by Matt Richardson, Archivist and Special Collections Librarian.
Time for an update on the TMC Historical Audiovisual Resources Digitization Project: it’s online!
Thanks to funds from the South Central Academic Medical Libraries Consortium (SCAMeL), we were able to digitize more than fifty items from a variety of archival collections. In selecting materials, we prioritized recordings that documented and/or were created by the Texas Medical Center or the TMC Library. These included films, videotapes, compact cassettes, and even a reel-to-reel audiotape and a 12” metal phonograph record! After receiving the digital files back from the vendor, we reviewed the recordings and enhanced their descriptions to helps folks find and navigate them. Now we’re happy to announce that the digital files are available online for your viewing pleasure (Or research. Or both).
Let’s take a look at some of the highlights, shall we?
IC 001 TMC Library records
The selections from the TMC Library records showcase people, spaces, and services at the TMC Library of bygone days. For example, there is a compilation of six segments about the library from UT-TV’s “Mid-Day” news program (1983-1985). Obviously, our favorite is the feature on the Rare Books Room. Besides getting to listen to former Head of the MHC Beth White discuss collection development, viewers are treated to cool shots of the Burbank-Fraser Rheumatology Rare Book collection in its old home.
And if you ever wanted to know (or be reminded) what the TMC Library thought of itself in 1997, the promotional spot “Meeting the Challenge” has you covered. It’s a veritable BINGO card of late 1990s library staples—it’s got librarians teaching people how to use computers, some splashy graphics, and the winning final line: “the virtual library for the next millennium.”
IC 002 Texas Medical Center records
As you might expect, the TMC records offer their share of produced documentaries recording the TMC’s history and touting its growth and offerings. Raymond O’Leary’s “The Texas Medical Center” (approximately 1972), “Visions” (1985) and “The Power of a Dream”(1998) all fall into this category. On the other hand, the collection also provides a trove of raw footage, like the silent films of the 1973 library expansion groundbreaking or the audio recording of a meeting to discuss healthcare and training in Houston in 1968.
IC 004 Harris County Medical Society records
The Harris County Medical Society records has the distinction of contributing a 12” metal photograph record to the mix. On it we found four radio commercials from approximately 1981. Adopting the style of radio programs such as quiz shows and mysteries, the spots urge the public to vote in support of keeping Jefferson Davis Hospital on its present site and to oppose construction of a new facility in the Texas Medical Center. The campaign lost out—Ben Taub Hospital now sits in the Medical Center, and the old Jefferson Davis Hospital has since been demolished.
This collection also gives us the educational program “AIDS: Protect Yourself!” which was commissioned by the Harris County Medical Society and Houston Academy of Medicine in 1987. The program attempts to answer questions about AIDS and preventing its spread. Besides the hosts and the requisite group of school children, the program also includes interviews with child psychiatrist Dr. Eileen Starbranch, who discusses fear of AIDS and sexuality, and Dr. Sam Nixon, who discusses AIDS prevention.
IC 007 University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston records
In the spring of 1980, the TMC Library hosted a series of lectures entitled “Conversations with the Past.” Five of these talks are now digitized and available. Among the highlights (forgive us if we’re biased) are Dr. John P. McGovern’s talk about Sir William Osler and Dr. William Seybold’s account of the Development of the Texas Medical Center. Plus we get another appearance from Beth White, who introduces the speakers.
IC 084 Texas Medical Center Historical Resources Project records
Finally, more than half of this project consisted of video oral history interviews on ¾” U-Matic tapes from the TMC Historical Resources Project. We provided a run-down of this collection last fall when the first twelve interviews went online. Now all 47 unique recordings from this landmark collection are available online! They feature a who’s who of prominent TMC figures, as well as leading cancer researchers on their visits to M.D. Anderson (which hosted the interviews in its studio). The interviews mainly take place during the 1970s, but there are a handful of later ones like the 1988 conversation with Dr. William Spencer and the 1991 talk with Dr. Richard Ruiz.