FOR PHYSICIANS-TO-BE and surgeons-to-be, an understanding of human anatomy is a fundamental prerequisite of their education and training. Important as dissection is to comprehending the human condition, there existed strong popular prejudice against it in antebellum America. Societal indignation proved a constant deterrent to anatomical instructors and their steady supply of cadavers. With dissection riots occurring intermittently, including the widely reported trashing of surgeon John Davidge's (1768-1829) anatomical theater in Baltimore, Md (1807), medical school faculty members were often forced to calm public opinion. For instance, the physician/surgeons who taught at the Vermont Academy of Medicine, Castleton, disseminated a proclamation in the mid 1820s, declaring, somewhat dubiously, that "bodies disinterred hereabouts would not be used in the department of practical anatomy."
Rutkow IM. Anatomical Studies in Antebellum America. Arch Surg. 1998;133(12):1372. doi:10-1001/pubs.Arch Surg.-ISSN-0004-0010-133-12-ssh1298
Artificial Intelligence Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.