Showing posts with label prosthetics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prosthetics. Show all posts

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Letter of the Day: May 29

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 02291

May 29, 1897

Mr. F. A. Brockhaus,
Leipzig, Germany.

Dear Sir:
Please purchase for this Museum the prothetic [sic] apparatus invented and described by Dr. W. Liermann, of Frankfurt a.M., in the Deutsche Militaraztliche Zeitschrift, Jahrgang XXVI, 1897, Heft I, p. 13 etc. The apparatus is made by L. Droll, Frankfurt a.M., Friedenstruasse, 6.

Have it carefully packed and forwarded to this Museum in the usual manner and send the bill to me.

Very respectfully,
D.L. Huntington
Deputy Surgeon General, U.S.Army
In charge of Museum and Library Division

Monday, May 2, 2011

Letter of the Day: May 2

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 03856

Established 1844

Sharp & Smith
Makers and Importers of
Surgical Instruments
Deformity Apparatus, Artificial Limbs,
Artificial Eyes & c.
92 Wabash Ave.
Chicago, May 2, 1899

D. Bache
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:

In a recent letter to us you asked us to send you some information regarding Artificial Limbs, either literature or samples of something of old device. We are sorry to report however, that we have thus far been unsuccessful in getting any literature, and have no old styles on hand that we think would be of any service. Should anything come to hand however, that we think would interest you, we will be pleased to notify you of it.

Yours truly,
Sharp & Smith


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Letter of the Day, March 20

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 3754

War Department,
Office of the Surgeon General,
Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets S.W.,
Washington, March 20, 1899

Mr. A Gault,
Gault Artificial Limb Co.
Medford, Minn.


Your reply of the 18th inst. Is received. My object is to illustrate the progress in the manufacture of artificial limbs in a section of this Museum. For this purpose I wish to collect old devices and such modern perfected limbs as may best suit my purpose. No attempt is made to show the corrections for all amputations, and reasonable prices will be paid for all devices or limbs, on agreement.

Very respectfully,

Dallas Bache
Col. & Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum & Library Division

The initial letter turns out to be a quintessentially American one…
Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 3754

A. Gault, Inventor.
A.A. Winkley, Manager.

Office of The Gault Artifical Limb Company
Medford, Minn., March 18th 1899

Dallas Bache Esq.
Col. & Asst. Surgeon Gen. U.S.A.
In charge of the Museum & Library Div., Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir:-

Your favor of the 25th ult., to the Gault Artificial Limb Company, Chicago, was duly received here. I consider your plan a good one as it would place the inferior and superior limbs before the public in a very forcible manner.

My make of limbs is an entirely new departure from any artificial limbs made in this country, and I would be glad to place them in the museum along side of other makes. I am not financially able to advertise them as they should be, and this deprives many unfortunate ones of the opportunity to investigate them for themselves. If samples could be placed there it would give my make of limbs an equal show with the rest, and once seen can be easily understood by those who wear limbs.

But if I understand your communication correctly you want samples of the different kinds of amputations. In my make of legs this would take 4 or 5 samples, as per cut enclosed.* Do you require full sized legs, and when would they be expected to be in Washington? It would seem to me that this would require a good deal of space for such Exhibit, that is, if all Art Limb Companies send full sets of samples. Kindly let me hear from you again regarding this matter, and oblige,

Respectfully yours,
The Gault Artificial Limb Company,
A. Gault Proprietor

*not received for file. Answered March 20.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Letter of the day, March 14

A day late. Oops!

Fisk & Arnold,
Manufacturers of
Artificial Limbs, &c.
No. 3 Boylston Place,
Boston, Mass., March 14, 1899.

Dear Sir:
We ship to-day by Adams Express the samples of old devices requested in your favor of March 7th. The steel skeleton is that of the “Drake” [A.M.M. No. 2503 Misc. Sect.] leg manufactured between 1840 & 50 and the small model is a perfect miniature of the “Palmer” [A.M.M. No. 2504 Misc. Sect.] leg manufactured between 1860 & 70. The skeleton we willingly give to the Museum but for the model we charge you just what it cost us.

Yours very truly,
Fisk & Arnold

To Dallas Bache
Col. & Asst. Surgeon General U.S.A.
Washington, D.C.

