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Howard Bartner Papers 1958-2002
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Collection Scope and Content Note


Illustrations, photographs, negatives, slides, and correspondence (57.7 linear feet; 1958-2001) document the artistic career of Howard Bartner, a NIH medical illustrator. Illustrations in the collection are alphabetically arranged at the item level within each subject topic. Item descriptions include title of the work, date, collaborating physician, and NIH institute. The bulk of the collection includes pen and ink sketches, paintings, line drawings, and chalk illustrations. An oral history conducted in 2001 sheds light on Bartner's education, career, and the internal politics of a sometimes-troubled NIH branch.

As a member of the NIH Medical Arts and Photography Branch team (MAPB), Bartner utilized a variety of artistic techniques to illustrate clinical medical information for NIH physicians and researchers. Anatomical, ophthalmologic, and surgical illustrations comprise the bulk of the collection's subject matter. MAPB artists worked in collaboration with NIH physicians or researchers on a project basis to produce illustrations. Also, MAPB illustrators utilized various methods of artistic interpretation. Artists used patients as models, sketched during surgery, copied illustrations from models, or transformed oral and written descriptions into visual representations.

A particular strength of the collection is Bartner's work with Dr. James Bosma's infant head project. Because the anatomy of the infant head differs greatly from adult cranial anatomy, Dr. Bosma of the National Institute of Dental Research, a well-known child development specialist, wanted to produce a reference guide on infant anatomy for pediatricians, pediatric dentists, maxillo-facial surgeons, and other physicians. Bartner collaborated with three other illustrators in the study and description of the infant head, published as Anatomy of the Infant Head (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986).

The works of other artists can be found in the collection, as members of team projects Bartner supervised. Other medical illustrators featured in this collection include Barry Baker, Max Brödel, Martin Finch, Patricia Kenny, William Loechel, J.E. Parker, G. Pavey, Herbert Smith, and Trudy Turner-Nicholson.

The illustrations in this collection cover ten areas of medical research: ophthalmology, anatomy, histology, pathology, physiology, biology, dentistry, surgery, technology, and medical technology. However, this collection represents only a sampling of the work produced by MAPB. Many of the materials were destroyed by flood damage, were thrown away to alleviate space constraints, or remain in the possession of other NIH offices.

The materials have been organized into sixteen series: Personal and Biographical; Anatomical Illustrations; Anatomy of the Infant Head Project Illustrations; Biological Illustrations; Dental Illustrations; Histological Illustrations; Human Physiology in Space Project Illustrations; Medical Devices Illustrations; Medical Devices, Anatomical Illustrations; Model Eye Project Illustrations; Oldfield Illustrations; Ophthalmologic Illustrations; Pathological Illustrations; Physiological Illustrations; Surgical Illustrations; and Publications. Due to the large volume of work produced by Howard Bartner for Dr. Edward H. Oldfield, these illustrations have been separated into their own series.

Show all series level scope and content notes