By Tatjana Buklijas, Birgit Nemec, and Katrin Pilz
Sometime in the last century a fragment of silent film landed at the National Library of Medicine. Like many of the older films in the collection, how it got there is a mystery: no paperwork survives to tell the tale; no other prints of the film appear to have survived; no other sources on its making or showing have turned up.
Among the many old motion pictures shelved in the collection of the National Library of Medicine is a uniquely strange two-reel 16 millimeter film, with an ungainly title: Neural and Humoral Factors in the Regulation of Bodily Functions (Research on Conjoined Twins).
A dentist invites a young boy: “Come with me, into the visual instruction room.” And with this, Ask Your Dentist, a silent dental film from around 1930, stages a cinematic revue of instructional techniques and tactics.
Schizophrenia was a new diagnosis in interwar American medicine. Invented in 1911 by Swiss psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler (1857–1939), the term gradually supplanted “dementia praecox,” which after World War I was associated too closely with German psychiatry.
Made shortly after the end of World War 2, this curious little nightmare movie addresses black soldiers. It depicts them as overgrown, impulsive, hypersexualized children who are not able to contain their primordial desires.
The Reward of Courage sought to transform public ideas about cancer by encouraging people to seek help from a recognized physician at the first sign of the disease or its possibility: early detection and treatment being the ASCC’s main approach to cancer control.