Dittrick Museum of Medical History

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Dittrick Museum of Medical History
Dittrick Museum.jpg
Entrance of the Dittrick Museum
Dittrick Museum of Medical History is located in Cleveland
Dittrick Museum of Medical History
Location within Northeast Ohio
Dittrick Museum of Medical History is located in Ohio
Dittrick Museum of Medical History
Dittrick Museum of Medical History (Ohio)
Dittrick Museum of Medical History is located in the US
Dittrick Museum of Medical History
Dittrick Museum of Medical History (the US)
1926 (current location)
Location11000 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106
Coordinates41°30′21.5″N 81°36′30.5″W / 41.505972°N 81.608472°W / 41.505972; -81.608472Coordinates: 41°30′21.5″N 81°36′30.5″W / 41.505972°N 81.608472°W / 41.505972; -81.608472
CuratorJames Edmonson
Public transit accessGCRTA  HealthLine  Adelbert Road

The Dittrick Museum of Medical History is part of the Dittrick Medical History Center of the College of Arts and Sciences of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. The Dittrick Medical History Center is dedicated to the study of the history of medicine through a collection of rare books, museum artifacts, archives, and images. The museum was established in 1898 by the Cleveland Medical Library Association[1] and today functions as an interdisciplinary study center. It is housed in the Allen Memorial Medical Library on the campus of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio's University Circle.

Exhibit on the Cleveland Health Museum featuring Juno the "invisible woman" and historic photos from 1943 through the 1960s.


The Dittrick started as a collection about doctors and the medical profession and has been transformed by the artifacts that the curator and founder provided in attempt to document the advancement of medical history in relation to instruments and technology. Since the foundation and initial intent of the founders the Dittrick Museum has become more analytical of mediciacl technology of the past and seeks to study the doctor-patient relationships throughout time.[2] A prominent figure in making the Dittrick Museum was a man by the name of Dudley Peter Allen who was a surgeon in the late 19th century. In 1894 when the committee for the museum came to be, Allen was a major contributor who donated throughout his life and until he died in 1906. He steadily continued to add to the museum’s collection. After his death his wife Elizabeth Severance Allen continued to donate funds in order to build a library in her husband’s memory named the Allen Memorial Medical Library as well as a museum. In 2017, the museum serves as a study center for the College of Arts and Sciences at Case Western Reserve University as well as a museum.

Notable Figures[edit]

James Edmonson serves as the curator of the Dittrick Museum.

Dudley Peter Allen[edit]

Allen was born on March 25, 1852 in Kinsman, Ohio. His father Dudley Allen and grandfather Peter Allen were both doctors as well. He went on to study at Oberlin, where he received his A.B in 1875, and then onto Harvard Medical School where he received his M.D in 1879. After college he chose to return to Ohio and settled in Cleveland in 1883. Allen was one of the first physicians in Cleveland to confine his medical practice to surgery. He went on to have a successful medical career, teaching surgery at Western Reserve Medical College from 1884 to 1890, becoming the Professor of Principles & Practice of Surgery in 1893, and finally the professor emeritus of surgery in 1910 and senior professor of surgery in 1911.

James Edmonson[edit]

James Edmonson is the current curator of the Dittrick Museum as well as an Alum of the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH. He has written many publications such as: American Surgical Instruments: An Illustrated History of Their Manufacture and a Directory of Makers to 1900, A Companion to American Technology, Dissection: Photographs of a Rite of Passage in American Medicine, as well as an excerpt in the book Medical Mesuems: Past, Present, and Future that talks extensively about The Dittrick Museum.


The Museum has collections on everything from archives of Darwin’s letters to a visual collection of contraception. In 2015 the Museum added a new collection named "Reconceiving Birth 1840 to 1940" that focuses on home births and midwifery. This collection explores the practice of birthing with immigrant communities and then the shift to birthing in hospitals after World War I.

The Blaufox Hall of diagnostic instruments is known as one of the most comprehensive of its kind, displaying medical instruments over the years that have been used in hospitals and show the growing relationships between doctors and patients.[3]

The museum has a wide display of reproductive and medical history: however, majority of their collection is not displayed in the museum due to space. Instead, this information such as their collection on smallpox and dermatology as well as other exhibits can be found online through their website.

The museum's galleries include but are not limited to: Diagnostic Instruments, Doctor's Office 1870's, Doctor's Office 1930's, Early Medical Practice and Education, Hospital Medicine, 1865-1920, Laboratory Medicine 1865-1920, Microscopes, Millikin Room, Pharmacy 1880's, Stecher Room, Science, Technology, Medicine 1895-1950, Surgery, Obstetrics Instruments, Castele Gallery, Virtue, Vice, and Contraband: A history of Contraception in America and the HF Aitken collection of biomedical art,


Like other museums the Dittrick Museum of Medical History offers a membership program. There are different levels: for students it is $10 annually, associate friends are $30 annually, friends are $55 annually, and sustaining friends are $100 annually. There are two different options of payment. Credit card users can pay online and anyone paying with a check can call into the museum’s personal phone line.There has been a push to make the museum more visible to people. Initiatives such as keeping the museum open till 7PM for people who work and other initiatives have been implemented in the past.


  1. ^ Dittrick Medical History Center: Then and Now, Case Western Reserve University. Retrieved on 2007-12-29.
  2. ^ Hallam, Elizabeth (2013). Medical Museums:Past, Present, and Future. United Kingdom: The Royal College of Surgeons of England. pp. 159–161. ISBN 978-1-904096-21-4.
  3. ^ "Dittrick Medical Museum". Atlas Obscura. Retrieved 2017-03-07.

External links[edit]

  • Dittrick Medical History Center
  • Dittrick Museum Blog [1]
  • Case Western Reserve University [2]
  • American Surgical Instruments: An Illustrated History of Their Manufacture and a Directory of Makers to 1900 [3]