History of Medicine
[NOTE: This material is adapted from NIH Publication No. 86-261, a special color pamphlet issued in 1986 to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the National Library of Medicine. The presentation attempts to follow the original as closely as possible within the limits imposed by hypertext markup language (html). Due to the passage of time, certain of the facts and figures cited in the publication are now out of date, although it is still a helpful introduction to the history and services of the Library. Where necessary to avoid confusion or to point to more current information, current editorial comments not in the original pamphlet will appear within square brackets. A few directional phrases referring to placement of figures in the original have been deleted.]
About the Cover
The nearly life-size "Portrait of Professor Gross," also called "The Gross Clinic," was painted by Thomas Eakins in 1875. Eakins had attended lectures at the Jefferson Medical College and had undoubtedly seen Samuel David Gross, Chairman of Surgery, both as lecturer and in the clinic. Eakins' students and friends poes as the spectators of the operation. In addition, Eakins included a self-portrait of himself sketching the procedure at the center right of the painting. The procedure which is being preformed is the removal of a piece of bone diseased by osteomyelitis. The woman in the picture is a relative of the patient and her presence indicateds that this is a charity case. The law at that time required that a relative be present for surgery on a charity patient, a situtation which was permitted by doctors who even then wished to avoid malpractice suits. The painting has remained at Jefferson since 1875 despite attempts by the National Gallery of Art to acquire it.
Courtesy of Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania