Slides from the Medical Museum

This slide of human skin cells was prepared by Oliver Wendell Holmes (Sr.) in 1888. Holmes taught at the Harvard Medical School. He  began teaching microsopy following studies in the European capitals of Paris and London. The slides and some of Holmes’ European microsopes are now in the collections of the Warren Anatomical Museum, part of Harvard’s Countway Medical Library.

Smithsonian magazine highlights nine – sometimes really strange – objects from the collection, including early sterilization equipment, the hip-bone at the center of one of the first medical malpractice suits, and an anatomical specimen also mounted by Holmes.

The article has an interesting observation on the transformations of museums like the Warren, which opened to help teach anatomy to incoming students:

Once gift programs began to develop in the mid-20th century, the museum no longer had the same utility and the medical school began the process of turning the focus toward the history of medicine, culminating with the final transfer of authority to the Center for the History of Medicine in 2000.

For more on medical museums, and some much stranger photos, take a look at the Morbid Anatomy blog.


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