SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
9000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Support Shorpy

Shorpy is funded by you. Help by purchasing a print or contributing. Learn more.

Social Shorpy


Join our mailing list (enter email):

Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

In Surgery: 1909

In Surgery: 1909

Detroit circa 1909. "Operating room" is all it says here, and we're sure whatever that is on the floor will mop right up. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

To stay online without a paywall or a lot of pop-up ads, Shorpy needs your help. (Our server rental alone is $3,000 a year.) You can contribute by becoming a Patron, or by purchasing a print from the Shorpy Archive. Or both! Read more about our 2019 pledge drive here. Our last word on the subject is: Thanks!

Early operating room

Speaking as someone who has taught History of Medicine for a couple of decades, this is not a morgue. This is clearly an operating room, boasting a huge bank of sky-high windows. Early operating rooms were often located on the top floor to take advantage of unobstructed light via skylights just such as these.

Electrically lighted operating rooms would become the norm in the next decades when moveable, focus-able surgical lighting would change things.

Handy sink

I have long thought that hiving foot pedals to control the water would be a handy thing for a kitchen sink, so you can save water when you don't need it to run but not have to touch the faucet with oily soapy hands.

Tanks in the anteroom

Likely autoclaves for sterilizing instruments.


So many things puzzle and scare me in this photo: that half-inch drill bit under the belt on the table; the two stainless steel tanks in the far room on the right; whatever is under the white cover in the far room on the left; and the floor stain that looks pixelated because of the tile shape and size. And then the upper part of the photo -- mottled walls and those huge windows -- come straight out of a German expressionist movie of the 1920s. Some pictures have no humans and are still extremely creepy.

[The "drill bit" is a mechanism for adjusting the table. - Dave]

More Likely The Morgue

The table has a gutter down the center, and drip pan below.

[Below, two photos of the operating room at the Brooklyn Navy Yard hospital in 1900. - Dave]

Edit: Noted, but lack of OR lights as shown above still makes me think it's the Morgue.

I'm Stumped

Can someone tell us what that pipe-fitted apparatus on the left is? Giant towel warmer? Body rack?

What the heck?!?!

No ash trays?!?!??!

Table for one with drip pan

No waiting.

Have to admire that sink

with the hot and cold foot pedals.

SHORPY OLD 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.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2019 Shorpy Inc.