Volunteer Report: The Papers of Robert Langley Porter

This is a guest post by Seth Cotterell, UCSF Archives Volunteer.

As a UCSF Archives volunteer, I get to play an important supporting role in achieving our mission to identify and provide access to rare and unique material and support research and teaching of the health sciences, medical humanities, and the history of UCSF. Toward that end I have been updating old records and creating new ones that will result in making new, detailed finding aids for collections available online to researchers soon. You’ll have to come back for my next guest blog post to hear the details of that project, though. Today I thought I’d share with you a sneak peek at one of those collections.

If you’re familiar with the history of UCSF you’ve probably heard of Robert Langley Porter. Dr. Porter was a pediatrician and later served as dean of the UC School of Medicine from 1927-1940. He may be best known for spearheading the creation of the Langley Porter Institute, today called the Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, which receives more than 20,000 visits per year. Of course, this is the kind of information you can get from any web search. What I love about archival research, what you don’t find anywhere else, is the added insight. It’s the glimpse into the mind of the creator, the display of personality, and the richness of character captured in archival collections. For example, did you know that Dr. Porter was also a poet, sometimes writing verses on the back of Office of the Dean letterhead? This collection includes a love sonnet, a poem about potatoes, and this one which he apparently wrote in the bath!

Poem by Robert Langley Porter, 1924. Porter papers, MSS 77-11. Carton 1, folder 6.

Research is about so much more than simply gathering and reporting data points. Where else but in an archival collection could you expect to find a historical figure’s musings on the great questions, like what is life and what separates human beings from animals and microscopic organisms, next to guidelines for managing the “behavior abnormalities of children,” alongside the outline for an opera he wrote starring a Pan-like deity symbolizing the antithesis of materialism and destruction of nature? Spoiler alert: all this and more can be found in just the miscellaneous writings folders of this collection. And I, for one, would love to know in what context he used these jokes:

From miscellaneous writings (1), Porter papers, MSS 77-11. Carton 1, folder 14.

One of the most interesting items in the collection for me is a scrapbook that may have been given to Porter on the occasion of his retirement. Included are heartfelt and humorous well wishes from students and colleagues that give us an idea of the impact he had on those around him, not just as a highly respected professional in his field, but as a genuine human being.

Scrapbook, Porter papers, MSS 77-1. Oversize folder 1.

I look forward to continuing to work with our fascinating collections and to improving accessibility by publishing a number of new finding aids in the very near future for your viewing pleasure.

Ralph H. Kellogg: A Man of Service

This is a guest post by Lynda Letona, Archives Assistant, regarding her project to process additions to the Ralph H. Kellogg papers.

Dr. Ralph H. Kellogg wore many hats: awarded professor, scientist, writer, and even archivist/photographer. Born on June 7, 1920 in Connecticut, his work carried him across the United States and abroad, from Latin America to the United Kingdom.

Ralph H. Kellogg in laboratory, 1956-07-29. MSS 90-38, carton 25, folder 3.

Kellogg was recruited by the University of California from Harvard University, where he had served as Teaching Fellow and Instructor from 1946-1953. He joined the University of California School of Medicine in 1953 and spent the rest of his career with UCSF (with a brief sabbatical appointment as Visiting Fellow in Oxford University’s Laboratory of Physiology from 1970 -1971). Starting out as a renal physiologist, Kellogg shifted his research interests to respiratory physiology and began conducting work at White Mountain in California to investigate high-altitude physiology. Among his works is a 28-page examination of altitude sickness and a 64-page history of the regulation of breathing from ancient times to the end of World War II. The Ralph H. Kellogg papers include a White Mountain series devoted to research and laboratory material, photographs, and publications.

White Mountain, 5 miles north of Barcroft Laboratory, seen from the unpaved road along the intervening 13,000 ft. plateau, 1958. MSS 90-38, carton 25, folder 5.

Dr. Kellogg’s papers evidence a strong record of university service and camaraderie. Working through his papers, I’ve come across numerous thank you letters addressed to him in his correspondence and folders of committee work, including one labeled “Committee on Committees”!

UCSF Department of Physiology Halloween Party, 1969-10-31. MSS 90-38, box 3.

I’ve also arranged his carefully labeled photograph collection, a remarkable testament to his ability to appreciate people and acknowledge their contributions.

Dr. Kellogg’s detailed notes regarding participants in the Haldane Centenary Symposium, Oxford, July 1961. MSS 90-38, box 5.

Bighorn sheep, MSS 90-38, carton 25, folder 5.

I’ve found processing Dr. Kellogg’s papers inspiring. His work, ranging from offering editorial feedback to colleagues in the field to gathering historical research on leading figures in physiology to gazing at animals on a mountain top and riding in the back of a Jeep near Barcroft Lab at 13,000 feet, illustrates a fulfilled life dedicated to research and service.

Men in Jeep on road above Barcroft Lab, 1955-06-16. MSS 90-38, carton 25, folder 4.

3D Printing Artifacts in the Makers Lab

This is an excerpt of a blog post written by Dylan Romero, UCSF Library Makers Lab Manager. Read the full article here.

When the Makers Lab opened in April 2016, we were eager to explore 3D printing applications for UCSF. We soon learned there are countless applications for this technology at a health science institution. Even better, there are some incredible applications for us right here in the UCSF Library, specifically for the Library’s Archives & Special Collections department and the Makers Lab…

Stethoscope from A&SC Health Sciences Artifact Collection

I teamed up with Project Archivist (and Makers Lab volunteer) Kelsi Evans and began to search through the inventory of health science artifacts housed in the Archives. While reviewing the spreadsheet of over 900 items, Kelsi and I continued to find artifact after artifact that we knew had the potential to be recreated in the Makers Lab. Why recreate medical artifacts? Because many of these items are rare, old, and delicate, and must stay behind glass or be closely monitored in the Archives reading room. Why not recreate these artifacts to allow patrons to touch, feel, and interact with the material?

Unlocking the collection was our goal for the proof of concept project. Kelsi and I selected a stethoscope from the 1850’s, made of ebony and bone…

Archives & Special Collections was kind enough to loan the stethoscope to the Makers Lab for the project and I got right to work digitizing the instrument. I began by 3D scanning the stethoscope using the Matter & Form 3D scanner in the Makers Lab.

As you can see in the picture of the original stethoscope, the top potion is black, which unfortunately does not scan well with the 3D scanner. Not a problem, I moved on to modeling the stethoscope using the free, web-based software, Tinkercad. I spent the large majority of my time working in Tinkercad, trying to get the 3D model just right. There is still room for improvement, but the model was good enough for our proof of concept and I was ready to 3D print.

Continue reading the article on UCSF Library’s News page and discover how the printing turned out!