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National Library of Medicine Announces New Traveling Exhibition, “Life and Limb: The Toll of the Civil War”

Exhibition on Display at NLM through July 1, 2011


The National Library of Medicine, the world's largest medical library and a component of the National Institutes of Health, announces a new traveling banner exhibition, "Life and Limb: The Toll of the Civil War." An expanded version of the traveling exhibition, which opens in the 150th anniversary of the start of that war, is also on display at NLM, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, through July 1, 2011, in the History of Medicine Division.

More than three million soldiers fought in the Civil War (1861-1865). More than half a million died and almost as many were wounded, but survived. Hundreds of thousands were permanently disabled by injuries or surgery, which saved lives by sacrificing limbs. These men served as a symbol of the fractured nation and remained a stark reminder of the costs of the conflict for long after the war. This exhibition brings their experiences to light.

"Life and Limb" describes the damage caused by the weapons of the time, the treatment of wounds, and their consequences for the young men who survived. The narrative highlights aspects of life after the amputation of a limb, from military service in the Veterans Reserve Corps to civilian life and the use of artificial limbs. The exhibition Web site features digitized images and documents, as well as educational resources for high school and undergraduate students and references for further research: //


 Soldiers at Armory Square Hospital, Washington DC, 1860s. 

Courtesy National Library of Medicine.


Information on the current schedule and details about booking the exhibition can be found at: //

Information on visiting the NLM History of Medicine Division can be found at: