If you have visited Philadelphia, but you’ve never been to the Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, you have missed an opportunity. The Mütter Museum, located at 19 South 22nd Street, is a museum filled with medical history. Boasting a collection of more than 25,000 items, the museum seeks to educate about the human body and the history of the diagnosis and treatment of disease. As it relates to vaccines, the College has sponsored the online educational resource, History of Vaccines website, since its inception.
The museum is named after Dr. Thomas Dent Mütter, a physician who taught at the Thomas Jefferson Medical College in the mid-1800s. As chairperson for the principles of surgery, Mütter collected a series of specimens to use while teaching his students about surgical intervention. When Dr. Mütter realized he was dying, he determined to have his collection preserved for learning by future generations of medical students. He came to an agreement with the College of Physicians who used the1,700 object donation as the start of today’s collection.
The book, Dr. Mütter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, explores the life and career of Dr. Mütter. For those who enjoy reading about the history of medicine, this book offers accessible writing and a wonderful look at medical education in Philadelphia in the 1800s.
Dr. Mütter trained students who went on to great medical and scientific accomplishments including:
- Founding the pharmaceutical company known today as Bristol-Myers Squibb and the first federal version of the Food and Drug Administration (known as the Pure Food and Drug Act)
- Starting a dedicated hospital for children, known today as the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
- Determining that yellow fever was transmitted via the Aedes aegypti mosquito
- Introducing the modern ambulance and triage systems
Additionally, several students assumed important roles in the Civil War, and many more became local physicians in areas throughout the country. Indeed, Dr. Mütter’s ideas and teaching transpired into a legacy worthy of the time spent with Aptowicz’s well-researched and written history.
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