University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries

Events & Exhibits

“Life and Limb” exhibit provides rare look into medical history of Civil War

Life and Limb largeThe latest exhibit at Ebling Library provides a fascinating glimpse into the Civil War, through the lens of battlefield surgeries and amputations. More than three million soldiers fought in the war between the states from 1861-1865. More than half a million died, and almost as many were wounded but survived. Hundreds of thousands were permanently disabled by battlefield injuries or surgery, which often saved lives by sacrificing limbs. The exhibit, Life and Limb: The Toll of the Civil War, explores the experiences of disabled Civil War veterans who served as a symbol of the fractured nation and a stark reminder of the costs of the conflict.       

Life and Limb: The Toll of the Civil War is a traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Ebling Library will host the six free-standing illustrated panels on their second floor landing, just outside the Ebling Library, through February 1, 2014. The exhibit is accessible whenever the Health Sciences Learning Center is open (7:45 am until after 11:00 pm most days).

In addition to the traveling exhibit, there is a complementary installation of books and artifacts from Ebling’s Rare Books & Special Collections chronicling the medical treatment and cultural environment during the war in the third floor Historical Reading Room.  A bibliography of primary material (from 1860-1870) and secondary sources (histories of the Civil War) that might be of interest to those visiting the Life and Limb exhibit is also available.

Life and Limb and the complementary installation are not to be missed. One visitor described her experience, commenting that she was “awestruck” by the information she encountered. “The primitive kits juxtapositioned with the material on how to create an [amputation] stump that would tolerate a prosthesis was amazing!”

Visit the National Library of Medicine’s information page for more about the background of Life and Limb.

Questions? Contact Micaela Sullivan-Fowler at msullivan@library.wisc.edu (608) 262-2402 for more information.

 

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