Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Morning's Work

Bear with me as I blog about amputations again... You may be aware of the Burns Archive, a collection of vintage photographs - most of them medical or death-related. Collector Stanley B. Burns, M.D., has amassed more than 700,000 images, which he licenses. He has also published some remarkable books, including a volume of postmortem photos, Sleeping Beauty: The History of Memorial Photography in America, and a compilation of medical images, A Morning's Work: Medical Photographs from the Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939. The photograph above is from the latter collection and provided its title.

The 6" x 4 1/2" albumen print was made in 1865 by Dr. Reed Brockway Bontecou (1824-1907). Dr. Bontecou was an avid proponent of photography and documented his cases for inclusion in the newly established Army Medical Museum (now the National Museum of Health and Medicine). He labeled this photo "A Morning's Work" because it reflects the typical number of amputations he performed in a single morning...

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