Skip to main content

United States Army Medical Museum composite photographs of skulls, circa 1884-1885

Army Medical Museum (U.S.)
Matthews, Washington 1843-1905
Billings, John Shaw 1838-1913
circa 1884-1885
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Physical Description
circa 78 prints : albumen
Local number
NAA Photo Lot 6A
Arctic peoples
Apache Indians
Arapaho Indians
Cheyenne Indians
Comanche Indians
Dakota Indians
Hidatsa Indians
Paiute Indians
Piegan Indians
Ponca Indians
Wichita Indians
Indians of North America Southwest, New
Indians of North America Great Plains
Indians of North America Great Basin
Indians of North America Subarctic
African Americans
Additional Army Medical Museum photographs of skulls can be found in the National Anthropological Archives in Photo Lot 6B, Photo Lot 73-26C, Photo Lot 78-42, Photo Lot 83-41, and Photo Lot 97.
The National Anthropological Archives holds microfilm of the papers of Washington Matthews, circa 1864-1905, and records concerning skeletal material transferred to the Smithsonian Institution from the Army Medical Museum.
The United States Army Medical Museum (AMM, renamed the National Museum of Health and Medicine in 1989) was established by US Army Surgeon General William A. Hammond in 1862. Its initial focus was on collecting specimens of unusual pathology, mostly taken from victims of the American Civil War. By 1867, the museum had expanded to include medical, microsopical, anatomical, comparative anatomics, and other sections. The anatomical collection grew in part as a result of Circular No. 2 of 1867, which authorized military medical officers to collect cranial specimens from deceased American Indians. Additionally, the AMM made an arrangement with the Smithsonian Institution, by which the Smithsonian transferred their collection of human remains in exchange for ethnological artifacts. AMM photographed and measured many of the specimens in its collection as part of the museum's anthropological research.
Photographs probably transferred by the Army Medical Museum.
For a description of the techniques, see John Shaw Billings, "On Composite Photography as Applied to Craniology," Thirteenth Memoir, and Billings and Matthews, "On a New Cranophore for Use in Making Composite Photographs of Skulls." Fourteenth Memoir, Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences, volume 3, parts 1-2, 1884. Billingsʹs and Matthewsʹs articles include further information on the camera and other equipment used.
This collection contains images of subjects that may be culturally sensitive, such as human remains.
Addl. KW Subjects
Army Medical Museum photographs prepared under the supervision of John Shaw Billings and Washington Matthews, and created by superimosing images of several skulls for comparative purposes. Each image has a caption that includes tribal or racial identification, number of skulls photographed, photograph number, negative number, and data on photographic technique.
The collection includes representations of Aleuts, Apache, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Dakota, Eskimo, Hidatsa, Navajo, Oglala, Ojibwa, Paiute, Piegan, Ponca, Wichita, African Americans, Hawaiians, and people of San Miguel and San Nicholas Islands (California).
Additional photographs by the Army Medical Museum included in the papers of Ales Hrdlicka, photographic lot 33, filed "Washington Matthews," and photographic lot 78-42.
Cite as
Photo lot 6A, United States Army Medical Museum composite photographs of skulls, National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution
Repository Loc.
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Museum Support Center, Suitland, Maryland
Data Source
National Anthropological Archives
See more items in
United States Army Medical Museum composite photographs of skulls circa 1884-1885
Usage conditions apply