Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Medical Annals of Maryland (1799-1899)

One of the most useful books in my research arsenal is The Medical Annals of Maryland (1799-1899), written by Eugene Fauntleroy Cordell, a long-time member of MedChi and one of our distinguished librarians. cordell for blogDr. Cordell was born in Charlestown, West Virginia, which was then part of Virginia in 1843. He fought in the Civil War, and then entered medical school at the University of Maryland, where he graduated in 1868.   He became the “clinical clerk” at the University Hospital, and served as an attending physician in the Baltimore General Dispensary.

From 1870 to 1887, he served intermittently as the Librarian at MedChi. He became very interested in the Maryland Medical Journal, contributed to it often, and eventually became its co-editor. He served as President of MedChi for the 1903-1904 term.

The Medical Annals of Maryland is a huge work – almost 900 pages! It is an exhaustive compilation of the history of medicine in Maryland and chronicles the first 100 years of MedChi’s existence. There are small and large biographies of every member of MedChi from its first days, imageand a detailed history of its early years and each year after that. image

The book has 32 illustrations, mostly of physicians, but also of localities and rooms. The portraits were a great help when I was researching our portrait collection. Warfield Charles

In Dr. Cordell’s portrait, you can see that his hand is resting on his magnum opus, The Medical Annals of Maryland. imageIn our archives, we have more than 10 boxes of Cordell’s original source materials all organized alphabetically. I haven’t had time to look through them, but I am sure it will be fascinating when I eventually do. We were asked to find a birth date for an 19th century physician, and I said that if it wasn’t listed in the Cordell book, then the information didn’t exist here at MedChi.

While I have a copy of the book sitting on my desk, I barely crack it open. And even though the book is more than 100 years old, I find that I still have to cut the pages before I can read them. Instead of searching the index of the book, I refer to the version digitized by the Harvard Library. It’s a searchable document , and I can cut and paste passages from it.image

Handily, the search results are listed by relevance or pages, and you can toggle between the two. I’ve been able to search for obscure terms that don’t appear in the book’s index. I can only imagine what Dr. Cordell would think of that!

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