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Visit: Historic Medical Sites near Washington DC

A color bird's eye view  of the Lincoln General Hospital complex including 20 pavilions, arranged in two lines forming a V shape, and 25 tent wards.

Explore Historic Medical Sites in the Washington DC Area

Former Site of Lincoln General Hospital Former Site of District of Columbia General Hospital Former Site of Saint Elizabeths Hospital Former Site of Naval Hospital Arlington National Cemetery Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum Georgetown University Medical Center Former Site of National Veterinary College Howard University Hospital Former Site of Walter Reed Army Medical Center Former Site of Armed Forces Institute of Pathology National Museum of Health and Medicine National Library of Medicine Dewitt Stetten, Jr. Museum of Medical Research Clara Barton National Historic Site National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Select a Historic Site to Explore

Former Site of Lincoln General Hospital

East Capitol and 15th Streets, Washington, DC

A color bird's eye view  of the Lincoln General Hospital complex including 20 pavilions, arranged in two lines forming a V shape, and 25 tent wards.

Lincoln General Hospital
Courtesy Images from the History of Medicine
National Library of Medicine

Opened in December 1862, Lincoln General was the largest of the military hospitals in the area built by the Army to take care of the Civil War casualties. It was located on Capitol Hill, 15 blocks east of the Capitol building. The hospital complex included 20 pavilions, arranged in two lines forming a V, and 25 tent wards, which provided altogether a bed capacity of 2,575. The kitchen and dining rooms were connected to the pavilions by means of a covered pathway. In addition to the headquarters (marked by the flag), there were officers quarters, quarters for Sisters who provided nursing service, barracks, guard house, separate quarters for contrabands, and service facilities such as water tank, laundry, barber shop, carpenter shop, stables and a morgue ("Dead House"). Like most other military hospitals, Lincoln General was taken down shortly after the Civil War. The area once occupied by Lincoln General is now a residential district.

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Related NLM Resources:
Images of Lincoln General Hospital

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Directions to Lincoln General Hospital

Former Site of the District of Columbia General Hospital

1900 Massachusetts Avenue, SE, Washington, DC 20003

A black and white image of the Gallinger Municipal Hospital including 2 multi–story buildings with nearby trees.

Gallinger Municipal Hospital, 1949
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

The city's first and only public hospital, DC General Hospital closed in May 2001 after serving the residents for nearly two hundred years. The area once occupied by the DC General Hospital, defined by Independence Avenue, 19th Street, SE, and the Anacostia River, is now called the DC General Health Campus, consisting of a number of clinics such Women's Services, Detoxification Center, and Southeast Sexually Transmitted Diseases Clinic.

The Washington Infirmary, the first public hospital established in 1806, was moved to this site in 1846. By then it was called the Washington Asylum and housed the city's indigent patients. It also served as a work house for people convicted of minor crimes. Later, a smallpox hospital, quarantine station, disinfection plant, and crematory were also located in this area. With the construction of a new building, the health-care facility became the Gallinger Municipal Hospital in 1922, and was renamed District of Columbia General Hospital in 1953. The controversial closing of the public hospital in 2001 ended the inpatient services and the city's indigent health care system was transferred mostly to the Greater Southeast Community Hospital. The building currently serves as a family homeless shelter. The DC Jail is located to the south of this historic health-care complex.

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Related NLM Resources:
Crippled Children's Clinic, DC General Hospital

Transportation:

Directions to the former site of the District of Columbia General Hospital

Former Site of Saint Elizabeths Hospital

2700 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, Washington, DC 20032

A color image of the oldest building at St. Elizabeths Hospital - a multi-story building with 3 balconies on the floors over the entrance and nearby trees.

The Oldest Building on the Historic St. Elizabeths Campus
Courtesy of Inci Bowman

The Hospital complex is located on a hill in southeast Washington, overlooking the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers. The original 1850s building has been designated a National Historic Landmark. The campus is now site of the US Coast Guard National Headquarters including the Historian’s Office. Access to the site is restricted. The campus retains many of its historic features including: a Civil War cemetery where 300 Union and Confederate soldiers who died there are buried. Established in 1855 as the Government Hospital for the Insane, St. Elizabeths Hospital has had a distinguished history in the treatment of the mentally ill. The Hospital's early mission, as defined by its founder, the leading mental health reformer Dorothea Dix, was to provide the "most humane care and enlightened curative treatment of the insane of the Army, Navy, and District of Columbia." During the Civil War, wounded soldiers treated here were reluctant to admit that they were in an insane asylum, and said they were at St. Elizabeths, the colonial name of the land where the Hospital is located. Congress officially changed the Hospital's name to St. Elizabeths in 1916. By the 1940s, the Hospital complex covered an area of over 300 acres and housed 7,000 patients. It was the first and only federal mental facility with a national scope. In 1987, the federal government transferred the hospital operations to the DC Department of Mental Health, while retaining ownership of the western campus. In 2005, the Hospital celebrated the 150th anniversary of its founding and honored members of the Armed Forces who became mentally ill while serving their country. In April 2010, the Hospital moved into a new 450,000 square foot facility on Alabama Avenue in SE Washington DC.

