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By Betsy Simon
Indiana State University
The newest additions to Indiana State University's Special Collections at Cunningham Memorial Library aren't the average flap books.
Produced by Anna Fisher in Paris in the 1900s, "Antique Anatomie Comparative" is a rare and collectible moveable book with multi-layered chromolithography to illustrate the anatomy of a man and a woman. It allows viewers to explore the insides of the human body as they lift flaps that uncover organs and body parts. For viewers who can read French, this piece comes with a warning on the cover that reads "For adults only."
Like "Antique Anatomie Comparative," viewers of "Antique Anatomie La Femme" can lift flaps that uncover organs and body parts of the subject in the flap book, which was produced in Paris in the 1870s by A. Malonine and depicts the anatomy of a pregnant woman using multi-layered chromolithography.
"What is most intriguing about these two books is that they were meant to be used for anatomical study through the act of virtual autopsy," said Cinda May, associate librarian and chair of special collections. "One lifts the flaps to expose parts of the body as they would be seen during a dissection."
Both pieces were purchased to supplement black-and-white ink drawings of the bones and muscles in the arm and shoulder that date back to the 1880s. The four sheets of sepia drawings have manuscript titles and descriptions in German and consist of 12 anatomical drawings, including eight representing the skeleton and muscles of an extended and flexed arm and four drawings representing the scapula and clavicle with all of the bones and muscles numbered and identified on the manuscript.
There are also two sheets of ink drawings of 14 individual representations of the human head and face and 29 representations of fully fleshed faces depicting a series of physiognomic studies based Johann Kaspar Lavater's famous "Physiognomische."
They may have been intended for Christoph Roth's "Plastisch-Anatomischer Atlas," although it appears this particular set of drawings was never published.
May knew the pieces would make perfect additions at Indiana State, because of their ability to be used as educational resources to help nursing students glean insight into medical practices and beliefs of the past.
Lynnette Coffey, a nursing instructor in the College of Health and Human Services, has already made use of the acquisition.
"I was a new professor at ISU and I was reaching out to everything and anything that I thought was impactful and would give my course some wow, so I coordinated with the library to take the students over there and they got to see works from Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton and an old medical kit," Coffey said. "Our first nurse theorist was Florence Nightingale, and we have her works right here in our midst at ISU. It's things like this in Special Collections that we can use to show students where the profession began."
Coffey linked Special Collections content with lessons in ethics in nursing and nursing research.
"The students really loved it," she said. "I wanted my students to feel and look at everything, examine the writings and see how patients were described then compared to how we do it today. It was an amazing experience for my students, as it would be for any student in any field, to be able to see the things that (Special Collections) has to offer."
While security is always a concern because of the rarity of the items, May said special collections departments everywhere have made a gradual move over the past decade to transform the image people have of stuffy places filled with dusty, old books to one that encourages discovery through unique finds.
"We want to show people that special collections are exciting places to visit and explore," she said. "We want professors to bring their students here to examine and experience the rare and unique items that we have in our collections."