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Medical Heritage Library Increases Warren Museum Accessibility

Gallery of the Warren Anatomical Museum (1906-1999), The Warren Anatomical Museum of Harvard Medical School and the Arrangement of its Collection, 1911, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Gallery of the Warren Anatomical Museum (1906-1999), The Warren Anatomical Museum of Harvard Medical School and the Arrangement of its Collection, 1911, Warren Anatomical Museum in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine

Recently digitized works in the Medical Heritage Library have created a window into the historical and modern collections of Harvard Medical School’s Warren Anatomical Museum. Digital surrogates of six books and pamphlets, published between 1835 and 1911, have been made available through the efforts of the Center for the History of Medicine and the National Library of Medicine.

J. B. S. Jackson’s 1870 Descriptive Catalogue of the Warren Anatomical Museum describes the first 3,681 cases of the Warren Anatomical Museum. Jackson was the Museum’s first curator, serving from 1847 to his death in 1879.

Jackson was also curator of the Boston Society for Medical Improvement’s pathological cabinet and authored their 1847 A Descriptive Catalogue of the Anatomical Museum of the Boston Society for Medical Improvement. That same year the Boston Society re-issued the case histories of their cabinet’s anatomical anomalies in A Descriptive Catalogue of the Monstrosities in the Cabinet of the Boston Society of Medical Improvement. Circa 1870 the Boston Society donated its museum to Harvard Medical School and the two Jackson curated collections were merged together into the Warren Museum.

The oldest published artifact catalogue associated with the Warren Anatomical Museum is the 1835 A Catalogue of Phrenological Specimens, belonging to the Boston Phrenological Society. John Collins Warren purchased the Boston Phrenological Society’s collection after the Society became defunct and donated the collection of plaster casts to the Medical School with the rest of his eponymous museum in 1847. The Society’s collection is also detailed in the Warren Museum’s 1870 published catalogue.

The Warren Museum’s second curator, William Fiske Whitney, contributed two pamphlets to the museum’s published legacy. The first is the 1910 Bulletin of the Warren Anatomical MuseumTheBulletin was meant to be an ongoing series dedicated to different areas of the museum’s collection but funding was only secured for the first volume. Whitney also authored the 1911 The Warren Anatomical Museum of the Harvard Medical School and the Arrangement of its Collection. The short work illuminates the museum’s collection after its installation in the top three floors of the Medical School’s Building A, the focal point of school’s newly completed campus in 1906. Like Jackson, Whitney served the Warren Museum until his death in 1921.

Questions about the historical catalogues or the Warren Anatomical Museum’s collection can be sent to chm@hms.harvard.edu.
[Cross-posted from CHoM News.]