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Related NLM Resources:
Images of Saint Elizabeths Hospital
Illuminating St. Elizabeths at the National Building Museum

Transportation: Access to this site is restricted

Directions to the Historic Saint Elizabeths Hospital Building

Former Site of Naval Hospital

921 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Washington, DC

A black and white image of the Old Naval Hospital building  -  a two-story building with wide wooden steps up to  the entrance and nearby trees with a horse and buggy parked out front on the street.

Old Naval Hospital on Capitol Hill
Courtesy of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Department of the Navy

This large brick building on Capitol Hill served as the Naval Hospital from 1866 to 1906. It sits on a triangular lot, between 9th and 10th Streets, defined by Pennsylvania Avenue on the north. The building faces south, with an entrance on E Street, and is within the vicinity of the current Marine Barracks and the Navy Yard. Prior to the construction of this building, the Navy had used as hospital a rented building near the Navy Yard (1811–1843); a facility within the confines of the Marine Barracks until the Civil War; and a portion of the Government Hospital for the Insane (St. Elizabeths Hospital) during the War. Designed to accommodate 50 patients, the new hospital had good ventilation and running water supplied by the city, and was furnished with gas for lighting. After serving the naval personnel for four decades, the hospital moved to its newly constructed facility at Observatory Hill, 23rd and E Streets, NW, (now headquarters of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery). In 1922, the building became the Temporary Home for Veterans of All Wars. The property is still owned by the federal government but its jurisdiction was transferred to the District of Columbia in 1962. Thanks to the efforts of the Friends of the Old Naval Hospital and other concerned residents, the DC government's Office of Property Management has restored the building. Today, the 140-year old structure has become the Hill Center, a facility for education and community life on Capitol Hill.

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Related NLM Resources:
Images of U.S. Navy
Handbook of Federal World War Agencies and Their Records

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Directions to the old Naval Hospital Building

Arlington National Cemetery

Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22211

A color image of the Grave of John Shaw Billings at Arlington National Cemetery.

Grave of John S. Billings at Arlington Cemetery
Courtesy of Inci Bowman

The well-known Arlington National Cemetery lies on the western bank of the Potomac River, just across from the Lincoln Memorial. Over 245,000 veterans and their family members are buried in these hilly grounds covering more than 600 acres. In addition to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Cemetery's most famous monument, there are a number of memorials, including the Nurses Memorial which honors the nurses of the armed forces who served from the Spanish-American War thru the Vietnam War. Among the physicians who rest here are:

  • Alexander T. Augusta (1825–1890)
  • James Carroll (1854–1907)
  • William Crawford Gorgas (1854–1920)
  • Walter Reed (1851–1902)
  • Albert B. Sabin (1906–1993)
  • George Miller Sternberg (1838–1915)
  • Leonard Wood (1860–1927)
  • John Shaw Billings (1838–1913)

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Arlington National Cemetery

Related NLM Resources:
NLM In Focus: For Memorial Day: Arlington National Cemetery's NLM Connections

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Directions to Arlington National Cemetery

Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

105-107 South Fairfax Street, Alexandria, VA 22314

A color image of the entrance to the Apothecary Museum with hanging sign in front of a curved showcase window.

Entrance to the Apothecary Museum
Courtesy of the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

In 1792, a Edward Stabler, a young Quaker pharmacist, opened his business on Fairfax Street, which operated continuously until 1933. The Apothecary withstood the turmoil of the War of 1812, the 1821 Yellow Fever Epidemic, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War of 1898, and World War I. It was the center of daily life in Alexandria, and among its famous customers were George Washington and Robert E. Lee. The Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop is now a museum, and its rich collection includes over 8,000 objects such as pill rollers, mortars and pestles, drug mills, and glassware as well as journals, letters, and day books. Original furnishings with patent medicines, potions and herbs still remain in place.

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Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

Related NLM Resources:
Images of Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Shop

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Directions to the Stabler-Leadbeater Apothecary Museum

Georgetown University Medical Center

3800 Reservoir Road, Washington, DC 20057

A black and white  image of the front of the Georgetown Medical School, circa 1900 - a multi-story, peak-pitched roof building surrounded by a picket fence.  There are several men, women and children strolling down the sidewalk in front of the building.

