff, and alumni. Personal papers of numerous notable Arkansas health scientists include those of Roscoe G. Jennings, a UAMS founder, Nolie Mumey, a 1916 UAMS graduate, and members of Arkansas's Dibrell family. Records of various state health sciences organizations, such as the Arkansas Medical Society and the Pulaski County Medical Society, are also included. A photograph collection contains pictures and negatives that trace the history of UAMS and Arkansas health sciences.

Numerous collections within the archives document the development of the public health system in Arkansas and have proved invaluable to researchers. One of these is the Oliver Clarence Wenger collection of papers, photographs, and records, which document the work of Dr. Wenger, both in Arkansas and elsewhere, from 1919 to 1958. Dr. Wenger established the U.S. Public Health Service's free clinic and bathhouse in Hot Springs and served as director between 1919 and 1936. The clinic specialized in the control and treatment of venereal diseases. Dr. Wenger was not a native Arkansan, but lived in the state intermittently from 1919 to 1936, then again from 1946 to 1950. For his service in the British West Indies, he was honored by King George VI of Great Britain with an Order of the British Empire medal. In 1946 he returned to Arkansas from the West Indies and established a private medical practice in Hot Springs.

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