Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy 275th, Bellevue Hospital

If only NYC's Bellevue Hospital had done oral histories with patients since its founding in 1736! We'd have transcripts and tapes from Stephen Foster, O. Henry, Eugene O'Neill, and countless people whose voices are not often heard at all. Not to mention the doctors who set up and staffed the first maternity ward, emergency room, and ambulance service in the US.

Fortunately the country's oldest public hospital is catching up: "As part of the recognition events surrounding the 275th anniversary, Bellevue has been recording oral histories in conjunction with StoryCorps, an independent nonprofit organization that records, shares and preserves stories of American life. The interviews conducted at Bellevue will be archived at the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress and selections will be played at listening stations at Bellevue beginning next year. Selections will also play on the Bellevue/HHC website, as well as the StoryCorps website," says a news release (link here).

No book, sadly. Bellevue is a city hospital with a perennially strapped budget, and doubtless that accounts for why they had to fit 275 years of storied history into a 24-page commemorative brochure. New York University's Langone Medical Center does publish an excellent literary journal, the Bellevue Literary Review (their Web site fudges about the connection to the hospital itself): The hospital itself is raising money for an in-house museum; if you'd like to contribute, details are in the press release.

Last but not least, click on the title of this very blog post for The New York Times's coverage of the dodranstricentennial (OK, I learned that word from the article!).