Center for the History of Medicine’s virtual exhibits explore eugenics, birth control, smallpox

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The Center for the History of Medicine (CHM) at Countway Library recently debuted 17 online exhibits on their new platform that weave together fascinating stories illustrated by materials from the collections.

Most of exhibits are linked to specific events—such as the center’s largest undertaking, Battle-Scarred: Caring for the Sick and Wounded of the Civil War, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. This exhibit—two years in the making—was probably the most gratifying for Jack Eckert, public services librarian, who has been the driving force behind many CHM exhibitions.

Until recently, CHM’s virtual exhibitions existed as static HTML pages—with no interactivity or option to link to the items mentioned from the collections. Andra Langoussis, a Simmons student and part-time assistant in the center, has been migrating the HTML versions to OnView, the center’s installation of Omeka, an open-source Web-publishing system for libraries, museums, archives, scholarly collections and exhibitions.

Seventeen exhibitions are currently available to view on the new site. “OnView is exciting because now individual items are can be discovered through Google,” said Emily Gustainis, head of collection services. The featured exhibitions rotate, so visitors can delve into different topics, and Langoussis continues to add more to the new site.

“The holdings we have here are incredibly broad and deep,” Hall said. “These exhibitions offer a way to tease out amazing narratives from the collection and provide access not only to entire collections, but also to individual items within them.”

View the Center for the History of Medicine’s exhibitions page here.