Showing posts with label Contributed photographs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Contributed photographs. Show all posts

Friday, July 22, 2011

Creative use of Museum's Civil War photos at Flickr

Here's a nice research use of the Civil War pictures we've been putting online -

From: Brendan Hamilton

I've recently been looking through the fantastic gallery of Civil War medical photographs you and your colleagues have been putting up on Flickr, and I got the idea of writing up brief profiles of the soldiers in them and posting them on my blog:

As a Civil War geek and poet, I'm more interested in the human side than the clinical info., so I thought I'd dig through the muster rolls, census info, etc., to try to paint some picture of who these people are. A macabre effort but that's what grabs me. I've only written up one soldier so far but I intend to do more in the coming weeks.

- his one soldier is Frederick Bentley.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

More Civil War soldier photographs added to Flickr

3 or so pictures continue to go up each day, including

CP 1220 Captain JW Force, 22nd US Colored Troops.

CP 1216 Confederate soldier Columbus Rush, 21st Georgia Volunteers

CP 1219 Corporal J.H. Jaxcox, 143rd New York Volunteers

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Contributed photograph 1164


Contributed Photograph 1164




Battle of the WILDERNESS, 6 MAY 1864


See also SP 146



Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Letter of the Day: March 13

De Camp General Hospital, U.S.A.,

Davids’ Island, New York Harbor,

Mar. 13th 1866


My dear Doctor,


I have sent by Adams Express Co. to the address of the Surgeon General, a box containing some photographs of surgical cases, and the histories there of rather imperfectly obtained by me from personal interviews with the patients and statements given by others. The box also contained a humerus and bullet relative to one of the cases. I likewise sent three additional photographic views of this Hospital which will complete the series taken, five of which have been previously forwarded by me to the Army Medical Museum.


Will you oblige me by forwarding a copy of Circular No 6 to the following address: Dr. S.F. Morris care of R.L. Morris, M.D., Pelham, P.O. Westchester Co., N. York.


Yours very truly


Warren Webster


Dr. Otis, +c. +c.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

19th century medical photographs with mirrors

Øystein Horgmo has written an interesting blog post about pictures from the Museum at "Mirror of the Body":

Until he asked about these types of photographs, my eye had glided over them.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Civil War images posted to Flickr

I'm posting all the Civil War pictures from the Contributed Photograph collection to Flickr, in numerical order, unless we've already put them online there in the past. However we're missing large parts of the collection for various reasons, so if there's a gap between CP 543 and CP 572, it's because we no longer have the intervening 29 photographs.

Most of these photographs have never been seen by the general public. I think the level of interest shown in the largely anonymous photographs recently donated to the Library of Congress shows that there is an interest in seeing the people that fought 150 years ago.

Some of the pictures are disturbing due to either violence or exposed genitalia, and I’ve thought twice about posting them. The Flickr site is open to anyone and photographs of genitals are not something everyone wants to see. However, the first hernia picture we have was by Dr. Reed Bontecou, one of the more famous Civil War medical photographers (or it was commissioned by him). Additionally, due to the draft and volunteerism, not everyone who fought in the Civil War was young and healthy, and problems like hernias resulted, but were less easily treated surgically than they are now. Finally, as we get a little farther along in the series of Civil War pictures, there will be many gruesome physical injuries with exposed viscera, and they should be just as troublesome to modern viewers. When I get done with these pictures, I’ll work through the 400 Surgical Photographs that the museum published between 1862 and 1881.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Peek into the Archives: Contributed Photographs collection

The "Contributed Photographs" collection, as it came to be known, consists of photographs donated or contributed to the Museum.  Photographs arriving during and after the war were usually added to the Surgical Section and numbered like the bones were.  Many photographs were sent by doctors who wished to see their cases included in the History.  Doctors such as Reed Bontecou of Harewood Hospital in Washington, J.C. McKee of Lincoln General Hospital in Washington (who also provided surplus photographic equipment after the Museum's burglary), and J.H. Armsby of Ira Harris General Hospital in Albany, New York, contributed dozens of photographs at the end of the war.  They received photographs from the Museum in exchange.  Most of the photographs given to the Museum were albumen prints, but infrequently a tintype (a photograph printed on thin metal) was donated.  (Otis to Lyster, May 11, 1866)  Tintypes were never as popular as other photographs.  (Welling, p. 117)  Their dark background made medical subjects harder to see and reproduce in print. 


          Otis frequently wrote to surgeons requesting a photograph of a specific case which he would then have engraved for the History.  He also wrote to patients asking them to have their wound photographed.  Otis wrote to Charles Lapham, who had been with Co. K of the 1st Vermont Cavalry:



                   The interesting report of your case, which is recorded

          in this office, leads me to desire to possess if possible, a

          photograph which shall farther illustrate it.  The Surgeon

          General possesses photographs of a number of the very rare

          cases in which patients have survived after the very grave

          mutilation of the removal of both thighs, and has instructed

          me to request you to have a photograph prepared, the expense

          to be defrayed by this office.

                   It would be well to have two pictures taken: one

                   representing the stumps, the other the appearance with

          artificial limbs attached.

                   The photographer might take two or three prints of each

          to be retained by you, and then should forward the

          negatives, carefully packed to this office, by express,

          enclosing at the same time the bill for his services.

                   I enclose copies of a photograph of the size desired. 

          (Otis to Lapham, May 25, 1865)


Lapham had the work done and two photographs were added to the collection.


          Otis commissioned physicians such as E.D. Hudson of New York City to take photographs for him.  Writing to Hudson, Otis said "I am anxious to obtain photographs of double amputations of the thigh or leg and of other cases of unusual interest, and am willing to pay for such.  I hereby authorize you to have photographs taken of cases of especial interest.  As near as may be they should be uniform in size with those taken at the Army Medical Museum, of some of which you have copies."  In the same letter, Otis sent a list of soldiers who had survived the operation of the excision of their humerus.  Hudson, a maker of prosthetics, undoubtedly appreciated Otis' fulfilling his request for the names.  Otis and Hudson's arrangements to look out for each others interests, resulted in striking photographs such as the two of Columbus Rush, a young Confederate from Georgia who lost both legs. (Otis to Hudson, February 7, 1866)  Otis and Hudson cooperated so closely that Hudson was able to display his prosthetics in the Medical Department's exhibit at the Centennial fair.  (Otis to Hudson, March 8, 1876)


          For many years, these photographs received a Surgical Section number and were bound in volumes labeled Photographs of Surgical Cases. (Otis to Washburne, April 4, 1866)  The photographs donated to the Museum were often rephototographed to be included in the Surgical Photograph series.  Roland Ward's plastic surgery after the destruction of his lower jaw (SP 167-170, 186) is an example.  Columbus Rush's photograph, in which he demonstrates his Hudson-made artificial legs, was copied and sent out as part of the series.  Otis also purchased photographs from studios, buying "two dozen of the war views for the Museum" from E. & H.T. Anthony & Co.  (Otis to Anthony, September 25, 1865)


          Contributors of photographs like Hudson also used the pictures themselves.  Dr. Gurdon Buck is particularly noteworthy for his use of photographs.  He had engravings made of "before and after" photographs for his 1876 text on plastic surgery, Contributions to Reparative Surgery.  In the engravings, Buck used drawn lines to explain his operation.  Buck deposited a set of his photographs in the Army Medical Museum soon after the end of the war. 


          About 1876, as photographs of many sizes and from many people continued to arrive, the collection was removed from the Surgical Section and named the Contributed Photographs.  Otis no longer had the photographs bound in albums.  All of the photographs were renumbered from the beginning in red ink with the identifying "Cont. Photo." or the initials "C.P."6  Some of the best photographs were copied in the Museum and published as part of the Surgical Photograph series.  Others were engraved for the History.  Some photographs almost certainly taken by the Museum such as the one of Neil Wicks, probably by Bell,7 were added to the collection after the original negatives disappeared.  Unfortunately, many photographs were given away by Daniel Lamb in 1915 including scores to Reed Bontecou's son. 


6  These abbreviations never stood for "contract photograph" as has been surmised by earlier authors.

7 The photograph is listed in a logbook of Museum stereographs (MM 8797), p. 20, Curatorial Records: AMM Collection Logbooks, Box 18.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Letter of the Day: October 9 / CP 1539

Norfolk, Va
October 9 / 67

Col and Surg: A. L. Edwards USA
Chf M. O. Bur Rgt
Washington D.C.


I have the honor to transmit herewith Photograph of “Frank Lamb” born at Weldens Orchard near Halifax North Carolina, in the year 1789.

It’s a case of “Inguinal hernia” of 69 years standing. The man was 9 years of age when hernia occurred. The hernia was reducible until he was 40 years of age, when sold to a man, named “Baine Lamb” at or near Jerusalem S. Hampton Co. Va: for the sum of $150.00. The overseer of said man compelled the poor man to work in the woods, cutting and hauling heavy timber, without giving him the support of truss, after his own was worn out. The hernia had its present size about 10 years ago, and I should judge weighs about 10 pounds.

Frank Lamb was send (sic) from Jerusalem to Hospital for Freedmen at this City on the 17th July 1867. Has up to this date, not regarding the continued irritation upon his bowels, enjoyed fair health. The Photograph is not very well taken, the artist could not do better, as the patient trembled too much, and hoping it will nevertheless prove interesting.

I am Surgeon with profound respect, your most ob: ser’t
Ferdinand Lessing
In charge Hosp: for Freedman
Norfolk City Va.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Putting a face on it

I'm reviewing the first batch of Contributed Photographs to be uploaded to our database, and have started coming across photos of soldiers injured at Antietam and Gettysburg. It's not often we can put faces to the statistics of this war, but here's one example of a soldier injured at Gettysburg. This is what the record says:

Ludwig Kohn, private, Co. I, 214th Pa. Vols., aged 26, admitted to Harewood U.S.A. General Hospital, August 15, 1865, suffering from gunshot wound of chest, right side, ball fracturing third rib, transfixing chest, exit below scapulae same side. Wounded July 1, 1863, at the battle of Gettysburg, Pa. On admission to this Hospital, the parts had nearly healed; but patient states that the wound soon after the injury became gangrenous with considerable sloughing of soft parts; spit blood at time, and that the wound was so painful as to deprive him of his night’s rest; could not lie on his back, but was obliged to sit up day and night. There is still a slight fistulous opening, but otherwise parts entirely healed; is in very good constitutional state, and is now awaiting his discharge from U.S. service.

Contributed by R.B. Bontecou

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Letter of the Day #1: February 7

E.D. Hudson cooperated with the Museum for many years, providing photographs of his patients including the Confederate soldier Columbus Rush whom he provided with two artificial legs.

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington, D.C.

February 7, 1866

Dear Sir,

I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge your communication of the 25th ultimo, and to thank you for the nine (9) interesting photographs which accompanied it.

The Surgeon General has authorized me to give you the names of officers and soldiers who have recovered after undergoing the operation of excision of the head of the humerus and I have directed a list of such to be prepared.

In any future official publication with which I may be entrusted, I will carefully consider the subject of artificial limbs and the relative value of different apparatus, and I shall endeavor to do entire justice to inventors. Your claims in regard to apparatus for patients mutilated by the operations of Syme & Pirogoff, and by knee-joint amputations will not be overlooked.

I am anxious to obtain photographs of double amputations of the thigh or leg and of other cases of unusual interest, and am willing to pay for such. I hereby authorize you have photographs taken of cases of especial interest. As near as may be they should be uniform in size with those taken at the Army Medical Museum, of some of which you have copies. The negatives should be sent, securely packed, by Harnden’s Express, directed to Major General J.K. Barnes, Surgeon General U.S. Army. (For Army Medical Museum.) The bills should be made out in triplicate on the enclosed forms.

I have directed a copy of Circular No: 6, of this office, containing reports on the materials available for a medical and surgical history of the rebellion to be sent to your address.

Very respectfully,
Your obedt. servant,
By order of the Surgeon General,

George A. Otis

Surgeon & Bvt. Lt. Colonel U.S. Vols.

Dr. E.D. Hudson,
Clinton Hall, Astor Place,
New York City

Sunday, April 6, 2008

the week on flickr - Korean war body armor, Civil War and mosquitoes

April 4th:

Emergency encephalitis laboratory. Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. (Major Cornell, Simmons and Sergeant Rhodes.) [The volunteer has put his arm in a screened cage to be bitten by mosquitoes. Scene. Laboratories. Military camps.]

Armored Vest Number 329 worn by Private 1st Class Willie Tufts, US 52077771, with bullet holes circled and marked 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. Company E, 7th Regiment. Front view. 04/26/1952. [Korean War]

Captain Robert Bessey, Jr. (Cincinnati, OH), Infantry member of the Body Armor Team I, Company 15, Infantry Regiment, 30 Division, points to fragment hole in vest worn by Private Edward Schallack (4905 N. 36 St., Milwaukee, WI) who wore the vest on patrol. 04/24/1952. [Korean War]

Private 1st Class Leo Curran, Jr., 46 1/2 Allen Street, Hudson, NY. E Company, 7th Regiment, 3rd Division. Was hit in back with fragment while wearing body armor vest on patrol. No penetration. 04/18/1952. [Korean War]

April 1st:

CP 0918
"Gunshot wound of hip." Private William W. Wrightman, Co. L, 2nd New York Heavy Artillery. Wounded at Petersburg, VA on March 31, 1865. Treated by Reed Bontecou at Harewood Hospital.[Civil War]

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Civil War plastic surgery article I helped on

I just ran across this - "The first civil war photographs of soldiers with facial wounds," Journal of Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Springer New York, ISSN 0364-216X (Print) 1432-5241 (Online), Volume 19, Number 3 / May, 1995. This was largely written by my late friend Dr. Blair Rogers, although I can still pick out the parts I wrote - mostly the photo history. They've even put up the full text as a pdf that can be downloaded. Blair really pushed me into writing about the Civil War photographs, and I appreciate his efforts (perhaps more now than I did in the early 1990s.)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

This week's flickr pictures

Kathleen and I have been putting up a few pics this week as the fancy has struck us. Check these out:

March 17th:

Retractors made from scrap metal. 44th Field Hospital, 8th Detachment. World War 2. 09/23/1945.

March 18:

cp 944 small
"Gunshot fracture of left superior maxilla." Private Henry Morgan, Co. D, 77th New York Volunteers, wounded at Petersburgh, VA on April 2, 1865. Treated at Harewood Hospital, Washington DC, by Dr. Reed B. Bontecou who also had the photograph made.

SP79 small
"Shell Wound of the face, with great destruction of the soft parts." Private Joseph Harvey, Co. C, 149th New York Volunteers. Wounded at Chancellorsville, Virginia on May 3 1863.

sp58 small
"Case of Corporal Bemis, Thrice Severely Wounded in Three Battles." Cpl. Edson D. Bemis, Co. K, 12th Massachussetts, wounded at Battles of Hatcher's Run, the Wilderness and Antietam.

MAMAS CA44-373-2
Mobile Optical Unit. 4th Medical Depot, Italy. 06/07/1944.

March 19:

CP 2452
Detachment of Hospital Corps taking patients over obstacles on the way to the hospital. Illustrating the equipment and operation of the brigade field hospital. Exhibit of the Army Medical Department, Pan-American Exposition, Buffalo, New York, 1901.

NCP 15169 Batchelor - Saboteuse small
"Saboteuse" - World War II venereal disease prevention poster by editorial cartoonist C.D. Batchelor for the American Social Hygiene Association.

Reeve 60857 hyacinth
Panama. Dr. H.C. Clark. Gorgas Hospital. Ancon, Canal Zone. Club canoe forcing way through hyacinth beds, Pacora.

March 20:

Reeve 00231 horse
Comparative anatomy, Auzoux model of horse, life size. Specimen no. 2635. [papier mache, on display in Army Medical Museum] (We no longer have the model, although one can be seen in the Science Museum in London. This one's for Morbid Anatomy).

MAMAS G45-50-I
An enlisted technician rides along with patient to ground level to insure safety. from a series: "Air Evacuation from China to India," Patients flown over the 'hump' from China to India to be admitted to the 142nd General Hospital for further disposition.

More information about each picture can be seen on our flickr site. Visit our 3rd flickr page regularly, or sign up to be a contact so you know when new pictures go up.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Our (possibly) most viewed Flickr image

We've had almost 1200 views on this photo, which may be the most-viewed of our 500 or so.
cp 1855
CP1855. The caption is: "Amputation of left thigh. [Image is reversed.] CPL Edward Scott, 10th U.S. Calvary. Injured May 3, 1886 at the Battle of Sierra Pinita, Mexico and treated by Dr. Paul R. Brown. Baker & Johnson Photos studio. "