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A Trip to the Space Medicine Archives – Part 1

Posted by on February 7th, 2018 Posted in: Blog, General (all entries), Health History


Our Consumer Health Coordinator, Debbie Montenegro, went on a trip that was out of this world. In Part 1, she highlights her visit to our partners at the Moody Medical Library at UTMB Galveston, specifically to see the Charles A. Berry, M.D. History of Space Medicine Collections. Here is a recap of the visit:

First of all, I want to thank the staff at Moody Medical Library for the invitation. Robert Marlin, Archivist and Kelly Caldwell, Library Manager were very welcoming. The History of Space Medicine Collections holds a variety of primary source materials that date to the early 1950s, donated by astronauts, medical doctors, and others associated with the space program.

Among these is Dr. Thornton; a physicist, doctor, and astronaut who worked on SMEAT (Skylab Medical Experiments Altitude Test) and on Skylab. He is an inventor and holds more than 60 patents, and invented medical apparatuses such as a treadmill for space. He was the first to document the shift and loss of fluid changes in the body, height changes, and muscle loss in space flight. It is still being researched today. Dr. Hubertus Strughold coined the term “Space Medicine” and is also known as the “Father of Space Medicine”. Dr. Charles Berry held an instrumental role in the selection of the original seven astronauts. As the NASA Flight Surgeon, he was responsible for sending 42 individuals into space over the course of 30 missions. Dr. Gaume created concept art and wrote on “Life Support Systems for Lunar Base and Lunar Colonization” in 1959.

Other highlights of the collection would be: the original special edition of LIFE magazine that covered the astronauts who went to the moon, a collection of recordings from the Joint US/USSR Working Group on Space Biology and Medicine, and concept art from 1958 and 1959 that showed architectural plans for a house on the moon.

Any researchers, librarians, educators or others interested who want to visit the archives can contact the Moody Medical Library to schedule a visit. Portions of the archives are currently being scanned and uploaded to UTMB Health SHARED, an online community space for Scholarship, Historical Archives, Repository, & Electronic Dissertations. Look for the History of Medicine Collections at https://utmb-ir.tdl.org/utmb-ir/

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