Medicine on the Front Lines


“Medicine on the Front Lines - The Evolution of Battlefield Surgery" is a photographic archive of medical practices performed on the warfront as far back as the Civil War. Based upon the National Museum of Health and Medicine's "Battlefield Surgery 101: From the Civil War to Vietnam", the exhibit illustrates the incredible progress of military medicine since the pre-antibiotic, pre-antiseptic mid-nineteenth century, and speaks to the lives lost and lessons learned in combat.

Advances in trauma surgery, critical care, anesthesiology, infectious disease management, burn care and medical evacuation have inspired and mirrored civilian advances in medicine and reflected expertise honed on the battlefield. These advances continue, such that any American service member who arrives alive at a military treatment facility today is almost certain to survive.

Images and select text are drawn from the "Battlefield Surgery 101: From the Civil War to Vietnam" exhibition catalog produced by the Borden Institute. 

Exhibit credits for “Medicine on the Front Lines - The Evolution of Battlefield Surgery"
Michael Doyle, PhD,  Founder and Board Chairman, NMHM Chicago

Exhibit Development:
NMHM Chicago - Erich Theiss, Jennifer Rogers, Amie Zimmerman, Michael Doyle, Cynthia Lilagan, Elise Pescitelli

National Museum of Health and Medicine - Steve Hill, Adrianne Noe, Laura Cutter
Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture - Anthony Viola, Les Ventsch, Carrie Neill
Consultants - Sandy Gerding, Steve Landers, Steve Huntley

Exhibit Space Designer: Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture

Publicity: Amy Hesser

Works Cited in “Medicine on the Front Lines - The Evolution of Battlefield Surgery" exhibit
Arvey SR, Malone RE. (2008). Advance and retreat: tobacco control policy in the U.S. military. Military Medicine, 173(10), 985-991.
Camuso, M. (2006). Far-forward fracture stabilization: External fixation versus splinting. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 14(10), S118-S123.
Connor JTH. (2004). Chloroform and the civil war. Military Medicine, 169(2), vii-ix.
Connor JTH. (2004). An army operating room tableau dissected: Hiroshima, 1904. Military Medicine, 169(3), v-vii.
Connor JTH. (2004). Military medicine, its technology and transition in the mid-twentieth century. Military Medicine, 169(4), ix-xi.
Connor JTH. (2004). Beyond the ivory tower. the victorian revolution in surgery. Science, 304(5667), 54-55.
Joseph AM, Muggli M, Pearson KC, Lando H. (2005). The cigarette manufacturers' efforts to promote tobacco to the U.S. military. Military Medicine, 170(10), 874-888.
Lounsbury D, Bellamy R, Connor JTH, Rhode M, Crane J. (2003). Battlefield Surgery 101: From the Civil War to Vietnam.Washington, DC: Borden Institute, Office of the Surgeon General, US Army.
Manring M, Hawk A, Calhoun J, Andersen R. (2009). Treatment of war wounds: a historical review. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research, 467(8), 2168-2191.


Exhibit credits for "Battlefield Surgery 101: From the Civil War to Vietnam"
Adrianne Noe, PhD, Director, NMHM

Exhibit Curators: J.T.H. Connor and Michael G. Rhode
Curatorial Assistance:
Dave Lounsbury-Borden Institute, Ronald Bellamy-Borden Institute, Tabitha Oglesby, Lenore Barbian, Alan Hawk, Adrianne Noe, Donna Quist, Michael Simons, Kara Cromwell

Exhibit Designer: J. Carey Crane

Photographic Reproduction:
Douglas Landry, Sarah Ozment, James A. Nola, Pauline Dixon, William F. Discher

Exhibit Production:
Larry Claiborn, Alan Giese, David W. Schupay, Chris Zavestoski

Publicity and Website:
Steven Solomon, Susan Martin, Fran Card

Photos from the "Medicine on the Front Lines" opening night event: