Six More Online Exhibits from the Center

By , September 5, 2013
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Preparation of dental fillings, submitted as student work by Frank Ellsworth Sprague, from the Lost Museum of the Harvard Dental School exhibit.

The Center for the History of Medicine continues to work hard at making its collections and exhibits available online in OnView, scanning hundreds of items from the Center’s rich collection to recreate the full visual experience of physical exhibits. OnView allows the user to view the exhibits as he or she would in the physical space, moving from item to item within the framework of the narrative. Individual items, collections, and exhibits can also be browsed and searched using subject terms and tags.

Six new exhibits, described below, have just been posted. More exhibits are coming soon.

A Broad Foundation
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 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 to its current state.

Conceiving the Pill
The work of John C. Rock was central to the development of the science of reproductive medicine. Conceiving the Pill follows the work of Rock and notable scientists Arthur T. Hertig and Gregory Pincus as they endeavored to conceive and deliver the birth control pill.

The Lost Museum of Harvard’s Dental School
Nearly as old as the Dental School itself, Harvard’s Dental Museum was originally intended to display specimens of mechanical dentistry prepared by graduating students. It soon became a repository for specimens of human and comparative odontology, pathology, and anatomy, instruments, models, photographs, and lantern and stereoscopic slides. The published Announcement of the Dental School for 1937 has a brief but detailed description of the Dental Museum, and information about the collection had been included in the annual catalogs for the prior sixty years. In the following year’s edition of the Announcement, however, no entry for the Museum is included, and one never appears again. Just what happened to Harvard’s Dental Museum, and where are its collections now?

To Slay the Devouring Monster
Smallpox is an ancient, terrifying, and deadly disease that has afflicted humanity for at least 2000 years. But today, smallpox is the only naturally occurring disease which is considered to be eradicated. In the bicentennial year of Benjamin Waterhouse’s vaccination experiments, the Countway Library of Medicine drew on its extraordinary collection of rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, letters, and artifacts—many of which were gifts from members of the Waterhouse family—to commemorate the first efforts to slay that devouring monster.

Gilt by Association
Just what makes something rare? While medical books or letters or instruments may be intrinsically interesting, offer historical insight, or fascinate simply by virtue of their age or scarcity, these items all acquire an added luster when we know where they came from and who owned them, used them, or even just touched them. Gilt by Association celebrates 800 years of milestones in the history of medicine through the rich and varied collections at the Countway Library of Medicine.

Magical Stones and Imperial Bones
Ranging from the thirteenth century to the twentieth, from the Winter Palace of the Czars of Russia, to the assassination of President Garfield, Magical Stones and Imperial Bones celebrates six centuries of significant developments in the history of medicine as documented by the diverse and wide-ranging collections here at the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

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