The Wangensteen Historical Library of Biology and Medicine has over 1,000 artifacts, mostly from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Donated largely by Minnesota physicians and medical organizations, these items range from 16th century-Italian pharmaceutical jars to Civil War-era amputation kits to x-ray tubes and eyeglasses.
Medical artifacts serve many purposes. They are incorporated into active learning assignments and student term papers, and are used by scholars studying the history of medicine. They are also of interest to anyone with a curiosity about the practice of medicine over time.
Items from Wangensteen’s artifact collection are used each year at a variety of outreach events, including the Minnesota State Fair where Curator Lois Hendrickson and her colleague Christopher Herzberg ask for audience participation in order to identify the uses of these strange — and sometimes gruesome — medical devices.
Now you can also test your knowledge of medicine’s past, thanks to the Artifact Pop Quiz developed by the University of Minnesota Foundation.
Take the quiz to see if you can find the early model stethoscope, or the tool used for bloodletting in the 19th century.