The Women Behind the Japanese Woodblock Print Collection

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By Erin Hurley, User Services & Accessioning Archivist

One of UCSF Archives & Special Collections’ most famous and beloved collections is the Japanese Woodblock Print collection – a collection of over 400 colorful and informative woodblock prints on health-related themes, such as women’s health and contagious diseases like cholera, measles, and smallpox. According to the Library website dedicated to the prints, they “offer a visual account of Japanese medical knowledge in the late Edo and Meiji periods. The majority of the prints date to the mid-late nineteenth century, when Japan was opening to the West after almost two hundred and fifty years of self-imposed isolation.”[1] The collection has been used, most recently, in a documentary about woodblock prints to be aired on NHK, Japan’s public broadcasting network, and has been a subject of enduring interest to researchers. I’ve heard colleagues wonder aloud about how UCSF came to own this unique collection, so I did some research. Naturally, an enterprising curator and librarian – Atsumi Minami, MLS – is to thank for the collection’s arrival at UCSF.

Walters, Tom F., “Atsumi Minami with items from UCSF Library East Asian Collection,” 1968. UCSF History Collection.

While I was not able to find the exact dates of her employment at UCSF Library, I do know that Minami began working at UCSF Library in 1959, and soon took charge of a small collection of 70 titles of materials related to East Asian medicine started in 1963 by John B. de C.M. Saunders (a shortening of his full name, John Bertrand de Cusance Morant Saunders), then Provost and University Librarian.[1] Minami could read Japanese script, so she became responsible for the collection and was soon given free rein to begin collecting additional materials. In order to do this, Minami “traveled to Japan and China and purchased items from various smaller, private collections, acquiring the woodblock prints as well as hundreds of rare Chinese and Japanese medical texts, manuscripts, and painted scrolls.”[2] Her collecting efforts spanned over 30 years, and produced a collection with over 10,000 titles. It would appear that Minami was still working at UCSF when this informative article was written for a 1986 issue of UCSF Magazine.[3] At the time that article was published, the East Asian medicine collection was also the only active collection of its kind in the U.S., making it even more notable.  

Another woman who was influential in shaping the East Asian collection was Ilza Veith, a German medical historian and former UCSF professor in both the Department of the History and Philosophy of Health Sciences and the Department of Psychiatry. Veith, who in 1947 was awarded the first ever U.S. Ph.D.in the History of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University, was also awarded later, in 1975, the most advanced medical degree conferred in Japan, the Igaku hakase, from Juntendo University Medical School in Tokyo.  Veith was extremely knowledgeable about both Chinese and Japanese medicine, and, in her time at Hopkins, translated Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen, or The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine – the oldest known document in Chinese medicine. Though the text has somewhat mythical origins that make its author and date a little difficult to determine, it probably dates from around 300 BC. Veith also helped shaped UCSF’s East Asian medicine collection by donating a number of her Japanese medical books. 

“Ilza Veith,” 1968. UCSF History Collection.

I would encourage anyone interested in the collection to browse the prints on our website, and to read more about their history via a finding aid on the Online Archive of California. Archives & Special Collections also houses the Ilza Veith papers. While we don’t yet have an Atsumi Minami collection, we welcome donations and would appreciate any information that the present-day UCSF community has about this amazing woman.


[1] “Glory of the Special Collections,” UCSF Magazine, V. 9, Issue #342, 1986: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31378005349033&view=1up&seq=341&q1=”Atsumi Minami”

[2] “About the Collection,” UCSF Japanese Woodblock Print Collection, 2007, https://japanesewoodblockprints.library.ucsf.edu/about.html. Accessed April 6, 2021.

[3] “Glory of the Special Collections,” UCSF Magazine, V. 9, Issue #342, 1986: https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31378005349033&view=1up&seq=341&q1=”Atsumi Minami”


[1] “About the Collection,” UCSF Japanese Woodblock Print Collection, 2007, https://japanesewoodblockprints.library.ucsf.edu/about.html. Accessed April 6, 2021.

