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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.


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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.

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