Mütter Museum Historic Medical Photographs
Edited by Laura Lindgren • Introduction by Gretchen Worden
“A tour de force. Powerful, disturbing, and quintessentially human.”
– John Harley Warner, Avalon Professor and Chair of History of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine
Beginning in the early to mid-19th century, medical photography became an invaluable new form of communication between physicians and their professional colleagues and students to convey facts about patients and disease. An outstanding archive of such medical photography, dating from the 1850s to the 1940s, resides in the collection of the Mütter Museum, one of the last and best known medical museums from the 19th century, with an annual visitorship exceeding 80,000.
As do the anatomical and pathological exhibits in the Mütter Museum, the extraordinary photographs from the museum’s archives reproduced in Mütter Museum Historic Medical Photographs document unusual, sometimes nearly unimaginable, challenges of disorder, disease, and injury.
A great many of the photographs are disquieting, yet they are equally moving in their portrayal of how these people endured their fate, in most cases without the hope of cure or alleviation offered by modern medicine. A few photographs demonstrate the limited relief medical science at the time was able to offer and thus show how far medicine has advanced.
The work of more than 40 different photographers, some known, some unidentified, the pictures in Mütter Museum Historic and Medical Photographs artfully present situations breathtaking and poignant and far exceed their fundamental documentary purpose.
Like the Mütter Museum itself, this book challenges our concepts of humanity, of beauty, of science and art. It presents the stories of those who came before us and shows us what a puzzle life can be.