The new Library of Medicine, built on top of the new basic sciences building (later named Wittson Hall), was in a prime campus location right on 42nd Street, and opened in 1970. The design of the two buildings shared only a central service core, later modified by the addition of fifth floor administrative offices, altering the original design. The basic sciences building and the library had different architects and different construction contractors.
The construction companies completed the building by July 1970, and the library moved over the July 4th weekend, and then opened
later that month to high accolades. Boasting 71,000 square feet, with a staff of nearly fifty, ten of whom were professional librarians, the library housed three stories of information. The library contained more than 160,000 volumes, subscribed to over 2,400 medical journals. With seating for 330 people, the new library was nine times larger than the old library, which had been located “temporarily” in a wing of University Hospital for nearly 40 years.
Legislation passed in the mid-1960s, the Medical Library Assistance Act, allowed the National Library of Medicine to distribute funds via a competitive grant program for the improvement of medical libraries across the country. COM Dean Dr. Cecil Wittson submitted a construction grant and received $1.6 million in 1968. A matching fund drive led by Dr. Leon S. McGoogan raised an additional $385,000 for the library. In 1978, the Board of Regents named the library for Dr. McGoogan, in honor of his long affiliation with and service to the library, as well as his fundraising efforts.
The UNMC College of Nursing (CON), the state’s oldest and largest publicly supported nursing college, is celebrating its 100th anniversary during the 2017-2018 academic year. Since its first class began with 13 women on October 16, 1917 (then known as the School for Nurses), more than 15,000 students have graduated.
The first dormitory for nurses was built in 1918, and burned down in a tragic fire in late 1920, with several nursing students injured. A new nurses’ residence was built in 1923, Conkling Hall (located where the Lied Transplant Center is today), named for a local physician whose widow provided the funds for the new building. In 1957, a new school of nursing building opened, and remains on the campus today, now called the Specialty Services Pavilion.
In 1972, the School was given College status, and in 1976, the present College of Nursing building was opened. Divisions of the College of Nursing have been added across the state over the years, at Lincoln (1974), Scottsbluff (1986), Kearney (1991), and Norfolk (2010). In 2010, the Center for Nursing Science opened on the Omaha campus. In 2015 the Health Science Education Complex opened on the University of Nebraska-Kearney campus. The building houses the CON Kearney Division, along with College of Allied Health Professions programs.
The College of Medicine’s University of Nebraska Hospital opened 100 years ago, in September 1917. The various buildings that housed the hospital remain on the campus today, located between Wittson Hall and the Durham Outpatient Center, and surrounded on all sides by other buildings. In 1996-1997, University Hospital merged with Clarkson Hospital, to form the basis of what is now Nebraska Medicine.
By the 1920s, the internship had become recognized nationally as an essential part of medical education. Though not originally a formal requirement, post-medical school internships became an accepted and necessary step in the preparation for medical practice. University of Nebraska Hospital had interns for 12-month assignments, beginning as early as 1920 (see image).
By 1927, University Hospital was accepting interns for an 18-month service. During this time, the young physicians rotated through seven departments. Two months were spent in each of five areas—pathology, drug room and anesthetics, radiology and physical therapy, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology, where the intern acted as house physician in the admitting department. In addition, the intern spent four months in each of the two major areas, medicine and surgery. Dr. Albert F. Tyler’s 1928 book, History of Medicine in Nebraska, noted, “This internship is not excelled anywhere in the country in the general training given and opportunities offered by a service in a teaching hospital.”
Electrotherapy is the use of electrical energy as a medical treatment. In medicine, the term electrotherapy can apply to a variety of treatments, including the use of electrical devices such as deep brain stimulators for neurological disease. The term has also been applied specifically to the use of electric current to speed wound healing.
The first medical treatments with electricity took place in London as early as 1767 at Middlesex Hospital, using a special device. The same device was purchased for St. Bartholomew’s Hospital ten years later. The record of uses other than therapeutic is not clear; however, Guy’s Hospital in London has a published list of cases from the early 1800s.
In 1856 Guillaume Duchenne, a French neurologist, found that alternating current was superior to direct current for electrotherapeutic triggering of muscle contractions. He noted that the “warming affect” of direct currents irritated the skin, since, at voltage strengths needed for muscle contractions, they cause the skin to blister. With direct current, each contraction required the current to be stopped and restarted. Alternating current could produce strong muscle contractions regardless of the condition of the muscle, whereas direct current-induced contractions were strong if the muscle was strong and weak if the muscle was weak.
The device shown here is Barrett’s two-cell faradic battery, which is very similar to a late 19th century electrotherapeutic device in the library’s special collections. Similar devices were used during the last decades of the 19th century through the first few decades of the 20th century. The image is from a book in the library’s rare book collection, Practical Electricity in Medicine and Surgery, by G. A. Liebig, Jr., Ph.D., and George H. Rohé, M.D., published in 1890.
The ninth annual Richard B. Davis, M.D., Ph.D. History of Medicine Lecture will be held Tuesday, April 11, 2017, noon, in the Michael F. Sorrell Center, room 1005.
Margaret Humphreys, M.D., Ph.D., Josiah Charles Trent Professor of the History of Medicine, in the School of Medicine, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina and Past President, American Association for the History of Medicine will speak on the Marrow of Tragedy: Medicine in the American Civil War. The Civil War was the greatest health disaster the United States has ever experienced, killing more than a million Americans and leaving many others invalided or grieving. Poorly prepared to care for wounded and sick soldiers as the war began, Union and Confederate governments scrambled to provide doctoring and nursing, supplies, and shelter for those felled by warfare or disease.