The Afterlife of the Leiden Anatomical Collections: Hands On, Hands Off, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Afterlife of the Leiden Anatomical Collections

Hands On, Hands Off, 1st Edition

By Hieke Huistra


174 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472461070
pub: 2018-10-25
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pub: 2018-11-02
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The Afterlife of the Leiden Anatomical Collections starts where most stories end: after death. It tells the story of thousands of body parts kept in bottles and boxes in nineteenth-century Leiden – a story featuring a struggling medical student, more than one disappointed anatomist, a monstrous child, and a glorious past. Hieke Huistra blends historical analysis, morbid anecdotes, and humour to show how anatomical preparations moved into the hands of students and researchers, and out of the reach of lay audiences. In the process, she reveals what a centuries-old collection can teach us about the future fate of the biobanks we build today.

Table of Contents


1. Remove Lid Before Use: How Students Handled Anatomical Preparations

2. Make Do and Mend: How Researchers Used Old Collections in New Medicine

3. Dead Body in the Closet: How Lay Visitors Disappeared from Institutional Anatomical Collections

4. Adieu Albinus: How the University Governors Lost Their Status Symbol

Conclusion: In Perpetual Motion: Anatomical Collections Then and Now

About the Author

Hieke Huistra is an assistant professor in the history of science and medicine at Utrecht University.

About the Series

The History of Medicine in Context

An interest in medicine is one of the constants that re-occurs throughout history. From the earliest times, man has sought ways to combat the myriad of diseases and ailments that afflict the human body, resulting in a number of evolving and often competing philosophies and practices whose repercussions spread far beyond the strictly medical sphere.

For more than a decade The History of Medicine in Context series has provided a unique platform for the publication of research pertaining to the study of medicine from broad social, cultural, political, religious and intellectual perspectives. Offering cutting-edge scholarship on a range of medical subjects that cross chronological, geographical and disciplinary boundaries, the series consistently challenges received views about medical history and shows how medicine has had a much more pronounced effect on western society than is often acknowledged. As medical knowledge progresses, throwing up new challenges and moral dilemmas, The History of Medicine in Context series offers the opportunity to evaluate the shifting role and practice of medicine from the long perspective, not only providing a better understanding of the past, but often an intriguing perspective on the present.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Modern / General