Artists have long been major players in American philanthropy. If that surprises you to learn, you might be further surprised to learn that...
A bucket from the Ice Bucket Challenge. A collection box from the 19th century. A toolbelt from a volunteer...
I don't like to dodge questions, but that's what I did when someone asked me which object is my favorite in the museum's new exhibition on...

Blog Posts in "Medicine & Science"

This year we celebrate 50 years of mumps vaccination in America, helping to make chipmunk cheeks and swollen testicles a thing of our...
An illustration of an African American soldier
Suffering from "shell shock and a general breakdown," Charles Mackall and James Randall arrived in Philadelphia in September 1918 from...
Grace Hopper examines a computer at work.
On December 7, 1941, two days before her 35th birthday, Grace Murray Hopper, an associate professor of mathematics at Vassar College, was...
"It was now quick work," Maria Mitchell noted. "As the last rays of sunlight disappeared, the corona burst out all around the sun, so...
"Information is your new crop!" proclaimed John Deere's brochure, announcing the company's newly launched GreenStar Precision Farming...
Vibrant purple fabric, with Perkin Mauve written below
I collect souvenirs, as do many friends and family members. Most of these souvenirs have scant monetary value, but we treasure them as...
A scientific device sits against a black background. A thick shield of glass obscures the details of the device. It sits on a silver pedestal.
Twenty years before the start of World War I, a new "light" that could pass through a human body revealing its underlying structures caused...
An old bottle of soap
According to a recent report by Mintel, a marketing research agency, few millennials use bar soap. Don't be alarmed, though. They...
Rectangular cardboard box labeled "Rabies Vaccine (Duck Embryo)" in a printed label. It is half open. Inside, vials with liquid are visible.
Antibodies are always looking out for us, and this week we're taking a closer look at them. Antibody-based tests, vaccines, and drugs have...
On the left there is a box with bright green and red packaging. On the right there are two vials with the same red and green packaging as the box.
Antibodies are always looking out for us, and this week we're taking a closer look at them. This is the fourth post in our Antibodies Week...
A long history of attempts at treating plague are represented in the museum's collections. Clockwise: a bottle to hold a preparation of scorzonera, or viper’s grass; a container used to store a paste of eggs, honey, and other ingredients; a jar intended for pulverized bezoars; and a bezoar formed from ingested hair in the stomach of an ox.
Antibodies are always looking out for us, and this week we're taking a closer look at them. Antibody-based tests, vaccines, and drugs have...
Three amber-colored bottles that resemble upside down bells with handles. They have yellowed labels on them.
Antibodies are always looking out for us, and this week we're taking a closer look at them. Antibody-based tests, vaccines, and drugs have...
An open brown box. The top of the box has a label reading "via air mail" and a stamp that says refrigerate, but no other markings. Insides the open box, there is a pipette and other components of the pregnancy test.
Antibodies are always looking out for us, and this week we're taking a closer look at them. Antibody-based tests, vaccines, and drugs have...
Photograph of the eyepiece of a telescope-type device
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A wooden case with the cover pushed to the side. Inside there is a metal dish attached to a stick with purple strings.
Working with museum collections, I am often reminded that the names we attach to objects can reflect powerful social and political forces....
An object that is a circle with alternating white and green bands. In the middle is a red circle with M&D and the universal medical sign in it. There is a bronze-colored part sticking out of the bottom with a hole in it.
While walking alongside a street or through a parking lot, do you ever notice the different signs adorning cars? Bumper stickers are the...
A double black and white image of a number of adults in a parlor surrounding an infant in a blanket. The central man is holding some sort of strap with a hook in his hands that is attached to the cloth the baby is lying in.
Parents today proudly announce the weight of each new child, along with the baby's height, name, and sex. When did the practice of weighing...
Postcard-sized illustration in color featuring three children. Two little boys light fireworks and play with toy soldiers while a little girl covers her ears and clutches a doll. Text reads "Wishing you a glorious 4th of July" in gold.
"The coming stupendous holocaust, caused by the sky-rocket, the giant fire cracker and the toy pistol, that leaves an annual trail of...
A horizontal glass bottle with metal machinery inside. There is wiring, a semicircular object, and a glass spout on one end with a tube attached below it filled with a black substance. Above, there is an object that is shaped like an golden, upside-down light bulb.
Vacuum technology is fascinating to me. Unfortunately for my house, I'm talking about a vacuum defined by the absence of matter, not the...
A black hog stands in an enclosure of logs. It has straw all over it.
George Washington is seldom seen as a man of science. But, like others who lived during the Enlightenment, he used scientific ideas,...
Black and white photo of man laying face-down on medical instrument
Imagine walking into your doctor's office for your diagnostic ultrasound for ovarian screening, rounding the corner to the procedure...
A wooden box filled with various tools that include blades and scissors
