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February 12, 1997

Photographic Atlas of Civil War Injuries: Photographs of Surgical Cases and Specimens, Otis Historical Archives

JAMA. 1997;277(6):499. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03540300067037

The chief task of Dr William Alexander Hammond, the newly appointed Union Army Surgeon General in 1862, was to create a functioning medical corps. His many tasks included acquisition of knowledge about the new and more devastating injuries associated with advances in warfare. In doing so, he established the Military Medical Museum and collected specimens from field medical officers "along with projectiles and foreign bodies removed" and "other such matters that might be thought to be useful for the study of military medicine or surgery."

From these, and certain other contributions, Dr George Alexander Otis, who succeeded to the directorship of the museum, created four photographic collections: surgical, medical, microscopical, and anatomical. Photographic Atlas of Civil War Injuries is a republication of museum photographs of injuries that have "not been widely available for more than a hundred years."

"a useful reminder of the extent to which modern medicine has progressed