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An 1868 surgery kit, part of Harvard's Warren Anatomical Museum. (Warren Anatomical Museum)

Highlights From the Warren Anatomical Museum

The collections inside this museum hold intriguing objects that tell the story of 19th century American medicine

Demonstration and surgery kit, 1868

Demonstration and surgery kit, 1868
(Warren Anatomical Museum)

Richard Hodges was an anatomist with the Harvard Medical School when he was given this 40-piece surgery kit as a gift in 1868. Hodges was best known for his preparations and his stint as a visiting surgeon at the Massachusetts General Hospital from 1863-1886. This gift came to Hodges at a crucial turning point in medicine, as Louis Pasteur’s germ theories became more accepted and sterilization of surgical tools widespread. Hodges could never use this kit, then, because the ivory handles would not have held up to the antiseptic techniques used at the time.

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