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History of Medicine Lectures for 2017

The lecture series of the NLM’s History of Medicine Division promotes awareness and use of NLM and other historical collections for research, education, and public service in biomedicine, the social sciences, and the humanities. The series also supports the commitment of the NLM to recognizing and celebrating diversity.

All lectures are free and open to the public and are held in the NLM’s Lister Hill Auditorium or NLM Visitor Center, located on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. For directions and more information please go to Visit Us.

Beginning in March 2016 all lectures will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting. This public service is made possible through a generous gift to the NLM from the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Foundation. The NLM is authorized to accept donations in support of its mission.

Since 2013, the division’s blog Circulating Now, has published interviews along with each lecture. Through these interviews, lecturers from a variety of backgrounds share their perspectives on the history of medicine and discuss their research in NLM and other historical collections.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017 *New Location*

Collaboration and Curation: Creating the Exhibition Collaboration and Care

Loren Miller, PhD, Curatorial Assistant, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

In 1967, when the first three physician assistants (PAs) graduated from Duke University, it marked the birth of a new profession. In honor of the field’s 50th anniversary, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and the Physician Assistant Historical Society (PAHx) partnered to create an exhibition commemorating and celebrating the history of PAs. This lecture will discuss the process of developing the exhibition, Physician Assistants: Collaboration and Care, as a joint endeavor and the importance of shared authority in creating a successful exhibit. It will explore how the organizational partnership combined NLM and PAHx’s resources, knowledge, and archives in order to create the strongest exhibition possible, which represented both organizations’ needs and goals. By practicing shared authority, NLM and PAHx combined the profession’s history and prominent themes to produce an engaging exhibit that will appeal to experts and general audiences, and perhaps inspire a new generation of PAs.

This lecture will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

2:00 - 3:00 p.m. in the NIH Natcher Conference Center, Building 45, Room E1/E2

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 – The Inaugural 2017 Michael E. DeBakey Lecture

“Intentional Impact:” The Legacy of Michael E. DeBakey Beyond the Operating Room

Shelley McKellar, PhD, The Jason A. Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine, Associate Professor with Joint Appointment with the Department of Surgery, Western University, Canada

A Brief Look at Michael E. DeBakey's Role in Establishing the National Library of Medicine as It Is Today

George P. Noon, MD, Professor of Surgery, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery, Baylor College of Medicine

Join us on this special occasion to learn about the legacy of Michael E. DeBakey as it exists in modern medical practice and in the ongoing public service of the National Library of Medicine.

The Michael E. DeBakey Lecture in the History of Medicine, is supported by a generous gift to the NLM by the Michael E. DeBakey Medical Foundation

These lectures will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

2:00 - 3:30 p.m. in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A

Thursday, April 6, 2017

World War I Centenary Forum:
Stories from the Collections of the National Library of Medicine

On April 2, 1917, US President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany, stating that “The world must be made safe for democracy.” Four days later, on April 6, Congress voted overwhelmingly in favor of a war declaration. The National Library of Medicine marks this important occasion with a forum that spotlights some its rich collections related to the war and the American experience of the period. Join us to hear a variety of stories drawn from these collections, as shared by our colleagues in the NLM’s History of Medicine Division.

Masking Devastation: Inside Anna Ladd’s Paris Studio

Sarah Eilers, Archivist, Historical Audiovisuals, NLM History of Medicine Division

The Frances Dupuy Fletcher Photo Album

Stephen J. Greenberg, PhD, Head, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts, NLM History of Medicine Division

A Call to Service: Red Cross Posters and Postcards During World War I

Ginny Roth, Archivist, Prints & Photographs, NLM History of Medicine Division

This forum will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

2:00 - 3:30 p.m. in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A

Tuesday, June 27, 2017 – Special Event: Celebrating 20 Years of Harry Potter

A Look into the Pensieve: Reflections on Harry Potter at Twenty Years

Elizabeth Bland, Curator of the Library’s exhibition Harry Potter’s World and independent writer and illustrator

On June 26th, 1997, London-based publisher Bloomsbury released Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first novel in the Harry Potter series. Twenty years on, the ever-popular series continues to resonate with new readers. To mark the 20th Anniversary of the Harry Potter series, “A Look into the Pensieve” will revisit the Library’s exhibition Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance, Science, Magic, and Medicine, including links between author Rowling’s fictional world and writings featured in the collections of the Library; themes from the series that have continued relevance today; and the works’ impact on a now-adult fandom who matured right alongside The Boy Who Lived.

As part of a week-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the National Library of Medicine presents two special lectures. The celebration will also include a special display of the 15th, 16th, and 17th century books that influenced the Harry Potter series along with the six-banner traveling exhibition, Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine. Visit this special exhibition in the History of Medicine Reading Room, June 26 – 30, 2017.

