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Cyber-tour of historical medical sites in Washington, D.C.

The Washington, D.C. area has a rich medical history with many of its medical institutions originating in the 19th century. Now history buffs can "tour" many of these places online by clicking on http://www.nlm.nih.gov/hmd/medtour/intro.html. The tour of 30 sites was prepared by Inci A. Bowman, Ph.D., a retired medical librarian in Washington, D.C. NLM hosts the tour on its History of Medicine website.

Many of the facilities of historical medical interest are still in existence, such as the Clara Barton National Historical Site in Glen Echo, Maryland. Other spots on the cyber-tour include lesser known sites such as Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum in downtown Alexandria which opened in 1792 and operated continuously until 1933. Past customers included George Washington and Robert E. Lee. It now operates as a museum and has a collection of more than 8,000 objects including pill rollers, drug mills, and journals and letters. Both of these institutions have their own web sites, and there are links to them from the cyber-tour.

Many wounded Civil War soldiers were housed in the Washington, D.C. area. And many of these medical facilities "exist" only on the cyber-tour. For instance, the Lincoln General Hospital opened in December 1862 to care for the tremendous number of Civil War casualties. At its busiest, the hospital complex included 20 pavilions and 25 tent wards. Taken down after the Civil War, the area once occupied by Lincoln General Hospital, is now a residential district.

One of the largest Civil War hospitals was the Armory Square located where the present National Air and Space Museum stands today. The 1,000-bed hospital had 12 pavilions, overflow tents, and spread out across the Washington Mall.

A handy area map is also provided to aid you in your tour.