Documenting the Past and Enriching the Future – @theU

This piece originally appeared on Good Notes . Blog.

One of my favorite groups in Eccles Health Sciences Library It is the history of the health sciences group. Books, meeting minutes from the 1950s, oral history dating from the 1970s and 1980s, medical equipment, photographs, a time capsule from the 1980s, scrapbooks, clothing, an iron lung, and other artifacts paint a fascinating picture of the development of the health sciences over the past century. contracts.

The collection has been accumulating for more than 50 years. We have received some wonderful artifacts from former faculty and alumni students. Recently, a visitor came to the library with her mother’s woolen nursing gown from the 1950s – absolutely amazing!

But, along with conversation pieces and old medical equipment, the history of the health sciences collection shows the evolution of medicine. It reminds us how far we have come. It also provides important context for the future of the University of Utah Health.

group at work

At the library, preservation of history is among our greatest interests.

Earlier this year, it was one of the oldest buildings on the campus, which is Medical Research and Education Building (MREB)It was demolished as part of an ongoing campus transformation project. Another important historical landmark, Building 521The university’s medical school campus will soon be demolished to make way for the new Spencer Fox Eccles School of Medicine.

Before demolishing a historic building, the Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) requires extensive documentation. This includes researching the building’s history, cataloging any historical artifacts found in the building, restoring all artifacts prior to demolition, and submitting a report. It’s a huge undertaking made possible by the history of the health sciences collection.

Instead of hiring an outside contractor to complete documentation for both buildings, graduate student Kelly Mrock handled the projects. Mrock has since completed her Master of Arts in US History from the University of Utah and continues her education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Most of Mruk’s research for the Documentation Project came from the History of the Health Sciences group, which allowed her to create a robust history that meets SHPO requirements. The project has also become a resource of its own, ensuring that nothing of value is lost as you move forward.

The History of the Health Sciences collection also provides an opportunity to show how much things have stayed the same over the years — and how we still face some of the same problems as past generations. There is a lot more to collecting artifacts than just doing it for the sake of history. It is more about how the past affects what we do today.

Some medical instruments, such as scalpels, are much the same as they were many years ago. Research conducted using materials from our collection can sometimes clarify what is currently happening. A good example of this is ours digital polio exhibitionWhich documents the polio vaccine and the reaction to it. Reflecting on this point in history can help us learn from what we have done in the past to help people accept a life-changing vaccine.

A resource for everyone

As important as our group is, it’s not nearly as visible as it could be. This is something we work on on the University of Utah campus: making sure that all of our students, faculty, and staff are aware of the group so they can benefit from it.

To reach beyond campus, we are also increasing visibility and reach by putting our groups online. Currently, many of our digital library collections can be accessed anywhere via our website. As our digital presence increases, we are also creating directories for our groups, making it easier to find and use them.

The future of the group

We have already learned a lot from books, photographs, and other countless artifacts in the history of the health sciences collection. However, we know there is more we can learn as we continue to expand the research in our amazing collection.

We invite everyone to come and visit the Eccles Health Sciences Library. For those in other institutions, consider visiting your own medical library. The more we know about our rich history, the brighter our future will be.

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