This year, the Scientific Library marks the 25th anniversary of its NCI at Frederick scrapbook, the pages of which tell the story of a quarter century of cancer research and engagement with both the Frederick community and the world.
In 1992, NCI at Frederick’s librarian, Robin Meckley, discovered an article printed in a national magazine for cancer patients that listed the Frederick Cancer Center in the nation’s top 100 cancer centers. This prompted her to begin collecting articles from the local newspaper as well as local and national magazines that highlighted the work being done at NCI at Frederick.
Her efforts were inspired by the long-standing tradition of gathering interesting items into books. Historically, scrapbooking began in the 1600s with the commonplace book, the ancestor to the scrapbook, in which “good sayings and notable observations” were recorded. Over the years, as print and illustrative art became more prolific and bookbinding more inexpensive, the popularity of preserving newspaper cuttings and ephemera grew. During the 19th century, scrapbooking was a way for one to preserve memories with paper and, occasionally, with the recently invented photograph. Even Mark Twain, who was an avid scrapbooker himself, patented a self-stick album in 1872. Over time, the hobby’s popularity has faded and resurfaced.
Most of the articles in the NCI at Frederick scrapbook originated from the Frederick News-Post; however, there are a few from national newspapers and magazines. One article in Newsweek featured Dr. David Newman reviewing some of the samples that the Natural Products Branch was refining to combat human cancer. Several articles by Dr. Amar Klar, appearing in The Baltimore Sun, The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Harbor Transcript, and even American Farmer, explored the genetic predisposition of handedness.
NCI at Frederick got a taste of science and mystery with the television show “The X-Files.” The Scientific Library sponsored a visit by plant virologist Dr. Anne Simon from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who was a scientific consultant to the show. The program and promotion were featured in an article in the professional library journal, American Libraries.
In the early 2000s, the Frederick News-Post helped alleviate superstition in the Frederick community surrounding Building 470, dubbed “the anthrax tower,” by closely covering the plans for its implosion. The addition of the Advanced Technology Research Facility on Progress Drive was also featured in the newspaper, beginning with Governor O’Malley’s attendance at the 2008 groundbreaking ceremony through the grand opening in 2012.
There are numerous stories describing the outpouring of support that NCI at Frederick employees have provided to the Frederick community, as well. Activities included fundraisers and food drives, partnerships with local colleges and businesses, and student mentorships spanning elementary outreach through high school and college. Other articles follow the progression of former interns from NCI at Frederick through their college successes and into their careers. One successful intern was even featured in a 2001 USA Today article.
Finally, and most importantly, the scrapbooks highlight the significant scientific research and discovery that has happened in NCI at Frederick labs. Finding clues for treating cancer, testing natural products for their efficacy as novel drugs, and exploring the possibility of vaccines for AIDS, cancer, Ebola, and Zika virus are just a few examples. As public health needs have evolved, NCI at Frederick has always forged ahead to meet them.
The Scientific Library staff invites everyone to stop by Building 549 and browse the NCI at Frederick scrapbooks.