News at Medicine - August 2014 - Preserving medical history one box at a time

Preserving medical history one box at a time
August 8, 2014
Housed within the Health Sciences Library (HSL) is a special collection dedicated to preserving the history of Memorial’s medical school, including materials that date back to the First World War. The Faculty of Medicine Founders' Archive is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The collection has grown from 22 metres of shelf space in the first year to more than 250 metres in length.
The Faculty of Medicine’s Founders Archive opened in July 1999 when a part-time contractual archivist was hired to begin collecting and caring for archival material related to the history of the medical school. Today the archive supports two full-time positions – archivist Stephanie Harlick and archival assistant Jenny Seeman – with occasional contracts (internal and external) plus MUCEP students, for arrangement and description, preservation and digitization of collections. The students learn a little about archives by working with us,” said Ms. Harlick.

From left: Jenny Seeman and Stephanie Harlick

And while the collection and cataloguing goes on a box at a time, Ms. Harlick has also spearheaded several public engagement projects, most notably the publication of the notebooks of Dr. Cluny MacPherson, inventor of the gas mask used in the latter part of WW1 and a display of the Early Days of the Medical School collection. The archive showcases an Archival Document of the Week, a project started by Ms. Seeman, on the HSL Facebook page, on the monitors throughout the Faculty of Medicine and in a display case outside the entrance to the HSL. 
Engaging the public in the Founders’ Archive through digital and traditional displays is important to Ms. Harlick. “The Early Days exhibit, created for the Faculty of Medicine’s 40th anniversary in 2007, helped to celebrate our history by including information about the process leading to the creation of the medical school and the state of health care in Newfoundland prior to its establishment.”
Ms. Harlick explained that the exhibit features biographies of the deans of medicine, a photographic history of the construction of the Health Sciences Centre (1971-1977), and glimpses into student and faculty life during that time period. “The history is told through photographs, videos, correspondence, newspaper clippings – including 416 from the personal scrapbook of the first dean, Dr. Ian Rusted – plus reports, posters, brochures, book chapters, journal articles and other items.
As well as the Early Days and the Cluny MacPherson exhibits, staff at the Founders Archive have also completed several digitization projects which are housed in MUN’s Digital Archives Initiative (DAI) including Lung Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Publications (1943-1986), Medical Graduates 10th Anniversary Photographs (May 1983), Newfoundland Medical Association Publications (1958-1977), the Labrador West Dust Study (1982), the Northern Medicine and Health Conference, Newfoundland and Labrador Photographs (1977) and Association of Newfoundland and Labrador Archives Bulletin (1983-2005).
“Finding aids have been created for all processed materials in the Founders' Archive and are available for use in the Kenneth B. Roberts Historical Collection room as well as online on the archives’ webpage,” said Ms. Harlick. “They are intended to help the researcher locate and identify material for research purposes.”
Ms. Harlick notes that material within the Founders’ Archive is available for research to staff, faculty, students and the general public, unless otherwise restricted by legal requirements or written agreements with the donor(s).