U.S. to digitize A-bomb archives via The Japan Times

Japanese and American experts are exploring ways to put the data archives of a study on A-bomb survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki online.
The Japanese initiative focuses on the massive amount of documents generated by the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), the U.S. body that carried out the radiation study.

According to project leader Masahito Ando, a professor of archival science at Gakushuin University’s Graduate School of Humanities, the team has so far acquired around 140,000 digital images of the commission’s entire collection at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington.

Funded by the Japanese government, Ando’s group is now using the material to develop what it calls a “digital archive related to atomic bomb radiation effects on human body,” with assistance from the Texas Medical Center Library in Houston, which holds another key ABCC-linked archive.

The United States officially established the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission in 1947 to carry out a long-term study of the medical impact of the A-bombings, which are estimated to have killed over 200,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the end of 1945 and left many survivors with long-term health problems.

The ABCC carried out genetic studies involving children born to the survivors, life span surveys and health studies involving adults. Its research has been taken over by the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Japan, which was launched in 1975 and is funded by both the Japanese and U.S. governments.

The library is already providing public access to some of the items via its website, including the personal journal of William Moloney, a U.S. hematologist who worked with the ABCC from 1952 to 1954.

Philip Montgomery, the library’s archivist, said Moloney’s journal is interesting because it reveals the personal emotions of the doctor, which are not revealed in any of the official documents. In one entry, for example, Moloney expresses frustration with his inability to treat a 9-year-old Japanese boy who was suffering from leukemia and was the same age as his son.

Many of the A-bomb survivors have criticized the commission’s doctors for treating them like”guinea pigs” rather than helping them.

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