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Dittrick Medical History Center

Dittrick Medical History Center

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Upcoming Events


March 5th, 6:00 pm, Dittrick Friends members event, Chemistry from Obscure Alchemical Roots to a Vital Science
presented by Alan Rocke

Alan-RockeFew visitors to the Dittrick Medical History Center have any notion of the priceless treasures held in the Dittrick’s extraordinary Rare Book Collection.  Since his arrival at Case almost 40 years ago, historian of science and Distinguished University Professor Alan Rocke has been using this collection both for his own historical research, and also as an important resource for his teaching.   In this Explorations event, Rocke will exhibit, and talk informally about, a choice selection of his favorite old books, framing a sketch of the evolution of the science of chemistry from about 1550 to about 1730.  In these years, through these beautiful works, chemistry rose from obscure alchemical roots to a vital science that was central to the understanding and practice of medicine.

The EXPLORATIONS Lecture Series is presented for members of the “Friends of the Dittrick” group.

More information and membership form can be found at:

Zverina Room, Allen Memorial Medical Library at 6:00pm

RSVP to Jennifer Nieves at or call 216/368-3648.


March 19th, 6:00 pm, The Handerson Lecture: The Lister Project at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh: Museums within a museum presented by Chris Henry

Chris-HenryOn March 19 we will host Chris Henry, Director of Heritage for the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd), to discuss major changes afoot at their medical museum in a presentation entitled “The Lister Project at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh: Museums within a museum.” The College’s collections comprise several different galleries, originally intended for specific audiences, but they are now being more fully integrated into one whole. Considerable enhancements of the museum visitor’s experience are underway, costing over £ 4 million, and are collectively referred to as the Lister Project.

The Project will transform the Surgeon’s Hall Museums with the creation of new displays and galleries, doubling the number of items that may be viewed by the public, and will feature innovative audiovisual and interactive elements. The Playfair-designed building will be conserved and transformed with contemporary additions such as a new glass atrium, providing the public with easier access.  The enhanced Museums will also boast a 17th century dissecting theatre, while a new, dedicated education suite will increase opportunities for learning for schools, families and special interest groups. These are ambitious plans that will elevate the RCSEd museums, already respected in our field, to the first ranks of medical museums.

Ford Auditorium, Allen Memorial Medical Library at 6:00 pm

RSVP to Jennifer Nieves at or call 216/368-3648.


April 9th, 6:00 pm, The Percy Skuy Lecture: Reinventing the Safe Period: The Contested History of Fertility presented by Deanna Day, PhD.

Deanna-DayDeanna Day is a historian, writer and postdoctoral fellow at the prestigious Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. In 2011 while a graduate student in Penn’s history of science program, Day came to the Dittrick to delve into our artifact collection and trade catalogues pertaining to clinical thermometry. Her dissertation “98.6: Fevers, Fertility, and the Patient Labor of American Medicine,” examines American women’s domestic medical work by following the medical thermometer through more than a century of home use.  Taking your temperature at home became a new way of controlling fertility and reinvented the idea of the “safe” period.

Ford Auditorium, Allen Memorial Medical Library at 6:00 pm

RSVP to Jennifer Nieves at or call 216/368-3648.




November 8-16, 2015, Medical Humanities Tour of London

London-opThe College of Physicians of Philadelphia (home of the Mütter Museum) and the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum are collaborating on a tour to London, Bath and Oxford on November 8-16. This tour will feature visits to medical landmarks and privileged conversations with leaders of world class medical history collections, most notably Simon Chaplin (Director of Culture & Society of the Wellcome Trust), Natasha McEnroe (Florence Nightingale Museum), and John Ford (Worshipful Society of Apothecaries). Our tour leaders will be Sue Weir and Carole Hiley, who bring years of experience as Blue Badge Guides of London. (Sue helped with the Dittrick’s London tours in 2004 and 2013.) Lest you fear that we will oversaturate the tour with everything medical, we’ve added day trips to Bath, via Stonhenge, to visit the Roman baths, and to Oxford to visit the Ashmolean Museum and their Museum of the History of Science.

For more information, visit the Jon Baines Tours site:


Temporary Exhibits now showing

September 8th through April 30th, Castele Gallery Exhibit
The Lakeside Unit: Cleveland Medicine in World War I

Lakeside-eventsIn 1914, two and a half years before the US entered World War I, Cleveland’s foremost physicians and surgeons gathered their resources and took a group, called the Lakeside Unit, to Paris to tend to injured French and British soldiers.  This was done on an entirely neutral platform and set the stage for the formation of similar university hospital units from all over the country.This trip was well documented in photographs, diary’s and other documents. These and some artifacts from this trip will be featured in the exhibit.

Jennifer Nieves, archivist at the Dittrick and Dianne O’Malia, archivist for University Hospitals, are nearing the completion of several projects that showcase the history of the Lakeside Unit. We’ve announced the pending completion of the Lakeside Unit website several times in the past few years. One thing or another delayed this process: change in web designers, web platforms and our fulltime positions, but we are now almost ready for release. During the past year we discovered photographs we hadn’t seen before, found interesting tidbits in George Crile’s diary not read earlier, and we acquired more Lakeside Unit related items that will be included in the site. We have also made contact with other institutions commemorating the WWI medical experience, and hope to work with them on future projects.

More information on Lakeside exhibit and related projects.