October is Archives Months

October is American Archives MonthThe UCSF Archives have a double celebration this month. October is not just an American Archives month, but also the California Archives month. This event “raises public awareness of the importance of archives and to honors the efforts of the professionals who protect and maintain historical documents.”
Please visit the UCSF Archives to:

  • Access Historical Materials in the Reading Room
    We collect and preserve rare and unique materials to support research and teaching in the history of health sciences, the development of UCSF, and biomedical discoveries. Make an appointment to view rare books, archives, manuscripts, photographs, and artifacts.
  • Develop Research Strategies
    Schedule a consultation to develop effective research strategies.  Discover print and online primary sources in the history of health sciences and UCSF history.
  • Get Help with Documenting Your Career/Preserving Your Department’s Records
    We review your personal papers & organization records (print & digital) and advise on how to preserve them. Consult us about donating your materials.
  • Locate materials and Access Digital Collections
    https://www.library.ucsf.edu/collections/archives
  • Connect with Us:
    Brought to Light blog
    Twitter: @ucsf_archives

Please meet the UCSF Archives & Special Collections team (in order of appearance):

  • David Krah, processing archivists (Tobacco Control Archives and Eric Berne collections)
  • Kelsi Evans, processing archivist (Radiologic Imaging Laboratory and Dr. J. Michael Bishop collections)
  • David Uhlich, UCSF assistant archivist
  • Polina Ilieva, UCSF archivist, Head of Archives & Special Collections

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Or watch the video on the Internet Archive.

Joint Project to Digitize State Medical Society Journals, 1900 – 2000 Funded

librarylogo  The UCSF Library is collaborating with four other preeminent medical libraries on a project to digitize and make publicly accessible state medical journals. The Medical Heritage Library (MHL), a digital resource on the history of medicine and health developed by an international consortium of cultural heritage repositories, has received funding in the amount of $275,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for its proposal “Medicine at Ground Level: State Medical Societies, State Medical Journals, and the Development of American Medicine and Society.“ Additional funding has been provided by the Harvard Library.

Illustration for the article by Charles Kirkland Roys, M.D., published in the California State Journal of Medicine, Vol. Xi, No.3, March 1913.

Illustration for the article by Charles Kirkland Roys, M.D., published in the California State Journal of Medicine, Vol. XI, No.3, March 1913, page 116.

The project will create a substantial digital collection of American state medical society journals, digitizing 117 titles from 46 states, from 1900 to 2000, comprising 2,500,369 pages in 3,579 volumes. State medical society journal publishers agreed to provide free and open access to journal content currently under copyright. Once digitized, journals will join the more than 75,000 monographs, serials, pamphlets, and films now freely available in the MHL collection on the Internet ArchiveFull text search is available through the MHL website . MHL holdings can also be accessed through the Digital Public Library of America – DPLA, and the Wellcome Library’s UK-MHL.

Illustration for an article by Eugene S. Kilgore, M.D., published in the California State Journal of Medicine, Vol. XIII, No.12, December 1915, page 464.

Illustration for the article by Eugene S. Kilgore, M.D., published in the California State Journal of Medicine, Vol. XIII, No.12, December 1915, page 464.

State medical society journals document the transformation of American medicine in the twentieth century at both the local and national level. The journals have served as sites not only for scientific articles, but for medical talks (and, often, accounts of discussions following the talks), local news regarding sites of medical care and the medical profession, advertisements, and unexpurgated musings on medicine and society throughout the 20th century. When digitized and searchable as a single, comprehensive body of material, this collection will be able to support a limitless array of historical queries, including those framed geographically and/or temporally, offering new ways to examine and depict the evolution of medicine and the relationship between medicine and society.

UCSF is collaborating on this project with: The College of Physicians of Philadelphia; the Countway Library of Medicine at Harvard University; the Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health at The New York Academy of Medicine; and the Health Sciences and Human Services Library, University of Maryland, the Founding Campus (UMB). The participants are currently reviewing their holdings, establishing workflows and will start digitizing the volumes this fall (UCSF holdings will be sent to the Internet Archive scanning facility in San Francisco); the project will be completed in April 2017.

Accessions & Additions – Summer Edition

We’re always busy accepting new collections and pushing through our backlog to make as many collections available for research as possible. This list of new records includes materials relating to tobacco control, UCSF, infectious disease, pediatrics, nursing education, HIV/AIDS Toland Hall murals, book collecting, medical education, and more. Click on the titles below to learn more the contents, subjects, and size of these collections.

Contact us if you have any questions or would like to learn more. And please don’t hesitate to make an appointment to come in and use the collections!

Our catalog updates over the past six months:

The following collections have inventories or finding aids on the Online Archive of California:

Collections in the Media

We’re proud to tell you about two new documentaries that used material from our collections and are hitting screens big and small near you.

Ken Burns’ new 3-part documentary, Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies, premieres on PBS tonight, March 30. The film “examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective and a biographer’s passion. The series artfully weaves three different films in one: a riveting historical documentary; an engrossing and intimate vérité film; and a scientific and investigative report.” It’s based on the book written by physician and oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee and published in 2010, described as a “biography of cancer.”

