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The National Library of Medicine houses an extraordinary collection of audio-visual materials numbering nearly 40,00 items. Many of these materials, which range from films to videocassettes to sound recordings and beyond, are rare or unique. Taken together, the collection attests to the presence of a largely unknown history of the twentieth century, where medical media educated and persuaded untold millions of patients and doctors, and documented diseases, innovations, and procedures. This talk will present three case studies that illustrate the range of the NLM’s collections—a voyage through the history of human anatomy with Frank Armitage, Disney animator and medical illustrator; a series of training films for medical students about sexual dysfunction; and a sampling of films by Virginia-based Airlie Productions, which made many films for the United States Agency for International Development. Together, these films demonstrate a variety of approaches to communicating medical knowledge and the enduring value of the medical profession’s audio-visual records.
Oliver Gaycken is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and a core faculty member of the Film and Comparative Literature Programs at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is the author of Devices of Curiosity: Early Cinema and Popular Science (Oxford University Press 2015).
Oliver Gaycken, Associate Professor, Department of English, Core Faculty, Film and Comparative Literature Programs, University of Maryland