Showing posts with label Abraham Lincoln. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Abraham Lincoln. Show all posts

Thursday, December 23, 2010

John Wilkes Booth's contested identity?

Here's an article that mentions specimens held in the Museum - Navy medical historian Jan Herman will appear on Brad Meltzer's Decoded tonight at 10 pm on the History Channel to discuss it

Booth descendants agree to brother's body ID tests

By Edward Colimore

Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 23, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Letter of the Day: July 19

Surgeon General’s Office

Washington City, D.C.

July 19th 1866


Hon. G. W. Scofield




In reply to your letter of the 17th I have the honor to state that in the case of the Assassin Booth the fracture was of the left fibula just above the malleolus.


Very Respectfully

Your Obedient Servant

By order of the Surgeon General sgd. J.J. Woodward

Bvt. Maj. and Ass’t. Surg. U.S.A.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Letter of the day, June 20

The photo to the right is from our Medical Illustration Service Library and has the caption "Colonel Frank M. Townsend, USAF, Medical Corps, deputy director of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, examines the bullet that killed Lincoln and the probe used in treating him. On the desk is a vial containing Lincoln's skull fragments. The bullet and probe used by surgeons attending President Lincoln were given to the Institute's Medical Museum by the Lincoln Museum." MIS 05-6595-7. I remember cataloging this image so it was pretty neat to find the letter transferring the objects.

United States Department of the Interior
National Park Service
National Capital Parks
Washington 25, D.C.

June 20, 1956

Miss Helen Purtle
Assistant Curator, Medical Museum
Armed Forces Institute of Pathology
Department of Defense
Washington 25, D.C.

Dear Miss Purtle:

Several weeks ago you made an oral request for the transfer of the bullet which killed Abraham Lincoln, together with the metal probe and six pieces of bone extracted from his skull, from the Lincoln Museum to the Medical Museum.

Since these objects, transferred to the Lincoln Museum from the Judge Advocate General's Office, War Department, on February 5, 1940, have never been displayed at the Lincoln Museum, a memorandum recommending this transfer was sent to the Director, National Park Service from this office on April 30, 1956. Permission for the transfer of these objects to the Medical Museum was granted by Associate Director E.T. Scoyen in his Memorandum to the Superintendent on June 8, 1956.

A representative of this office will make arrangements for the transfer of these objects to the Medical Museum. When these objects are received, please sign the three copies of the enclosed property forms, retain one copy for your records, and return two copies to this office in order to complete the records of the transfer.

Sincerely yours,
[signed] Edward J. Kelly

Monday, May 24, 2010

Letter of the day, May 24

New Bedford Mass.
May 24th. 1907.

Miss Olive Mason.
Lansdowne, Penn.

My dear Grandchild.

You wished me to tell you something about the assasination [sic] of President Lincoln, in Ford’s Theatre in Washington, on the evening of April 14th. 1865. (forty two years ago) at which time I was present in the Theatre. On the 13th. I had ridden to the City of Washington, on some business connected with the Ordnance Department, from near Winchester Va. where my Regiment then was, and on the evening of that day, Pennsylvania Avenue, from the Capitol to the Army and Navy Building, was a blaze of glory with red fire, rockets, roman-candles, and bunting, in celebration of the surrender of the confederate General R.E. Lee and his army, which occurred on the 9th four days before. The Cities and Towns of the North, were also celebrating the same event with illuminations and great rejoicing. My friend, Captain Sweet and myself, took a carriage and drove along the Avenue, to see the illumination, and when we were near the Army and Navy Building, some one in the crowd, cried out, “there is General Grant”, and in a moment, our horses were unhitched from the carriage, and the men began to draw it along the street, cheering wildly for General Grant. In the uncertain light, they had mistaken me, for Gen. Grant, probably because I wore a beard something like his, and was in uniform. It was some time before I could make them understand they had made a mistake. My business would keep me in the City for two or three days, and so, on the evening of the 14th. I went to Ford’s Theatre, where the play was to be “Our American Cousin” – the principal actors, being E.H. Southern and Laura Keene. As it was known that the President and party would be there, the House was filled. My seat was in the centre of the Dress Circle, directly fronting the Stage, which gave me an unobstructed view of everything.

