Page 66 - Apr2017

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Library, it is open to the public and in
addition to its archives, also features a
revolving exhibit that changes two to
three times per year.
Currently on display is a tribute to
UTMB Alumni, with profiles of the first
female and African American students at
the University, as well as the first female
professor, all of whom were accepted
within the halls of university long before
it was socially acceptable—unsurprising
given that Galveston since its inception
has been a city of diversity and progress.
The exhibit also profiles Truman Blocker
himself and his invention of the silicone
breast implant.
The Rare Book Collection is the largest
in the southern U.S., dating back to
the 1300s. “You could never duplicate
this collection,” says Marlin. It contains
The Blocker Collections are named for
Truman G. Blocker, Jr., whose association
with UTMB began in 1933 and lasted
over fifty years until his death. First a
student, then a professor and a revered
plastic surgeon, Truman was the first
person to hold the title of President of
the university.
Truman was also an avid history buff and
procured an extensive collection of rare
books and medical history paraphernalia
in the 1960s. “He considered the history
of medicine a very important part of its
practice,” says Robert Marlin, Archivist
for the Collections.
During his term as president, Truman
donated over 3,500 books to the
university library. When the Moody
Medical Library was constructed in 1972
by way of a generous donation from
the Moody Foundation, a grant from
the United States Public Health Service,
and a contribution from the Board of
Regents for the Permanent University
Fund, a space was dedicated for Truman’s
After the library opened on June 6
that year, Truman began to purchase
additional items. Over the years the
Blocker Collections have continued to
grow with donations from alumni who
Marlin says are incredibly supportive of
the department.
The name of the department is plural
because it is actually divided up into
three different collections—the Rare
Book Collection, the UTMB Archives, and
the Space Medicine Collection. Located
on the third floor of the Moody Medical
representations of some of the most
highly influential medical achievements
of all time.
The oldest manuscript is John of
Rosa Medicinae,
a European
publication from 1305 and the most
printed medical anthology of the time
period; it includes an array of folk
medicine, herbal remedies, and all of the
studies of Galen, whose theories were
used for over 1,000 years.
This part of the Collections also contains
a First Edition
Origin of Species
Charles Darwin, a pamphlet from the
1896 conference where Wilhelm Conrad
Röntgen presented his invention of the
x-ray that would permanently change the
course of medicine, and a painstakingly
assembled pop-up book of anatomy
from 1619 by Johan Remmelin entitled
Catoptrum Microcosmicum
It also provides a rare glimpse into
the darker world of medical theories
with the
Malleus Malle Ficarum
1486. Written by Heinrich Kramer and
Jacob Sprenger, this book provided the
“intellectual” basis of the witch trials,
all the way down to the proper use of
torture devices.
Perhaps most impressively, the Rare
Book Collection contains the largest
collection of the works of Louis Pasteur
outside of France. It includes original
handwritten notes, correspondence,
and research equipment of the
French chemist who, among his
many groundbreaking achievements,
discovered several sanitation practices
including the process for heating milk to
Wooden medicine chest from the early 1800s that still contains many
of its original contents, once owned by the grandfather of a UTMB
alumni who donated it to the Blocker Collections.
Archivist Robert Marlin
holds an oversized
anatomical drawing from
the mid-20th Century
John of Gaddensden’s Rosa Medicinae, c. 1305
Pictures by Kimber Fountain
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APRIL 2017