Excellence of program and faculty featured in "History of Teaching Medicine at Emory" exhibit

Published 04-24-2018

by Emory Libraries

Amphitheater classroom instruction at the Atlanta School of Medicine, 1912. Credit: Atlanta School of Medicine records, WHSC Library.

The history of the Emory University School of Medicine is on display in a new exhibit at the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library. “History of Teaching Medicine at Emory” highlights significant achievements and people who have built Emory’s School of Medicine into one of the top medical schools in the Southeast.

Photographs, textbooks, medical instruments, and other memorabilia comprise the exhibit, drawn from the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library’s historical collections, which include the Emory School of Medicine records, 1916–2016.

“We’re so pleased to share these archival materials with patrons and visitors to our library,” says Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library archives manager Clayton McGahee, who curated the exhibit. “Emory’s School of Medicine has a fascinating history of excellence in both its program and its people that continues today. We hope the campus community – and medical students and faculty in particular – visit the exhibit and enjoy learning more about the school.”

An anatomy lab at Emory's medical school, 1971. Credit: From "Medicine at Emory" magazine, June 1971.

The exhibit is divided into four sections:

History of Medicine at Emory

This section tells the story of the five medical colleges that would eventually merge to become the Emory School of Medicine. It also recounts the saving of the Atlanta Medical College building during the Battle of Atlanta in 1864 (during which hospital staff dressed as sick and wounded to convince the Union army that it was an active hospital), and the turn of the 20th century and its impact on medical education at Emory.

Teaching of Medicine: Anatomy

This area explores how professors obtained cadavers in early years and the benefits of direct observation in anatomy. The story of Emory’s acquisition of a 1543 first edition of Vesalius’ “De Humani Corporis Fabrica” (On the Fabric of the Human Body) is included here, as well as a focus on anatomy department faculty throughout Emory’s history.

Renowned cardiologist J. Willis Hurst speaking with medical house officers, c. 1980. Credit: J. Willis Hurst papers, WHSC Library.

Teaching of Medicine: Cardiology

Prominent faculty in cardiology at Emory are highlighted in this part of the exhibit, examining figures such as Dr. J. Willis Hurst, a famous cardiologist and President Johnson’s personal cardiologist, and Dr. Nanette Wenger, a champion in women’s cardiology who is currently professor emeritus.

The Voice of the Medical Student

This portion of the exhibit details the Anlage, a School of Medicine student publication from the 1960s-1990s. The articles featured in this section address diversity and inclusion efforts from the Black Student Alliance, student and faculty protests of the Vietnam War, health issues such as public smoking, and other topics from the student perspective.

The exhibit includes a kiosk featuring photos and details of significant contributions for 12 faculty members and alumni who helped shape the teaching of medicine at Emory. Regarding the recent passing of Emory alumnus and physician educator H. Kenneth Walker, M.D., on Feb. 23, “I’m excited that we added a tribute in his honor,” said library director Sandra Franklin. “As a member, chair and senior consultant to the National Library of Medicine Board of Regents, Dr. Walker loved libraries. The Ken Walker Library in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, will always be a testimony to his international contributions to medical education.” (Walker, a 2018 Emory Medal recipient, received Emory’s highest alumni award posthumously.)

The “History of Teaching Medicine at Emory” exhibit is on display at the Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library (1462 Clifton Rd. in Atlanta, GA 30322). Parking is available in the Michael Street Parking Deck for free after 6 p.m. on weekdays and all day on weekends.

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