Georgetown Medical School, ca. 1900
Courtesy of Georgetown University

The second oldest medical college in Washington, DC, Georgetown University Medical School dates from 1851. It first occupied a building at the corner of 12th and F Streets, NW, and moved in 1869 to the building at the corner of 10th and E Streets, which had been home to the Medical Department of Columbia College (now George Washington University Medical School). In the early years, courses were taught at night, and the student body was small. Between 1886 and 1930, the School was located at 910 H Street, NW. The Georgetown University Hospital opened in a 33-bed facility in 1893, staffed by the Sisters of St. Francis, and moved together with the Medical School to its current location on Reservoir Road in 1930. Today, nearly 700 medical students are enrolled in the School of Medicine.

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Georgetown University School of Medicine

Related NLM Resources:
Images: Georgetown University Medical Center staff honors Dr. Joseph J. Mundell
Research from the Georgetown University Medical Center

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Directions to the Georgetown University Medical Center

Former Site of National Veterinary College

1227 R Street, NW, Washington, DC

A black and white photo of Daniel Elmer Salmon in later years with white hair, full white beard, moustache and wearing round wireframe glasses.

Daniel E. Salmon
Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

Daniel E. Salmon (1850–1914), bacteriologist, organizer of the Bureau of Animal Industry, and its Director from 1884 to 1905, founded the National Veterinary College (NVC) in 1892. Initially unaffiliated with a university, it was established, in part, to train veterinarians for service in the federal government as meat inspectors, chiefly, and as researchers. In 1896 the NVC became a part of Columbian University (renamed George Washington University in 1904). The college suspended operations in 1898, resumed them in 1908, and then ceased operating altogether in 1918, after the Secretary of Agriculture forbade federal veterinarians from teaching at either of the two District of Columbia veterinary schools. Salmon's attempt to make the National Veterinary College a post-graduate institution exclusively in 1898 failed when no post-graduate students appeared. Salmon was Dean from 1892 until 1898 and David E. Buckingham (Penn. VMD, 1893)—recruited as a faculty member by Salmon in 1896—was Dean from 1908 to 1918. Operating under three names, National Veterinary College, the Veterinary Department of the Columbian University, and the George Washington University College of Veterinary Medicine, it graduated 132 veterinarians. Besides Salmon and Buckingham, prominent faculty members included F.L. Kilbourne, Robert J. Formad, Cecil French, J.J. Kinyoun, Veranus Moore, and Charles Wardell Stiles. In addition to the 1227 R Street, NW, location, the College operated at two other addresses in the District: New Jersey Avenue and O Street, NW, and 2113–2115 14th Street, NW.

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Related NLM Resources:
The Horse: A Mirror of Man
Animals as Cold Warriors: Missiles, Medicine, and Man's Best Friend
From DNA to Beer: Harnessing Nature in Medicine & Industry

Transportation:

Directions to the former site of the National Veterinary College

Howard University Hospital

2041 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20060

A color image of the Howard University Hospital, former Freedmen's Hospital - a multi-story building with a large wide staircase up to a large columned entrance.

Former Freedmen's Hospital, Howard University
Courtesy of Inci Bowman

Forerunner of the Howard University Hospital, Freedmen's Hospital served the black community in the District of Columbia for more than a century. First established in 1862 on the grounds of the Camp Barker, 13th and R Streets, NW, Freedmen's Hospital and Asylum cared for freed, disabled, and aged blacks. In 1863, it was placed under Dr. Alexander Augusta, the first African-American to head a hospital. After the Civil War, it became the teaching hospital of Howard University Medical School, established in 1868, while remaining under federal control. Early in the 20th century, Congress authorized the construction of a new hospital which was completed in 1909. When Abraham Flexner visited the District of Columbia that year, he was impressed by the new, 278-bed Freedmen's Hospital and thought only Howard University Medical School in the city had a promising future. In 1967, Freedmen's Hospital was transferred to Howard University and used as a hospital until 1975. The University Hospital is now located in a modern facility at 2041 Georgia Avenue, NW. The original Freedmen's building (Bryant and 6th Streets) still stands. It has been named the C.B. Powell Building and now houses Howard University's School of Communications. Freedmen's Hall, a permanent museum located at the University Hospital, is devoted to the history of medical education and health care at Howard University.

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Visit Online:
Howard University Hospital

Related NLM Resources:
Images of Howard University Medical Faculty
Ossie Davis At Freedmen's Hospital
A Civil War Surgeon's Books Rediscovered

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Directions to Howard University Hospital

Former Site of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center

6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20307

A color postcard of the Walter Reed Hospital, ca. 1930 - a multi-story brick building with a large wide staircase up to a four Greek ionic columned entrance.

