The Life & Letters of Florence Nightingale

photo_nightingaleThis exhibit features the Reynolds Historical Library's collection of fifty handwritten letters by modern nursing pioneer, Florence Nightingale, spanning from 1853 to 1893. Purchased in 1951 from the Old Hickory bookstore in New York by Lawrence Reynolds M.D., these letters came to the university when Dr. Reynolds donated his collection of approximately 6,000 rare books and manuscripts related to the history of medicine and science to establish the Reynolds Historical Library in 1958. The letters offer a unique perspective into the life of Florence Nightingale, particularly during a period for which little information is currently known. About half of the letters concern sanitation in India, and were primarily written to T. Gillham Hewlett, Health Officer of Bombay. In the remainder, largely addressed to Mme. Julie Salis Schwabe, Nightingale discusses war relief efforts and charitable contributions for the Franco-Prussian and Austro-Hungarian wars. To facilitate research, the Reynolds Historical Library, in conjunction with the UAB School of Nursing, has recently digitized the letters with the assistance of the UAB Mervyn H. Sterne Library, and they are now freely available through the UAB Digital Collections. The objective of this website is to highlight and provide context to the digitized letters.

Pellagra in Alabama

pellagrinIn the U.S. the nutritional deficiency disease pellagra, which became a scourge in the South, had its beginning and end in Alabama, being first recognized in epidemic proportions by Alabama physician Dr. George H. Searcy in 1906, and ending with Dr. Tom D. Spies' nutritional treatment clinic at Hillman Hospital in Birmingham, which operated from 1937 to 1960. In 1914, Dr. Carl A. Grote, Walker County public health officer, was the first to conduct field work to determine the etiology of the disease in an actual community setting, prior to and independent of Dr. Joseph Goldberger who is righty credited for discovering the nature of pellagra but who at Grote's writing had only studied the disease in controlled environments. This web exhibit highlights Alabama's valiant campaign against the devastating disease known as the “red death.”

Through a scanning project by the Reynolds Historical Library at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), important material related to the campaign by Carl Grote and other Alabama physicians has been digitized and made publicly available for viewing from the UAB Institutional Repository. Supported by an Express Technology grant from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Southeastern/Atlantic Region, this will continue to be an ongoing program of Institutional Repository development focused on the history of medicine and healthcare in Alabama and the South.  

Historical Medical Figures

vesalius1This exhibit includes some of the most important figures in the history of medicine.  Through the discoveries and innovations of these people, one can trace the advancements in medicine throughout the ages.  Click on a name to read a short biographical sketch of that individual.  Highlighted within the sketches are one or two of the figure's major works held by the Reynolds Historical Library.

Image: From Andreas Vesalius's De humani corporis fabrica libri septem (1543), Reynolds Historical Library.

Civil War Medical Figures

medicine_wagon_cwThis exhibit includes some of the most important medical figures from the Civil War. By understanding the challenges faced by these physicians, nurses and other medical leaders during the war, one can more fully comprehend the medicine of the era. Click on a name for a brief biography and description of one or more of the figure's important works held at the Reynolds Historical Library.

Image: United States Army medicine wagon from the Civil War; [From] Reports on the extent and nature of the materials available for preparation of a medical and surgical history of the Rebellion. United States Surgeon General's Office, Circular No. 6, 1865; Reynolds Historical Library Arnold G. Diethelm American Civil War Medicine Collection.