Army Medical Museum photographs prepared under the supervision of John Shaw Billings and Washington Matthews, and created by superimposing images of several skulls for comparative purposes. Each image has a caption that includes tribal or racial identification, number of skulls photographed, photograph number, negative number, and data on photographic technique.
The collection represents of Aleut, Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Dakota, Eskimo, Hidatsa, Navajo, Oglala, Ojibwa, Paiute, Piegan, Ponca, Wichita, African American, Hawaiian, people, and people of San Miguel and San Nicholas Islands (California).
The United States Army Medical Museum (AMM, renamed the National Museum of Health and Medicine in 1989) was established by US Army Surgeon General William A. Hammond in 1862. Its initial focus was on collecting specimens of unusual pathology, mostly taken from victims of the American Civil War. By 1867, the museum had expanded to include medical, microsopical, anatomical, comparative anatomics, and other sections. The anatomical collection grew in part as a result of Circular No. 2 of 1867, which authorized military medical officers to collect cranial specimens from deceased Native Americans. Additionally, the AMM made an arrangement with the Smithsonian Institution, by which the Smithsonian transferred their collection of human remains in exchange for ethnological artifacts. AMM photographed and measured many of the specimens in its collection as part of the museum's anthropological research.
Local Call Number(s):
NAA Photo Lot 6A
Location of Other Archival Materials:
Additional Army Medical Museum photographs of skulls can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in Photo Lot 6B, Photo Lot 73-26C, Photo Lot 78-42, Photo Lot 83-41, and Photo Lot 97.
The National Anthropological Archives holds microfilm of the papers of Washington Matthews, circa 1864-1905, and records concerning skeletal material transferred to the Smithsonian Institution from the Army Medical Museum.
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United States Army Medical Museum composite photographs of skulls, circa 1884-1885