Internships Project Spring 2021: Medical Journal Editorship Correspondence


Project Abstract

The aim of this internship project will be to create a uniquely arranged and described collection. The Medical Journal Editorship Collection, Manuscript Series (MSS) 016, contains the correspondences between Dr. Alan Blum MD the then editor of the New York State Journal of Medicine (NYSJM), and the various contributors and commentators collaborating on the landmark editions of the NYSJM spotlighting the global tobacco pandemic.

These editions of the NYSJM were a remarkable accomplishment and were among the few editions of the journal to have a second run due to the high demand by readers for copies of those historic publications. Many of the articles from these editions would be republished in a digest titled The Cigarette Underworld: A Front Line Report on the War Against Your Lungs. The correspondences range from the late 1970s to the early 2000s and consist of more than 400 entries and over 1,200 individual scans. The collection includes letters from journalists such as Howard Wolinsky of the Chicago Sun-Times, and government officials such as Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

The two special editions of the New York State Journal of Medicine focused on Smoking published in 1983 and 1985.

This project will create an arranged and described digital collection on the Center’s Omeka that will provide a cross-listed and indexed repository of the correspondence collection to supplement and enhance an exhibition of the NYSJM Theme-Issues. A collection description and analysis penned by Dr. Lippton and oral history interviews with Dr. Blum on the correspondence collection will further augment the presentation.


The intern will use the Omeka browser-based content management system to upload the correspondence to a collection (016 – Medical Journal Editorship) or a more specified sub-collection to be determined by the Collection Manager (i.e. 016.1 Correspondence).


Discussions will determine the nature of the entries to the Omeka however, the general outline of the project is to evaluate the scope of the collections and base the arrangement schema around either the year the letter was written in or more granularly on the month or quarter dependent on volume. This is pertaining to the actual files to be created and uploaded meaning scans processed into .pdf files and uploaded as a whole single entry. For example, there are only a handful of letters before and prior to the creation and release of the theme issues so a yearly structure might be more appropriate, while years that have more correspondences may have to have series of .pdfs that are divided by month. Alternatively, the entires could remain by year but with each month’s correspondence being a pdf file within the entry for the year.

Critical analysis and input from the intern and the collection manager will decide the best route.


Metadata Entry – The intern will be responsible for entering corresponding metadata to the entries in the collection. The required fields will be as follows.

  • Title – Brief key phrase or Re: Field of the letter
  • Type – Typically “Correspondence” for letters, any supplemental material will need to be identified otherwise if not attached to a letter for context.
  • Creator – The letter’s sender
  • Date – Month DD, YYY
  • Identifier – There is a particular format for this that we prefer for posting these to our exhibitions. An example is below and a more detailed tutorial will follow later on this page.

Physician anti-smoking advocacy

Alan Blum to Kevin Bailey
The Center for the Study of Tobacco and Society
November 5, 2020

Abstract – A general synopsis of the correspondence in any given entry set should be written. This should detail the date range, the persons involved, and the subjects/articles being discussed. This will likely be no longer than a paragraph and will look generally like this.

Correspondence dating from March to April of 1984 (Spring), detail the submissions and revisions of articles submitted by many authors for the second theme issue on smoking that would be published the following year. Authors include: Alan Blum M.D., Rick Richards M.D., J. Patrick Whelan, M.D., and Greg Connolly, DDS. Among the articles discussed are: Diversification in Tobacco Industry, Progress Against Smoking in Ireland, and MOP-UP Battles Tobacco Sponsorship

More instruction on this will follow as the Center continues to firm up its policy on finding aid creation.

Work Product

  • An arranged, described, indexed and searchable collection uploaded to
  • Descriptive finding aid for the Medical Journal Editorship Correspondence Collection.
  • An online exhibition on the NYSJM and MJA theme issues on smoking.
  • An oral history conducted with Dr. Blum on the Medical Journal Editorship Correspondences.
  • A brief subject matter expert review written by the intern.


Successful completion or significant contribution to the project, with timely and accurate completion of assigned tasks, will merit satisfactory marks from the Center in regards to the Intern’s performance.


Shared resources for the project will be posted here for the intern to access, in addition to a courtesy form for the intern to track their hours for completion of the assignment if desired.