News on the Blog Front; American Prime Meridian

Recently, the U S Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Office of Medical History announced the addition of Archivist Mike Rhode to the staff. I was doing research in the historical library the week Mike came aboard, and I can report that he brings real energy  to the Navy’s operation. He brings experience, as well: for 22 1/2 years, he was in charge of the Otis Historical Archives at the Army Medical Museum (just recently folded into the National Museum of Health and Medicine).

Now, just a little over two weeks after he reported for duty at BuMed, Mike’s demonstrated his energy and skill in a new blog, Tranquillity, Solace & Mercy. Here’s Mike’s announcement as it appeared a couple of days ago on the “caduceus-L” listserv:

The office's two historians and I have launched a new blog Tranquillity,
Solace & Mercy: The history of US Navy medicine at
< >

We'll be highlighting parts of the collections of the Bureau of Medicine
and Surgery's Office of Medical History as the whole collection is
little known by the larger medical history community. Here's an
introductory post
< ollections.html> about that.

Michael Rhode
Archivist / Curator
US Navy BUMED Office of Medical History
202-762-3813 <>


While I was researching at BuMed,  located in the old Naval Observatory in Washington DC’s “Foggy Bottom” district, historian Andre Sobocinski pointed out to me that the dome of the observatory once served as a marker for an “American Meridian” (or Washington Meridian).

American Prime Meridian

American Prime Meridian, based on the dome of the old Naval Observatory in Washington DC. Between plaque and dome is a statue of Benjamin Rush, famed 18-19th C American physician, placed by the American Medical Association in 1904

Perhaps in part an expression of revolutionary hubris, Congress established this Meridian in the Navy Appropriation of 1849. It served as the U. S. surveying reference (it was never extensively used for navigational purposes) until we adopted the International Meridian at Greenwich in 1912. Borders of Wyoming, Arizona, Utah and Nevada are based on the American Meridian.

(source:, accessed 30 Sep 2011).

© 2011 Thomas L Snyder

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