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!



Holiday hours

Date posted: December 3rd, 2014

The Dittrick Museum and Case Western Reserve University will be closed for the holidays December 24th – 26th and December 31st – January 2nd. […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]

Video from the 2014 Zverina Lecture is now available…

Date posted: November 20th, 2014

[…Read more]

Kate Manning book lecture audio posted

Date posted: September 25th, 2014


This past Tuesday author Kate Manning spoke to an enthusiastic crowd about her book My Notorious Life and the research that went into it. O, the Oprah Magazine, calls the book “a daring page-turner.” The work is based upon the true story of Anne Lohman, also known as Madame Restell, a prominent New York midwife enveloped in scandal, who died by suicide in 1879. The audio is posted in our Audio Archives at: […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]

Forensic Exhibit now on Display in Hall Gallery!

Date posted: July 14th, 2014


Did you miss the special exhibit? No problem! The forensic exhibit introducing Cleveland’s own “Sherlock,” the blood and poison expert John George Spenzer, has a new home! The temporary display has been moved to a permanent exhibit case in the Dittrick’s hall gallery. Come discover Spenzer’s case book! […Read more]


Scavenger hunt at the Dittrick Museum in conjunction with the Cleveland Bazaar, Oct. 24th, 2014.
Photos by Frank Lanza