As we wrap up our 2023 Digitization Project Grant, we are pleased to share a final batch of newly digitized materials – a selection of textual records from the Beth Israel Medical Center alphabetical files, including over 80 World War I letters.
The Beth Israel Medical Center alphabetical files represent a miscellaneous assortment of textual records from throughout the hospital’s history. Each file provides a small insight into one aspect of its organization, which taken together provide a rich material history of the institution. The selection chosen for digitization emphasized materials through the completion of the campus in 1969, and provides insight into the hospital’s management, campus planning, and newsworthy happenings.
Like the annual reports and Board of Trustees minutes, organizational and management records in this selection provide insight into the day-to-day decision-making at Beth Israel for things large and small. The digitized material includes the Rules and Regulations of the Beth Israel Dispensary (1907), excerpts of minutes from the Phillips School of Nursing (1905-1912), minutes from department head meetings (1931-1935), by-laws of the Beth Israel Hospital Association (1947-1960), and directories for the house staff and visiting staff (1950s-1960s).
Campus planning is also a major theme in these materials. From Dazian Pavilion (construction started 1922) to planning for the Linsky Pavilion (opened 1966) these materials closely track the progress, reasoning, and decision-making surrounding the evolution of Beth Israels footprint in the Lower East Side. Of note are a group of articles written by Louis J. Frank, Beth Israel Hospital Superintendent, which describe a range of his theories on hospital management at the time of the construction of the Dazian Pavilion. Topics range from medical humanitarianism to facility planning, from European hospital design to vegetarian hospital food services.
Newspaper clippings (bulk 1909-1933) and press releases (1967-1968) also make up a significant amount of material and would be helpful to anyone interested in events at Beth Israel during those years.
You can browse all the alphabetical files digitized as part of this project here. (Note that some clippings and articles by Frank are still under copyright. The materials will become available as soon as they reach public domain, largely on January 1, 2024.)
World War I letters
Included in the alphabetical files are three years’ worth of World War I letters (1917-1919) to and from Louis J. Frank. The correspondents are largely Beth Israel doctors deployed to military hospitals on the front lines in France.
Major topics include daily life of those serving in the war, surgery during battle (particularly limb salvage and amputation), x-ray training for military doctors, and reactions to the Armistice. News of Beth Israel is also frequent, particularly medical and nursing staff shortages, the needs of future and current military patients, accounts of various Beth Israel doctors at home and abroad, and the status of the new Beth Israel hospital building (future Dazian Pavilion). The Influenza Epidemic of 1918 is mentioned throughout, and there are also several references to the Mount Sinai Hospital unit.
These letters are a valuable resource to anyone interested in the role of American doctors serving in World War I. You can browse the letters here.
In light of recent news, the Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. MD Archives remains committed to preserving Beth Israel’s rich history. As part of our ongoing 2023 Digitization Project Grant, we have been digitizing a selection of photographs from the Mount Sinai Beth Israel photograph collection. This blog post seeks to recognize and celebrate Beth Israel employees over the years, naming and putting faces to just a few of the thousands of people who have contributed to the hospital’s history.
The Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. MD Archives are excited to announce that the Beth Israel Hospital Board of Trustees minutes from 1889-1936 are now available online, as well as selected annual reports from 1893-1910 and the 1950s.
What kind of research can you do with Board of Trustees minutes?
Board of Trustees minutes document every major decision made by a hospital. This can provide a longitudinal look at how many aspects of Beth Israel have evolved over time. Reading through the minutes for specific subjects over the course of years can provide a detailed narrative of what decisions were made and why. For example, the Archives have already used the minutes to provide a look at how the campus has developed in researching our ongoing Building Beth Israel series.
Minutes are also a great resource to look at how Beth Israel responded to particular historical events, such as the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. Researchers have also used the minutes to track donations of money, supplies, and art to the Hospital, as well as to better understand the legacy of specific Trustees.
What kind of research can I do with annual reports?
Annual reports provide a great snapshot of the projects and people at a hospital in any year. They are a great resource for researchers who are interested in a particular year or period in Beth Israel’s history. They provide a detailed portrait of any department’s biggest accomplishments and track the progression of the hospital’s many milestones. While most of the Archives’ collections reflect institutional history, annual reports also provide an overview of the doctors and researchers who were working in various departments at any given time.
How can I access these files?
You can browse a listing of the Beth Israel Hospital annual reports and Board of Trustees minutes. This is a complete list of what is available in our physical archival collection, and all of these materials can be viewed on-site at the Archives.
Material that has a plus sign next to it can be accessed online. Click the plus sign and select the item from the drop-down, and then select the thumbnail of the digitized materials in order to pull up a full PDF version of the item.
Please note that the Board of Trustees minutes are closed for twenty-five years following their date of creation. Additionally, Beth Israel Medical Center appears to have discontinued creating annual reports sometime in the late 1990s. Only selected annual reports have been digitized, but all Beth Israel annual reports that are currently in the Archives collection are available for on-site reading room use.
You can also find all the material digitized as part of this project here. Additional materials will be available at that link as they are added to our catalog throughout Fall 2023.
More information on this project
As part of the METRO Digitization Project Grant, additional materials from the Mount Sinai Beth Israel collection will be added to our catalog throughout Fall 2023, including photographs, World War I letters, and other documentation on the history of Beth Israel through 1969. You can read more about this project here.
Authored by Stefana Breitwieser, Digital Archivist
The Arthur H. Aufses, Jr. MD Archives is pleased to share that we recently received a 2023 Digitization Project Grant from the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) to digitize a selection of material from the Mount Sinai Beth Israel collection. METRO’s Digitization Project Grant is designed to support digitization projects for METRO members to enhance the quality and accessibility of library and information resources in the metropolitan New York region. The selection for this grant will be the largest body of digitized materials related to Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI) to date.
Selected material spans from across the history of MSBI. Beginning as a form of Jewish mutual aid to care for marginalized workers and their families living in tenements, the hospital grew to treat and research many of the most pressing issues of the time and the history of the hospital is deeply intertwined with that of the neighborhood. Over its 133-year history, this has included caring for the sick during the Influenza Epidemic of 1918; the development of the Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program in the 1960s, one of the first ever methadone clinics; being an early responder in treating and caring for patients during the AIDS crisis in the 1980s; and responding to the present COVID-19 pandemic. The Beth Israel records broadly document the history of the hospital, and the digitization of this material will allow Beth Israel to be more easily included in historical research related to the broader scope of healthcare in metropolitan New York. At the grant period’s end, more than 7,000 pages of material will be newly available through our catalog.
A big thank you to METRO for their support! You can learn more about past grant recipients and their projects here.
Authored by Stefana Breitwieser, Digital Archivist
This week (December 4-10, 2022) is National Handwashing Awareness Week. As we all know, hand hygiene is a critical component of clinical care and patient safety. In this post we’ll be looking at handwashing campaigns at Mount Sinai Beth Israel over the years. (Click on the images for a larger view, or see the links below to view the item in our catalog.)