Utilizing the Past in the Present Curriculum: Historical Collections and Anatomy at the University of Alabama School of Medicine

By Casey, Michael A.; Flannery, Michael A. | Journal of the Medical Library Association, January 2003 | Go to article overview

Utilizing the Past in the Present Curriculum: Historical Collections and Anatomy at the University of Alabama School of Medicine


Casey, Michael A., Flannery, Michael A., Journal of the Medical Library Association


INTRODUCTION

The Reynolds Historical Library (RHL) at the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), is a rich treasure trove of health sciences materials equaled by only a few institutions in the United States. Having a first-rate, subject-specific collection like the RHL is not enough, however: it must be linked in a meaningful way to campus life. Outreach efforts are various and legion: history clubs, lecture series, symposia focusing on one or more aspects of the collection's strengths, tours, media coverage, and so on. All are useful means to the laudable goal of raising the historical consciousness of faculty, students, and administrators and, moreover, leading them to appreciate the valuable perspectives that special collections can offer. But when one or more aspects of a university's historical material is directly tied to class activities, something special happens. Not only does an often-neglected but extremely valuable tool come alive for faculty and students, but, more broadly, this resource is effectively put to work for the curriculum. Thus, the educational experience is enhanced on the one hand, and the collection is made pertinent and integral to the institutional mission on the other.

This paper reports on one such linkage at the UAB School of Medicine, specifically between Michael Casey, Ph.D., course director of gross anatomy, and Michael Flannery, associate director for historical collections. The project began with the realization that RHL's holdings of original works on anatomy, particularly those by Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564), could be used to enhance the "Medical Gross Anatomy" course. It should be pointed out that "Medical Gross Anatomy" is part of every first-year medical student's course load, providing the opportunity to showcase the resources of the RHL to the entire medical student body at the beginning of their studies. Thus, this case has significant implications for the viability of special collections in the medical school curriculum.

The details of implementing the plan were left to the discretion of RHL staff. The staff decided that the best approach would be to limit direct access to the original material by creating an informed display that showed Vesalius's great anatomical classic, De humani corporis fabrica, his Epitome (which the students rather endearingly referred to as "baby Oe fabrica"), an illustration of Vesalius, and a pre-Vesalius work showing an anatomical plate that would demonstrate in "before and after" fashion the great contribution of this Renaissance anatomist. Because the copies in the RHL collection were in excellent overall condition but still retained their rather fragile bindings and spines, access to the original works was limited to small groups under the direct supervision of the course director and RHL staff.

THE MATERIAL

The RHL features not only a rare copy of the first edition of Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica (1543), but also a copy of the expanded second edition of De fabrica (1555) and two copies of Vesalius's Epitome (1543), the "student version" of the De fabrica. For both the professor and the students, being able to actually turn the pages of these books has been practically a religious experience. De fabrica represents the beginning of modern observational science and is arguably the "holy grail" of anatomy and biomedical science.

To actually see this book has special meaning beyond its contribution as the first comprehensive, accurate anatomical text. The book brings together a number of interesting conjunctions, a fact not lost upon another great physician and medical bibliophile, Harvey Gushing (1869-1939). Gushing writes,

Vesalius came on the scene at a time when the inviolability of tradition, whether ecclesiastical or scientific was being widely questioned. What is more, ready at hand as if for his special purpose were newly discovered and highly perfected arts, that of printing by moveable type and that of engraving on wood, both having reached in his day a level of excellence scarcely surpassed even in modern times. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Utilizing the Past in the Present Curriculum: Historical Collections and Anatomy at the University of Alabama School of Medicine
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.