Jonas Salk's Syringe

Jonas Salk used this syringe during the testing of his polio vaccine. In the early tests carried out in 1952 and 1953, Salk gave all the vaccinations himself. The first subjects included children at the D. T. Watson Home for Crippled Children, residents of the Polk State Home, Salk, and members of his laboratory staff. In 1953, the first community-based, pilot vaccine trial was carried out with volunteer families in the Pittsburgh area. A second pilot trial included thousands of Pittsburgh schoolchildren. The success of these early tests paved the way for the Salk Vaccine National Field Trial of 1954.
Currently not on view
Object Name
syringe, vaccine, polio
date made
ca 1950
Becton, Dickinson and Company
Physical Description
glass (plunger; barrel; tip material)
steel (handle; needle material)
overall: 10.4 cm x 2.8 cm x 1 cm; 4 1/8 in x 1 1/8 in x 3/8 in
overall: 4 1/8 in x 1 1/8 in x 3/8 in; 10.4775 cm x 2.8575 cm x .9525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
National Treasures exhibit
Health & Medicine
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center


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