A 19th-century medical student brought to school a number of things, including scientific texts and a hope to one day relieve the suffering...
Black and white posed photo of women, each with their hair piled on top of their head and high-collared blouses.
On February 13, women everywhere (we hope!) will be gathering together to celebrate Galentine's Day. First introduced in 2010 by character...
Botanical model of Papaver rhoeas, the common poppy, late 19th century, used at the University of Minnesota Pharmacy School.
"And now my beauties, something with poison in it I think, with poison in it, but attractive to the eye and soothing to the smell . . ....
A contraption that appears to be made of translucent plastic, silver metal, and some sort of white cloth. It looks a bit like a gyroscope or a toy "top".
In The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man longs for a heart. That's a problem Manuel "Manny" Villafaña has rarely had—he has collected pieces of many...
Black and white photo of a balance. Two central arms hold a plate/tray on each side. The entire thing is in a cabinet that appears to open and close.
When you pay for a pound of chocolates, how do you know if you get a pound, no more and no less? Do you rely on the goodness of the market...
women sit in rows in a room using microscopes
I dare not eat / A dead pig's meat / Though not of creed of Moses /For, oh, I fear / From what I hear, / That horrid trichinosis—...
One woman kneels into a display case, placing glass objects onto a blue platform/display armature. Another woman holds design plans on paper and watches. In background, case is open to show objects and text panels.
Imagine you're setting a table with your finest glassware, and finding the best placement for each fragile and meaningful piece. Now...
Illustration in black, grey, and brown of mother cradling one child in her skirt, among rubble, while the other holds his belly, probably hungry. (Detail)
April 6, 2016, marks the 99th anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. Although the country would not be drawn into combat until...
Metal pin picturing illustration of two children, a girl and a boy. The little girl has the boy by the elbow, helping him. She has a brace on her leg. The boy uses crutches. They are dressed in nice clothes. Text on red background says "Fight Infantile Paralysis." The girl is smiling. The boy has a partial smile.
Giving blood, getting a flu shot, raising money for a cure—plenty of Americans participate every day to help secure the health...
Poster with white background. "Free Clinic - Dec. 6, 1969" "Let your child be a rubella hero." Image of defeated dragon.
Eliminating or lowering rates of communicable disease often requires that we participate together in the battle against infectious disease...
Dennis the Menace with stethoscope and "Less of a Menace" text on button or sticker
Metaphors of war and combat are almost impossible to avoid when describing humankind's struggle to control infectious disease. The war may...
At the first sign of symptoms, many people turn to the Internet for health advice. Early listeners to radio could turn their dials and...
Photo from a scene in the television show "EMERGENCY!" with five actors
The pre-reality television show EMERGENCY! premiered in January 1972. Health- and medical-themed programs such as the radio and...
Detail of the cover of "The Quest," which includes illustrations of a baby and a dog
In 1926 seven-year-old Belema Siegfried was turned away from school. The reason? Her parents had refused to submit paperwork proving that...
Each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the...
Colorful poster with cartoon-like people traveling to be vaccinated in comic-like scenes. WHO logo in center.
At the height of the Cold War, Soviet and American scientists and physicians united to call for a new and very different war—one on...
Black and white portrait of man in military uniform with two sleeves pinned up.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
Power wheel chair with "yes!" bumper sticker on side
Over on Twitter, a lot of people are engaged in #DisabilityStories, an international conversation about disability art, culture,...
Black and white photo from street level looking up at two feet in wheel chair and a high curb.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
Black and white photo of small, two-story house with balcony and porch. Approx. 20 soldiers in uniform sit and stand outside the house.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
“I can’t even get to the back of the bus”; ADAPT activists protesting for accessible transportation, Philadelphia, 1990
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
3D model of Mt. Vernon with red roof, white walls, green grass. Many columns and windows.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
Large tube-shaped machine with six legs on rolling wheels. Blue in color with small windows.
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
19th Century Spherometer
You have an object that is curved and you want to know how round it is. How would you measure it? This may seem like a rather strange...
Violet postage stamp featuring portrait of Patrick Henry, with a simple frame around edge
Curator Dr. Katherine Ott invited students in Dr. Samuel J. Redman's Museum/Historic Site Interpretation Seminar to explore the museum's...
Circular white button with bold, capitalized text saying "I [heart symbol] ADA"
Activist Justin Dart, Jr. called it a "commandment." Some people think of it as a tangle of regulations, standards, and guidelines. Above...
Consul the Educated Monkey, Smithsonian image AHB2015r00132. Gift of Richard Lodish.
Educator Richard Lodish has just given the museum an example of a computing device called Consul the Educated Monkey. This is one of the...

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