Browse Exhibits (46 total)




Objects and Images from the History of Anesthesiology in the Collections of Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Center for the History of Medicine at Harvard Medical School

The background image of this poster is a reproduction of Amputation, 1785 a satirical etching and aquatint by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827)

"This Abominable Traffic" : Physicians on Slavery


0004257_ref.jpgAs Harvard University and other American educational institutions grapple with their historic ties to slavery and its legacy, this display, drawn from the rare book and manuscript collections of the Countway Library's Center for the History of Medicine highlights some of the medical aspects of slavery and racism.  Physicians of the 18th and 19th centuries were some of the most well-travelled individuals of their day and had many opportunities to witness slavery in the West Indies and United States.  Their travel narratives provide firsthand accounts of the experiences of slaves, their medical care, and treatment by owners and slaveholders.


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A Brief History of Women at Harvard Medical School

First Class of Women Admitted to Harvard Medical School, 1945

Harvard Medical School has both a long and a brief history regarding women students and faculty members.

This exhibit explores that complicated history, highlighting the first woman student applicant and Harvard Medical School’s first coeducational class; the first group of women researchers, instructors, leading to the first full professor; the Joint Committee on the Status of Women; and the creation of the Archives for Women in Medicine and the importance of highlighting the achievements of women leaders in medicine.

A Moment's Insight

An online exhibit partnering artifacts and osteological preparations from the Warren Anatomical Museum with the modern and historical photographic techniques of the student artists of the Art Institute of Boston. The exhibit was derived from a November 2011 photography workshop and a May/June 2012 physical display of the artifacts and photographs at the Warren Museum.

Battle-scarred: Caring for the Sick and Wounded of the Civil War


Why, after 150 years, do we continue to find the American Civil War so compelling? Certainly the nature of the conflict and the appalling number of casualties--some 620,000 killed in action or dead of wounds or disease--have engrossed the attention of historians, researchers, and the public since the war itself. The war was also fought on home soil, with many battlefields near American cities and towns. Even more gripping, perhaps, is the array of documentation that survives from the war. Hundreds of books and memoirs of wartime experiences and military life have been published over the years, but there are also rich collections of official government and military records, personal letters and diaries, photographs, newspapers and periodicals, clothing, artifacts, relics, weapons and armaments, memorabilia, artwork, poetry, and music, documenting every conceivable aspect of the Civil War, from men and women, Union and Confederate, soldiers and civilians, that offer local and personal dimensions to an epic national political and military struggle.

Battle-scarred examines the Civil War from a particular perspective, drawing on the rich library and museum resources of the Countway's Center for the History of Medicine, to commemorate those who died in battle and also document the experiences of the wounded and the ill and the men and women who cared for them on the battlefield, in hospitals and prison camps, and on the home front.

Beyond the Bone Box

Drawing on the rich connections between the holdings of the Warren Anatomical Museum (WAM) and the manuscripts, archival, and rare book collections housed in the Center for the History of Medicne (CHoM), Beyond the Bone Box is a pilot project to build circulating special collections resources with which students of multiple disciplines can physically engage with artifact and document surrogates anywhere on the Harvard campus.

Inspired by Harvard Medical School’s retired bone box program, which allowed medical students to borrow sets of human bones for home study, and developed in partnership with Harvard faculty, curators, archivists, and librarians, this project develops circulating resources that contain 3D-printed copies of WAM case studies that our highly contextualized with surrogates of special collections materials. Through this program, the Center seeks to democratize access to unique and sensitive collections through quality fungible surrogates and engender new forms of engagement with Harvard’s special collections across its library system.

Image of the 3D prints from Beyond the Bone Box


Beyond the Bone Box was funded by a Harvard Library S. T. Lee Innovation Grant starting in 2018. The project was designed by Warren Anatomical Museum Curator, Dominic Hall, and implemented by Museum Programming Assistant Alyssa Brophy. Initial Bone Box case studies were curated by Hall, Anne Harrington, Ph.D (Franklin L. Ford Professor, Faculty Dean, Pforzheimer House, Harvard University), and Julie Reed (Teaching Assistant in History of Science, Harvard University) with input from the spring 2019 students of Harvard HS 97.

Further collaboration on the case of Phineas Gage was provided by Dana A. Stearns, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine, Director of Anatomy Education for Pathways, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School) and Sabine Hildebrandt, MD (Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School). Administrative and description support was providing by Emily Gustainis (Deputy Director, Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library of Medicine) and Jessica Sedgwick (Collections Services Archivist, Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library of Medicine). Graham Holt (Director of the Office of Creative Solutions, Laboratories of Cognitive Neuroscience, Boston Children's Hospital) developed the initial Phineas Gage 3D print from CT scans taken by Peter Raitu and Ian Talos (Surgical Planning Laboratory, Brigham & Women’s Hospital), and provided technical guidance for the 3D printing workstation at the Center for the History of Medicine.

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Bigelow-Wallis and Warren-Kaula Teaching Watercolors

Bigelow and Warren Watercolors

The Bigelow-Wallis and Warren-Kaula watercolor collection is a series of works in Warren Anatomical Museum originally compiled by the Harvard Medical School Department of Anatomy for use in the anatomical lecture hall. The average size of the watercolors is 69 cm wide x 100 cm high and the works are mounted with metal grommets in the corners for hanging. The bulk of the collection is the 189 works commissioned by Harvard Medical School Professor of Surgery Henry Jacob Bigelow from lithographer Oscar Wallis between 1849 and 1854. The remaining 46 watercolors in the collection were painted circa 1894 by William Jurian Kaula for Harvard Medical School Moseley Professor of Surgery John Collins Warren. The Department of Anatomy combined the two physician-artist collaborations into one teaching series within the Warren Anatomical Museum in the early 20th century. 

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Body of Knowledge, A History of Anatomy (in 3 parts)

Body of Knowledge

Submissions from the Center of the History of Medicine to the physical and electronic components of the exhibition, Body of Knowledge, A History of Anatomy (in 3 parts), on display from March 6, 2014 to December 5, 2014 at the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments and in the companion Gallery Guide

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Broad Foundation

Conceiving the Pill

In 1883, Harvard Medical School moved into new quarters on Boylston Street in downtown Boston, and for the first time in a century, the school was able to provide adequate laboratory and clinical space for its students. A promotional brochure from that period describes the rationale behind the new building as “to secure for each student that direct personal supervision and instruction, forming such a marked feature of the courses offered, especially in the thorough laboratory training, which is so essential in securing a broad foundation for future clinical work.”

This “broad foundation” has been the hallmark of Harvard’s efforts in medical education from the origins of the institution in the late 18th century to the present day. Now, in the 21st century, with the centennial of the dedication of the Longwood campus and the opening of the New Research Building on Avenue Louis Pasteur, Harvard's tradition of providing excellence in medical education and research continues. This exhibit, “A Broad Foundation,” traces the evolving history of medical education at Harvard—its faculty, students, curricula, and facilities—from the establishment of the school and its earliest days down to its current flourishing state.