The Battle Creek Sanitarium: Constructing History Through Ephemera

The Battle Creek Sanitarium of Battle Creek, Michigan was a health resort which employed holistic methods based on principles promoted by the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Treatments included hydrotherapy, electrotherapy, phototherapy, physical training, exposure to fresh air, enemas, and dietetic plans crafted to lower patient’s libidos in order to live a chaste lifestyle free of sin. It became a destination for both prominent and middle-class American citizens, including celebrities such as J.C. Penney, Henry Ford, Amelia Earhart, Warren Harding, Mary Todd Lincoln, and Sojourner Truth. In order to draw so many prominent figures and a wealthy base of clients to its somewhat remote location in Michigan – and to promote the ideas of its founders, the Kellogg brothers – the Sanitarium needed to produce a wide swath of promotional materials, many of which survive today in The Historical Medical Library’s Medical Trade Ephemera collection.

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Bringing Out the Dead: Adventures in Cataloging, Part I

IN WHICH OUR HERO UNCOVERS BURIED TREASURE….
OUR FIRST ADVENTURE TAKES US DEEP INTO AN INTERN’S FIRST EXPERIENCE IN ORIGINAL CATALOGING, MEDICAL SUBJECT HEADINGS, AND THE WONDROUS HISTORY FOUND IN MEDICAL TRADE EPHEMERA.

 

– by Hend El-Santaricy, Library intern

In my quest to become a more experienced cataloger, I found the internship opportunity at the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia (HML) to be a perfect way to achieve my goal.  My project was to catalog the medical reprints and pamphlets described in this blog.  I started the cataloging process after the collection was initially sorted by another librarian.  This allowed me the privilege of spending all my time cataloging.

I started this internship wanting nothing more than a cataloging experience.  I have had opportunities to work on different collections before.  In every previous experience, I was able to delve into a special relationship with the collection, its history, its use, and its potential.  I knew I could perform my assignment at the HML well but I was not certain, though, if I could build a relationship with a collection about the history of medicine.  I was a stranger to the medical field.

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