Friday, April 23, 2010

Letter of the day, April 23 (2) and April 25 and April 27 and April 29 and April 30

A series of letters, well worth the time it takes to read them. Believe me, the punctuation is not mine.


The Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad Company.
West Jersey & Seashore Railroad Company.

Littlestown, Pa Station,
April 23rd 1901

Supt, Army and Medical Museum.
Washington, D.C.
I secured today, and am holding for advice from you, an embryo specimen, that in my opinion is worthy of a place in your collection.

The story of the specimen is as follows. On my way home to supper this P.M. I met Mr Isaiah Palmer, a man who cleans locomotives for us at this station, and as we met he unrolled a piece of paper he had in in [sic] his hand, saying, “where do you think I got this,[“] at the same time exhibiting an animal embryo, I told him I had no idea, he continued, “What do you think of a chicken dropping a thing like this” I was examining it and found it was a perfectly formed embryo animal, complete in every detail. He then related its history.

He had noticed that for a day or two there was some tissue projecting from one of his hens, and he supposed that she had ruptured her egg bag, as it is commonly termed, he remarked to his wife that they might as well kill her, as she would probably die at any rate, but did not do so. This P.M. when feeding his chickens, he noticed that there was something unusual projecting from this hen, hanging by a slender cord, he caught the hen, puuled [sic] the projection away, and found it to be the embryo above referred to. As this was so unusual, he brought it with him to his work, and when I suggested preserving it and sending it to where it would be effectually appreciated, agreed with me. As a consequence I now have the specimen, preserved in alcohol, and will send it to you without any charge whatever, if you think the circumstances of the case justify its being added to your collection. Of course I can understand a collection of specimens, such as yours must be undoubtedly authentic, and the specimen I offer is so unusual that unless you can verify its history it will be of no value, coming as it does from persons who are not known to you, and who have no reputation in scientific matters, therefore if you are enough interested in the matter to subject it to thorough investigation, I will be glad to aid you in any possible manner.

You will understand the specimen is offered to your collection entirely free of expense, if you so desire I will prepay the express charges thereon to Washington, D.C. My only requirement is, that you will make an acknowledgement that specimen was sent you free of charge and that I did not ask, or receive any compensation therefore. This I want to show such parties that might be inclined to think, that I secured the specimen from Mr Palmer and sold it to museum, or collection.

Dr E.K. Foreman, a respectable physician of this place, assisted me in preparing the specimen, and is also of the opinion that it is worthy of a place in your collection, as he is the family physician of Mr Palmer, the man who furnished the specimen, has examined it, and firmly believes its history, as given by Mr Palmer. Of course some of the persons to whom I spoke on this subject, pronounced it as impossible, but a recollection of what I seen in your museum, when on a visit to Washington, a short time ago, leads me to think, there is almost nothing impossible, in the was [?] of unusual freaks of nature. and while I did not see this specimen taken from the hen, I firmly believe the man is telling the truth in the matter, as I cannot imagine what reason he would have for doing otherwise, and he is not the kind of man that would tell a story of this kind as a hoax.

Geo W Fox
Agent P.R.R.
War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets SW.,
Washington, April 25, 1901.

Mr. Geo. W. Fox,
Agent P. R.R.
Littlestown, Pa.

Dear Sir:
Your letter of the 23rd inst. in reference to a chicken embryo has been received. Please send the specimen in a box marked “Army Medical Museum, 7th & B streets, S.W., Washington, D.C.,” by express, charges to be paid at this Museum.

The specimen will be examined and you will be informed of the result of the examination with acknowledgement as desired by you.

Calvin DeWitt
Lt. Col., Deputy Surgeon General,
U.S. Army

The Pennsylvania Railroad Company.
Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore Railroad Company.
West Jersey & Seashore Railroad Company.

Littlestown, Pa Station,
April 27th 1901

Calvin DeWitt Esq

Dear Sir:
Noting yours April 25th, I send you by express this A.M. the embryo referred to therein. I am preparing a statement of details, which will be sworn to, by Isaiah Palmer and probably his wife also, who claim they positively saw this embryo, and accompanying matter, come from within the body of the chicken, claim there was connected to the umbillical [sic] cord (part of which remains connected to the embryo) at one end, a globe about the size of a huuled [sic] walnut, which on breaking the film, he found to contain matter resembling the white of an egg, next in order on the cord, was a mass of matter, which he describes as resembling fish eggs, then the animal, wholly, or partially enveloped in a sac, which when broken, also contained matter resembling the white of an egg, moved by curiosity, when he saw this unusual mass coming from the chicken, he proceeded to investigate, destroying, in his effort, what would probably have been invaluable in determining, what nourished this fo-etus, under apparently extraordinary conditions. [ed: whew!]

Mr Palmer has been closely questioned as to the possibility of his being mistaken on the matter, claims it is not a case wherein, this matter having been deposited by an animal as some place where the hen could set down on it while it was wet, and it having adhered to her feathers or body, afterward became loosed in his presence, and dropped from her, giving him the impression that it had emerged from her body. and as he is a plain unassuming man, with about as much education, as enables him to read and write, and whose reputation for veracity is good, and whose imagination is scarcely fertile enough to originate the above details.

G.W. Fox Agent
[Note in the file:]

April 29 1901.
This specimen is a mammal, apparently a new born kitten, and could not of course have come from a chicken.
D.S. Lamb

[Numbered correspondence 313]
War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office,
U.S. Army Medical Museum and Library,
Corner 7th and B Streets SW.,
Washington, April 30, 1901.

Mr. Geo. W. Fox,
Littlestown, Pa.

Dear Sir:
The specimen sent by you has been received, and found to be a mammal, apparently a new-born kitten which, of course, could not have come from a chicken.

Thanking you for your courtesy in submitting the specimen, I remain

Very respectfully,
Calvin DeWitt
Lt. Col., Deputy Surgeon General,
U.S. Army

Letter of the day, April 23

This refers to a “cast of precocious development of the genitals of a boy aged 4 years” and I can't imagine any 4-year-old boy sitting still for that.

Dr. Ashford,

Office 1330 New York Avenue,
Residence 507 E St. N.W.
Washington, D.C.
April 23 1872

My Dear Dr

Please accept my sincere thanks!

I send with the Bandage &c. a plaster cast taken by Dr. Thos. Miller and Dr R.K. Stone of the genital organs in a child 4 years old.

Yours truly,
FA Ashford

Dr Otis-
Army Med. Mus.

