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Dittrick Medical History Center

Dittrick Medical History Center

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Upcoming Events

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.


Rhetoric in the Flesh: Trained Vision, Technical Expertise, and the Gross Anatomy Lab (Routledge, 2014) 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, representations of cadavers, and the discourses that help participants make sense of and make peace with the invasive procedures of the gross lab. In his talk, Fountain will explore these ideas by turning to examples from his book as well as historical texts from the Dittrick’s collection.

There will be books for sale and a book signing.
At 5:30pm we will have light refreshments, book signing and companion exhibit in the Cushing room of the Allen Memorial Medical Library,
at 6:00 we will go upstairs to the Zverina room for Fountains talk.

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



February 26th, 5:30pm, book presentation and signing for Jared Potter Kirtland: Naturalist, Physician, Sage of the Western Reserve by Thomas Daniel M.D.

Kirtland-paintingWe may revere the founders of Cleveland’s medical profession, but seldom do we really get to know them very well. They are usually fairly remote two-dimensional figures remembered chiefly from quaint anecdotes from the “pioneer days” of the Western Reserve. Now, thanks to the resourceful writer and historian Thomas Daniel, we can become better acquainted with Jared Potter Kirtland, a founder of medical department of Western Reserve College.

Please join us on February 26 for a book presentation and signing by Thomas Daniel, author of Jared Potter Kirtland: Naturalist, Physician, Sage of the Western Reserve. Daniel is Professor Emeritus of Medicine and International Health at CWRU and author of several works in medical history. Jared Potter Kirtland: Naturalist, Physician, Sage of the Western Reserve, his most recent book, is a meticulously researched biography about Kirtland and reveals that he delved into disciplines ranging from natural history to medicine. Indeed, Kirtland was a real mover in scientific circles, being a founding member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and in 1845 he founded the Cleveland Academy of Natural Sciences, a predecessor of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

To learn more, join us for Professor Daniel’s talk on Thursday February 26.
We will begin in the Zverina Room of the Dittrick at 5:30PM and provide light refreshments.

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



March 19th, 6:00pm, 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.

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.