Skloot, Rebecca | The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
First edition, first printing. A superb copy, signed and dated “3/29/10” by the author on the half title.
In 1951 Henrietta Lacks, a 31-year-old African American woman, died of ovarian cancer at Johns Hopkins. Unbeknownst to herself or her family, doctors used her biopsy to culture a line of cells that revolutionised medicine. Previously, no human cell culture had survived for more than a few days in the laboratory, seriously limiting their usefulness to research. Lacks’s cultures, however, survived for weeks, then months, and eventually decades, becoming essentially immortal. Dubbed “HeLa”, they are now mass produced and have been used to study almost every major medical question of the last seventy years. HeLa cells have been key to the development of vaccines, including the Salk polio vaccine; to identifying and treating AIDS and other emerging diseases; to our understanding of cell biology, genetics, and ageing; and in the development of medications for a range of illnesses.
But this scientific success has a darker side. There are serious concerns about how Lacks’s race affected her medical care and the treatment of her family by the scientific community. Neither Lacks nor any of her relatives provided informed consent for her cells to be retained and studied, much less for them to become a multi-million dollar industry over which they have no control. And her descendants fear the privacy implications of their genome being made public.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks approaches the HeLa cells from this perspective, and is based on nearly a decade of personal interviews and archival research. Skloot focuses in particular on Lacks’s daughter, Deborah, who spent years fighting for access to the full story of her mother’s cells and to ensuring that her life and legacy would be honoured. The book also situates Lacks within the wider context of racism in medicine, and how Black women’s bodies have frequently been co-opted for the benefit of white doctors and patients. Now considered a key work of popular science writing, it spent 75 weeks on the New York Times best seller list and received numerous awards, including the Wellcome Trust Book Prize and the National Academies Best Book of the Year Award.
New York: Crown Publishers, 2010.
Octavo. Original red boards, titles to spine gilt. With the dust jacket. Illustrated title and chapter titles, 8 pages of illustrations from photographs. A fine copy in the jacket.
Barnes, W. Harry | The Necessity of Bronchoscopy in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases of the Lungs
First and only edition of a talk by the first Black doctor to become a board-certified specialist and to use the bronchoscope, given at a meeting of the first organisation for African American medical professionals.
W. Harry Barnes (1887-1945) was a “nationally recognized ear, nose, and throat specialist whose ‘ability as a diagnostician and surgeon was equalled by few, and surpassed by none’” (Krapp, Notable Black American Scientists, p. 20). Barnes grew up poor with “a fierce determination to rise out of poverty and to pursue a career as a professional” (Krapp). He won a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, receiving his M.D. in 1912 and returning in 1921 for postgraduate work in otolaryngology. Unable to receive higher training in the US, he studied at the Universities of Paris and Bordeaux and was later mentored by the renowned Dr. Chevalier Jackson, who taught him the use of the bronchoscope. Barnes established a department of bronchoscopy at Mercy Hospital and later accepted a teaching position at Howard University.
“Barnes was an innovator in his field. His invention of the hypophyscope, an instrument used to visualize the pituitary gland through the sphenoid sinus, made him famous. His accomplishments included other innovative operative techniques as well as a streamlined, efficient medical record system. Barnes was very active in the National Medical Association, for which he presented papers and gave demonstrations. One such demonstration showed the speedy and bloodless technique of his ten-minute tonsillectomy. He became president of the Association in 1935” (Krapp).
Established in 1895, the National Medical Association is the “oldest and largest organization representing African American physicians and health professionals in the United States” and was founded when “membership in America’s professional organizations, including the American Medical Association (AMA), was restricted to whites only. The AMA determined medical policy for the country and played an influential role in broadening the expertise of physicians. When a group of black doctors sought membership into the AMA, they were repeatedly denied admission. Subsequently, the NMA was created for black doctors and health professionals who found it necessary to establish their own medical societies and hospitals” (NMA website).
- ...Read at National Medical Ass. Convention, Aug. 16, 1933. [Philadelphia], 1933.
8 page pamphlet, stapled. Minor crease to the tail of the spine. Excellent condition.
Thoms, Adah B. | Pathfinders. A History of the Progress of Colored Graduate Nurses
First and only edition of this important early source on African American nurses. With the ownership signature of Aileen Cole Stewart, one of the nurses featured in the text.
Author Adah Thoms (1863-1943) started her career as a nurse in her thirties, moving from Virginia to New York for her education and eventually becoming assistant director of the School of Nursing of the Lincoln Hospital and Home in Brooklyn, where she helped institute the teaching of public health. Thoms was a founder of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses, sponsoring its first meeting at the Lincoln Hospital, and later serving as treasurer and president. “She also attended the International Nursing Council in Cologne, Germany, where, with three other Black delegates, she urged the admission of black nurses from Africa, South America, and the Caribbean” (Ogilvie, Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science, p. 1286). After retiring in 1923 Thoms continued advocating for Black nurses in the American Nurses Association and National Organization for Public Health, which led to their incorporation of her organization.
The previous owner of this volume, Aileen Cole Stewart, was one of eighteen Black nurses enrolled in the Army Nurse Corps in 1918, and she appears in a group photos with her colleagues at page 160. As this chapter explains, “During World War I, Thoms fought hard, as president of the National Association of Coloured Graduate Nurses, to gain the admission of black nurses into the American Red Cross. Although the head of the Red Cross agreed, this was vetoed by the Surgeon General of the United States. By 1917, one African-American nurse was enrolled in the Red Cross but given no assignment. By 1918, the great influenza epidemic made the use of all available nurses urgent, and eighteen black nurses were enrolled in the Army Nurse Corps, where, although they treated sick soldiers of all backgrounds, they themselves lived in segregated quarters” (Ogilvie p. 1286).
“Little is known about Aileen Cole Stewart’s early life, but she did write about her experiences as a young nurse in training. She attended the Freedmen’s Hospital Training School in Washington, DC and studied at the hospital’s training center at Howard University Medical School. She participated in the three-year program for African American nurses to earn their diplomas.” When the great influenza increased demand for nurses, “Stewart and a few other Freedmen’s nurses were sent to areas where the railroad workers were dying quickly. The Red Cross sent Stewart to Putney, West Virginia with another nurse. Conditions for the railroad workers soon got worse, and Stewart was sent by herself to a small town called Cascade. She worked alone in the mountains until she received a letter from the director of field nursing at the American Red Cross asking Stewart to serve. On December 1, 1918, Stewart began her service in the Army Nurse Corps, along with 17 other African American nurses. Half of the nurses went to Camp Sherman in Ohio, and half went to Camp Grant in Illinois. Stewart was stationed at Camp Sherman, where the African American nurses lived in segregated areas... Stewart continued her career in nursing as a New York public health nurse. She earned a degree in public health nursing from the University of Washington at the age of 68 and continued to volunteer with the Red Cross youth program until she died” (Alexander, ”Aileen Cole Stewart”, National Women’s History Museum biography).
...With Biographies of Many Prominent Nurses (Illustrated). New York: Kay Printing House for the author, 1929.
Octavo. Original blue cloth, titles to spine and upper board gilt. Frontispiece and 14 photographic plates of which 12 are double-sided. Ownership signature to the front pastedown, gift inscription to the frontispiece. Cloth worn at the corners and ends of spine, a couple of faint marks to the cloth, spine titles dulled. An excellent copy, the contents fresh.
Thomas, Dorothy Swaine & Richard S. Nishimoto | The Spoilage
First edition, first printing of this important work on the internment of Japanese citizens during the Second World War. Presentation copy inscribed by Thomas on the front free endpaper, “With deep appreciation and sincere regard — Dorothy Swaine Thomas” and also signed by co-author Richard S. Nishimoto.
Almost as soon as Japanese internment was begun “a group of University of California social scientists, sensing the enormity of the outrage, organized in 1942 to record and analyze the causes, legal and social consequences, and long-term effects of the detention program. The Spoilage, one of a series of books which resulted, analyzes the experiences of that part of the detained group-some 18,000 in total-whose response was to renounce America as a homeland; it shows the steps by which these "disloyal" citizens were inexorably pushed toward the disaster of denationalization. Essentially the result of years of research by participant observers of Japanese ancestry, it is a factual record of enduring value to the student of America's troubled ethnic relations” (University of California Press)
Richard Shigeaki Nishimoto (1904-56) was born in Japan in 1904 and immigrated to the US with his parents at age 17. He earned an engineering degree at Stanford in 1929, but struggled to find work due to anti-Japanese prejudice. Nishimoto was “probably the most cited Issei author who wrote on the camps in English—specifically on the WRA camp known as Tule Lake. Educated in both Japan and the USA, Nishimoto distinguished himself as the only Issei to be employed full-time as a researcher for the Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement Study (JERS). He was also the only Japanese American co-author of any of the JERS publications, authoring The Spoilage (1946) with JERS director Dorothy S. Thomas. Besides being an Issei, Nishimoto was atypical of JERS researchers in that he was an active community leader in Poston , and thus drew from a unique point of view as both an 'insider,' and an 'analytic' observer" (Densho Encyclopedia).
...Japanese American Evacuation and Resettlement. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1946.
Octavo. Original red cloth, titles to spine and upper board gilt. With the dust jacket. 2 photographic plates, charts and diagrams within the text. Damp spots to the faded spine, partial fading of the boards, contents toned. A very good copy in the rubbed and partially toned jacket with three vertical creases from folding.
Ferguson, Lloyd N. | Highlights of Alicyclic Chemistry. Part I.
First edition, first printing of this foundational work on alicyclic chemistry. Uncommon in the jacket in such nice condition.
Author Lloyd N. Ferguson (1918-2011) was a distinguished chemist whose interest in science dated to his childhood, when “he bought himself a chemistry set at age 12 and did chemistry experiments in a backyard shed... He put together a moth repellent, invented a spot remover and a silver polish, and developed a lemonade mix. A budding entrepreneur, as well, he sold his inventions to his neighbours” (Spangenburg, African Americans in Science, Math and Invention, p. 80).
Ferguson attended Berkeley for both his undergraduate and graduate degrees, and was the first African American to earn a PhD in chemistry at the university. In 1945 Ferguson joined the faculty at Howard University, where he would remain for the next two decades. “He served as department head as well from 1958 to 1965. In this capacity, he built the first doctoral program in chemistry at any Black college in the nation” (Spangenberg, p. 80). He later joined the faculty at California State University at Los Angeles, serving as chemistry department chair between 1968 and 1971.
At Howard, Ferguson did extensive research on the properties of aromatic molecules and the chemistry of taste, and after moving to Cal State he began exploring alicyclic chemistry. “In his 1969 article ‘Alicyclic Chemistry: the Playground for Organic Chemists’, Ferguson describes alicycles as providing ‘ideal systems for measuring electrical and magnetic interaction between nonbonded atoms and for studying the [structural] and mechanistic aspects of organic reactions’, and as supplying ‘models for elucidating the chemistry of natural products such as steroids, alkaloids, vitamins, carbohydrates, [and] antibiotics’” (Krapp, Notable Black American Scientists, p. 118).
Ferguson was also very active in administrative roles, including as chairman of the American Chemical Society’s Division of Chemical Education and director of Cal State L.A.’s Minority Biomedical Research Support Program, and he was publicly recognised for his extensive work mentoring science students from under-represented backgrounds.
Palisade, NJ: Franklin Publishing Company, Inc., 1973.
Octavo. Original red cloth, titles to spine in gilt on blue ground. With the dust jacket. Chemical diagrams throughout the text. An excellent, fresh copy in the price-clipped jacket that is a little rubbed with some light marks and toning of the edges and spine panel.