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Megan Swank

Discovering Family History at Savitt Medical Library

When a student told Megan Swank, Au.D., CCC-A, about the medical bag bearing her last name on display outside Savitt Medical Library, she doubted there was any connection to her.

"I've been here for three years as an instructor and this was the first time I'd heard about it," Swank said. "Initially I thought there was no way it was connected to me, but when I saw the name on the bag, James L. Swank, I realized it was my great grandfather's. It was a very emotional moment."

Swank had forgotten that her great grandfather, James Levy Swank, M.D., had practiced medicine as a general physician in Las Vegas before his death in 1961. "I thought it was pretty amazing, because I don't know much about him. He died before I was born," said Swank.

Initially, little was known about the bag's history, other than it was donated to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine's History of Medicine program in 1989 by a Dr. Joseph George. Upon opening the bag, Swank discovered a letter and blood pressure cuff inside, both of which were previously unknown to current curators of the History of Medicine collection.

"It's really interesting holding something that belonged to someone related to you. When I opened it and discovered there was more, I had goose bumps running up my arms," Swank said.

Learn what was inside Dr. Swank's bag…

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