[Specimens received March 15, 1899.]

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Letter of the day, February 25

The “present mechanical perfection” mentioned in the letter is, of course, still evolving. Wouldn't he be delighted with what's available today?

War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets S.W.,
Washington, February 25, 1899


I am anxious to secure for the Museum examples of artificial limbs-upper and lower extremity- which collectively will show the progress of this art, from its rude beginnings to its present mechanical perfection. It is desired especially to make this illustration historically complete, so that your assistance is requested, not only as to existing finished apparatus of your own device and manufacture, but as to the existence and supply of older devices which would naturally form part of an illustrative collection. Where information is contained in catalogues those will be sufficient; but reference is solicited to sources from which the older specimens may be obtained, with a brief description of the apparatus- and prices.

Very respectfully,
Dallas Bache
Col. & Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum & Library Division

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

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Eye Prosthetics at Walter Reed

The Walter Reed Army Medical Center has a weekly newspaper, Stripe. This article is from last week's edition.

Friday, May 29, 2009

"Red Cross Work on Mutilés at Paris - 1918"

We just uploaded this 1918 film to the Internet Archive. Everything says it uploaded fine, but as I can't actually view it from work, I'll have to take their word for it.

See it here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Red Cross Work on Mutilés

Yesterday I gave a short presentation to an Elderhostel group visiting the museum (and let me just interject here how refreshing it was to speak to my peers, age-wise, as opposed to all the kids on staff) and as part of the presentation showed a 4-minute film called Red Cross Work on Mutilés, Paris, 1918. We recently had it transferred from Beta to a DVD and, although I've watched it over and over, I'm still mesmerized by it.

Today I was trolling the internet for more information on the Red Cross and mutilés (maimed) and found a title on Google books, American Red Cross Work among the French People, by Fisher Ames (1921) that had a photograph in it just like the background in the film.

And which is very similar to an exhibit we have:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Arm and leg prosthetics in the making

A dozen photos of arm and leg prosthetics being created have just been posted to our Flickr account. These are some of those behind-the-scenes images I really like. We probably have all seen finished products, but don't usually see how they're made.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Civil War opthalmology

Michael Hughes called in the other day and mentioned an article he wrote on Civil War ophthalmology that he used some of the museum's pictures in - Eye Injuries and Prosthetic Restoration in the American Civil War Years
Michael O. Hughes
Journal of Ophthalmic Prosthetics
Fall 2008; pg 18-28

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Prosthetics of a Different Color

This one's thanks to Susan Lomuto at Daily Art Muse, who writes, "Aimee Mullins is an accomplished athlete, a motivational speaker, an actress and a model. Aimee Mullins is also a double amputee who wears prosthetic legs the way some women wear a new pair of expensive shoes, a drop-dead piece of jewelry or the latest pair of body-hugging designer jeans: with attitude; exuding confidence and leaving you wanting more. This is a TED talk you should not miss. Watch and listen as Mullins talks the talk AND walks the walk (in 4 inch heels!) regarding the myth of being dis-abled, the truth of being super-abled, why individual shifts in consciousness work and a new definition for wearable art. Sheer, pure inspiration.

More about Aimee Mullins here and here."

Monday, July 14, 2008

Afternoon Coffee Talk at the National Museum of Health and Medicine

Afternoon Coffee Talk at the National Museum of Health and Medicine

Title: "Limb Labs: Getting Amputee Soldiers Back to Work After World War I"

Speakers: Beth Linker, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania and Jeffrey Reznick, Ph.D., Honorary Research Fellow in the Center for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham and Director of the Institute for the Study of Occupation and Health, AOTF

What: Join a discussion about early efforts to standardize and construct affordable prosthetic arms and legs for amputee soldiers by orthopedic surgeons in America and England during World War I.

When: Thursday, July 24, 2:00-3:30 p.m.

