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Permanent Exhibits

Mobile: The Cradle of Organized Medicine in Alabama


Mobile was the leader in the development of organized medicine in Alabama. It was home to the state's first Board of Health, city-funded hospital, state-supported medical college, and medical society. Mobile was also home to numerous influential physicians who would have an incredible impact on medicine, including Dr. Josiah Nott and Dr. Jerome Cochran. Our collection includes objects that narrate this fascinating history.  

Medical College of Alabama: Alabama's First Legislated and Orthodox Medical School


In 1859, a group of Mobile physicians led by Dr. Josiah Nott created the first state-legislated and orthodox medical college. Dr. Nott spent several months in Europe securing specimens to fill the college's medical museum and classrooms. Our exhibit includes two larger-than-life papier-mâché anatomical teaching models that were made in Paris in 1859 and shipped to Mobile for the school. 

Polio and the Iron Lung


The poliomyelitis epidemic of the 1940s and 1950s instilled fear in the hearts of Americans. The virus infected without prejudice. It spread through overcrowded urban slums and affluent suburbs alike. Sadly, most of its victims were children. For many, the virus caused flu-like symptoms that would generally subside on their own after a week or two. However, for some the virus affected the spinal cord and brain stem, resulting in paralytic polio. If the virus infected the brain stem (bulbar polio), the patient’s main muscle for controlling breathing-the diaphragm-would become paralyzed. At this point, patients would be confined to the iron lung, which used negative pressure to force the patient to breath.

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