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Guide to Collections Relating to the History of Artificial Internal Organs


Dittrick Medical History Center, Case Western Reserve University


Case Western Reserve University 11000 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-1714


(216) 368-6391

Fax Number

(216) 368-0165


Contact Person

Jim Edmondson, PhD, Head Curator


Access and Services

The Center is open for researchers from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Dittrick Museum of Medical History is open to the public from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. Closed Saturdays and Sundays. There is no admission charge to the Center or to the Museum. Consulting the Rare Book collection and museum materials requires staff assistance, as most are in secure storage areas. For this reason, an appointment is necessary.


The Dittrick Medical History Center is dedicated to the study of the medical past through a distinguished collection of rare books, museum artifacts, archives, and images. The Dittrick originated as part of the Cleveland Medical Library Association (est. 1894) and today functions as an interdisciplinary study center within the College of Arts and Sciences of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.



Dittrick Medical History Center Collection, predominantly 19-20th centuries

Collection ID


Approximately 60,000 rare books, 60,000 museum objects, 530 linear feet of archival records, 10,000 images

Biographical Note

Collecting historical medical materials began in 1894 when the Center's parent organization, the Cleveland Medical Library Association was founded. Many of the early members of the Association felt that history was a valuable and inspirational study for physicians and future physicians, and thus encouraged the collecting of rare volumes. In 1899, a collection of instruments gathered from local physicians was given to the Association. This collection grew and became the Dittrick Museum. In 1966, the Cleveland Medical Library Association and Case Western Reserve University entered into an agreement to operate their respective health sciences libraries as if they were administratively one. The combined entity is called the Cleveland Health Sciences Library. Shortly after the establishment of the Cleveland Health Sciences Library, the rare book collection, museum, and a new archive were joined as a Historical Division within the library. In 1996, the Division was renamed the Dittrick Medical History Center. A 1997 amendment to the agreement between the University and the Library Association placed the Dittrick Medical History Center under the administration of the University's College of Arts and Sciences, although the Center still remains an integral part of the Library Association.

Collection Description

With more than 60,000 rare books, an equal number of museum objects, an archive that occupies 530 linear feet of space, and a collection of 10,000 images, the Center is one of the more important medical history collections in the country. The Museum is an international resource for the study of the history of medical technology. The Rare Book Collection and Archives provide research material for the study of specialty areas and local and international medical institutions and societies. The Image Collection is a source for illustrations as well as a repository for several important works. Collection items relating to the history of artificial organs include:

  • Hopkins Closed-Chest Defibrillator, 1957
  • Morris Clinical Defibrillator, 1955, manuf. By Levinthal Electronic Products, Inc.
  • Beck-Leighninger Defibrillator, ca. 1948, donated by David Leighninger
  • Internal-external defibrillator, manuf. By The Britcher Corp., Los Angeles, CA ca. 1950s
  • Defibrillator manufactured in Russia, donor acquired this in 1958
  • Vacuum Cup Defibrillator, Rand, 1951
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis: Collection of approx. 51 valves. Includes Cross-Jones Caged Lens Valve, Bjork-Shiley Tilting Disk Mitral Valve, Carpenter-Edwards Supra Annular Bioprosthesis, Cross-Jones Aortic Valve, Kay-Shiley Mitral Valve, Starr-Edwards Model, Ionescu-Shiley Xenograft, Barnard-Goosen Aortic Valve, Smeloff Prosthetic Valve, Kay-Suzuki Mitral Discoid Valve
  • Kolff Twin Coil Disposable Kidney Unit, ca. 1956

Finding Aid

Inventory list available from curator.



Related Material

Regarding the Hopkins Closed-Chest Defibrillator, 1957, Dr. Harry Sherman built this defibrillator at Peter Bent Brigham Hospital. It was later installed in the emergency room of Suburban Hospital in Cleveland. It was never used and was soon made obsolete by transistorized models. See article entitled "Heart Activation in Cardiac Arrest" (Modern Concepts of Cardiovascular Disease, vol. 30, no. 2, February 1961)