Intern Report: Creating an Exhibit

This is a guest post by Caitlin Toomey, UCSF Archives Intern

Caitlin ToomeyHello, readers! My name is Caitlin Toomey and I was fortunate to be an intern at the UCSF Archives and Special Collections during spring semester. I am currently in the process of receiving my master’s degree in museum studies at USF. Since high school, I have either worked or interned at multiple museums and galleries throughout California, but my time at UCSF stood out as a unique and valuable experience.

While an intern, I was responsible for many different tasks and worked on a number of exciting exhibits. What stood out to me about this internship was the amount of skills I was able to gain and perform throughout the process. For the majority of my internship, I focused on the current exhibit on display in the Library, “DO THE BEST FOR OUR SOLDIERS:” University of California Medical Service in World War I. It was during this time that I completed many different duties.

I began by researching specific subjects, such as the influenza outbreak in 1918 and how troops were entertained on the front, which would be used in the exhibition as stand alone displays. I also wrote the labels with other curators for the exhibit. This was a valuable experience because I mostly have a background in education and collections, so working on more curatorial skills was very helpful. Additionally, collaboratively writing labels can be a challenging but educational experience, and as a result helped me with my writing skills.

WWI exhibit case, “Finding Time to Unwind,” on display in the UCSF Library.

Along with assisting in curation, I was also able to work on exhibit design and collections management for “DO THE BEST FOR OUR SOLDIERS”. I most enjoyed this part of the process because I was able to pick out artifacts for a number of the displays. Looking through the UCSF Archives and Special Collections storage was absolutely fascinating. The collection has so much to explore and discover on the shelves and stacks that I was never at a loss when looking for objects to display. I was also lucky enough to select and help place objects for a number of other special exhibits during my tenure, such as the UCSF Alumni Weekend artifact display of unique health science artifacts and the UCSF Cornerstone demolition series.

WWI-era U.S. Army Medical Department medicine kit used in the exhibit. From the UCSF Archives Artifact Collection, item 218.

Overall, I can look back on my time at the UCSF Archives and Special Collections as a very positive and educational experience. Not many internships give the opportunity to play a large role in exhibitions, as well as learn many different skills that will become valuable for a successful career. I know that I will take with me the many lessons I learned during these past few months. This was a wholly gratifying internship and I will cherish it throughout my career.

Digital Collection of Selma Dritz, Epidemiologist and AIDS Researcher

We’ve started work on our NHPRC grant project, “Evolution of San Francisco’s Response to a Public Health Crisis: Providing Access to New AIDS History Collections.” Throughout the project, I’ll be posting regular updates on Brought to Light.

For our first installment, we’re highlighting the new digital collection of Selma Dritz. Selma K. Dritz, MD, MPH, served as Assistant Director of the Bureau of Communicable Disease Control and Chief of the Division of Occupational Health of the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) from 1967-1984. She played a seminal role in the early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the San Francisco Bay Area, tracking cases and collaborating with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UCSF to help establish the etiology and epidemiology of the disease. She worked to educate gay and straight people about AIDS and its prevention.

The digital collection includes photographs, correspondence, research, ephemera, and other selected material.

The Dritz papers in part document the relationships Dritz cultivated with other physicians, researchers, and community advocates. For instance, during her tenure at SFDPH, Dritz developed a close working relationship with Randy Shilts, author of And the Band Played On, a groundbreaking work that chronicled the early years of the AIDS epidemic. The digital collection includes thank you cards Shilts wrote to Dritz and the program for Shilts’s memorial service and Dritz’s handwritten notes she prepared for it following his death in 1994.

To view the Dritz digital collection, visit Calisphere.org. There you can also view other digitized material from collections in the AIDS History Project, including the San Francisco AIDS Foundation records and AIDS Ephemera collection.

If you would like to research the Dritz papers (MSS 2009-04), please make an appointment with us.

Introducing “A Century of Health”

This is a guest post by Zach Bleemer. Zach is a Research Associate at UC Berkeley’s Center for Studies in Higher Education, where he directs the University of California Cliometric History Project, and a Graduate Intern in Institutional Research and Academic Planning at the UC Office of the President. 

A few months ago, I gave a lecture entitled “A History of Higher Education in California: A Big Data Approach” at the UCSF Archives. The lecture presented a large trove of newly-collected UC student records from the first half of the 20th century, including a complete register of University of California undergraduate and graduate students—their names, home towns, degrees, and years of graduation—from 1893 to 1946. These records enable descriptive analysis like Figure 1, which extends well-documented trends in college major selection back to the late 19th century (for UC Berkeley).

A recent Topic Brief published by the Institutional Research and Academic Planning Group (IRAP) at the UC Office of the President integrated this historical data with contemporary records of UC-trained medical professionals. Figure 2 uses California state medical license records from 1920 and 2016 to map the towns in which UC-trained doctors practice medicine, color-coding the towns by the doctors’ gender. Between 10 and 15 percent of UC medical students in the first decade of the 20th century were women, but women accounted for more than half of UC medical students in the first decade of the 21st century.

We also published an interactive map feature displaying the more than 850 cities and towns in which health professionals—doctors, dentists, optometrists, and veterinarians—trained by the University of California since 1999 currently practice, including both former graduate students as well as former residents (constructed by merging student and employment records with 2016 state licensing records). Toggles allow the viewer to restrict the map by UC campus, professional discipline, ethnicity, and level of training, and the map is color-coded by the professionals’ gender. The map displays both the demographic and geographic diversity of UC’s health-oriented graduates, who work in more than 60 percent of California towns with any health professionals. The interactive display also includes bar charts showing the number of health professionals who graduated UC each year (by campus and demographic group).

Both of these projects are part of a new initiative, A Century of Health, which aims to visualize and analyze the long-run contributions of UC’s health-oriented graduate schools to the state of California and beyond. Future components of this initiative will extend to pharmacists, nurses, physicians assistants, and more, and will leverage both new and very old sources of data, partly thanks to the UCSF Archives. The most exciting and comprehensive source of data is historical student transcripts housed in the UCSF Registrar, which we have recently concluded digitizing. A Century of Health aims to provide new insight into the University of California’s role in fostering wellness, economic mobility, and gender/ethnic equality across California by expanding, deepening, and repackaging information detailing the ubiquity of the University of California’s health-oriented graduate schools. To keep up with new developments, check the UC ClioMetric History Project’s website, or contact zachary.bleemer@ucop.edu.