Visit the Life and Limb exhibit now on display through May 24th in the HSL Lobby on the first floor, and also enjoy the civil war instrument display in the adjacent lighted display case, courtesy of our History of Medicine collection. (Visitors welcomed in History on the lower level.)
The perspectives of surgeons, physicians, and nurses are richly documented in the history of Civil War medicine and the instruments used to treat the wounded. Glimpses of the heroism and brutality of battlefield operations and the challenges of caring for the wounded during wartime are revealed. Yet the experiences of injured soldiers during the conflict and in the years afterwards are less well-known.
More than three million soldiers fought in the war from 1861-1865. More than half a million died, and almost as many were wounded but survived. Hundreds of thousands were permanently disabled by battlefield injuries or surgery, which saved lives by sacrificing limbs. Life and Limb: The Toll of the Civil War explores the experiences of disabled Civil War veterans who served as a symbol of the fractured nation and a stark reminder of the costs of the conflict.
History of Medicine Instruments on Display
(explore our Digital Instrument Collections via the links)
Post-mortem Instrument Set
Used for post-mortem examinations. Manufactured by Luer.
ca. 19th c.
Used during surgeries to compress blood flow to arteries near bony depressions.
Cupping Set with Scarificator
Cupping glasses created a vacuum when heated and cooled at room temperature. They were used to draw blood to the surface of the skin. The scarificator would be used to open the skin so that ‘bad blood’ would be removed from the body during the cupping process.
ca. 19th c.
Kit contains a variety of surgical tools. Manufactured by Tiemann & Co. of New York.
Late 18th c. – early 19th c.
Used to feed infants or the infirm.
Hot Water Bottle (Bed Warmer)
Late 18th c.
Filled with hot water, used to warm a sick room bed.
Trephine – Conical Crown
Late 19th c.
Used to burr a hole in the skull and to relieve inter-cranial pressure.
Used to remove fragments of the skull during surgery.
The six panels of this exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. Curated by Manon Pary, Ph.D.
The display case contents were curated by Keith Mages and Linda Lohr, History of Medicine, HSL.