1056 Sec IV [Anatomical Section]

Plum Island, NY animal germ research facility, up for redevelopment

New Life for a Destination That Hannibal Lecter Once Chewed Over, By PETER APPLEBOME, New York Times April 21, 2010

Interesting article on informed consent and medical research

Tribe Wins Fight to Limit Research of Its DNA, By AMY HARMON, New York Times April 21, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NMHM staff at American Association of the History for the Medicine meeting

Several of us will be attending the AAHM Annual Meeting this year:

James Curley, museum technician, historical collections - Vice-president of the Medical Museums Association

Alan Hawk, collections manager, historical collections

Michael Rhode, archivist - responder at MEMA Thurs afternoon session (I think) and speaking on "Cancer in Comics: No Laughing Matter" on May 1, Saturday, 2:15

Emily Wilson, museum technician, Human Developmental Anatomy collectiion - "The Monkey Colony at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Department of Embryology" on May 1, Saturday, at 10:45.

Any readers of the blog planning on being there?

Letter of the Day: April 22 - buying the Gibson collection

Medical Director’s office

First Military District, State of Virginia,

Richmond, Va., April 22nd 1868


Dear Doctor


I bought the Gibson Collection this morn for $1015. I gave the 15 additional over the sum authorized by the S.G. because I did not want to lose the collection for such a small sum + rather than it should be lost to the Army Museum would give the extra amt. myself. When there was added a collection of 25 or 30 calculi not on the catalogue and which I knew you wanted very much – some being very valuable + rare.


Gross was prepared to go to 750 himself + 250 for another party if it had been sold by lot or specimens. I will make a formal report to the Surgeon General tomorrow.


I have not received the list promised by the S.G. of such specimens most wanted + the price annexed.


Will write you again in a few days.


Yours truly,


John H. Janeway



Medical illustration exhibit in Rosslyn, VA

This article, and the accompanying exhibit of course, features longtime friend of the museum, medical illustrator Marie Dauenheimer.


In gross anatomy, Howard U.'s Ashraf Aziz sees nothing but grace

By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 21, 2010; C01


Marie noted of the show – “The show features the work of about 10 different artists, and the work was created from or inspired by my cadaver dissections at Howard University-the works are by myself, AiW faculty and students, John Yanson, Will Dickinson and Robert Liberace.”


The exhibit information is:



WHERE Art Institute of Washington Gallery  (“Gallery 1820”)

1820 N. Fort Myer Drive, Street Level

Arlington, VA 22209

METRO Rosslyn (across street from rear entrance)

PARKING at meters: Free after 6:00pm.



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 21 - one half-barrel

U.S.A. General Hospital,

Beverly, N.J.,

April 21st 1865




I have the honor to transmit herewith Express Co.’s receipt for one half-barrel containing Anatomical Specimens. Reports of both cases (amputation at the hip joint) were forwarded several days ago with the Quarterly Report of Surgical Operations, in which the cases from whom the specimens were obtained are represented by Hospital Numbers 665 & 1955.


Very respectfully

Your Obdt Servt

C. Wagner,

Asst Surgeon USA

Comdg Hospital



Curator of the Army Med Museum

Surgeon General’s Office

Washington DC

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Accession of the day, April 20

A.M.M. No. 10368
Pathological Section

Gawler, Albert

Washington, D.C.

April 20, 1892.

Head, neck and about ten feet of links of tapeworm, taenia mediocanellata. Passed by contributor after twice fasting 24 hours and after each fasting taking a medicine, the composition of which was not known to him. The head was passed after the second fasting.

Letter of the day, April 20

Fort Yellowstone, Wyoming
April 20, 1908.

The Curator,
Army Medical Museum
Washington, D.C.


I have the honor to report forwarding under separate cover, this date, a well preserved specimen of a common species of caterpillar passed in the stool of a healthy 13 months male child at this station on October 6, 1907.

Interest attaches chiefly to the fact that the worm was so little affected by the processes of digestion in transit, being only slightly decolorized and divested of its coat of hairs. It was flattened and slightly macerated when it appeared in the commode but at once was restored to its normal symmetry upon placing it in the alcohol preservative.

This is the second worm passed by the child, the first having been passed on October 5 but thrown away by the mother after exciting momentary curiosity. Upon passing the second the mother brought it to me for examination and advice.

The only noticeable effect upon the health of the child was a slight diarrhea and sufficient digestive disturbance to cause disinclination for food during the time the larvae were in the digestive tract, there being a speedy and permanent return to normal conditions following expulsion of worms.

Very respectfully,
J.M. Wheate
Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army

Monday, April 19, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 19 - photographer job?

Office Sergeant-at-Arms,

House of Representatives U.S.,

Washington, D.C., April 19, 1888


Dr. Billings –


Dear Sir –


Mr. E.J. Taylor, a photographer, is anxious to obtain the position Assistant Photographer in the Museum.


Mr. Taylor is recommended to me, by personal friends, as an expert in his profession, and if you can possibly help him I wish you would do so – I should be glad [to] hear from you as to the prospect of his success.




W.H.F. Lee

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 18 - Birds?

Mearns House,
Highland Falls, N.Y.

Office of Edgar A. Mearns, M.D.
Wednesday, April 18th, 1883


I am desirous of learning something of the character of Army Medical Museum, at Washington, D.C.

I am about to enter the service as Assistant Surgeon, U.S. Army; and, as I have several thousands of bird-skins, birds’ eggs, reptiles, batrachians, fishes, mammals, a botanical collection, etc. in my collection, which I have gotten together with great expense and labor, I think some of making a donation to the Museum, but would like, first, to learn something of the Museum, its objects, the kind of objects which it desires, and the disposal made of them.

I have, also, a small series of Botanical specimens representing the plants useful in medicine and which have toxic effects, belonging to the Flora of this region.

Please inform me, and greatly oblige.
Very respectfully,
Your obedient servant
Edgar A. Mearns

To the Curator of the Army Medical Museum,
Washington, D.C.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lungs from a cadaver respirating

Cadaver Lungs Still Breathing On Respirator - Watch more Funny Videos

Letter of the Day: April 17 - North Pole expedition

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 1418

1st Endorsement.
War Department,
Surgeon General’s Office

April 17, 1896.

Respectfully referred to Lieut. Col. D. L. Huntington, Deputy Surgeon General, U.S. Army, in charge of Museum and Library Division, for his action, in connection with previous papers in the case.

Geo. M. Sternberg
Surgeon General, U.S. Army


To the Minister of the United States of America
Mr. Thomas S. Ferguson

Dear Sir!

In answer to your request for the particulars of the medical equipment of the “Andrees Polarexpedition 1896” I respectfully beg to communicate to you the following:

In furnishing this medical outfit I had to consider two circumstances.

First, -the extent of the whole must be as limited as possible. Secondly, - the packing must [be] strong enough to stand jolting and water. For this purpose, I suppose it would have been most practical to have india-rubber vessels, but such articles are not manufactured in Sweden, and it would be very difficult to order them from abroad.