[Note for UCSF Library fans: Mukherjee is married to Sarah Sze, the artist who created the mirror polished stainless steel sculpture in the front stairwell of the Parnassus library.]

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The film Merchants of Doubt, by the filmmakers of Food, Inc., is now playing in theaters in San Francisco (and elsewhere). It’s “the troubling story of how a cadre of influential scientists have clouded public understanding of scientific facts to advance a political and economic agenda.” The team was on-site for several days, interviewing UCSF Professor Stan Glantz in our reading room and filming in the vault.

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Let us know if you’re able to see either film! What did you think?

And, of course, contact us anytime via our online contact form to submit a question or comment. You can also email us directly at libraryarchives@ucsf.edu.

Accessions & Additions

We’re always busy accepting new collections and pushing through our backlog to make as many collections available for research as possible. This long list of new catalog records includes materials relating to tobacco control, UCSF, neurology, nursing education, HIV/AIDS organizations, pharmacy, medical librarianship, pediatric diabetes, and more. Click on the titles below to learn more the contents, subjects, and size of these collections.

Contact us if you have any questions or would like to learn more. And please don’t hesitate to use the calendar on the right to make an appointment to come in and use the collections!

Our catalog updates over the past six months:

UCSF Clock Tower

Millberry Union Clock Tower as it looks today.

Millberry Union Clock Tower, 2014

Have you ever noticed the large transparent clock on the exterior of Millberry Union? It looks like this:

I walk past it often without giving it a second thought, but the clock tower has quite an interesting history.

Often referred to now as the “Founders’ Clock,” it is also known as the “Toland Clock Tower” and “Seth Thomas Clock.” You may also have seen photographs of the Old Medical School building from time to time, with a large clock atop the center of the building– the same clock as Millberry’s clock.

One of our rotating banner images here on Brought to Light depicts the old Medical Building, including the Seth Thomas Clock, through the lens of well-known photographer Ansel Adams. It’s a slice of this photograph:

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Ansel Adams, Clock Tower of old Affiliated Colleges building, with new structures in fog, August 1964

The above building was the College of Medicine, and the first building to have been erected on the Parnassus campus in 1897. Seth Thomas was a well-known clockmaker in Connecticut in the early and mid 19th century. The clock was brought to San Francisco via ship that traveled around Cape Horn, South America to be a crown jewel in the Affiliated Colleges campus. The image, taken in 1964, shows the old College of Medicine building surrounded by the more modern campus buildings of today in the background and on the left. When the old College of Medicine building was torn down in 1967, a group of “friends of the clock”, led by Alison Saunders, MD and assisted by Meyer Schindler, MD ’38, formed to ensure it’s safekeeping until it could be moved to a new location on campus. “We have salvaged the granite pillars and blocks as well as the clock from the old building that was a landmark on Parnassus Heights . . . ,” Dr. Alison Saunders declared in 1969 as chair of the UCSF Campus Court Development Commission.

The process to find the famous clock a new home took 14 years. Finally, in 1982 the inner-workings of the clock were reinstalled on Millberry Union, 500 Parnassus Ave, where it lives today.

Founders Clock, Millberry Union, circa 1982

Founders Clock, Millberry Union, circa 1982

Next time you’re walking around the Parnassus campus, take a closer look at the historic clock. It is a work of art worthy of our attention.

The inscription reads: “Carried by ship around Cape Horn, this Seth Thomas Clock was installed on the Medical School of the Affiliated Colleges in 1897. Surviving the 1906 earthquake, it served the University and community for 70 years. Members of the UCSF family have made possible its restoration as a campus landmark.”

Check out this article that details the historical inspiration for a new clock, “Saunder’s Clock,” in the Mission Hall courtyard of the UCSF Mission Bay campus.

Through the Eyes of an Intern

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Hi everyone, my name is Armani Fontanilla and I am an undergraduate student at the University of San Francisco interning at the UCSF Archives & Special Collections.

At the archives, I am currently tasked with the processing of small box collections, or the creation of box level inventories and the digitizing, and creation of, metadata for the archives that have yet to be placed into the virtual catalog. Other projects that I am potentially tasked with are research for the upcoming 150th Anniversary of UCSF on the level of researching stories, scanning images, and looking for documents, as well as helping with the vast inventory of the Medical Artifacts collection.

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It’s restricted for a reason. We can’t reveal why. All you need to know is Maggie has the really cool “restricted” stamp. It’s actually really cool.

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And wow is our inventory big… Get it? Because the texts are big?