A Walter Reed Hospital postcard, ca. 1930s
Courtesy of Moody Medical Library, UTMB

By Congressional legislation construction of the Walter Reed General Hospital was authorized, and the Hospital admitted its first patients on May 1, 1909. Named in Major Walter Reed's honor, the medical center was founded on principles that would integrate patient care, teaching and research. World War I saw the hospital's capacity grow from 80 patient beds to 2,500 in a matter of months. Through World War II, Korea and Vietnam Wars, hundreds of thousands of soldiers were treated here. On September 26, 1977, the new main hospital building was dedicated by Major General Robert Bernstein, then Walter Reed's commander. The new hospital itself stands 125 feet tall, equal in height to a ten story building.Through the years, the Walter Reed Medical Center added tenant institutions and facilities to its roster: Walter Reed Institute of Research, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Army Physical Disability Agency, along with several smaller units.

Under the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Act, Walter Reed Hospital relocated to the grounds of the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, MD on September 15, 2011. The facility is now called the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. For more information visit their website.

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Walter Reed Army Medical Center
now the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

Related NLM Resources:
Celebrating Walter Reed

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Directions to the former site of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center

Former Site of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology

6900 Georgia Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20306

A color image of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology buildings - two multi-story masonry buildings in a courtyard with a tall single level building surrounding the complex.

Armed Forces Institute of Pathology buildings
Courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine
Closed September 15, 2011

The Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (AFIP) closed its' doors on September 15, 2011. It was founded as the Army Medical Museum on May 21, 1862, to collect pathological specimens along with their case histories. The information from the case files of the pathological specimens from the Civil War was compared with Army pensions records and compiled into the six-volume Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, an early study of wartime medicine. In 1900, museum curator Walter Reed led the commission which proved that a mosquito was the vector for Yellow Fever, beginning the mosquito eradication campaigns throughout most of the twentieth century. Another museum curator, Frederick Russell, conducted clinical trials on the typhoid vaccine in 1907, resulting in the U.S. Army to be the first Army vaccinated against typhoid. Increased emphasis on pathology during the twentieth century turned the museum, renamed the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in 1949, into an international resource for pathology and the study of disease. AFIP's pathological collections have been used, for example, in the characterization of the 1918-influenza virus in 1997.

Prior to moving to the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the AFIP was located at the Army Medical Museum and Library on the Mall (1887–1969), and earlier as Army Medical Museum in Ford's Theatre (1867–1886).

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Armed Forces Institute of Pathology (Legacy Site—Not Current)
Now the Joint Pathology Center. Forensic toxicology cases call: 301-295-4819.

Related NLM Resources:
Images of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology

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Directions to the former site of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology

National Museum of Health and Medicine

2500 Linden Lane, Silver Spring, MD 20910

A color image of the National Museum of Health and Medicine building - a multi-story masonry buildings with a two column supported flat roof over the entrance area.

National Museum of Health and Medicine
Courtesy of the National Museum of Health and Medicine

The National Museum of Health and Medicine, established in 1862, inspires interest in and promotes the understanding of medicine—past, present, and future—with a special emphasis on tri-service American military medicine. As a National Historic Landmark recognized for its ongoing value to the health of the military and to the nation, the Museum identifies, collects, and preserves important and unique resources to support a broad agenda of innovative exhibits, educational programs, and scientific, historical, and medical research. NMHM is a headquarters element of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. NMHM's newest exhibit installations showcase the institution's 25-million object collection, focusing on topics as diverse as innovations in military medicine, traumatic brain injury, anatomy and pathology, military medicine during the Civil War, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (including the bullet that killed him), human identification and a special exhibition on the Museum's own major milestone—the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Army Medical Museum. Objects on display will include familiar artifacts and specimens: the bullet that killed Lincoln and a leg showing the effects of elephantiasis, as well as recent finds in the collection—all designed to astound visitors to the new Museum.

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National Museum of Health and Medicine website. NMHM is on Facebook and Twitter.

Related NLM Resources:
Images of the National Museum of Health and Medicine
Field Trip: Visiting our Sister (Institution)

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Directions to the National Museum of Health and Medicine

National Library of Medicine

8600 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20894

A color photo of the north side view of the National Library of Medicine surrounded by cherry blossom trees and the 10 story Lister Hill center on the left.