Some time after the play had begun, the Presinent’s [sic] party entered their box, on the second tier, and as they did so, the whole audience arose and cheered wildly, until the President came to the front of the box, and bowed. The play proceeded until the third act, and while the curtain was dropped for a moment, on one of the scenes, a shot was heard in the direction of the President’s box. Immediately, a man was seen to hurriedly make his way through the President’s box, with a dagger in his right hand, and jump over the rail, onto the stage, about twelve feet below. As he did so, the spur on one of his boots caught in the draping of a flag on the front of the box, and caused him to strike heavily on one foot, and fall to the floor, but he quickly sprang up, and running to the centre of the stage, threw his right hand aloft, still holding the dagger and exclaimed “Sic semper Tyrannis” (which means, Thus always with Tyrants). He then ran across the stage and passed out of sight, at the side entrance. As he jumped from the box, I knew something was wrong, and my impulse was to stop him with a bullet, and I reached for my revolver. It seemed I never regretted anything so much, when I found I had left it at my Hotel. For a minute, a long one it seemed, the people appeared to be dazed, as at some terrible calamity, and then some men jumped over the foot-lights and followed the man with the dagger, and some clambered up to the president’s box to see what was the matter. After a moment, one of them came to the front of the box and announced that the President was shot.

Then cries arose from all parts of the audience, of “catch him”, “bring him on the stage and cut him in pieces”, “kill him” “hang him”. Just after this, Laura Keene, stepped from behind the curtain and said “Wilkes Booth has done this”. She had recognized him as he ran across the stage. In a few minutes the President was carried along the corridor, back of the seats of the Dress circle, down the stairway, and across the street to a private house, where he remained until the following morning, when he died. As he was carried out of the Theatre, the blood from the wound in his head, dropped along the floor, and many of the people dipped their handkerchiefs in therein to preserve as a sacred souvenir of the beloved President. As I left the Theatre, the sound of the news of the terrible tragedy as it passed from lip to lip, could be heard as it extended in ever widening circles from the Theatre as a centre, like the sound of a coming of a mighty tempest, rolling on and on, until it had covered the whole country from the Lakes to the Gulf and from ocean to ocean. Next morning, the black emblems of mourning began to cover the Capitol, the other public buildings, and private residences, and as the sad news reached the Cities and towns of the North, the same thing was done, until the sable pall of unuterable [sic] sorrow seemed to hang over and envelope the land. Business was generally suspended, and the people went about with solemn faces and hushed voices, as if waiting for some even more terrible and impending stroke of Fate.

Never before, and never since, has our country been plunged into such widespread and desolate sorrow; and may the time never again come, when the happy and prosperous people of our beloved America, shall be overshaddowed [sic] with such poignant and heart-wringing grief.

This may give you some idea of that woeful period in the life of our country, and afford an added interest in your readings of its history during the years of the Great Civil War.

Hoping to see you very soon on my return trip from the Jamestown Exposition, I am as ever-
Your loving Gran’Pa.
Henry W. Mason

Friday, October 23, 2009

Oct 26: Museum on History Channel's Death Masks

 I think I was interviewed for this about Lincoln and the Civil War and they filmed in the archives with spooky blue lighting - Mike


Thursday, February 12, 2009

More Lincoln news, this time mentioning the Army Medical Museum!

Another in recent news clips mentioning the Museum, though this one is a little different...

