Clinical Axila Thermometer

How do you know you are running a temperature? Do you feel hot or do you feel cold? There are many ways to determine body temperature. A hand placed on the forehead can indicate someone is hot or "feverish." For a more accurate measurement of someone's temperature, you need a clinical thermometer. Mouth,axilla (armpit), ear, and rectal are some of the different types of clinical thermometers.
Clinical thermometers for measuring body temperature were introduced in the 17th century. But, they did not become an integral part of the physician's armamentarium until after the American Civil War.
Early clinical thermometers were thin tubes of glass containing mercury, mounted to a rectangular piece of ivory or wood. The calibration, or graduated scale, was engraved into the mount.
This axilla thermometer was sold by Francis Arnold, of Baltimore, Maryland. Arnold was listed as a surgical instrument maker on South Sharp Street in the Baltimore City Directory from 1845 to 1874.
Currently not on view
Date made
Arnold, Francis
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
ivory (overall material)
metal (overall material)
mercury (overall material)
average spatial: 13.8 cm x 1.7 cm x 4 cm; 5 7/16 in x 11/16 in x 1 9/16 in
overall: 5/8 in x 5 5/8 in x 1 1/8 in; 1.5875 cm x 14.2875 cm x 2.8575 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
The Medical and Chirurgical Faculty of the State of Maryland
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Measuring & Mapping
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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