ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Medical anomalies, human conditions

A new historical photograph collection from the Mutter Museum honors the human side of rare conditions

Jonathan Scheff
In a photograph taken at a Shanghai hospital in 1894, Yu Yung Lan appears pregnant. Her belly curves outward in the familiar oblong curve of expecting mothers, but hers is nearly six feet in circumference, overbearing her body, and stretching her skin to its limit. Yu suffered from an abnormally large ovarian tumor, one that weighed 182 pounds. Images of Yu and other patients suffering from abnormal medical conditions in the nineteenth century appear in Mütter Museum: Historic Medical Photographs, released in November. The book organizes the previously unorganized photograph collection of Philadelphia's Mütter Museum into medical categories such as amputation, dermatological disorders and paralysis. The book, like the museum, is not intended as a printed form of a circus side show, but a demonstration of the humanity inherent in these and all medical cases. The wry smile of Jennie Savage lying in a hospital cot in 1899...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?
ADVERTISEMENT