This lecture will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

2:00 - 3:00 p.m. in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A

Thursday, June 29, 2017 – Special Event: Celebrating 20 Years of Harry Potter

Monsters in the Stacks: How Harry Potter Came to NLM

Stephen Greenberg, PhD, Head, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts, NLM History of Medicine Division

Join us to learn how staff at the National Library of Medicine became inspired to undertake an exhibition about Harry Potter, drawing on collections of the Library, including works by real historical figures such as the alchemist Nicholas Flamel, who is a key figure in the first Harry Potter novel; the naturalist Conrad Gesner, who wrote about dragons and unicorns; and the mystic and toxicologist Paracelsus, whose potions and prophecies would have made him an excellent addition to the Hogwarts faculty.

As part of a week-long celebration of the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the National Library of Medicine presents two special lectures. The celebration will also include a special display of the 15th, 16th, and 17th century books that influenced the Harry Potter series along with the six-banner traveling exhibition, Harry Potter’s World: Renaissance Science, Magic, and Medicine. Visit this special exhibition in the History of Medicine Reading Room, June 26 – 30, 2017.

This lecture will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

2:00 - 3:00 p.m. in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A

Thursday, July 13, 2017 – Special Event: Publication of a New Illustrated History of the National Library of Medicine

Introducing Images of America: US National Library of Medicine

June 26, 2017, marked the publication of a new, illustrated history of the National Library of Medicine. The book appears in the popular Images of America series by Arcadia Publishing, and was arranged through a public-private partnership with that publisher. Simultaneously, the complete book and original versions of the 170+ images, which appear in it in black and white, are archived and freely available in NLM Digital Collections. A hardback version of the book is available from booksellers.

Co-edited by Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, and Kenneth M. Koyle, chief and deputy chief of the NLM History of Medicine Division, Images of America: US National Library of Medicine was made possible through the collaborative research, writing, editing, and technical expertise of staff from across the Library, and many colleagues and friends.

Many individuals have written about the National Library of Medicine and its origins as the Library of the Office of the U.S. Army Surgeon General. However, this new book is unlike previous publications because it is intended for a general audience, and it illustrates the broad history of the Library from the early 19th century through the late 20th century through over 170 images from its own rich collections, along with a handful of other images from the collections of the National Archives, the National Museum of Health and Medicine, the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and the Rudolph Matas Library of the Health Sciences at Tulane University. The book reveals the work of generations of visionary leaders and dedicated individuals who experienced the American Civil War, the world wars, the Cold War, and the dawn of the Information Age.

Images of America: US National Library of Medicine is a welcome companion to Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine, produced by the Library in 2011. We hope readers of all ages and backgrounds will appreciate this new broad history of the Library as much as we have appreciated crafting it and making it publicly available in cooperation with so many colleagues and friends here at the NLM and beyond. And we hope this book will inspire readers to learn more about the development of the Library and visit for a tour or conduct research in our world-renowned collections which span ten centuries and represent nearly every part of the globe. As with Hidden Treasure, the Intramural Research Program of the US National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, supported the collaborative research, writing, and editing of Images of America: US National Library of Medicine.

Speakers at the July 13 symposium will include:

Patricia Flatley Brennan, RN, PhD
Director, National Library of Medicine
Interim Associate NIH Director for Data Science
National Institutes of Health

Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD
Chief, History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine

Kenneth M. Koyle
Deputy Chief, History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine

Stephen J. Greenberg, PhD, MSLS
Head, Rare Books & Early Manuscripts
History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine

Susan L. Speaker, PhD
Historian, History of Medicine Division
National Library of Medicine

Panel Discussion
Moderated by Dr. Reznick

This event will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

2:30 - 4:00 p.m. in Lipsett Amphitheater, Building 10

Thursday, September 28, 2017 – The 2017 James H. Cassedy Memorial Lecture

Making the Case for History in Medical Education

David S. Jones, MD, PhD, A. Bernard Ackerman Professor of the Culture of Medicine, Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine, Harvard University

Historians of medicine have struggled for centuries to make the case for history in medical education. They have developed many arguments about the value of historical perspective, but their efforts have faced persistent obstacles, from limited resources to curricular time constraints and skepticism about whether history actually is essential for physicians. Recent proposals have suggested that history should ally itself with the other medical humanities and make the case that together they can foster medical professionalism. We articulate a different approach and make the case for history as an essential component of medical knowledge, reasoning, and practice. History offers essential insights about the causes of disease, the nature of efficacy, and the contingency of medical knowledge and practice amid the social, economic, and political contexts of medicine. These are all things that physicians must know in order to be effective diagnosticians and caregivers, just as they must learn anatomy or pathophysiology.

This lecture will be live-streamed globally, and subsequently archived, by NIH VideoCasting.

2:00 - 3:00 p.m. in the NLM Lister Hill Auditorium, Building 38A