by Matt Richardson, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian
October is Archives Month! The TMC Library is celebrating with a special opportunity to support the McGovern Historical Center. Help us secure the history of the Texas Medical Center. https://library.tmc.edu/mcgovern/2022/09/28/give-2-history-secure-the-past/
Since the McGovern Historical Center is headquartered a couple miles south of the main TMC Library, visibility doesn’t always come easy. Sometimes archivists make special appearances at the Library, like setting up a table to feature archival materials for #AskAnArchivistDay. More often, it means crafting exhibits to highlight some of the stories found in our collections. In doing so, archivists hope to share TMC and medical history and, in doing so, also aim to raise awareness of the archive itself.
Fortunately, the MHC also has a venerable anchor in the main Library—the Rare Books Room. In addition to being a place to store collections and host researchers, the Rare Books Room trumpets the existence of the TMC Library’s historical collections, simply by being there. Though the doors are usually closed (visits are by appointment only), visitors can peer inside their glass windows. And these doors—along with the “John P. McGovern Rare Book Collections” sign—invite the passerby’s musing: “I wonder what’s in there?”
A new exhibit installed in the public corridor leading to the Rare Books Room seizes upon the opportunity to answer that question (or at least begin to). The two exhibit cases embedded in the walls of the corridor now feature highlights from MHC collections and brief overviews of major collecting areas.
There won’t be much new here for longtime MHC diehards—though hopefully you’ll still enjoy the pretty pictures. But for students, faculty, and others visiting the Library, the goal of these displays is to raise the profile of the archives and rare books collections and begin to convey a sense of what’s behind those doors—and down the road.
One case highlights the primary areas that comprise the MHC’s rare books collections: the McGovern Collection on the History of Medicine; Burbank-Fraser Collection on Arthritis, Rheumatism, and Gout; Detering Collection on Psychiatry and Photography; Dow Collection on Dentistry; Mading Collection on Public Health; and Menninger Collection on Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis.
The other half of the exhibit focuses on the MHC’s archival collections. Featuring archival materials in a variety of formats—photos, films, drawings, and more—this case illustrates how the MHC’s collections document the stories of TMC people and institutions. At the same time, it highlights collection strengths beyond Houston, like the original photographs from Medical World News and papers from the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission.
Next time you’re in the TMC Library, take a look! Better yet, plan a visit to the McGovern Historical Center to see even more.