History of Medicine artifacts collection, 1550-1980s 50 Linear Feet — about 850 items
Collection of historical medical instruments and artifacts, art objects, realia, and other three-dimensional objects, primarily originating from Europe and the United States, but including some artifacts from China and Japan. Ranging in age from the late 16th to the late 20th centuries, objects include physician's medical kits and pharmaceutical items (often in the original cases and bags); clinical equipment used in amputation, obstetrics, opthalmology, surgery, neurology, early electrical therapies, and in research and diagnostic settings; instructional objects such as anatomical models; and art objects such as apothecary jars, a bas-relief memento mori, a marble skull, and fetish figures. There are many models of microscopes, from a small monocular "flea glass" to mid-20th century models. Other early medical instruments and supplies include amputation saws, bleeding bowls, cupping glasses, hypodermic needles, infant and invalid feeders, lancets, opthalmoscopes, pill rollers, stethoscopes, syringes, and other items. A more unusual item - and one of the larger pieces - is an adult walker made of wood, dating perhaps to the 19th century or earlier.
There is also a large collection of early anatomical and diagnostic human models from China and continental Europe, in the shape of small, intricately detailed manikins. Most are made from ivory. Some feature removable anatomical parts, and female figures often include a removable fetus. There is also a model illustrating acupuncture points. Other instructional artifacts include glass slides used in medical school lectures.
Most of these objects were photographed by library staff; at a later time, digital images of almost all of the objects in the collection were added to the online Duke University Historical Images in Medicine database, linked in this collection guide. Many of the original black-and-white photographic prints are filed in the History of Medicine Picture File collection. See the Related Materials section in this collection guide for links to these resources.
Forms part of the History of Medicine Collections at Duke University.