For our final #MuseumWeek post we're talking about why we LOVE medical history and why we hope that love is contagious! #loveMW
It's not uncommon for the Dittrick Medical History Center to be referred to a bit like a cabinet of curiosities, a niche museum, or perhaps more kindly, a "hidden treasure." Although we've always worked to make collections accessible and major public engagement efforts are underway, we still often have to make the case for the (sometimes not so) implicit question "Why should I care about medical history?"
The answer tends to go a little like this:
Medical history is the history...
For today's Museum Week post, we #Zoom in on the forensic collection of John George Spenzer--with the help of research assistant Elizabeth Fregaso. What she has discovered about our erstwhile toxicologist attests to the power of minutia, not only in solving crimes, but also in the day-to-day life of Cleveland's "Sherlock."
Elizabeth Fregaso, Case Western Reserve University
Born in 1864, Spenzer (fellow with the cane) had quite the drive to achieve, even from a young age. Though he was born in the United States, he moved to Germany at 15 years old, when American law at the time deemed him too...
Who was Mathieu Orfila?
In 1840, Mathieu Orfila, was summoned to the Lafarge murder trial in Paris. The Marsh test had proven inconclusive due to improper handling, and prosecution sought an expert. What made Orfila different? His methods. Piece by piece, he put the case together, eliminating all other possibilities. Orfila is also credited as one of the first to use a microscope to assess stains of blood and bodily fluids. His work refined forensics as a science.
Patient and meticulous, Orfila worked to make chemical analysis part of forensic medicine. He also made careful studies of asphyxiation, the decomposition of...
FORENSICS and the STEAMPUNK AESTHETIC
Generally speaking, reactions to the term “steampunk” tend to be of two types: overwhelming enthusiasm or a quizzical expression. What on earth is it? Steampunk is usually defined as a sub-genre of science fiction that features technology and is set during the Victorian era and the industrialization of the West. What kind of technology? Steam-powered, electrical, and mechanical (the gears of clockwork are almost ubiquitous). However, there are other technologies--and other fields of inquiry--on the rise during the period, and these influence the aesthetic of the genre. In today's post, and as part of our...