Meet Yen, Biomedical Library Intern, and introducing the Benjamin Rush Portal

You can view the portal by clicking here!

Yen will present the portal at an upcoming Penn Libraries Presents event. Register here!

Meet the Biomedical Library’s library and information science intern, Yen Ho!

Yen Ho, Biomedical Library Intern

Yen, who is now completing her Master’s degree in Library and Information Science at Drexel University, will complete her year-long internship at the Biomedical Library in late January, 2021. Her goals at the Biomedical Library have been to use the skills she has learned at Drexel, and to learn new skills from librarians at the Biomedical Library who have mentored her and exposed her to the world of library services at Penn.

In 2018, Yen interned at the Peter Wentz Farmstead in Worcester Township, PA, where she was first introduced to cataloging and archiving historical objects. That was when she knew she wanted to pursue her career in librarianship.

Prior to Drexel, Yen earned her Bachelor’s degree at Temple University with a major in historic preservation.

The Benjamin Rush Portal

It all started with an interview.

When Yen interviewed for the Biomedical Library internship, she was asked if she had an interest in preparing historic exhibits for the Biomedical Library given her interest in history and her experience working with historical materials. That was when we began exploring the idea of creating a resource guide about Benjamin Rush, as an important book had recently been published about this founding father and physician with important ties to Penn and the history of medicine. The idea evolved into a year-long project in collaboration with award-winning journalist, Stephen Fried, author of the book, Rush: Revolution, Madness & the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father, and faculty at Penn and Columbia.

When creating the guide, also thought of as an online exhibit, Yen considered questions such as what topics she would choose to represent Rush’s multifaceted life’s work. She decided to create the portal relating primarily to his medical career and his relationship to Penn. She structured the guide as a timeline, starting with how he decided to study medicine, to how he revolutionized mental health care.

While discussing the project with Stephen Fried, he suggested that it could address the challenges researchers have in accessing primary materials. Not all of the materials are digitized and available online, and for those that are available, it can be difficult to locate them. Yen thus went on to create the portal, with the guidance of Stephen, to serve as a portal for researchers to readily access digitized versions of Rush’s original publications and letters. Drawing upon materials from the Penn Libraries’ Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books, and Manuscripts, and seeking collaborations with other institutions including the Library Company of Philadelphia, Duke University, and several others, the guide has met this ambitious goal. Researchers viewing the portal can now simply click on the links provided to be led directly to the digitized primary materials. Stephen has said that had this guide existing when he was writing his book, his research would have been so much easier!

The Rush portal first debuted on June 10, 2020, in a webinar presentation called, “Rediscovering Benjamin Rush, Yellow Fever & the Revolutionary Early Days of Penn Medicine.” The event was co-hosted by the Penn Libraries’ Biomedical Library book talk series and the Kislak Center.

After that event, Yen turned the portal into her capstone project for her Drexel master’s degree, adding more and more Rush materials (letters, images, books, etc.) and experimenting with different software to make the Rush Portal bigger and better.

One of Yen’s goals in expanding the Rush Portal was to create tabs for subjects that resonate today, such as Rush’s work related to the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, Mental Health, and Abolition and Race.

The Yellow Fever tab features an interactive calendar where people can click on a specific date and read firsthand the letters Rush wrote to his wife Julia during the epidemic. Those letters were found at Duke University’s David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Yen and Stephen made a great team, and the duo appeared a second time together on September 8, 2020, at a webinar hosted by the Library Company of Philadelphia called, “Breaking News in Benjamin Rush History!

Yen is proud of her work on this portal, and hopes that users will enjoy learning about the 18th century physician and founding father who impacted Penn Medicine and the city of Philadelphia.

You can view the portal by clicking here!

Yen will present the portal at an upcoming Penn Libraries Presents event. Register here!

Categories: News

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