Thursday, May 27, 2010

Medical Museums in Arkansas

Medgadget and Gruntdoc have challenged us to visit our local medical museums and write about it. I live in Little Rock, Arkansas – the state capital and home of the only medical school in Arkansas. So this past Friday after looking online to see if the medical school has a museum, I headed over to the campus library. Turns out the school has an Historical Research Center (HRC) rather than a true museum.

The HRC has an impressive website where all the “proceeded” items are listed and searchable. The holdings of the HRC include “books, papers, artifacts, photographs, and audio and video recordings dealing with the history of medicine primarily in Arkansas.”

The goal of the Historical Research Center is to preserve UAMS history and the history of the health sciences in Arkansas. See our animated timeline. This is accomplished by the collection and preservation of classics in the health sciences, i.e., the History of Medicine and associated collections; and by collecting and preserving the archives of UAMS and Arkansas health scientists.

Due to lack of space and storage, the HRC doesn’t actively add old medical equipment or gadgets. The HRC has a few small areas throughout the main UAMS library where displays can be done. If you need to do research a topic of medical history, the staff will willingly help you.

The digital collections of the UAMS Library Historical Research Center provide access to selected archival materials related to the history of UAMS and of health sciences in Arkansas. Visit the digital collection. Also see our list of resources for historical research.

In fact, Amanda Saar who gave me the tour of the HRC mentioned a few other “true” museums in the state and I did more “google” searching myself. Here are the ones I found. I have not visited them in person due to time and distance, but perhaps in the future I will.

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Old Country Doctor Museum is located in Lincoln, Arkansas and was founded in 1994 by Dr. Harold Boyer, the son of Dr. Herbert Boyer, to honor his father and other Arkansas country doctors for their heroism, selfless service and unique contributions to the people and history of Arkansas. The museum is the second country doctor museum in the United States.  They can also be found on Facebook.

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The Randolph County Heritage Museum is not solely a medical museum, but they do have quite a collection of old medical “stuff” as can be seen in this youtube tour of the museum. It is located in Pocahontas, Arkansas.

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Museum of Chico County Arkansas (MOCCA) is located in Lake Village, Arkansas. You can see photos, including the one below, on their online tour.

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Siloam Springs Museum is located in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

At the Siloam Springs Museum, you can explore the past through permanent and rotating exhibits highlighting Indian culture, pioneer life, medicine and many other facets of our history.

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Gann Museum is located in Benton, Arkansas. The museum is housed in a 1893 building which served as the office of Dr. Dewell Gann. The building was built by patients who could not afford to pay him for their care. When Dr. Gann retired, he donated the building to the city and asked that it be maintained as a library. In 1980 the building was turned from the library to the museum.

In order to pay they dug bauxite from a nearby farm, hand-sawed it into blocks, allowed it to harden and then built the Doctor a medical office. It is the only building in the world to have ever been constructed out of pink alumina block. This area was once one of the world’s largest aluminum mining operations. The ore of aluminum is called bauxite and it is pink with little round metallic beads and streaks of white running through it.

The patients worked out their debt at a rate of ten cents an hour. The Doctor also took such things as cows, chickens and wild honey as payment as did many of the other doctors of the day.

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The Old Jail Museum in Greenwood is an unusual place to find a glimpse into how Arkansas medicine has changed in the past 100-plus years.

The exhibit contains memorabilia of 13 highly regarded physicians who worked in south Sebastian County dating back to the 1800s. Metal braces for broken bones, old photographs, doctors' bags, medicine bottles, baby scales, patient logs and bills, as well as medical instruments are some of the items on display through October at the museum located southeast of the Town Square on Arkansas Highway 10…..

Other items of interest include a straight edge razor used to cut umbilical cords, tiny bottles of medicines, stainless steel syringes, and one of the first electric nebulizer sterilizers. There are also some late 19th century medical textbooks with pictures and medical advertisements such as those advertising house calls for $2.50 and delivery of a baby for $1.25….

The museum also has the complete baby ledger of Charles Bailey, MD, from when he started practicing in 1953 to the last baby he delivered in the 1980s.

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St. Francis County Museum is located in Forrest City, Arkansas.

Located in the restored, historic Rush-Gates home; exhibits include the J.O. Rush relic collection, reconstructed doctor's office, geology and fossils from Crowley's Ridge, county, veterans, and African-American history. Temporary and seasonal exhibits year-round; also serves as the central visitors center for the Crowley's Ridge National Scenic byway

3 comments:

Gizabeth Shyder said...

Glad you did the research - this looks very interesting. Would love to plan a day trip with you one weekend this summer to hit a couple of these and take pics for your blog - let me know if you are interested. I love history, and medicine - putting the two together is pure bliss.

rlbates said...

Elizabeth, we should do that.

Gizabeth Shyder said...

I'm a woman of my word. I'll look at my calendar at work next week and e-mail you so we can plan it.