Last night was the official gala re-opening for Ford's Theatre after its two-year renovation. In this article on Bloomberg today you will find mention of the Army Medical Museum (today's NMHM). Here's the money paragraph:
In the aftermath of the assassination, the government bought the theater, which dates to 1861, from Ford for $100,000 and gave it to the War Department for use as storage space and an Army Medical Museum.
This news on the same day our exhibit received the last major element for installation - the remnants of a flag that hung in the state box at Ford's the night Lincoln was shot.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lincoln artifacts at Museum featured in Post

This article talks a bit about the Museum's Lincoln objects, and has pictures of them -
"A Curious-Looking Hero Still Mesmerizes the Nation: Even Tiniest Lincoln Relics Command Reverence," By Michael E. Ruane, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, February 10, 2009; Page A01.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Lincoln Bicentennial Goes Into Overdrive

As we get closer (just a few more days!) to the actual bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, the pace of news coverage - about Lincoln himself and celebrations in DC and nationwide - is getting ramped up to a fever pitch.

Our new exhibit 'Abraham Lincoln: The Final Casualty of the War' - which Kathleen blogged about earlier - is included in the long list of exhibits in and around DC that are centered on the slain president. So, it's natural then that we're getting some collateral coverage (did I just coin that phrase?) in other write-ups of exhibits at Library of Congress or Smithsonian, or the re-opening at Ford's Theatre like in this article here. (Regrettably, the hyperlink they offer is incorrect. But the name and location is there.)

I'll try to make sure I post other links to worthwhile news coverage as it comes in.

Have you seen the new exhibit in the gallery yet? Are you planning a visit to DC and a visit to the Museum? Let us know about your experiences.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Lincoln Exhibit

Pictures from today's installation of the new Lincoln exhibit:

This one's not actually from today, but it shows our registrar with a drawer that slides in under the exhibit case which will hold a moisture-controlling substance.

Jim is placing an original drawing of Lincoln's death scene, by Hermann Faber.

The probe that doctors used to try to find the bullet in Lincoln's brain is being marked for position.

Now that the positions are marked and plexiglass posts are in place to hold everything where it needs to be, the panel is taken to the exhibit floor and placed on the stand. Jim and Steve fine-tune placement of documents.

The case's contents have been carefully laid into place and now Jim and Steve lower the plexi cover ve-e-e-ry gently and settle it down and around the platform.

The contents of the second case have been prepped by being backed with stiffening board and held in place with mylar strips. Some of the things on this table are an account by the first doctor to treat Lincoln, Charles A. Leale (coincidentally, this pamphlet was republished by Dr. Leale's estate on the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth), and a tear sheet from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, which lists Lincoln as another casualty of the war. He is listed in the book as A____ L____.

The second case has been brought to the exhibit floor and more items have been added, including a lock of Lincoln's hair, fragments from his skull, a blood-stained cuff from a doctor who treated him, and the bullet that killed him.

Uh-oh, the cuff is in the wrong place. Jim is holding the envelope that held the cuff when it was donated to the museum as Andrea suggests the correct location for the cuff.

Jim removes Lincoln's life mask from the temporary storage cabinet to add to the 3rd cabinet. Sorry for the blur.

The case's platform is placed on the floor, the Lincoln mask (a life mask, not a death mask) is lowered onto batting, and we all hit the floor, making sure there's plenty of clearance.

All the items have been installed and the completed exhibit is open for visitors.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Abraham Lincoln Exhibit Coming up at NMHM, exhibit design by Navjeet Singh Chhina

Heres an early rendering of the exhibit. Kathleen took the photo of the the museum floor and I used that as a canvas to map the 3-d design to it, Its good to see what things look like at scale. I used photoshop, illustrator, Indesign, Vectorworks, and Cinema 4-d.

BTS on the new Lincoln exhibit

I've been able to get a few pictures of the in-progress Lincoln exhibit that will open next week at the museum.

This is the existing exhibit, one that's been on display long-term.