National Library of Medicine and Lister Hill Center
Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

This institution, originally the Library of the Surgeon General's Office (U.S. Army), gained its present name and was transferred from the Army to the Public Health Service in 1956. In 1962, it moved to its own Bethesda site after sharing space for nearly 100 years with other Army units, first at the former Ford's Theatre building and then at the Army Medical Museum and Library on the Mall. Rare books and other holdings that had been sent to Cleveland for safekeeping during World War II were also reunited with the main collection at that time. Today, the National Library of Medicine houses the largest collection of print and non-print materials in the history of the health sciences in the United States, and maintains an active program of exhibits and public lectures.

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Visit Online:
National Library of Medicine

Related NLM Resources:
National Library of Medicine
Images of the National Library of Medicine
Images of America: National Library of Medicine

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Directions to the National Library of Medicine

Dewitt Stetten, Jr. Museum of Medical Research

9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD 20892

A color photo of the  National Institutes of Health Headquarters, a multi-story brick with wide stairs leading up either side to a six Greek ionic columned entrance.

National Institutes of Health Headquarters
Courtesy of the National Library of Medicine

The DeWitt Stetten, Jr., Museum of Medical Research was established at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda in 1986 as a part of the NIH centennial observance. The Stetten Museum preserves and interprets through physical and virtual exhibits the material culture of the scientific work of the NIH. The Museum collects instruments important to scientific research, especially instruments and technologies developed at the NIH. The Museum also collects non-scientific objects related to the general history of the NIH, including architectural artifacts, artwork, and clothing. Most exhibits are located in NIH's Building 10, the Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center.

For additional information, visit the website of the Stetten Museum. For a history of the NIH, see Victoria Harden's article, "A Short History of the National Institutes of Health."

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Visit Online:
Stetten Museum website

Related NLM Resources:
DeWitt Stetten papers, 1936–1990
Images of Dewitt Stetten, Jr.
Papers by DeWitt Stetten, Jr.

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Directions to the Dewitt Stetten, Jr. Museum of Medical Research

Clara Barton National Historical Site

5801 Oxford Road, Glen Echo, Maryland 20812

A black and white photo of Clara Barton's House, as it appeared in 1904, a multi-story wood home with a large front porch, 16 windows on the front with a wide stairs leading up either side to a six Greek ionic columned entrance.

Clara Barton's House, as it appeared in 1904
Courtesy of the Clara Barton National Historical Site

Clara Barton (1821–1912) lived the last 15 years of her life in this large house, first built to store the supplies needed for her relief work in disasters. Constructed in 1891, it was modeled after the Johnstown Flood Relief Shelter in Pennsylvania and served as the first headquarters of the American Red Cross. After teaching in her home state Massachusetts and New Jersey, Clara Barton moved to Washington, DC, to work for the Patent Office. During the Civil War, she aided the wounded soldiers and worked alongside the U.S. Sanitary Commission and U.S. Christian Commission. In 1881, she founded the American Red Cross, and eventually assisted in the relief of many disasters, including floods and hurricanes, and worked in the Cuban battle fields during the Spanish American War.

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Clara Barton National Historical Site

Related NLM Resources:
Images of Clara Barton
The Red Cross in Cuba: An Interview with Clara Barton

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Directions to the Clara Barton National Historical Site

National Museum of Civil War Medicine

48 East Patrick Street, Frederick, MD 21705

A color depiction two Civil War soldiers in blue dress uniforms caring for a wounded man in a rocky area of the woods.

Caring for the Wounded
Courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Within an hour's drive from Washington, DC, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine is located in the heart of historic downtown Frederick, Maryland. With nearly 7,000 square feet of exhibit space on two floors, the Museum illustrates the medical story of the American Civil War. It is a story of care and healing, courage and devotion amidst the death and destruction of war. It is also a story of major advances that changed medicine forever. In addition to the exhibits, the Museum has a museum store, a research library, and a large meeting and conference room.

The Museum features five immersion exhibits that bring the visitor into the setting and vividly illustrate different aspects of Civil War medicine by minimizing the physical barriers that usually separate the visitor from the exhibit. In addition to the immersion scenes, the Museum also has exhibits on medical education, recruiting, nursing, embalming, dentistry, pharmaceuticals and herbal remedies, and the Civil War hospitals in Frederick, Maryland.

A complementary site to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine's main location, the Pry House Field Hospital Museum focuses on field medicine as it was practiced in the Battle of Antietam. Located at the Antietam Battlefield, the Philip Pry House Museum opened in April 2005. It includes a re-creation of an operating theater, interpretive panels and objects relating to the care of wounded and the effects of the War on civilian population in the area.

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Visit Online:
National Museum of Civil War Medicine

Related NLM Resources:
Healing the Nation: Stories from the Civil War

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Directions to the National Museum of Civil War Medicine

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