Daniel Smith Lamb (1843–1929): A window into the early histories of the Army Medical Museum and Howard University Medical School Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • U.S. Army doctor Daniel Smith Lamb was a significant figure in the history of American pathology during its formative years. For 55 years (1865-1920), Lamb performed hundreds of autopsies in and around Washington, D.C. and personally collected over 1,500 gross pathology specimens for the Army Medical Museum. His work began at the close of the Civil War and continued on through World War I, contributing substantially to gross pathological and histological studies that documented wartime pathology, thus further contributing to the training of Army doctors. Specimens he collected also include material from autopsies he conducted on President James Garfield, his assassin Charles Guiteau, and other historical figures. Under the auspices of the Army Medical Museum, he conducted autopsies across the city of Washington for the museum's collection, many of which survive to this day at the National Museum of Health and Medicine. He served under 12 U.S. Army Surgeons General and 11 Museum Curators and was noted to be a steadying influence during a time of constant leadership changes at that institution. Lamb was known throughout Washington, D.C. as an advocate of medical education for African-Americans and women. While working at the Museum, he simultaneously served for 46 years as professor of anatomy at Howard University (1877-1923). He wrote seminal histories of the institutions with which he was associated and in so doing also contributed significantly to the study of the history of medicine.

publication date

  • October 2020