The new cases that have just been delivered, and the backdrop panels that will have different things displayed on them:

How the exhibit team plans what goes where, and will it fit:

Navjeet, our immensely creative Exhibits Specialist, moving one of the panels (this is just for show; he was actually critically eyeing the existing set-up from a chair out front, but that doesn't photograph so well):

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Save the Date 4/18-19/2009: Symposium on Lincoln's Health at National Museum of Health and Medicine


To commemorate the 200th anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s Birth, the National Museum of Health and Medicine Presents “A Symposium on President Lincoln’s Health”

**Endorsed by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission**

Saturday, April 18, 2009, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

* Ronald S. Fishman, M.D. and Adriana Da Silveira, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., Lincoln’s Craniofacial Microsmia

* Laura P. W. Ranum, Ph.D., Molecular Genetics with an Historical Twist: Spectrin Mutation Causes Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 5 in President Lincoln’s Pedigree

* Todd J. Janus, Ph.D., M.D. The Neurologic Death of Abraham Lincoln

* Thomas M. Scalea, M.D., Could Lincoln Have Been Saved?

6:30 p.m.: Keynote Address by Frank J. Williams, noted Lincoln scholar and former chief justice of the Rhode Island Supreme Court

Sunday, April 19, 2009, 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.

* Adrianne Noe, Ph.D., The Lincoln Exhibit at the National Museum of Health and Medicine

* Thomas M. Scalea, M.D. and Todd J. Janus, Ph.D., M.D., The Neurologic Death and Possible Rescue of Abraham Lincoln

* Kenneth Leetz, M.D., Abraham Lincoln, Psychotherapist to the Nation: Lincoln’s Depression and Its Transformative Effects on Empathy and Therapeutic Communication Through Metaphors

* Armond S. Goldman, M.D., Lincoln’s Gettysburg Illness

**Speakers, topics and schedule subject to change.

SYMPOSIUM IS FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. LIMITED SEATING—RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED! For more information and reservations, call (202) 782-2673 or email


NMHM is proud to announce an upcoming exhibit, "Abraham Lincoln: Final Casualty of the War" (opens February 12, 2009), featuring artifacts related to the assassination of President Lincoln, including the bullet that killed the president.


* NMHM news release:

* Details about the Lincoln Symposium:

* NMHM Lincoln artifacts:

* Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission:

* Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration in Washington, D.C.:


National Museum of Health and Medicine
On the campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center 6900 Georgia Ave., N.W. (enter at Elder Street)
Washington, D.C. 20307

Free Parking – Free Admission

NMHM is open daily (exc. Dec. 25 and Jan. 20) 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Abraham Lincoln Exhibit Coming up at NMHM, exhibit poster by Navjeet Singh Chhina

I think this came out really well, 
I want to thank Kathleen Stocker,
who was very generous with her 
time and scanned these for me
as well as photographed 
the litho of Lincoln.
Thanks also to Mike Rhode,
for his time as well. Because
content is so important, and 
the right content is all important
they made it very easy for me
to just do my job and design.
I did this in Photoshop 
and Indesign.  What I think 
museum visitors will find interesting
is that with the exception of the Harpers
drawing, all of the other components in
this exhibit poster came from actual 
artifacts in the Otis Archives from NMHM. Including the very rare
signature of Lincoln, which includes his full first name instead of the 
A. Lincoln signature.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Victor McKusick, Abraham Lincoln and the Museum

A couple of decades ago Dr. Victor McKusick suggested that Abraham Lincoln may have had Marfan's syndrome and that the museum's specimens should be tested. I'm going by memory here, but I think a blue-ribbon committee was convened, debated, and a decision was made not to test the material because the science wasn't advanced enough yet, and it didn't really matter if Lincoln had Marfan's. Read the three NY Times articles linked above rather than trust my memory. McKusik died recently and the Washington Post ran an obituary and an appreciation while the NY Times ran an obituary.

At the moment, the museum is not contemplating DNA tests on Lincoln's remains, nor any other individuals.