Our extensive Historical Photograph Collection includes some really fascinating images. Check out these from the UCSF Radiology Department.
We’re currently processing the Radiologic Imaging Laboratory records, 1968-2000. The collection contains numerous images of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. The images help document the lab’s achievements in MRI research and illustrate dramatic developments in the technology.
MRI scan images come in several formats in the collection. These include marketing prints and slides, transparent film sheets and negatives, and Polaroid photographs. Lab researchers used Polaroid cameras to capture images on computer screens created by in-development software and hardware.
Several of the laboratory notebooks in the collection contain Polaroid photographs fastened right to the page, with research notes and data surrounding them.
As you move chronologically through the collection, you can see the MRI scans becoming clearer and clearer as lab researchers improved the technology. You can also chart changes in the lab’s research subjects. Image subjects transition from phantom objects (containers often filled with baby oil and water) to lab animals and RIL staff and patients.
Though the images present preservation challenges, they contribute greatly to the research value of the collection. Using the scans, you can witness the lab’s growth through different phases of MRI research and development.
For the next year, I’ll be processing the records of the Radiologic Imaging Laboratory (RIL), 1969-2000. This laboratory pioneered advancements in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and helped develop technology that’s now used in hospitals and clinics throughout the world. The collection showcases bioengineering in action and highlights the relationships among industry, research, and education at UCSF.
RIL founder and electrical engineer Lawrence E. Crooks gifted the collection to the archives in the early 2000s. It includes over 80 cartons of material ranging from lab notebooks with early scan images to patient records and marketing presentations.
The material traces the RIL’s growth through different funding agencies and corporate affiliations, including Pfizer, Diasonics, and Toshiba. There are even some personal items, like photographs of lab members celebrating Mardi Gras during a conference in New Orleans!
Currently, the collection is cataloged (MSS 2002-08) and has a preliminary inventory, though much of the material lacks intellectual control. My goals are to complete the collection’s processing, create a detailed online finding aid, and digitize a large portion of the material. I will also help curate an exhibit at the UCSF library and a companion online exhibit.
I’m really excited about the project and hope that it will help users better access the material. The collection is rich in research potential and I can’t wait to see the unique projects it inspires.