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Vaccines: An Evolving History

Special collections, objects, and artifacts for researching the history of vaccines, including development, use, hesitancy, and confidence.

Objects & Artifacts

The Center for the History of Medicine also stewards historic objects and artifacts that relate to the history of vaccines. A digital inventory is not available for browsing, and most historic objects and artifacts do not have a digital surrogate. To inquire about your specific research topic, please submit a question through Ask Countway. Access is facilitated by the curator of the Warren Anatomical Museum.

A limited number of historic objects can be viewed online through OnView, the Center for the History of Medicine's primary portal to digitized content and exhibits. If a digital surrogate is available, a link has been provided below.

Image: Silver snuffbox given to Benjamin Waterhouse by Edward Jenner, containing quills impregnated with cowpox vaccine.

  • Edward Jenner Medal. A number of medals were struck to commemorate Edward Jenner's research and the centennial of the first vaccinations. While most depict the physician himself, the bronze example here shows an angel draping a garland around the neck of a cow surrounded by dancing children. The medal was crafted by Friedrich Wilhelm Loos.
  • Lock of Edward Jenner's hair
  • Pin from the Order of the Bifurcated Needle
  • Snuffbox; This silver snuffbox was a gift from Edward Jenner to Benjamin Waterhouse and contained quills impregnated with cowpox vaccine matter for use in America. In a letter dated November 16, 1802, Waterhouse said,"Dr. Jenner has been to me what the sun is to the moon... Dr. Jenner has just sent me a present I highly prize, a silver box inlaid with gold of exquisite taste and workmanship, bearing the inscription, 'Edward Jenner to Benjamin Waterhouse.' But Mr. [John] Ring annexed the superscription in rather a hyperbolic style, 'From the Jenner of the Old World to the Jenner of the New World.'"
  • Tea Service; According to Waterhouse family tradition, these plates, bowl, cider jug and teapot are part of a porcelain service commissioned by Benjamin Waterhouse to commemorate his cowpox vaccination work
  • Child's shoes and calf brace, 1944-1945, Right and left child’s brown leather shoes with orthotic inserts and accompanying left calf metal brace with brown leather strapping. Brace worn to treat left leg paralysis brought on by polio virus. Brace attaches to left shoe with metal peg and buckle strap for ankle.

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