McGoogan News

From the archives: ancient Persian baby feeders

By John Schleicher

The Alberts Collection contains over 150 rare and historic infant feeding devices, baby bottles, and other associated items.  The infant feeders date from an ancient Persian clay feeding pot circa 100-200 B.C., to mid-to-late twentieth century glass and plastic baby bottles.  The collection includes various types of feeders, such as nursing flasks, pap boats and bubby pots.

Iranian feeding pot, 100-200 BC

The collection was assembled by M. E. Alberts, M.D. (born 1923), during his career as a pediatrician in Des Moines, Iowa.  Dr. Alberts is originally from Hastings, Nebraska, and is a 1948 graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Medicine.  Many of the artifacts in the library’s special collections were gifts from UNMC alumni.

The two oldest items in the collection are both ancient Persian feeding pots made of clay.  The older of the two is from the northern part of Iran, at a place called Mazandaran, by the Caspian Sea.  It is approximately 2000 years old, from circa 100-200 B.C.

Iranian Feeding Pot, Circa 250 A.D.

The other Persian feeding pot was excavated in the city of Ghazvin, Iran.  It is approximately 1700 years old, from circa 250 A.D.  According to the University Museum at the University of Pennsylvania, it is “like the Parthian-Sassanid pottery.”  These dates and other information about the two pots are from Dr. Alberts’ handwritten notes concerning his collection.

To see more artifacts from the Alberts collection, as well as archival materials and historic photos of the UNMC campus, visit the special collections page at DigitalCommons@UNMC.


From the archives: Library moves into new building, 1970

By John Schleicher

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

Library, Moving Truck, 1970

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.



From the archives: 100 years of nursing at UNMC

By John Schleicher

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.

Nursing graduates on the front steps of University Hospital, Omaha campus (sometime before 1921)

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.

From the archives: University Hospital interne staff 1920

By John Schleicher

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).

University Hospital Interne staff 1920

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.”

From the archives: Electricity and medicine


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.