Dr. Daniel and Eleanor Albert collection of ophthalmology material
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Dr. Daniel M. Albert is a preeminent ophthalmologist and collector of historical medical documents and artifacts. Born in Newark, NJ, Albert graduated from Franklin and Marshall College in 1958, and from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1962. Albert completed his residency at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania under Dr. Harold Scheie and, after engaging in two fellowships, returned to the University to teach. Dr. Daniel Albert spent much of his career (1976-1992) as the David G. Cogan Professor of Ophthalmology at Harvard Medical School, and then went on the serve as the Frederick A. Davis Professor and chair of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin Medical School until 2016. Albert is the founding director of the McPherson Eye Research Institute and served for twenty years as the editor of the American Medical Association's Archives of Ophthalmology (now JAMA Ophthalmology) starting in 1994. Currently, Dr. Albert is Professor of Ophthalmology at the Casey Eye Institute, Oregon Health and Science University. He has been recognized with multiple professional awards and has published extensively, including on the topic of the history of medicine.
The following articles provide additional information on the history of the field of ophthalmology:
Wheeler, J. R. "History of Ophthalmology through the Ages." The British Journal of Ophthalmology 30.5 (1946): 264–275.
Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. "History of Ophthalmology." Accessed August 30, 2017. http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/ophthalmology/about/history.htm
The Dr. Daniel and Eleanor Albert collection of ophthalmology material (1596-2000, undated) presents some historical developments in eye care and ocular medicine, particularly over the course of the nineteenth century. While the majority of materials in this collection relate to ophthalmology, some pertain more broadly to medicine or to American history. Many documents are accompanied by descriptions or transcriptions provided by the seller, or additional background research conducted by the donor of the collection. In addition to correspondence, printed booklets and pamphlets, broadsides and advertisements, receipts, stock certificates, and some photographs and prints, the collection includes dozens of mostly eighteenth and nineteenth century spectacles and ophthalmoscopes.
The correspondence in this collection, arranged chronologically, dates from 1792 to 1950, with a few undated materials. Most of the letters were either written by or addressed to physicians, or relate to medical matters. Other letters speak to the experiences (both in matters of health and everyday life) of nineteenth century settlers, especially those to the state of Wisconsin. Several letters relate, either directly or tangentially, to the highly publicized murder in 1849 of George Parkman by John White Webster, a Harvard chemistry professor. This series contains four applications for positions as assistant surgeon in the Union Navy (submitted to the New York Naval Hospital in 1861), each of which consists of a cover letter and handwritten answers to a list of questions to demonstrate professional aptitude. Other notable documents include several letters written by Civil War surgeon William H. Githens during his service; a letter from Helen Keller to Ione Kurtz, composed in the wake of the death of Keller's friend and teacher Anne Sullivan; and the results of a phrenological analysis conducted by Orson S. Fowler. Aside from a short letter by German physician Hermann von Helmholtz, all letters are in English.
The education materials in this collection consist mainly of nineteenth and early twentieth century medical school brochures, which provide some combination of lists of faculty, students, alumni, lectures, courses and institutional policies. This series also includes three apprenticeship indentures to British surgeons and a certificate for a prize in theoretical chemistry granted to Michael McGrath. This series is arranged in chronological order.
The papers pertaining to organizations, institutions and governments include edicts; certifications; a few eighteenth century American legal documents; and a number of printed booklets presenting the meeting minutes and annual reports of various boards, societies, and associations. While some such pamphlets describe the administration of educational institutions, they have been included in this, rather than the prior series, because of their organizational emphasis. A noteworthy file in this series is "Boston Medical Police," an 1808 booklet often considered the first American code of medical ethics. This series is arranged in chronological order.
The series of publicity materials contains advertisements, broadsides, catalogs, and circulars, mostly for medical treatments and services. Some of these documents succinctly promote a particular product while others dispense medical advice and health information, or include testimonials. This series is arranged in chronological order.
The eighteenth century bills of exchange in the following series include war bonds and pay tables issued by the state of Connecticut (or "State of Hartford") to Dr. Amos Mead, Ralph Pomeroy, [Gilbert] Belcher, and "the Selectmen of Norfolk." The files in this series bearing a later date are mostly receipts for eyeglasses and medications. This series is arranged in chronological order.
With a few exceptions, the stock certificates in the sixth series do not pertain to medicine; most represent shares in railroad or transportation companies. This series is arranged in chronological order.
All of the written works in the Series VII. Articles, treatises, and written works are of a medical nature, whether they address particular conditions or the history of the field. This series is arranged in chronological order.
The images in this collection primarily consist of either nineteenth century photographs or colorful, comical prints by British caricaturists (circa 1800-1825). This series is arranged in chronological order.
The spectacles in this collection date mostly from the nineteenth century. Their item-level descriptions, based on notes provided by Dr. Albert, include the type of eye instrument (spectacles, if unspecified), the material of the frame, the shape and color of the lenses, qualities of the sides or temples, presence or absence of a case, and any markings including the name of the manufacturer. The ophthalmoscopes (bulk: 1860-1895) are described with their place of origin, manufacturer and type, to the extent that all of this information is available. For both these series, Dr. Albert's original order has been maintained. Selected spectacles and ophthalmoscopes are currently on exhibit in both the Scheie Eye Institute and the Kislak Center. Researchers interested in viewing items in either the spectacles and or the ophthalmoscopes collections should contact the Kislak Center before their visit in order to obtain a list of exhibited items.
Gift of Dr. Daniel and Eleanor Albert.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Rive Cadwallader
- Finding Aid Date
- 2017 September 5
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.