Even though the potential projects are only potential projects, my senior co-workers, Maggie and Kelsi have both taught me a lot in the projects that I am currently working on. For example, Kelsi has taught me about her work with the Medical Artifacts collection: How the UCSF catalogs have changed from one form to another, and that cross-referencing catalogs with each new edition that has come through the library archives since 1864, one also has to decipher the writings and annotations of previous archivists, as well as come up with new ways to reorganize the collections in our possession.

Maggie, on the other hand, has taught me how to do the projects that I am currently doing, as opposed to the potential projects that Kelsi lets me shadow every so often. She has taught me proper labeling procedure, and storage techniques, as well as projects that mirror the one that Kelsi is currently doing, which would be creating catalogs for documents in storage.

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Cataloging kind of like this, but more modern.

Finally, the first project (that I am still working on when I’m not being taught by Maggie or Kelsi, is the creation of a digital inventory of UCSF affiliates and members. Fortunately, most of the physical inventory is in English, and it is all on-site. Unfortunately, the physical inventory itself is not backed up – folders that are not archival standard need to be replaced, labels need to be printed out because of the inconsistent handwriting of previous archivists (and this intern’s), and more files need to be created for the ever expanding role of UCSF affiliated persons who are recognized in the news worldwide – from China, to America, to Brazil, to the Philippines, UCSF’s impact on the world is growing. And my first, and current job, is to help sort the files so that we can keep track of them for people to use and peruse in the future.

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Before this data can hit the internet, I need make sure they’re all in order.

Within these jumbled folders, however, lie treasures that I am so excited to find. While often the files just contain one or two articles, some contain as many as ten plus! And these articles are often varied – they come in the form of obituaries, photocopied documents, magazine clippings, newspaper articles, biographies, and more! But instead of letting me describe them, let me show you some examples.

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A button with 1989 Nobel Prize Winners Michael Bishop and Harold Varmus.

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Brown, Leatha. School of Nursing, Class of 1928.

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Holt A. Cheng, 1904. He was the first Chinese to be licensed to practice medicine in California after graduating from the College of Physicians and Surgeons in San Francisco. After returning to China, he established the Guang Hua Medical Society, the first medical college of western medicine established by the Chinese, for the Chinese, and the first medical school to accept female applicants.

And finally, the UCSF archives are not only home to just Western schools of thought in medicine, but include Eastern Thought as well. On site and in a state-of-the art archival room, various Eastern texts in Chinese and Japanese are stored, either purchased by the Head Archivist, donated to UCSF, or willed by their owners.

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Chinese medical texts in the archival room.

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Japanese medical texts.

 

Armani Fontanilla

Armani Fontanilla

Armani is currently a senior majoring in History with an emphasis on European and Asian Studies in the University of San Francisco (USF) public history program. After he graduates, he hopes to be able to earn a teaching position at his old high school, Bellarmine College Preparatory, and eventually pursue a Masters. In choosing the UCSF archives through the USF internship program, he hopes to not only practice skills that can only be found through working at an established institution but to also enhance his ability to do archival work and explore history of Western medicine at the archives.

 

Commemorating UCSF Dental Alumni WWI Veterans

In honor of Veterans’ Day this year, we bring you a scrapbook from our collection, titled Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919. The scrapbook is filled with letters written to Dr. Guy S. Millberry by both former and on-leave students during their military service. Millberry began working at UCSF in 1906, was appointed Professor in 1910, and became Dean of Dentistry in 1914– a role he continued in for twenty-five years.

The collected letters were written from a variety of places– Camp Greenleaf, GA; Camp Fremont, CA; Vancouver, WA; Royat, France; Oakland, CA; Camp MacArthur, TX; San Pedro, CA; Camp Lewis, WA; Khabarovsk, Siberia; New York, NY; Fort D.A. Russell, WY; Camp Greene, NC; Camp Shelby, MS; Camp Lee, VA; La Ferte, France. They were sent from forts, camps, ships, submarines, and hospitals. Most of the the letters are handwritten, a few are typewritten.

Dental College alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

 

The soldiers ask Dr. Millberry for letters of recommendation, job advice, proof of graduation, if their leave of absence will be honored or extended to allow them return to school after the war ends, and give updates on their lives. One soldier, who wrote on September 21, 1918, included a copy his records detailing the dental work he did in one week.

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Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

A graduate of the 1917 UC College of Dentistry class, Edwin Busse, wrote a letter on October 18, 1918 from his station in Paimboeuf, France that included several photographs (the letter is transcribed in full at the end of this post). Busse is pictured in the 1917 Blue and Gold UC yearbook as a member of the Psi Omega dentistry fraternity. Below, a photograph of the Arch de Triumph in Paris, France. The caption reads: “Note how French have protected statue on right with sandbags.”

