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“Transylvania Treasures” wins international Gold Award

LEXINGTON, Ky.–Transylvania Treasures, a publication dedicated to showcasing the rare and valuable items in Transylvania University’s special collections and medical and science museum, can now be considered a treasure in its own right.

The thrice yearly newsletter was named a 2009 Gold Award winner – the highest award available – in a prestigious national competition sponsored by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Martha Baker, publications director at the 1,100-student liberal arts school, called the award significant.

“The goal from the outset was to create a unique and attractive publication that would do justice not only to Transylvania’s impressive collections but also to its rich heritage.  This award shows we’re on the right track,” said Baker, who edits Transylvania Treasures.

Additionally, Baker said, “it shows we stack up very well against works by colleges from across the nation, many of which are much, much bigger than Transylvania.” Duke Medicine also received a Gold Award in the same category, and Tufts University received a bronze. The three winners were chosen among 35 entries.

This is not the first award for Transylvania Treasures, which has won state and regional CASE awards and a Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Thoroughbred chapter award.

“This award is especially significant because it’s an international award,” said Baker. “CASE has 3,400 members from 61 countries all over the world.  We’re very pleased that Transylvania Treasures has been given this recognition.”

Transylvania Treasures is a 12-page, full-color publication sent to 1,000 historians, physicians, scholars, peer colleges and others, many of whom have expressed interest in the school’s historical collections and own historical items themselves. It was the brainchild of Charles T. Ambrose, a local physician, university professor and rare book collector.

“In 2007, he became aware of our collection of medical books, scientific instruments and apparatus used in the old Transylvania medical school,” Baker said. “He visited here … and was so impressed that he wanted to let other people know about it.”

Ambrose sponsored a day-long symposium in August 2007 titled “The Medical History of Transylvania, Lexington, and the Ohio River Valley.” The event attracted 56 historians, physicians, teachers and others from the region.

Then, to continue the conversation among the symposium’s attendees and to make others aware of Transylvania’s unique holdings, Ambrose offered to underwrite a publication that would tell the story of the school’s rich past.  Transylvania Treasures was born.

The elegantly designed publication features articles written by Ambrose and Transy faculty members, as well as historians and scholars from around the country. The articles shine the spotlight on such signature items as the collected medical works of Hippocrates and Galen, a first edition of Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of the Species” and one of the earliest anatomical wax models from Italy’s leading artisans of the 19th century.

The people in Transylvania history are also regularly highlighted — people from the distant past, including 19th century professor Robert Peter, who was dispatched to Europe in 1839 to procure books, apparatus and specimens for the Transylvania Medical Department, and people who made their mark more recently, including Monroe Moosnick, the beloved chemistry professor credited with strengthening Transy’s pre-med program and after whom the school’s Moosnick Medical and Science Museum is named.

“We’ve received overwhelming positive feedback from readers,” said Baker. “In addition to raising awareness of Transylvania’s history and unique holdings, it’s also showing them how important it is to preserve the collection and continue to make it accessible to current students and other scholars.”

To view “Transylvania Treasures” online, click here: