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NLM's Sappol and Reznick Honored by ALHHS; Medical Heritage Library Also Honored


On May 16, 2013, the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences (ALHHS) awarded NLM's historian Michael Sappol, PhD, with the 2013 ALHHS best monograph award, and NLM's History of Medicine Division Chief, Jeffrey S. Reznick, PhD, with the 2013 ALHHS best article award.

Dr. Sappol received his honor for his editorship of the book Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine. Published in 2012, Hidden Treasure is a richly-illustrated volume that celebrates the collections of the world's largest medical library on the occasion of its 175th anniversary, which occurred in 2011.

Hidden Treasure has received praise from the Journal of the American Medical Association, New York Times, Wired Science, Eye Magazine, and numerous other media outlets. Scholars have also praised the book: "Opening this volume is like lifting up the lid of a treasure chest," observed John Harley Warner, chair of History of Medicine at the Yale University School of Medicine. "Brilliantly conceived and beautifully produced, this is an amazing exploration of the visual and material cultures of health, medicine, and the body in their widest and most imaginative reaches."

Hidden Treasure is available free from NLM's Digital Collections.

Dr. Reznick received the 2013 ALHHS best article award for "Remains of War: Walt Whitman, Civil War Soldiers, and the Legacy of Medical Collections," which he co-authored with Lenore Barbian, PhD, of Edinboro University and Paul Sledzik, former curator of Anatomical Collections at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. The article appeared in the January 2012 issue of Museum History Journal.

"Remains of War" reveals the discovery of the mortal remains of four American Civil War soldiers among the thousands preserved in the anatomical collections of the National Museum of Health and Medicine, which traces its origins to 1862 and the creation of the U.S. Army Medical Museum. These men were among hundreds cared for by author Walt Whitman during his time as a volunteer in the Civil War-era hospitals of Washington, DC. Uniting the remains of these four men with Whitman's words that describe his experiences, "Remains of War" yields a new interpretation of medical collections that bears witness to deeply individual histories during a time of unprecedented conflict in American history.

ALHHS also honored the Medical Heritage Library (MHL) with its 2013 award for best online resource. Initiated in 2009 with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation via the nonprofit organization Open Knowledge Commons, the MHL is a digital curation collaborative among some of the world's leading medical libraries—including the NLM—to promote free and open access to quality historical resources in medicine.

The ALHHS is an association established exclusively for educational purposes to serve the professional interests of librarians, archivists, and other specialists actively engaged in the librarianship of the history of the health sciences, by promoting the exchange of information and by improving standards of service.

ALHHS presents its annual publication awards—for best article, monograph, and online resource—to members of the association who are authors of academic, trade, or privately published works related to the history of the health care sciences, or works on the bibliography, librarianship, and/or curatorship of historical collections in the health care sciences. Works published within three years prior to the year of the award are eligible for the honor.


Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine.

Hidden Treasure: The National Library of Medicine
Edited by Michael Sappol, and published in 2012 by Blast Books
in cooperation with the National Library of Medicine



 Walt Whitman


Walt Whitman circa 1863, from a portrait by Gardner

Courtesy of the Library of Congress from the Feinberg-Whitman Collection

 During the American Civil War, Whitman consoled soldiers by writing down their stories, writing letters for them, giving them small gifts, holding them, and comforting them through conversation. His purpose, he wrote, was to "[give] some trifle for a novelty or change—anything, however trivial, to break the monotony of those hospital hours."

The mortal remains of Private Oscar Cunningham, 82nd Ohio Infantry.


The mortal remains of Private Oscar Cunningham, 82nd Ohio Infantry

Photograph courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine

On May 2, 1863, during the battle of Chancellorsville, Cunningham received a gunshot wound to his right thigh that resulted in a compound fracture of the femur. Whitman would later write about Cunningham, shortly before his death: "...It is a tragedy that would touch the most hardened heart to see this exemplar of young manhood suffering..."