Dental College alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

Included with same letter, a photograph of a “portable dental outfit.”

Dental College alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

As well as a photograph of a “dental office at Paimboeuf.”

Dental College alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

 

Clark R. Giles received his Degree of Doctor of Dental Surgery from UC in 1914 and had been an instructor in Prosthetic Dentistry here before serving in World War I. He wrote a detailed letter to Millbery on on October 7, 1918 from Royat, France describing the work that goes on at Base Hospital 30, the war, his recent leave, and even mentions Busse.

 

Dental College alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

Dental College Alumni Serving in the First World War, 1917-1919 scrapbook

Royat France
Oct 7, 1918

My dear Dr. Millberry:

I have been a long time in writing to you but rest assured it is not because I have not thought many times of you and of the University.

We are located in Royat near Claremont-Ferrand a city of 60 thousand. We have the hospital well established in 17 or 18 summer hotels and at present have a little more than 1700 patients and within a few months expect to be able to care for 3 thousand if necessary.

Our department is very comfortably (not lavishly, naturally) equipped and just at present we are five dentists and six assistants. However we expect to lose our extra help ere long but in all probabilities they will be replaced by men from incoming organizations. We are kept very busy for example last month we saw some 650 patients and we try to have each man who comes in, go out with his mouth in a completed condition. We naturally have a great amount of routine work to do but mixed with it are also numerous very interesting wound and fracture cases from which we learn a great deal in the surgical and fracture line. All cases involving facial or other structures than the jaws or teeth are as you probably know handled in conjunction with the surgical department.

Click through to read the rest of the letter written by Giles followed by the letter from Busse that included the photographs, written to Millberry a week later than Giles’, also from France.  Continue reading

Recent Accession: Children’s Hospital, San Francisco Nursing School

We’ve recently acquired a collection from the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Nurses’ Alumnae Association, MSS 2006-17. Let’s break that down.

Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 45

Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 45, MSS 2006-17.

The California Pacific Medical Center’s historical timeline and UCSF History site prove quite useful for untangling this history. In 1875 the Pacific Dispensary for Women and Children was founded in San Francisco. It underwent a name change and became, more recognizably, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Under the leadership of the pioneering Dr. Charlotte Blake Brown (1846-1904) in 1882, the hospital began offering a two-year training program for nurses– the first official of its kind on the West Coast. And in 1887, it finds a new home at the intersection of California & Maple streets. At this point, “the two-story hospital has 25 private rooms, open wards, a cow barn, chicken yard, and laundry. Total cost, with furniture and equipment: $26,000.” The University of California Medical School (that’s us– UCSF!) begins partnering with Children’s Hospital in 1915 to teach medical students.

Group of nursing students, MSS 2006-17

Group of nursing students, circa 1925, MSS 2006-17.

Which brings us just to about the time period of this collection. Donated by the granddaughter of Ruth Steuben, an alumna of the Children’s Hospital Training School for Nurses, the material covers the education of Steuben, roughly 1925-1929, and includes class notes, yearbooks, photographs, and a uniform apron. Digital copies of Steuben’s school records as well as photographs and letters from the mothers of children nursed by Steuben soon after her graduation are also included. Below, a photograph of Ruth with her graduating class, December 1927, from the Little Jim yearbook.

Class of December 1927, including Ruth Steuben. Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1926, page 22, MSS 2006-17.

Class of December 1927, including Ruth Steuben. Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1926, page 22, MSS 2006-17.

And a photograph of many of the same students at a nursing school reunion event in May 1948.

Reunion of nursing school graduates, May 1948, MSS 2006-17.

Reunion of nursing school graduates, May 1948, MSS 2006-17.

And now, for your further enjoyment: crossword puzzles! The 1948 Little Jim yearbook includes not one, but two crossword puzzles. The first was created by Adelaide Brown, M.D. (1868-1933) who was the daughter of Dr. Charlotte Blake Brown– both were longtime activists for women and children’s health.

Crossword puzzle by Adelaide Brown, M.D. Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 48, MSS 2006-17.

Crossword puzzle by Adelaide Brown, M.D. Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 48, MSS 2006-17.

Crossword puzzle.  Children's Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 50, MSS 2006-17.

Crossword puzzle. Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Training School for Nurses Little Jim yearbook, 1925, page 50, MSS 2006-17.

Please see our other collections regarding the Children’s Hospital of San Francisco Nursing School Alumnae Association, MSS 89-20 and MSS 91-101. Read more about Dr. Charlotte Blake Brown in this fascinating article, The San Francisco Experiment: Female Medical Practitioners Caring for Women and Children, 1875-1932, by Meredith Eliassen and published online in Gender Forum.