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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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This Won't Hurt a Bit: 1928

This Won't Hurt a Bit: 1928

"Washington Sanitarium. Takoma Park, Maryland," circa 1928. View full size. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. The doctor will see you now!

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

L&D room

I agree, I believe it is a delivery room. You can see the stirrups for Mom's feet hanging from the bed. The water bottle in the cradle would be to keep the baby warm after birth.

Labor and Delivery Room

You know. The more I look at it (I'm no expert, I don't have kids) this room looks like it's setup for mothers giving birth. Of course, in those days, the father wouldn't be in the room, so it would be doctor, nurse and mother. I'm thinking mother would be looking in the mirror and the doctor would be down low to get the baby.

Cider House Rules

The ether mask reminds me of the one used by Michael Caine in "Cider House Rules."

Washington Sanitarium

Patrick wrote: "This being a rather military setup, we must remember it is Washington D.C. and that would be the way things would be done."

Actually, it's Takoma Park, Maryland ... and it's the Washington Sanitarium, privately founded and owned by the Seventh-Day Adventists.

Given the church's position of noncombatancy (at least since its resolution from the church's Fifth General Conference in 1867), I doubt emulating the military was the primary motivating factor for the setup. In fact, this year Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the global Seventh-day Adventist Church, stated, "This has, in broad terms, been our guiding principle: When you carry arms you imply that you are prepared to use them to take another's life, and taking the life of one of God's children, even that of our 'enemy,' is inconsistent with what we hold to be sacred and right."

The hospital is now Washington Adventist and having outgrown Takoma Park after a century, it plans a new facility in the White Oak/Calverton area of Montgomery County near the border with Prince George’s County. Fortunately, the hospital plans to retain the original campus for healthcare and other community services.

Here's a Washington Post feature from last year. And a 2005 feature from

Here's a PDF of Adventist Hospital's first 100 years.

Thing 1 and Thing 2

My guess: Instrument holders shaped to fit in a drum autoclave.


I'll bet that they hold hot and steamy towels for cleanup. Cans are there and sterile towels brought in and interchanged with new hot cans of towels or brought in one of the many available bowls in the room. This being a rather military setup, we must remember it is Washington D.C. and that would be the way things would be done.

Puzzler Reply

How close are you standing to the mirror?

OR things

What are the two roundish looking things under the mirror?

Surgical instrument sterilizers?


What are the two roundish looking things under the mirror?

Lamp Moderne

Now we must ALL respect the very forward industrial design of the overhead lighting fixture. Just grand! I want this for my front room!


As you can see to the left of the table, ether was the anesthetic of the day and the patient was supported with the anesthesia machine on the right. The tanks are most likely oxygen, nitrous oxide and air. Since ether is highly flammable, everything in the OR (even shoes) must be conductive to prevent sparks from static electricity. The chain is probably to ground the table.

A. Nobody

Even Scarier

A hundred years from now, I wonder what people will think when they see a photo of a 2008 operating room? Scare the hell out of them, I bet.

Delivery room?

Is it safe to say that this is a delivery room, with the cradle and a mirror positioned for the mother to see the birth? Why chain the table in place?


Looks like something from an old horror flick... compared to today that is.

Special Delivery

Is that a cradle with a hot water bottle in it on the left?


Just ignore that chain on the floor. We only use it after the ether kicks in.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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