The collections inside this museum hold intriguing objects that tell the story of 19th century American medicine
Five of a series of ten plaster hand cast created by brain surgery pioneer Harvey Cushing of his surgical peers, 1920s
Dr. Harvey Cushing, a Harvard Medical School teacher and chief of surgery at Boston’s Brigham Hospital in the 1920s, is considered the “father of neurosurgery.” When other surgeons, his peers, would come to Boston, he sent them to Caproni Casts to have their hands cast in plaster, all of their right (dominant hands). He would keep one and give one to the physician. It is a peculiar preoccupation, considering that Cushing was a brain surgeon, but Hall speculates that maybe Cushing saw something in the “hand of the great surgeon.”
The above casts are of Dr. George W. Crile, founder of the Cleveland Clinic, Italian physician Dr. Vittorio Putti, Italian surgeon Raggaele Bastianelli, and brothers W.J. and C.H. Mayo, the founders of the Mayo Clinic.
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The Smithsonian is a repository of America's history, achievements, aspirations, and identity. It holds the artifacts of great leaders, and those of ordinary Americans. It houses scientific specimens and technological wonders. It is home to art, music, films, writings-a vast treasure trove of objects of extraordinary beauty and outstanding design.