College of Arts and Sciences

Dittrick Medical History Center

Dittrick Medical History Center

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About the Dittrick Museum of Medical History

The Dittrick Medical History Center is comprised of the museum, archives, and collections of rare books, artifacts, and images. The Center originated as part of the Cleveland Medical Library Association (est. 1894) and today functions as an interdisciplinary study center within the College of Arts and Sciences of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

For a long time, the Dittrick could be said to be a doctor’s museum.  Doctors created it, staffed it, collected for it, and saw it as a vehicle to document and venerate the medical profession. We still do that, but have broadened our mission to encompass a more universal perspective on health and medicine.  Our most recent initiative, for example, presents the history of contraception.  There are doctors and medicine in that story to be sure, but a whole lot more.  We embrace the experience of individuals and society, trying to understand what options they had and what choices they made. We provide narratives about key collection pieces, news and notes about upcoming events,  and interesting and anecdotal reflections on our shared medical past and its connection to our present and future.

Find out more by reading our latest newsletter!



Lakeside Medical Unit of WWI website is available

Date posted: January 15th, 2015


The Lakeside Unit, comprised of Cleveland surgeons and nurses from Lakeside Hospital (now University Hospital, Case Medical Center) was directed by George W. Crile, MD, chief of surgery at Lakeside.  The Unit spent three months in Paris at the American Ambulance treating French and British soldiers.  This compelling story comes to life through Crile’s personal diaries and photographs taken by members of the Unit. More information and link to new site. […Read more]

Announcing a book launch event January 29th

Date posted: December 1st, 2014


January 29th, 5:30 PM, Book launch event for Rhetoric in the Flesh: Trained Vision, Technical Expertise, and the Gross Anatomy Lab, by T. Kenny Fountain PhD.
This book is an ethnographic study of the cadaveric anatomy lab that investigates the role language, visual displays, and embodied practices play in the training and socialization of medical students. Specifically, Fountain demonstrates how anatomy students’ perceptions of the body and medical training are shaped by their repeated interactions with cadavers, […Read more]

Pardon Our Dust!

Date posted: July 14th, 2014

We are renovating gallery space! As a result, certain exhibits will be closed. We apologize for any inconvenience, but not to worry! The museum will remain open through much of the construction, and we look forward to sharing more medical history in the renewed spaces! […Read more]