Ca. 1933-1936. Oblong Quarto (ca. 26,5x32 cm). 17 card stock album leaves. With 84 mounted and three loosely inserted original gelatin silver photographs of various size, from ca. 11x18,5 cm (4 ¼ x 7 ¼ in) to ca. 4x5 cm (1 ½ x 2 in). Most photos with manuscript white ink captions in traditional Mongolian script on the mounts. With five leaves of tissue paper with period typewritten notes and commentaries in Russian, mounted on verso of the album leaves. Original brown full cloth binding with blind-stamped floral ornaments and a faded gilt-stamped title in traditional Mongolian script on the front board. One leaf slightly detached from the stub, a couple of photos mildly faded, but overall a very good album of strong interesting photos.
Historically significant content-rich original visual source on the first years of the State Sanitary-Bacteriological Institute of Mongolian People’s Republic. Founded in Ulanbataar in 1933, the Institute was a part of a large-scale program of medical assistance to Communist Mongolia run by the Soviet Union in the 1920-1940s. The program aimed to establish the Mongolian system of public healthcare and medical education, to eliminate widespread tuberculosis and venereal diseases, and to suppress and control frequent outbreaks of measles, typhus and plague. The fight with plague, which continuously threatened the Soviet regions of Transbaikalia and southern Siberia, bordering Mongolia, was a critical task for the Soviet government. Its actions in the late 1920s and 1930s were driven by the strive to accomplish the industrialization of the economy. In the case of the plague epidemic in Russia, the West which provided the equipment, qualified workforce and technology for Soviet industrialization, would implement the quarantine sanctions, which could stop or significantly slow down the process. For this reason, the second and third medical expeditions to Mongolia, organized by the Soviet People’s Commissariat of Public Health (Narkomzdrav) in 1928 and 1930-1936, actively investigated plague outbreaks in the country. In 1930, the member of the third Narkomsdrav expedition, a noted Soviet microbiologist Abram Lvovich Berlin (1903-1939), founded the first Mongolian anti-plague laboratory in Ulaanbaatar. In 1933, he also created the Mongolian State Sanitary-Bacteriological Institute.
The album summarizes the results of the Institute’s work for the first four years (1933-1936), covering a wide range of activities and providing numerous photos with detailed captions in Mongolian and extensive typewritten notes in Russian. The comprehensive and somewhat official approach suggests that the album was made to illustrate an official report. The photos show the Institute’s building in Ulanbataar (taken from the street), interiors of the clinic, laboratory, operation room, and museum; there are also scenes of patients’ examination and vaccination, portraits of patients suffering from measles, typhus and other diseases, several photos of laboratory animals and tests on them, bottles of prepared vaccines against rabies, typhus and measles, etc. Fourteen individual and one group portrait show Russian and Mongolian associates of the Institute, including Abram Berlin (individual portraits - upper row, centre right; the group portrait – middle row, third from left). Over twenty photos at the end show the premises of the anti-plaque research settlement founded by Abram Berlin 5 km away from Ulaanbaatar. An aerial photo shows the location of the settlement’s main structures. Another photo provides the view of the main office, with the readable sign in Mongolian and Latin scripts “Eryyliig Kamagaalka aamanii Tarbagan takaliig esergyyceke Tob Laboratory” (can be translated as “Mongolian Plague Prevention Service and Laboratory”). There is also a clear photo of the sign in Mongolian and Russian, reading (in translation) “A present of Narkomzdrav of the RSFSR to the 10th year of Mongolian People’s Revolution.” Other photos show the interior of the anti-plague lab, researchers working in protective equipment, disinfecting, and looking after laboratory animals. The photos taken during a sanitary expedition show the associates (wearing protective equipment) disinfecting an infected nomad camp and assisting a sick Mongolian; there are also photos of an infected Tarbagan rodent and bodies of deceased victims of the plague outbreak.
Overall a unique original source on the first years of bacteriological and anti-plague medical services in Mongolia. Abram Berlin was a noted Soviet epidemiologist, who for the most part of his life worked in the Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology of the South-east of the USSR in Saratov. He authored numerous articles and books, including “Tibeskaya meditsina i chuma” (Tibetan Medicine and plague// Revue de Microbiologie, d’Épidémiologie et de Parasitologie. Institut de Microbiologie et d’Épidémiologie du Sud-Est de l’URSS à Saratov. T. XIX, Issue 3-4. Saratov, 1940) and “Kratkoye Rukovodstvo po bor’be s chumoy” (A concise manual on the fight with plague; Medgiz, 1941). In 1937 he successfully tested on himself the first Soviet anti-plague vaccine, but tragically died of pulmonary plague in 1939 after working with infected animals in the Saratov laboratory.
Price: $3,500.00 USD