From their disparate backgrounds, Philadelphia physicians S. Weir Mitchell, William W. Keen, and George R. Morehouse assembled one of the most unusual and important temporary hospital wards during the last year of the Civil War at Turner’s Lane in Philadelphia. The rehabilitative care afforded to 160 soldiers at Turner’s Lane, many of whom had been wounded at Gettysburg, provided an unparalleled opportunity to study diseases and wounds of the nerves, particularly peripheral nerve injuries. Mitchell, the leader of the team, and his colleagues were conscious of the history-making nature of their work: “The opportunity was indeed unique and we knew it … it was exciting in its constancy of novel interest.” Mitchell’s literary talents produced benchmark treatises on nerve injuries and popular fiction based on Turner’s Lane, most famously regarding the “phantom limb” phenomenon, a term he coined. Dr. Robert Hicks recounts the achievements of Turner’s Lane with emphasis on the regimen followed by these three young physicians that produced scientific insights which secured the discipline of American neurology.
This program is part of One Book, One Philadelphia—A project of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
This program is in conjunction with the Teacher Workshop, Bloodletting and Homeopathy on April 14. You may register for one or both of these events. People who register for both will recieve a discount.
Robert D. Hicks, PhD is the director of the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Formerly, he supervised exhibits, collections, and educational outreach at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. He has worked with museum-based education and exhibits for over three decades, primarily as a consultant to historic sites and museums. Robert has a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter, United Kingdom, and degrees in anthropology and archaeology from the University of Arizona.