History honored, preserved through library project

By Kristen Holland Shear / April 21-30, 2011

A collection of more than 500 historical photographs captured at Dallas medical institutions between 1890 and 1975 is now accessible online, thanks to UT Southwestern Medical Center Library staff who spent the past nine months assembling the photo digitization project.

The repository – named “Dallas Medical History, 1890-1975: A Digital Collection” — contains more than 500 images from UT Southwestern’s archives and the History of Medicine collection, both housed within the library. A special exhibit — “Medical Milestones in Dallas, 1890-1975” — highlights 60 images that illustrate the development of medical care and education in Dallas.

A surgery at St. Paul Hospital on Bryan Street in 1936

“We have around 7,000 photos,” said Matt Zimmerman, manager of digital services and technology planning for the library and principal investigator for the National Library of Medicine project. “We wanted to make these more widely available and preserve them. It’s important to have a digital copy.”

The project is the result of a $25,000 historic preservation and digitization award from the South Central Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. The funding enabled staff to purchase a scanner, a computer and additional server space to complete the digitization.

Bill Maina, UT Southwestern archivist and History of Medicine librarian, said he opted to start with the 1890s because both Parkland Hospital and St. Paul Hospital — now a component of UT Southwestern University Hospital — opened in that decade. “Those are some of the very earliest milestones in Dallas medical history,” he said.

Selecting 500 historic images from the 7,000 available was time-consuming, but hardly a chore. Mr. Maina said he particularly enjoyed sorting through the photos from St. Paul archives, which came to the library after UT Southwestern acquired the hospital in January 2005.

“The early photos are just a treasure trove. There is incredible documentation of the interior of St. Paul Hospital around the turn of the century,” he said. “Those kinds of photos are very rare.”

Of the 500 images currently available online, about 200 showcase St. Paul. An additional 200 feature UT Southwestern through the years and the final 100 or so highlight Parkland, Children’s Medical Center Dallas and other institutions and individuals.

The individuals portrayed range from unidentified doctors and nurses at the turn of the 20th century, to those whose names adorn buildings across campus, to the namesakes of all six current medical school colleges – Drs. Edward Cary, Ronald Estabrook, Gladys Fashena, Jack Pritchard, Donald Seldin and Charles Sprague.

The online collection’s inclusion currently stops at 1975, but Mr. Maina said plans are under way to expand the archives to the present day.

The beauty of both the digital repository and the smaller exhibit is that the images “tell the story of Dallas,” Mr. Zimmerman added.

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Visit www.utsouthwestern.edu/dallasmedicalhistory to view images tracing the history of medicine and medical education in Dallas.

Unlike the repository, which contains only images from UT Southwestern’s archives, the “milestones” exhibit includes images from other sources including the Dallas Public Library and Crow Holdings, the Dallas-based company that redeveloped the old Parkland campus on the corner of Maple and Oak Lawn avenues.

Another feature of the collection, Mr. Zimmerman said, is that the repository software allows users to create PowerPoint presentations, while the exhibit software allows users to share photos with others on Facebook. A geolocation mapping feature lets users see where images were taken.

Anyone with any additional information about a particular online photo should contact Mr. Maina at 214-648-2629 or bill.maina@utsouthwestern.edu.

The project also was supported by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services.

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