Posts tagged ‘collections’

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contains fifty-one boxes of material, which includes personal and professional correspondence; reprints, published and unpublished manuscripts, historical material about the development of Mayo Clinic, and other materials gathered by Dr.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

From the History of Medicine Collection: The Mayo Clinic in Comic Strips

Dr Polley with part of his collection of Mayo Clinic comic strips

Dr Polley with his collection

The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library collects more than just books.  Some of the more interesting items in the collection are comic strips.  In 1983
Dr. Howard F. Polley (1913-2001) donated his collection of cartoons referencing the Mayo Clinic to the library.  Whenever Dr. Polley saw or heard about about a cartoon that mentioned the Mayo Clinic, he contacted the cartoonists and asked if they would be willing to donate an original or printed signed copy for his unique collection.  His collection comprises approximately 82 cartoons and is currently housed in the History of Medicine Library .  The library continues to gather these cartoons and add them to the collection.




The following comics are a small part of the Dr. Polley’s collection:

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October 21, 2016 at 10:22 am

From the Historical Unit Collection: Dr. W. W. Mayo’s Microscope

One of the many artifacts in the Historical Unit’s collection is a microscope that was purchased by Dr. William Worrall Mayo.

antique microscope

Dr. W. W. Mayo’s Microscope, purchased in 1869

He became fascinated with microscopy during his medical school training, and travels to other institutions increased his interest in this new technology. According to the Mayo family, he purchased at least two microscopes during his lifetime and mortgaged his home to purchase this one in 1869.

Dr. Mayo’s wife Louise was a bit hesitant to mortgage their home with the responsibility of four children and times being hard. However, she told Dr. Mayo, “Well, William, if you could do better by the people with this new microscope, and you really think you need it, we’ll do it.”

The story told is that the microscope cost $600 and took ten years to pay off the mortgage. Patients coming to Mayo Clinic did indeed benefit from the purchase of this microscope.

For more information about the history of the Mayo Clinic, and to see other artifacts in the collection, contact the Mayo Historical Unit and Archives.


Contributed to LibLog by:

Renee Ziemer
Coordinator of the Mayo Clinic Historical Unit


August 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

Eau Claire Library Receives Historical Artifacts

The Mayo Clinic Library in Eau Claire recently received several important historical artifacts to be put on display.  These artifacts include framed pictures of two buildings there were early locations of the Midelfart Clinic. The clinic, founded in 1927 by Dr. Hans Christian Midelfart, later joined with Luther Hospital and became part of the Mayo Clinic Health System.

photo of 2 framed pictures of clinic buildings

The Schlegelmilch Building on the left and the Ingram Building on the right.

photo of a framed document, articles of incorporation

Articles of Incorporation for Luther Hospital


Another artifact on display in the library is the original articles of incorporation for Luther Hospital.  This document, signed by the Secretary of State of Wisconsin, shows that the hospital was incorporated on May 11th, 1905. Fundraising and construction of the original hospital were completed in just three years, and the hospital officially opened its doors on August 30th, 1908.

The library also received two letters from Dr. William J Mayo, addressed to Dr. Midelfart. These letters show an early connection between Eau Claire and the Mayo Clinic, though it would be many years before the connection was made official.

photo of 2 framed letters

Letters from Dr. Will to Dr. Midelfart


The library staff are excited to have these artifacts on display and to share some of the rich history of the hospital and clinic in Eau Claire with our patrons.  The library also has a large collection of historical photos and memorabilia.

July 22, 2015 at 2:31 pm

From the History of Medicine Collection: Japanese Ex-libris Stamps

November 1957 marked the commemoration of the 30th year of the establishment of the Japanese Medical Library Association. A collection of Zôshoin (an owner’s sign as it is referred to in Japan) was compiled by Tomio Ogata, President of the Japanese Medical Library Association, of the 46 members of the University Medical Libraries in Japan. This collection was presented to Mr. Thomas E. Keys, then Director of Mayo Medical Libraries. Mr. Keys took an extended trip to Asia in the early 1960’s and visited libraries in Japan, China, Taiwan and other exotic places. He forged close relationships with many librarians, including Mr. Ogata.

This unique collection was hidden away in the History of Medicine Library’s vertical files and is now available for study, reflection, display and general interest to Mayo Clinic patrons and users alike. It has been catalogued in Cuadra Star Knowledge Center for Archives (SKCA), the database used by Mayo Clinic for special collections and archives.

The collection consists of 46 individual sheets of hand-made Japanese paper known as washi. This paper had a front and back side to it, the front side being identified by a tiny Japanese character stamp meaning “front”. Each sheet shows the name and address of each university member of the medical libraries in Japan. There are also various other stamps in Japanese showing addresses, library director, acquisition and classification. Some of the sheets also have an embossed stamp.

Ex-libris stamps were first seen in China and brought to Japan. Japan’s oldest ex-libris ownership stamps trace back to the Nara period (810 to 1010 AD) where the Emperor Saga used “Sagain no in” and Arikuni Fujiwara, who had a mountain villa at Hino, used “Hokkaiji Bunko”, they were used by only a limited number of people such as in temples and shrines and by members of the privileged classes. However, as books became more common, and as scholars and persons of letters who collected books, grew in number, a wide variety of ex-libris ownership stamps were produced to satisfy this more widespread use. Stamps come in a variety of forms each showing its own special characteristic depending on the era in which it was used as well as the kind of place it was used in, and the person’s occupation and social standing in the case of a personal ownership stamp. Those used by the feudal lords were grandiose and imposing in their style and those used by men of letters had more refined texts and designs.

Special thanks go to Philip K. Hafferty, BA East Asian Studies, Harvard University, MA Japanese Art History, University of Washington at Seattle who kindly translated this collection for cataloguing purposes.

Contributed to LibLog by:

Hilary J. Lane
Coordinator, History of Medicine Library

June 17, 2015 at 2:55 pm