June 2007

The future doctor, past & present

A recent article in the Star Tribune highlighted a new program aimed at diversifying medical schools in Minnesota by encouraging minority, immigrant, and rural undergraduate students to become doctors. The program, “Minnesota’s Future Doctors,” hopes these students will apply to medical school, specialize in primary care, and ultimately stay in Minnesota once they begin their practice.

img0028.jpgAt the same time, I stumbled across an article from 1968 that discussed the “New Type of Doctor” that would be needed by the year 2000. The article begins by emphasizing that it is not the physician “assigned to care for passengers and crew of an interplanetary space ship” but instead it will be a “new type of medical specialist – the family practice physician.”

The 1968 program for new doctors established the Division of Family Practice and Community Health at the University of Minnesota, one of the oldest and largest in the nation. It began as a response to the national shortage of primary care physicians during the 1960s.

Forty years later, the need still exists, as is evident from the Star Tribune article, but the emphasis is now on filling the need for specific communities with what the program creators refer to as doctors with “cultural competencies.”

To read the full article from the 1968 September/October issue of mediCALL (a former publication of the University of Minnesota Health Sciences Center) click the image below.





Advisory committee meeting minutes

img0025.jpgAcademic Health Center
History Project Advisory Committee

Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
June 20, 2007
Room 475 Children’s Rehab Center


In attendance: Dr. Frank Cerra, Elaine Challacombe, John Eyler, Jennifer Gunn, Elisabeth Kaplan, and Erik Moore

1. Oral history project
The primary goal for the Oral History Initiative will be to conduct high quality, well researched oral histories of past and present members of the AHC community. The focus will be on the interviews.

John Eyler explained that his choice for a candidate to fill the oral historian position would be a qualified historian of medicine or medical science with a special interest in the history of medical/health care institutions. If hired as a tenure track faculty member, the position would attract a talented scholar and build the incentive to remain at the University and complete the project.

Three primary concerns regarding a tenure track position centered on 1. the academic currency required to satisfy tenure for such a position; 2. the need for the position to remain focused on creating an extensive collection of oral histories and not to become too focused on a particular aspect too early on in the project; and 3. the oral histories would need to be available to all researchers as completed and not at the end of the tenure cycle or writing process.

The discussion focused primarily on ways to satisfy the tenure requirements. The position would need to have a reduced teaching load and instead would focus on research (the oral histories). Publications would be primarily based on articles developed from the project and the finalized transcripts of the interviews. These transcripts would include scope and content notes and provide a historical context for the interviews. The other concerns could be satisfied by incorporating them into the position description and making them part of the tenure process.

Next steps: John Eyler, with assistance from other members of the advisory committee, will look into the academic requirements to satisfy tenure in oral history. Once a satisfactory tenure plan and position description are put together, they will be reviewed by Dr. Cerra.

2. Digitization of AHC archival material
Erik Moore distributed and discussed a list of potential items to digitize and make available online for the History Project. The materials include studies and reports leading to the re-organization of the Health Sciences and the formation of the Academic Health Center, archival records and reports pertaining to the management and operation of the University Hospitals and Clinics including the minutes for the Board of Governors, the full run of the Bulletin of the Medical School (now the Medical Bulletin) beginning in 1929, and several oral histories conducted by Ann Pflaum in 1999 with prominent leaders of the AHC.

Erik explained that these materials along with the digital preservation of current AHC Strategic Positioning documents in a single online repository would provide researchers with material that documents the AHC’s planning activities over the course of fifty years. Dr. Cerra added that many of the electronic files that could be added to the repository are available from the Office of Communications and even his own electronic files. Plans to capture that data will also be part of this process.

All were supportive of the list and suggested additional areas for growing the digitization project. Erik will continue to develop the list and will review it with Dr. Cerra in July. A budget for digitization has been set aside and scanning can begin shortly after the initial priorities have been established.

Next meeting TBA (fall 2007)

You ought to be in pictures

img0024.jpgA recent acquisition comes from the Academic Health Center’s Office of Communications. The 25 linear inch collection contains the photographs, contact sheets, and some negatives for the visual images used during the production of Health Sciences, a former news magazine of the AHC published from 1981-1995.

This collection is particularly useful in the fact that all of the images have been published. It is a common event to have a researcher trying to locate a photograph they saw elsewhere. This collection will hopefully act as a point of reference for some of those cases. The photographs are grouped according to the issue in which they were used. In most cases, a copy of the publication is included in the folder. Although the individual photographs are not well labeled, the context in which they were filed provides easily available identification information.

Unfortunately, one caveat of the collection is the undetermined copyright of the photographs. Although today’s photographic services contract includes the stipulation that the photographs and their copyright will belong to the University, it is unknown if that was the understanding when many of these pictures were taken.

Health sciences planning report

As the AHC and the University of Minnesota continue to expand and develop within the confines of a limited space, take a look back to 1968 and see the perceived growth and expansion of the health sciences on campus.

The Planning Report was the result of a four-year effort sponsored by the Hill Family Foundation and overseen by the University Long Range Planning Committee for the Health Sciences.

There are many familiar landmarks today on campus that were merely architectural models at the time of the report’s publication. Similarly, there are a few proposed construction sites that never materialized.

As the campus changes today with the construction of the new stadium and the proposals for bringing light rail to the University, planning documents like this show that although change is a constant, there is usually a through line to its logic.

A vision of the future (1973) for parking and traffic in the 1968 Health Sciences Planning Report

Whose woods these are…

Occasionally, it happens that the faculty papers or departmental records I make appointments to review are not the faculty member’s papers or the office’s records at all. Instead they are carefully crafted research collections or the archives of a professional society or another institution.

These collections within collections are often the result of a group or organization being unable to care for its records and as a substitute they are turned over to a well-meaning faculty member or administrator. Once that person retires or moves on to a different university, the records are left behind at an institution where there is no administrative connection and a dwindling provenance to their origin.

These materials can be just a few folders at the end of a box. They can also be multiple filing cabinets that could produce 18-20 linear feet of material.

It is easy to state that these materials fall outside the collecting scope for the project. However, the potential for loss becomes greater as fewer and fewer options become available for their long term storage and management. It highlights the utilitarian versus preservationist ethical dilemma in archival work. We preserve what we can, hopefully, in a sustainable method.

To paraphrase Robert Frost, “Whose records these are I think I know … But I have a mission to keep.”