Posts filed under ‘From the Archives’

Dr. Donald C. Balfour Sr. papers are now archived in the The W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine


Dr. Donald Balfour Sr., circa 1924 at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota

The W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce that the papers of Dr. Donald C. Balfour Sr. are now available to interested persons for research. Dr. Balfour began working at Mayo in 1907 as an assistant in pathology and was appointed head of a section of surgery in 1912.  Although a general surgeon, he was particularly interested in diseases of the stomach and duodenum and became internationally known for his surgical contributions. Dr. Balfour also maintained an interest in medical education and served as associate director and director of Mayo Graduate School of Medicine (now Mayo Clinic School of Graduate Medical Education).

Dr. Balfour’s collection contains fifty-one boxes of material, which includes personal and professional correspondence; reprints, published and unpublished manuscripts, historical material about the development of Mayo Clinic, and other materials gathered by Dr. Balfour in preparation for writing his memoirs; photographs of Dr. Balfour and his family; writings by others regarding medicine, medical education, and music; and materials of general interest to Dr. Balfour.

A finding aid, or inventory, of Dr. Balfour’s collection is available for viewing via the Mayo Clinic Archival Collections (MAX) online catalog.  Visit the homepage of  the W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine  for more information about accessing the finding aid and other collections in the archives.


February 12, 2018 at 11:28 am

New Interactive Emeritus Staff Kiosk in Mayo Archives

Emeritus Staff Kiosk ScreenA new interactive display is available to staff, patients, and visitors on Plummer 3. Located in the W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine, the Emeritus Staff Biographies Interactive Kiosk contains short biographical sketches of all Emeritus Staff (physician and administrative), as well as those who died while in practice at Mayo.

The biographies collection was started decades ago by Mayo’s first archivist, Clark W. Nelson. Initially housed in binders, the collection eventually grew so large that the decision was made to transfer it to digital format for ease of accessibility. The clinic’s cabinetry shop designed and built a handsome cabinet matching the woodwork in the Historical Suite to house the kiosk. Over the course of a year and a half, all of the biographies were entered into a WordPress database, which now contains almost 1,500 entries.

We hope you will have an opportunity to come see the new display and read about some of the fascinating individuals who have contributed to Mayo’s rich history. You can also access the kiosk content online .

Submitted to LibLog by:
Nicole Babcock
Historical Archives Specialist
W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine

March 7, 2017 at 3:17 pm

Sea Sponges and Surgery: From the W. Bruce Fye Historical Unit and Archives

surgical sea sponges

Sea Sponges used in early surgeries at the Mayo Clinic

When the Mayos started their surgical practice at Saint Marys Hospital, they used the sea sponges in this image. These flat sponges were used during surgery as packing to prevent closing or obstruction by intrusion of viscera, as covering to prevent tissue injury, and as absorbents. After the surgery, the sponges would be rinsed, typically in a baking soda to remove the blood, and then cleaned with a chemical bleaching regime and reused. It was around 1900 when gauze sponges replaced the sea sponges in many operating rooms.



Contributed by
Renee Ziemer
W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine & Mayo Clinic Historical Suite

December 28, 2015 at 1:37 pm

Citation Indexes: More than Just Web of Science

Until recent years, ISI’s suite of citation indexes, now known as the Web of Science, was the only real option for finding information about who cited what and when.  It is because of the Web of Science and its print predecessors (Science Citation Index, Social Science Citation Index, and Arts & Humanities Citation Index) that citedness and impact factor are now commonly used as measures of research output and quality.  (more…)

March 4, 2009 at 9:38 am

Image is Everything: Finding and Using Medical Images on the Web

Images (graphics, illustrations, photographs, etc.) are visual representations; they help convey ideas and concepts.  Research has shown that humans are better at retaining information communicated in images than in text.[1]  The formats in which images have been created have evolved over the centuries, from static images on cave walls, papyrus, paper, photographic and radiographic film to two- and three-dimensional dynamic computerized images.[2]  The mechanisms for delivering, storing and retrieving the images have evolved as well.  From our digital cameras and cell phones, we can download images to web servers, PDAs, MP3 players, or attach them to e-mail messages.  We can go to the Internet to search, access and download digitized or “born-digital” images.  We no longer have to rely on printed books, magazines nor travel to far away places to view and appreciate prehistoric cave paintings (


March 4, 2009 at 9:37 am 2 comments