Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hey...I Wrote That First!

I've been doing some research for my chapter in the forthcoming book, Glowing Wounds and Phantom Limbs: Essays on Civil War Medicine (Edinborough Press, Spring 2009). The chapter will be about advances in reconstructive surgeryand medical photography during the war, with an emphasis on the contributions of Reed B. Bontecou, a New York surgeon who contributed greatly to the use of photography to document Civil War casualties.

I first wrote about Bontecou several years ago in my May 2001 "Medical Department" column for The Civil War News, in which I discussed some work of the distinguished surgeon, Blair O. Rogers, MD. In introducing the column, I wrote:

"Blair Rogers, MD, gives a rare glimpse into the faces and suffering of the Civil War's wounded soldiers in his recent article, "Reed B. Bontecou, MD - His Role in Civil War Surgery and Medical Photography" (Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2000 Vol. 24, pp. 114-129)."

In doing some additional research on Bontecou, I came across the following line in the back matter of a recent (2004) book, Facing America: Iconography and the Civil War (Oxford University Press) by Shirley Samuels:

"Blair Rogers, MD, gives a rare glimpse into the faces and suffering of the Civil War's wounded soldiers in his recent article, "Reed B. Bontecou, MD - His Role in Civil War Surgery and Medical Photography" (Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, 2000 Vol. 24, pp. 114-129)."

Sound familiar? Of course it does...I had written that word-for-word several years earlier! It's "back matter" - additional unattributed text in a long endnote - but does that make it any less a case of plagiarism? I don't know...and I'm not sure what to do. But I can tell you this:

It definitely makes me wonder about the rest of Samuels's book...how many other instances (if any) of "borrowed" phrases are there in that work and others?

It also motivates me to be doubly diligent that I don't do the same in my own work.

2 comments:

jen.rosenberry said...

Can you please let me know when your book is published? I am very interested, as I work for a Civil War history organization ... and I'm also an amputee. Would love to know more about how CW amputations were handled, how recovery was accomplished, what amputees FELT (did they describe phantom pains, etc.?).

Also, I have another question for you.

I used to share a large green poster of a Civil War surgeon's kit as part of my traveling trunk program. Unfortunately, the poster is no longer being published.

Can you please tell me if there are any other sources for large posters / image cards of Civil War medical kits? Especially an amputation kit?

Your help would REALLY be appreciated!!!

ochs_az@yahoo.com

jen.rosenberry said...

Dear Sir or Madame,

I used to share a large green poster of a Civil War surgeon's kit as part of my traveling trunk program. Unfortunately, the poster is no longer being published.

Can you please tell me if there are any other sources for large posters / image cards of Civil War medical kits? Especially an amputation kit?

Your help would REALLY be appreciated!!!