Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC San Diego

UC San Diego Electronic Theses and Dissertations bannerUC San Diego

To Bind Up the Nation's Wounds : The Army Medical Museum and the Development of American Medical Science, 1862-1913


This dissertation examines the history of the Army Medical Museum and its contributions to American medical science between 1862 and 1913. I argue that Army Medical Museum, built to commemorate, celebrate and critique the battlefield medicine of the Civil War, laid the foundation for the development of medical science in the American context. The staff of the Army Medical Museum pioneered a uniquely American museological science practice during and after the war, by collecting, arranging, and analyzing specimens, case histories and statistics to produce cutting-edge medical knowledge. The Army Medical Museum facilitated the reconstruction of both a grieving nation and the bodies and medicine torn apart by war, through museological exhibits and a medical history of the war. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the staff of the Army Medical Museum demonstrated the usefulness of museological science practice through original research in microscopy, comparative anatomy, and anthropology. I argue that it was the Army Medical Museum's inherent accommodation of scientific investigation of medicine that allowed it to become more broadly an institution for medical research in the twentieth century, but this privileging of research over Museum work ultimately contributed the decline of the Army Medical Museum as a pathoanatomical museum. This dissertation contributes to understanding the development of modern medicine in the nineteenth century, investigating how the Civil War provided the circumstances in which a uniquely American medical science could be created and tested over and over again. The Army Medical Museum took shape as a collection of medical material for pedagogical display. Its status as a national government institution, its connection with the Surgeon General's Library, and its staff of renowned physicians who had volunteered in the Civil War, all shaped the Army Medical Museum's scope and purpose from 1865-1913. This context set it apart from other medical museums, national museums, and research institutes. By tracing the development of the Army Medical Museum and the medical research, knowledge, and practice it shaped, we can come to better understand the impact of the Civil War on American medical practice and the trajectory of American medical science

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View