It was also requested that no object of metal should be used, Mr. Andree desiring to avoid metals wherever possible.

On this account no comparison can be made with the very nice medicine cases, (of American and English manufacture) provided for instance by Mssrs Burroughs Welcome & Co, London which are so highly approved by Stanley and Dr. Parker.

All the pharmaceutical preparations are with two or three exceptions in a dry form such as gelatin and tabloids.

For drawing up the schedule care has been taken to provide for the diseases occurring in earlier Swedish expeditions to Polar regions.

The medicines which are in small doses, are made up in gelatine, a form of medicinal preparations, invented many years ago by General direktor Almen, and is of a very practical nature, as a cover the size of a common envelope, can hold many hundreds doses. They are used in Sweden for such preparations as laudanum, morphia, and quinine, they are usually kept in their coatings, in this case, they have been put into glass tubes.

The rest of the medicines are in tabloids previously mentioned and which are also manufactures in Sweden.

Tabloids containing poisonous drugs are in addition enveloped in very thin paper to prevent them getting broken, it being impossible to use such tabloids unless they are in a perfectly whole collection.

The method for preserving and packing the medicine is as follows.

The gelatives and tabloids are put into tubes of thick glass, with corks especially cutted and prepared to resist damp and water. The labels are also prepared in a similar manner.

Each label is also supplied with a number – which is also given in the little book containing a list of the medicines, - and also the name of the expedition, the name of preparation and the dose to be taken, and finally the names of the diseases for which it is used, which are also given in the book above mentioned, in alphabetical order together with short advice given by the physician as to their treatment and the medicine to be employed.

Each of the glass tubes is fitted into a wooden case (turned?) lined inside with india rubber and cotton wool, a band of india rubber being fixed outside and finally the outside of the case is marked with the same numbers as the glass tube, and is burnt into the wood.

By this arrangement the most important medicines can be carried without further trouble as regards packing, in the event of a journey by sleigh, when everything in the way of baggage must be reduced to a minimum.

The whole collection is then packed in an air and water tight box of wood and india rubber, stamped on the outside with the name “Polarexpedition Andrees 1896,” the word “medicine” and the weight.

Respecting the above mentioned catalogue I herewith beg to enclose a leaf as a typical example of the whole.*

I am Sir yours very respectfully

C.F. Lundberg
Examined Apothecary
Hopapotcket Lejonet

Stockholm 31 Mar 1896

*Filed in a separate envelope

Friday, April 16, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 16

Smithsonian Institution

Washington, D.C., April 16, 1885


Dear Sir:


We are in receipt every few days from various menageries and zoological gardens, of animals that have died of some disease; some of them sent with the understanding that a report will be made of the causes of death. Learning from you that you propose to make a collection of soft parts of animals for the purposes of comparative anatomical study, I beg to say that it will give me much pleasure to transfer the carcasses, as they come to hand, to the Army Medical Museum, if you will cause to be furnished on each occasion a report of the post mortem, for transmission to the donors. I understand that the Museum is making preparations for permanent presentations of specimens to illustrate the comparative anatomy of various organs, and in this event the National Museum will abandon its previous intention of making such collection; and will turn over a large amount of material already in store, as it is not desirable to have a duplicate.



Spencer Baird


Dr. J. S. Billings,

Army Medical Museum,


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Unexploded Ordinance In the Head

This happens often enough
see the full

"The projectile was part of the bomb that went off," explained Maj. John Bini, who oversees all trauma care at Bagram. "People will pack just about anything in to these things: rocks, nails, screws, explosives."
Bini and his team immediately summoned an explosive ordnance disposal team to assess how risky it would be to conduct the surgery. The doctors needed to minimize the risk of setting off the ordinance.
They were told not to drop the explosive, prick it with a scalpel or let it be exposed to any electricity.
"We knew that any electrical current possibly could cause detonation."

Another rifle slipped from our grasp

Also sent to the Smithsonian in 1950.

Almost a dime a dozen

I just came across this record in our accession files:

Harper's Ferry and Whitney 54 caliber rifle, circa 1851. Heavy steel barrel; Muzzle loader; Fine barrel; Brass hands and mountings; Brass butt plate; Patch box or place cut in butt stock to hold cleaning rag or caps; Brass cover with spring; Percussion lock. Bannerman Purchase. Sent to Smithsonian Institution 09/06/1950.

It was bought in 1912 for $2.50.

Letter of the day, April 15

Balduin Lucké was a Philadelphia pathologist, a professor of pathology at the University of Pennsylvania, Deputy Curator of the Museum, and in charge of the Professional Service (primarily the pathological division) of the Museum/Army Institute of Pathology.

I thought this letter interesting from the scrap-metal-salvaging aspect during WW2, and funny because of  government paperwork requirements in the face of roadblocks as shown at the end of paragraph 2 and the beginning of paragraph 3.

We have some of Dr. Lucké's materials in our Registry of Noteworthy Research in Pathology collection.

The American College of Pathology
East University Avenue
Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S.A.

April 15, 1944

Lt. Col. Balduin Lucké, M.C.
Army Medical Museum
7th St. and Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington 25, D.C.

Dear Colonel Lucké:

I am returning the letter from Major Pons, and Mrs. Weller joins me in thanking you for letting us see it.

We have noted that 1,050 reprints of your papers will be required. Do you wish the reprints of the two articles bound together?

We, of course, will wish to cooperate in respect to the preservation of the blocks for future use. We have been under considerable pressure to assure re-use of the metal as quickly as possible. There is a War Production Board order, under the title General Conservation Order M-99, covering this matter. As I understand it, we should be protected in the same manner when the issue is between two Government agencies as though we were dealing with a civilian. After the issue of General Conservation Order M-99, we withdrew the privilege of securing the blocks for a nominal fee to cover packing. On three occasions when re-use of the blocks seemed imminent, we have released them. The mechanism by which this is done is to file with us, in triplicate, a signed statement in the language which appears in fine print near the bottom of the middle column of the printed order which we are sending you herewith. One copy has to go to our engraver, one to our printer, and one copy is retained in our files.

Since it is almost impossible to secure additional copies of General Conservation Order M-99, and the one I am sending you is the only one which we have, I must ask you to return it at your early convenience. I will have to leave it to your judgment as to whether the statement which you submit should be signed by you or by General Love. Because of the large number of illustrations in your articles, the amount of metal is considerable and I fear that I am going to meet with some objection from our engraver, whom I believe to be under a quota in respect to the metal supplied him. This quota is influenced by the amount of salvaged metal which he can release. Therefore, any plan to retain these blocks should be well considered and readily defensible.

