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veritasHarvard University Library Notes, For Harvard Library Staff, Number 1337 May 2007

Harvard University Library Notes / May 2007 / No. 1337


The Lost Museum of Harvard's Dental School

April–October, 2007
Center for the History of Medicine, Countway Library—Harvard Medical School
For more information, contact Jack Eckert, reference librarian, at 2-6207 or jack_eckert@hms.harvard.edu

Harvard's Dental Museum was started just after the Dental School was established in 1867. Originally intended to display specimens of mechanical dentistry prepared by the graduating students, it soon became a repository for specimens of human and comparative pathology, anatomy, and odontology; instruments; models; photographs; and lantern and stereoscopic slides. The Museum also housed some unusual historical items, ranging from the dentures of Ralph Waldo Emerson to moulages of facial reconstructions of wounded World War I soldiers. By 1930, there were over 14,000 specimens in the Dental Museum. Ultimately, the museum became a casualty of the growth and changing nature of dental education at Harvard. Some instruments and relics, along with the existing historical records of the museum, have been preserved in the Countway Library, and other specimens have since been identified in the Warren Anatomical Museum. Many more specimens, unfortunately, have been lost. The story of this missing collection and a display of some of its highlights is the subject of this exhibit.

 

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