Where: Russell Auditorium (AFIP, Bldg. 54)

Cost: Free!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Thought Control

I read Mike's post down below about Dean Kamen's new prosthetic arm, and it truly is a wonderful invention. If you haven't looked at the video I encourage you to do so. At first I thought this was the same device I saw on TV in Dublin last night (doesn't that sound so cool - I was in Dublin last night, and I'm not talkin' Ohio), but I've just checked the internet and what I saw was different. Their story was about a monkey whose arms were restrained but could use its thoughts to control a robotic arm to bring food to its mouth. Simply amazing to see. Interestingly, the project is being done on this side of the pond by Andrew Schwartz at the University of Pittsburgh. The study was published in the journal Nature.

Dean Kamen designs prosthetic arm for military amputees

Yahoo finance has a three-minute video of Dean Kamen's new prosthetic arm, which looks absolutely amazing. It's just stunning.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Prosthetics ruled equal, not better

A South African who races on two prosthetic legs, designed to mimic a cheetah's hind legs, can compete in the Olympics if he can qualify. The decision was made after testing his oxygen consumption to determine that he was in fact, working as hard as someone with two natural legs would be. I'll spare you my editorial comment on that and for more details, see "Double-Amputee Allowed To Compete for Olympic Bid: Appeals Court: No Edge Gained From Blades," By Craig Timberg, Washington Post Foreign Service, Saturday, May 17, 2008; Page A01.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Medical technology creates ethical dilemmas. Again

Read about left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) in "Heart Pump Creates Life-Death Ethical Dilemmas," By Rob Stein, Washington Post Staff Writer, Thursday, April 24, 2008; A01. Once one of these is implanted in someone, their heart can't fail. I'm pretty sure we don't have any of these devices in the museum yet.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Longtime Archives research Beth Linker lectures on World War 1 in NYC

Medicine in Wartime

War and medicine share an ancient and intimate relationship, and the history of military medicine is a lively meeting-place for scholars from many fields. This year, the New York Academy of Medicine's Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health is dedicating four public lectures to the topic of medicine in wartime - specifically, the interplay between war, medicine and society. Our series explores the poisonous ideologies that fester into wars and the development and testing of deadly new weapons to fight them; the social and infrastructural stresses and fractures war brings; and the challenges of helping war's maimed and damaged soldiers find peaceful occupations when the fighting is over.

On April 24, Beth Linker will present the third lecture in the mini-series:

Medicine in Wartime III
Limb Lab: Getting Amputee Soldiers Back to Work in World War I America Beth Linker, PhD, University of Pennsylvania Sponsored by the New York Academy Section on the History of Medicine and Public Health

Reception at 5:30 p.m.; Lecture at 6:00 p.m.

Looking across the Atlantic in the spring of 1917 at the ravages of the Great War, the U.S. Council of National Defense prepared for the worst, envisioning its own country re-"arming" hundreds of thousands of limbless American soldiers. The Council thus ordered the Army Surgeon General's Office to create a "Limb Laboratory" where orthopedic surgeons would standardize and construct affordable prosthetic arms and legs for returning disabled veterans. The choices that Limb Lab orthopedists made concerning which type of artificial limbs best suited America's maimed veterans stemmed not only from medical theory and practice, but also from deep-seated political, cultural, and economic concerns shared by many other social progressives at the time. Defining masculinity as the ability to earn wages, orthopedists believed that artificial limbs were necessary to make disabled soldiers whole again, bringing them into their rightful place as "industrial citizens." With this aim in mind, the Limb Lab emphasized the utility of artificial limbs, claiming that amputee men should have "tool-like" appendages rather than anatomical replicas in order to be competitive with able-bodied men in the job market.

Beth Linker, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Her teaching interests include disability, American health policy, bioethics, public health, gender and health, and the history and sociology of medicalization.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information about NYAM programs in the history of medicine, click here , write , or call Chris Warren at 212.822.7314.

Save the Date!

Thursday, May 8, 2008, 6:00 PM (with reception at 5:30) Susan Smith, The Annual Lilianna Sauter Lecture, Medicine in Wartime, Part IV: "Human Experimentation with Mustard Gas in World War II"

This event is free and open to the public. To register, visit

For more information about NYAM programs in the history of medicine, visit our website at, write, or call 212.822.7310.

Historical programs at NYAM are supported by the Friends of the Rare Book Room. Please join the Friends! Download a membership form at


Christian Warren, Ph.D.
Historical Collections
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10029
Phone: 212-822-7314
Fax: 212-423-0273