Sincerely yours,
[signed] Carl V. Weller

Enc., 2

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

Letter of the Day: April 14

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 7438


April 14, 1904


Dr. S. S. Adams,

1 Dupont Circle,

Washington, D.C.


Dear Sir:


I am directed by the Surgeon General to express his thanks for the photograph of a case of thoracopagus received from you on the 14th inst. It will be added to the collection with a properly inscribed card.


Very respectfully,


C.L. Heizmann

Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.

In charge of Museum & Library Division


The photograph was Contributed Photograph 2583, but is now missing.

Letter and Photographs of the Day: April 13 addition

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 8202

April 13, 1905

Mr. J. E. Standley,
Colman Dock,
Seattle, Washington


Your letter of the 4th inst. Addressed to the Smithsonian Institution, containing two photographs of Samoans showing elephantiasis and one of a Javanese woman with multiple fibrous tumors has been referred with the photographs to the Surgeon General, U.S. Army, for deposit in the Army Medical Museum.

The Surgeon General directs me to express his thanks to you for the photographs and to inform you that they will be added to the series of contributed photographs of this Museum.

Very respectfully,

C.L. Heizmann
Col. Asst. Surgeon General, U.S.A.
In charge of Museum & Library Division

These two pictures from Ye Old Curiosity Shop and Indian Curio of Colman Dock, Seattle, became CP 2593 and 2594.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 13

813 North Charles St.


April 13/96


Dear Doctor Reed,


Many thanks for the monkeys which came through all right.


I enclose ck for $18.00.


I was so unfortunate as to lose one on the table and the other two were not over strong, but they managed to pull through a minor operation and are doing well now. Section of the corpus calllosium is rather too serious an operation unless an animal is in very good order and I shall have to keep that for animals in first class order. With many thanks for your courtesy & kindly interest


I remain

Very sincerely yours

E. Linden Mellus



#18.00 received from Dr. Reed

April 15, 1896

C.J. Meyers

Accession of the day, April 13

Photograph Number 304. Chronic Arthritis of the knee. The subject of this illustration, Amos S. Young, a resident of Poolsville, Maryland, age twenty - five years, and of strumous diathesis, states that he first noticed a swelling of the left knee - joint in the spring of 1868. The knee steadily increased in size, measuring twenty inches in circumference on April 13, 1871, at which time this photograph was taken at the Army Medical Museum.

Photo of the day, April 13

World War 2 - combat battle scenes (European theater). This section of Heilbronn, Germany, has been completely demolished by Allied air attacks. US 7th Army, VI [6th] Corps. 04/13/1945.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Letter/Accession of the day, April 12 (2)

A two-fer:

Govt. Hospital for Insane

Of the Army and Navy
Washington, D.C. April 12, 1877

J.J. Woodward, M.D.

Dear Sir:

I desire to send to the Museum to be retained there if not judged unsuitable – a plaster Medallion – life size,- in plain gilt frame, about 20x18 in[?]. The Medallion represents a young soldier dead on the field of battle – name unknown – the model was molded hastily by an Artist-soldier, who in passing noticed the sweet, cold expression of the youthful face, and after the war, made a cast, which coming into my possession, I have considered worth preserving now for some years. The bust is not finely finished – but well defined, perhaps I overrate its value through countless associations with that terrible period embracing the Years of the “War of the Rebellion”. It seems to me worth adding to some collection, and I offer it for place in the Museum you so ably and very successfully have through years of severe labor brought to a condition of largest value as a National Institution.

With affection and esteem,
(signed) D.L. Dix

[this is Dorothea Dix]

Letter of the Day: April 12

12 April 1956


Honorable Noble J. Gregory

House of Representatives


Dear Mr. Gregory:


Reference is made to your letter of 19 March and our reply of 21 March 1956 in which you requested a change be made in the exhibit label of the Lyon Quintuplets.


In accordance with the letter you enclosed from Mrs. Tilford and the birth certificate, the exhibit label has been changed to indicated the correct date of death of the quintuplet mother. The label now also includes the date of death of the father.


The exhibit, as it is now presented in our Museum, has been rephotographed. Prints of this photograph are enclosed as requested. May I thank you for your interest in this matter.


Sincerely yours,


W.M. Silliphant

Captain, MC, USN


Incl Photograph


c.c. Curator, Med. Museum

Science Museum London's history of medicine collections on the web

This note introduces a really cool idea I'd like to emulate at our Museum. For those who haven't visited the London museum, they've got 2 floors of medical history exhibits from the Wellcome collection.

The new history of medicine website of the Science Museum London has now been completed. In all it now presents 4000 new images of artefacts from the collections linked to 16 specialised themes on medicine across time, written by staff and other professional historians of medicine. Each theme is associated with bibliographies and interactives suitable for teaching at several levels.

The themes are:

Belief and medicine; Birth and death; Controversies and medicine; Diagnosis; Diseases and epidemics; Hospitals;Mental health and illness; Practising medicine; Public health;Science and medicine; Surgery;Technology and medicine; Medical traditions;Treatments and cures; Understanding the body; War and medicine

You can find the site at:

Under a creative commons policy the images are available for download.

Dr Robert Bud

Principal Curator of Medicine

The Science Museum, London

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Letter of the Day: April 11

Curatorial Records: Numbered Correspondence 4497

Repair of Animal Rooms

April 11 1900

To the Surgeon General,
U.S. Army.


I have the honor to request that the following repairs be made in the animal rooms of the annex to this building:
Estimated cost
1. Repair of arch and walls of crematory … $30.00
2. Repairing plaster of portions of walls … $ 5.00
3. Whitewashing 3 rooms and ante-room… $25.00*
4. Painting woodwork in 3 rooms and ante-room… 25.00

This work should be done at the earliest possible date.

Very respectfully,

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

*This includes scraping of walls and at least two coats of whitewash.

Pencil notes added April 13, 1900, in accordance with 1st endorsement dated Apr 12, 1900. See Record Card No. 4497

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Letter of the day, April 10 (1 of 2)

Camp Steele, San Juan W.T.
April 10 1868

Dear Doctor:

In reply to your letter in relation to Indian relics &c, I have to say that I am willing to do all I can in the matter; but that there are few or no Indians on this Island, and such articles are not procurable here by ordinary means.

In Victoria, in the shops, many articles such as you speak of, can be got; but not knowing how much money would be allowed for their purchase, I could not buy. Prices generally are high, as with everything else, on this coast.

One article, a really valuable relic, a shawl made by a tribe north of this place, for instance, was charged at $25.00: another at $10.00 &c. After officers exchange their paper pay into gold, & then buy the larger portion of the necessaries of life at prices nominally higher in gold than in paper at the East, they have but little left for speculations of such a kind.

Had I any information of the amount allowable, or a certain sum to expend, I might do something. Crania, or anything else, to be got without cost, I will try to procure.

I will also try to enlist Contract Surgeons in the work, as you desire.

Yours truly
J.E. Semple
Asst Surg. USA

Dr. Otis USA

Letter of the Day: April 10 (2 of 2)

Military Hospital
Malahi Island, Laguna, P.I.
April, 10th, 1905.

Miss C.S. Ludlow,
S.G.O., Washington, D.C.


I have the honor to forward this date under separate cover 54 mosquitoes, collected at this station. Place:- Stockade, this post. Date:-April 9th, 1905, about 7 A.M. Collector:- Capt. C.E.B. Flagg, Asst. Surgeon, U.S.A. No prevailing diseases.

We have pill boxes on hand and will continue to use them for shipping boxes if they are satisfactory for the purpose. A cyanide bottle is needed as there is none available here. Chloroform is now used for this purpose.

A printed unsigned circular relative to collection etc., of mosquitoes, and a shipping box enclosing 3 pill boxes and purporting to contain a cyanide bottle was received from the S.G.O. March 26th, 1905.

No case of malarial fever has been known to have originated here. We make blood examinations in all fever cases and have occasionally one of malaria contracted elsewhere. We have not been able to secure any anopheles as yet, and I have not seen one since by arrival here last September. Lieut. Duncan, Med. Department, who was here last September, told me he found some anopheles in rear of his quarters.

These mosquitoes undoubtedly form a small per cent of the few on the island, but failure to catch any of them is probably due to inexperience of the collectors.

A statement as to whether you have ever received a malaria bearing mosquito from this station would be of interest for record in the medical history of the post.

Very respectfully,

Chas. E.B. Flagg,
Capt., Asst. Surgeon, U.S. Army,

Friday, April 9, 2010

Letter of the day: April 9 (2 of 2)

Alcatraz Island, Cal.,
April 9th, 1885

Surgeon General,
U.S. Army,
Washington, D.C.


I have the honor to acknowledge receipt of request from your office for a specimen, if preserved, in the case of Private P. O’Callaghan, Batty. “D”, 1st Arty., who died in the hospital of this post from the effects of a shot perforation of the skull, February 17th, 1885, and to reply that peculiar circumstances rendered it, in my opinion, imprudent and impracticable to secure the specimen for the Army Medical Museum as was my desire and intention.

Very respectfully,
Your obedient Servant
Jno. Murray Dickson,
Asst Surg. U.S.A.
Post Surgeon

Letter of the Day: April 9 (1 of 2)

Washington, DC
April 9 1870

Dr. George A. Otis
Bvt Col. USA


I sent by Hospital Steward Marshall one model of boat used by Indians in Alaska Territory, one waterproof bag from Alaska made of seal membrane, two beavers teeth, two walrus teeth. These articles I contribute as curiosities that may be acceptable to the Curator for presentation and as objects of illustration and information. They have been acknowledged as contributed by Mr Marshall himself. Will you please make the change rendered necessary by my omission and send a formal communication.

Very Respectfully & truly yours
Basil Norris
Surg U.S.A.

British Natural History Museum's new building

Oooh, if only we could...

April 8, 2010
Enjoy the Bugs, but Don’t Feed the Scientists


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Visibly Human Health & Disease in the Human Body

Visibly Human exhibit installation

Visibly Human exhibit installation

Letter of the Day: April 8

Memo for The Record

Albert E Minns Jr
Curator, Medical Museum

Herman E Demick
CQ 8 April 1961

8 April 1961

During CQ duty on this date numerous inquiries were made by visitors requesting the wherebouts of the Forensic Pathology exhibits.

Some inquiries were the direct result of the Army Times article and some were due to the Evening Star Letter To The Editor which is attached [missing now – MR]. However, the majority were from people who heard about the exhibits being interesting or those who had seen them previously and were bringing others in to see them. Upon arrival these visitors naturally inquired for them when the exhibits were not found in their areas.

One mother with her teenage son – present at the request of her son – stated that TV Westerns represent the use of guns and knives as not dangerous. Her son had been impressed with our exhibits which served as an object lesson to him. Rather than being shocked he was seriously interested and asked his mother to visit the Museum with him.

M/Sgt Clayton A Knepley, of WRAMC [this is when the Museum was still downtown near the Smithsonian] visited the museum with his teenage son expressly to see the exhibits in question. The Sgt was familiar with the Exhibits and in hi opinion they are very valuable to the young. He read the Times article and was in fact the source of my knowledge of any letter in the Star. His reaction to the affair is that in his opinion it is unfair and unwarranted. He believes both articles have been written by the same person – pointing out the similarity in the writing style.

Guard James Jackson and I had near one-hundred inquiries for the exhibits throughout the day. It may be noted that visitor attendance was comparatively light due to the parade activities. The total requests for the exhibits versus attendance represent a good percentage of people wanting the exhibits.

Mr. Robert F. Jones, [street address redacted] Philadelphia, Pa. tour-director brings groups of students and adults to D.C. at least once a week. During the past few weeks he has brought in young girl students in groups of 65. During these weeks he reports, not one of the girls have shown anything but serious interest in the Forensic Pathology exhibits. Not one case of “shock or horror”. His viewpoint is that his groups learned the seriousness of “the unloaded gun and the switch-blade”. Mr. Jones says he intends to write a letter to the paper giving his opinion. He said it is a shame the exhibits have been removed.

Herman E Demick

Accession of the day, April 8

Chilicothe, Ohio. April, 1873.

A linen pocket handkerchief pierced by a bullet at the battle of Nashville, Tennessee. The 32 holes which it contains were produced by the same ball, while folded up in the pocket of the officer who owned it. Specimen received April 8" 1873. Source: Staples, E.L. Miscellaneous section #71.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Installing Mr Cluckey

Visibly human install

Poetry in Wartime

I read in today's paper that April is National Poetry Month. We have a small in-house exhibit and quite a nice one online about Walt Whitman, who nursed during the Civil War, and wrote quite a bit about his experiences in both poetry and prose. The internet archive has a lot you can download for free.

April e-newsletter


E-News from the National Museum of Health and Medicine – April 2010



 Visit the Museum online at

 Welcome to this month's edition of our e-newsletter. Enjoy this brief update on upcoming exhibitions and public programs and the occasional interesting bit of news from our collections.

 Do you like what you are reading? Forward it to a friend!


 This month:

 * "Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements" opens May 7

* "Solving the Puzzle: Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus and You," a traveling exhibition, opens April 19

* "Visibly Human: Health and Disease in the Human Body" opens April 12

* NMHM hosts 11th Annual Brain Awareness Week

* News and Notes: Did you know?

* Events Calendar: National Hairball Awareness Day (April 27), Brown Bag Lunch: Author Reading and Discussion, "What's Eating You?: People and Parasites" (May 13) and the USA Science and Engineering Festival (Oct 2010)

* Support the Museum!



"Wounded in Action: An Art Exhibition of Orthopaedic Advancements," an exhibit of art works inspired by experiences with the wounds of war, will have its first major installation at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington, D.C. and the University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB), in May 2010, after a one-week exhibition in a United States Senate office building in the nation's capital. The exhibit, which is produced and organized by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), will open at the museum May 7. Read our news release.


New Poster Exhibition Coming to NMHM: The stories of West Nile virus and Lyme disease and how they affect human health are the focus of a new traveling exhibition "Solving the Puzzle: Lyme Disease, West Nile Virus and You," which will open April 19 at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. NMHM is the first museum to display this traveling exhibit. The Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History produced and organized the exhibition.


"Visibly Human: Health and Disease in the Human Body," a vivid presentation of anatomical and pathological specimens, pulled from museum collections dating back more than 100 years, goes on display April 12. The exhibit presents the body's organ systems and features normal anatomical specimens alongside specimens demonstrating some measure of pathology, be it from injury, disease or environmental factors. The exhibition will feature specimens and artifacts from the Museum's Anatomical and Historical Collections.


NMHM held its 11th Annual Brain Awareness Week March 15 – 19: Nearly 700 students from public and private schools in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., attended the event, which is sponsored by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. The celebration featured numerous hands-on activities designed to inspire a new generation of scientists interested in the brain and the field of neuroscience. Visit our photo galleries to view pictures from the event.

BS with brain_031810.JPG

News and Notes:

·         Did you know? One of the most frequently visited sections on the Museum's Web site is an online exhibit  "Closing in on a Killer: Scientists Unlock Clues to the Spanish Influenza Virus" This virtual exhibit and the associated galleries of images are featured on an informational Web site related to the history of combating pandemic flu.

·         Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook to stay in touch with the Museum.


Calendar of Upcoming Programs:

Check out the Events Calendar for updates:


FREE PUBLIC TOUR: Free docent-led tours are offered on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. Tour begins at 1:00 p.m. Reservations are not required.


National Hairball Awareness Day


When: Tuesday, April 27, 2010, 12:00 p.m.


Join NMHM in celebrating National Hairball Awareness Day on April 27. Learn how hairballs (trichobezoars) form in the stomach, see a selection of human and animal hairballs on display and get a chance to hold an animal hairball. Bezoars form in the stomach of humans and some animals, and are made of indigestible matter such as hair, food and some medicines. A selection of bezoars from the Museum's collection will be on display from April 24 – May 2.


Cost: FREE


Brown Bag Lunch: Author Reading and Discussion


"What's Eating You?: People and Parasites" (Princeton University Press)


When: Thursday, May 13, 2010, 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.


In "What's Eating You" Eugene Kaplan recounts the true and harrowing tales of his adventures with parasites, and in the process introduces readers to the intimately interwoven lives of host and parasite. Kaplan will share stories about parasites from worms to lice, designed to appeal to people eating lunch. Topics will cover leeches attacking soldiers in Vietnam, lice attacking lovers in New Orleans, worms attacking eaters in Israel, and will cover what to do when you return from a trip and suspect you have parasites. Eugene H. Kaplan is the Donald A. Axinn Endowed Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Conservation (emeritus) at Hofstra University.


Cost: FREE


USA Science and Engineering Festival


When: October 23-24, 2010 NMHM is proud to be an Official Partner of the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival to be held in the greater Washington DC area in October 2010. The Festival, which will be the country's first national science festival, is a collaboration of over 500 of the country's leading science and engineering organizations and aims to reignite the interest of our nation's youth in the sciences. The culmination of the Festival will be a two-day Expo on the National Mall on October 23-24, 2010, which will give children, teens and adults the opportunity to explore all facets of science & engineering through hundreds of fun, hands-on activities. For more information on all Festival events, visit



WE APPRECIATE YOUR SUPPORT! Thank you for reading this monthly e-newsletter. Is there something more that we can offer? Let us know!


National Museum of Health and Medicine/AFIP

6900 Georgia Ave., NW, Building 54/Room G056

(on the campus at Walter Reed Army Medical Center)

Washington, D.C. 20307

General information: (202) 782-2200

Public Affairs: (202) 782-2672


On the Web:







Accession of the day, April 7

A.M.M. No. 2685 Miscellaneous Section

A brick implement used by Tagalog midwives, Island of Luzon, P.I., as an aid in difficult labor cases. Contributed by Capt. Geo. A. Zeller, Asst. Surgeon, U.S. Vols., Convalescent Hospital, Corregidor Island, P.I.

Specimen received April 7, 1902.

The brick was heated, wrapped in cloth, and placed against the perineum. Not as awful as it first sounds, is it? I really didn't want to know.

Letter of the Day: April 7 - mosquito hunters!


Clara Ludlow was on the Museum staff for a decade, researching and naming mosquitoes coming in, including this one from the Philippines in the genus Neomelaniconion.


Entomological Society of Ontario


London, Ont., Canada April 7, 1905


My Dear Miss Ludlow,


I have received today yours of the 5th enclosing the P.O. order for five dollars, for which I beg to thank you very much. The extras will be ready in a day or two & then I shall get the printers. I do not at present know exactly what it will amount to, but no doubt there will be some balance towards the extension of your subscription.


One April Can. Ent. [Canadian Entomologist] as mailed yesterday (44 pages) . You will notice that I gave to your new mosquito the name of lineatopennis.  This deemed to express your meaning fully & to be euphonious also. I hope you will not object to it.


Yours very faithfully,


Charles B. Bethune

Medical Museums Association Annual Meeting 2010

The Medical Museums Association (or MeMA) will hold its 2010 annual meeting at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota April 27th and 28th. This year MeMA meets jointly with the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences (ALHHS). Registration for the meeting has extended until today, April 7th. Museum and special collections staff, collectors, historians, students and others interested are all encouraged to attend.

Meeting registration and Medical Museums Association membership information is available at:

Highlights include tours of the Plummer Library Mayo Historical Suite, which originally contained general surgeons’ offices and the offices of William and Charles Mayo, and the Mayo Clinic Multidisciplinary Simulation Center, one of the largest medical simulation facilities in the world.

Steve Puglia, an authority on digital imaging and special media preservation from the U.S. National Archives and Records Association will be guest speaker to talk about digital production of historic collections including photographing three-dimensional objects and scanning other media; image quality standards; creating metadata; costs associated with digitization; and issues related to digital preservation including the migration of existing digital content. Digital media projects such as Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, podcasts and blogs have their turn at center stage on with presentations on current projects by MeMA and ALHHS members. Mike Rhode, Chief Archivist at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, and Steve Puglia will participate in a panel discussion afterward.

There will be feature programs by Mayo Clinic staff. Matt Dacy, Director of the Heritage Hall Museum, will highlight the history of the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Brent Bauer, Director of the Complementary and Integrative Medicine Program, will detail a project using 400 year old special collections material in ‘bio-prospecting for new drugs.’ And industrial hygienists will discuss how to properly handle hazardous materials in collections.

Then stick around a few more days and attend the American Association for the History of Medicine (AAHM) annual meeting also at the Mayo Clinic. Mike Rhode from the Otis Historical Archives and Emily Wilson from the Human Developmental Anatomy Division at the museum will be delivering papers.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Installing a new human body exhibit

Rendering of the Exhibit - Exhibit Opens April 10th National Museum of Health & Medicine

Visibly human install

Visibly Human, Health and Disease in the Human Body, Exhibit Install Photos

Letter of the Day: April 6 (2 of 2)

The sketchbook Young provided is still in the Museum


Cincinnati Ohio

April 6 1866




Since I saw you last August, I have been very much engaged in arranging my business and getting settled again in civil life which together with a separation from my drawings and notes has prevented me from completing and forwarding the drawings of gunshot wounds for exchange for photographs of specimens in the A.M. Museum as agreed upon at that time. The original was sketched hurriedly, and at periods more or less separate, and it appeared at the time, I entered into the arrangement with you, a comparatively slight task to reproduce them. But when pressed with other affairs, I have found them more tegious [ie tedious]  than I had anticipated. The originals were necessarily rough but I thought at the time they generally gave fair representations of the subjects which they were intended to illustrate.  And now with better opportunities for more perfect finish, I have found it very difficult to depart from the original sketches in this respect and retain the true characteristics of the lesions that were presented in the rough originals.


I have selected injuries of the soft tissues, instead of those of the bones, as what I have of osseous structures, would be but a repetition of what you have such an abundance. The histories accompanying them are brief  from the character of the wounds, the short time we had them under our care, and the difficulty of hearing from them after leaving us. I also have been unfortunate in losing many of my notes of great interest to me upon many of the subjects. But I hope they will meet your anticipations.


Will you please be kind enough to inform me when and how if it be possible I can procure a catalogue of the A.M. Museum, also of the wood cuts, which, I understand are being prepared by the Dept. Having taken great interest in all matters of surgery during the war, I still feel a desire to procure all I can pertaining to it, that may reasonably come within my reach. And thanking your for the extreme kindness you have shown me heretofore I remain truly


Yours, most respectfully etc


D.S. Young, late,

Surge 21st Regt, O.V.Vs [Ohio Veteran Volunteers]


Letter of the day, April 6

Historical collections has informed us that the object is no longer in the Museum...

April 6, [189]5

Dr. E.T. Duke,
Secretary of Health Board,
Cumberland, Md.

Dear Doctor:

I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the receipt at the Army Medical Museum to-day, of a " vaccination scab protector " designed by you, and to thank you for this interesting addition to the Museum collection.

The specimen has been placed in the Miscellaneous Section and numbered 1975.

Very respectfully,
Walter Reed
Surgeon, U.S. Army,

New Light on Old Bones

New Light on Old Bones

This new blog looks like it will be an interesting project. Inviting our public and past researchers to comment on experiences, particualrly those at the old locations might be insightful.

"The Secret Museum" Exhibition Opening, Observatory, This Saturday, April 10, 7-10 PM



Our friend Joanna Ebenstein of Morbid Anatomy sent this announcement. (We're blocked from a lot of images, so I don't know if hers didn't make it to the post or if I just can't see them.)


This Saturday, April 10th, Observatory in Brooklyn, New York will be hosting the opening party for my new exhibition "The Secret Museum." The exhibition will run through May 16th. Full details and a few images from the exhibition follow. Hope to see you there!



Images top to bottom, left to right: Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Rouen, Backroom; Natural History Museum Backroom; "Femme à barbe," Musée Orfila. Courtesy of Paris Descartes University;Tim Knox and Todd Longstaffe-Gowan Collection, London; Archives 2009-015, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia.


The Secret Museum 

Observatory : 543 Union Street (at Nevins), Brooklyn, NY 11215


Opening party: Saturday April 10th, 7-10 PM

On view from April 10th-May 16th

3-6 Thursday and Friday

12-6 Saturday and Sunday

An exhibition exploring the poetics of hidden, untouched and curious collections from around the world in photographs and artifacts, by Joanna Ebenstein, co-founder of Observatory and creator of Morbid Anatomy.

Photographer and blogger Joanna Ebenstein has traveled the world seeking and documenting untouched, hidden, and curious collections, from museum storerooms to private collections, untouched cabinets of curiosity to dusty natural history museums, obscure medical museums to hidden archives. The exhibition “The Secret Museum” will showcase a collection of photographs from Ebenstein’s explorations–including sites in The Netherlands, Italy, France, Austria, England and the United States–which seek to document these spaces while at the same time investigating the psychology of collecting, the visual language of taxonomies, and the secret life of objects and collections, with an eye towards capturing the poetry, mystery and wonder of these liminal and magical spaces. In tandem with this exhibition, Ebenstein has organized a 2 week “Collector’s Cabinet” at the The Coney Island Museum, which will showcase astounding objects held in private collections, including artifacts featured in her Private Cabinet photo series of 2009.


Congress for Curious People at the Coney Island Museum
2-day symposium exploring the idea of collecting curiosities in the 21st century as well as the politics, history, and changing methodology of collecting and collections. Also on view will be “The Collector’s Cabinet,” an installation of astounding artifacts held in private collections.

The Saddest Object in the World
An Illustrated Meditation by Evan Michelson, Obscura Antiques and OdditiesMorbid Anatomy Library Scholar in residence
Date: Monday, April 12th
Time: 6:30 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

A Brief History of Automata
An Illustrated Lecture and Demonstration by Mike Zohn, Obscura Antiques and Oddities
Date: Wednesday, April 13th
Time: 6:30 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

A History of Taxidermy: Art, Science and Bad Taste
An Illustrated Presentation By Dr. Pat Morris, Royal Holloway, University of London
Date: Thursday, April 15th
Time: 6:30 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

Charles Wilson Peale and the Birth of the American Museum
An Illustrated Presentation by Samuel Strong Dunlap, PhD, Descendant of Charles Wilson Peale
Date: Friday, April 15th
Time: 6:30 PM
LOCATION: * Coney Island Museum, Brooklyn

Museums, Monsters and the Moral Imagination
An Illustrated lecture with Professor Stephen Asma, author of Stuffed Animals and Pickled Heads andOn Monsters.
Date: Thursday, April 22
Time: 8:00 PM

Experimenting with Death: An Introduction to Terror Management Theory
An Illustrated Lecture by Michael Johns, Former Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming
Date: Friday, May 7
Time: 8:00 PM


Monday, April 5, 2010

Who knew?

Reeve 2281
Originally uploaded by otisarchives1

This photo from our Flickr account has generated almost 5500 looks since it was posted on March 17. I'm often surprised at what gets a lot of views and what doesn't. I'm glad I don't play the horses.

Treasurely finds at the warehouse

This photo shows what the Historical Collections guys came across in a wooden footlocker/trunk at the warehouse. It's about 3/4 filled with boxed paraffin blocks that appear to date, based on the label, from the late nineteenth century. The boxes for each tissue sample are marked with a diagnosis, representative examples of which include bubonic plague, yaws, variola, syphilis, Leishmaniasis, and acute pancreatitis.

The labels on the boxes associate the collection with Dr. B.C. Crowell, and include a catalog number and a case number. The boxes may be from three different collections:

1 of BC Crowell
1 of people w/ Hispanic names in white boxes
1 in boxes w/ typed labels from American College of Surgeons.

It's still under investigation as to exactly what they are.

Letter of the Day: April 5

Department of the Interior,
Washington April 5th 1872

Dear Sir,

This Department is desirous of procuring some Indian relics with a view to their presentation to the Japanese Embassy, who have made application for them.

Understanding that you have in your office some articles of this description referred to, which can be probably be procured for the purpose named, I would esteem it a favor to be informed if I have been correctly advised in this premise? If so when the articles can be obtained?

Very respectfully,
Your obt. Serv.
John Delano
Chief Clerk

To this officer, in charge,
“Medical Museum”
10th Street.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Letter of the day, April 4

Is it just me, or is this adding insult to injury?

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington City, D.C.
April 4th, 1866.


I am directed by the Surgeon General to request you to furnish this office with the following information in regard to the amputations performed on your left leg.

The name of the Surgeon who performed the first operation in July 1864. The causes which led to the 2nd operation. The date of said operation, and the name of the Surgeon. The date of your discharge from the service, and the present condition and amount of usefulness of the limb.

Very respectfully,
Your obedt. servant,
By order of the Surgeon General,
George A. Otis
Surgeon & Bv’t. Lt. Col U.S. Vols.

N.G. Frost,
Late Pvt. Co. “G” 32 Me. Vols.
Norway, Me.
East Cambridge, Mass.
Thro: Adj. General of Maine.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen Job announcement

Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, is looking for applicants for two new positions as asst./assoc. professor in medical science communication and medical heritage production, respectively.

Medical Museion is an integrated research and museum unit for promoting medical science communication based on the material and visual medical heritage. The research profile is centered around the contemporary history of the biomedical sciences, medical science communication studies, and studies of the production of the material and visual medical scientific heritage. The museum has a world-class collection of historical medical artefacts and images, an active program for the acquisitioning and preservation of the contemporary biomedical and biotechnological heritage, a permanent medical-historical public gallery, and an innovative temporary exhibition program.

The museum is looking for two new members of faculty to contribute to our integrated research, teaching, heritage and outreach programme focussing on late 20th century and contemporary medical and health sciences in a cultural, aesthetic and historical perspective. The aim of the programme is to develop new modes of research-based collecting, exhibition making and web-based outreach by combining scientific content, cultural interpretation and aesthetic expression in innovative ways.

On the outreach side, we are developing research-based science communication practices for a variety of audiences – spanning from health professionals to the general public – in the form of exhibitions and web products, and with special attention to the aesthetics of science communication.

On the acquisition side, we are in the process of developing research-based curatorial practices (heritage production) in close cooperation with research institutions, hospitals, pharma, biotech and medical device companies, and patient organisations in the region ('museum 2.0') .

The appointees are required to do research at an international level and research-based teaching; however most of the teaching obligations are substituted with museum work.

This is a summary only. The full announcement can be read here:, or here: Application deadline is 25 May 2010.

Further info from professor Thomas Soderqvist, Medical Museion, University of Copenhagen, +45 2875 3801;;


Letter of the day, April 3

Ow. [And perhaps more to the point, that's coming through a former Confederate surgeon who wrote a military surgery manual for the South - MR]

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington, D.C.
April 3 [18]68.


I am instructed by the Surgeon General to acknowledge the reception through Dr. J.J. Chisolm of Charleston, S.C. of a musket ball removed from the bladder by lithotomy and contributed by you to the Army Medical Museum together with a history of the case, and to express to you his thanks for this valuable and interesting donation. The specimen will be numbered 5019 of the Surgical Section, A.M.M. and classified as XX.C.A. 26 in a future edition of the catalogue.

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

Asst. Surgeon, U.S.A.

Dr. F.T. Miles,
Charleston, S.C.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Beauty soothe the savage beast renig the angel in a bottle

Letter of the day, April 2

Surgeon General’s Office
Washington City, D.C.
April 2nd, 1866.


Upon presenting the sum $2524.42c which you turned over to me on March 29th, the enclosed bills were returned to me as counterfeit.

Very respectfully,
Your obedt. servant,
George A. Otis
Surgeon & Bv’t. Lt. Col U.S. Vols.

Edwin Bentley,
Bv’t. Lt. Col. And Surg U.S. Vols.
Alexandria, Va

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Letter of the day, April 1

I was tickled pink to find this reply to the doctor who sent his wax preparations to the Museum (letter published March 15) and who said it would break his heart if the liver were broken.

April 1, 1887.

Dear Doctor:

Your note of March 30th is received. I am very sorry to say that the preparation of the liver was smashed into powder. But as it had been delivered to Dr. Wortman I felt bound to pay for it, although it was not possible for me to certify that it had been received, and the only thing I could do was to pay for the lung. The risks of transportation of such specimens are evidently much greater than I had supposed, and I do not think I will try it again. Some day I hope we can make such preparations here. Dr. Wortman will write you explaining how it happened. He had a pleasant visit and acquired much valuable information. Accept my sincere thanks for the very courteous manner in which you received him. With best wishes believe me to be

Yours very sincerely
(Signed) John S. Billings.

Dwight Prof. Thomas
Harvard Medical School,
Boston, Mass.

P.S. The injection of the kidney has come to hand in perfect condition.