The Mütter Museum Links High School Classroom to Untold Civil War Stories

​Today’s classroom is full of Civil War stories, but very few explore the impact the war had on the future of medical advancements in the United States.  The Mütter Museum, America’s best-known museum of medical history located in Philadelphia, has developed online lessons to share the untold social and medical dimensions of the Civil War with high school students and teachers nationwide.

The lessons, which are free and available to all, explore unique topics including:Mutter Museum Lesson Plan photo

  • How the ambulance system, emergency rooms, and the use of anesthesia all originated during the war;
  • What it was like to fight, to become sick or injured, to take care of the wounded;
  • How the nursing profession evolved and flourished as people–mostly women–volunteered to work day and night to relieve the suffering of soldiers; and
  • How the medical establishment understood the bodies of African American soldiers.

Each lesson follows a common format featuring learning objectives, time required, key words, background, recommended websites, and Pennsylvania Education Standards. Importantly, lessons include case studies and role plays based on primary sources to immerse students in the medical thinking of the Civil War era. Primary sources include soldiers’ letters, official reports, newspaper coverage, and medical pamphlets and treatises of the era.

Explore all ten lessons from The Mütter Museum or join Robert Hicks, director of the Mütter Museum, in a nine-part online miniseries that explores the vital role of people, places, and events in Civil War era Philadelphia.



Happy Halloween

by fifer1863 on October 31, 2015

On October 31, 1863, Harper’s Weekly featured a cartoon by artist Henry Louis Stephens about the controversial campaign of Clement Vallandignham, a leading Peace Democrat or “Copperhead” who was running for governor of Ohio.

Copperhead Clement Vallandigham
Under the image it states:

The State Elections
Pennsylvania.  “Friend OHIO, I thought thee hadst got rid of this noxious weed, as I of mine; and yet I see an ugly Pumpkin growing upon the land.”
Ohio.  “Not upon my land, I guess!  It’s the VALLANDIGHAM PUNKIN as I’ve tossed over into my neighbor’s field, and he’s bin and tuck root, you see, among the Canady thistles!”



Clement L. Vallandigham was born July 29, 1820 in Lisbon, Ohio and died June 17, 1871 in Lebanon, Ohio.  He was a famous politician during the Civil War who was court-martialed and exiled to the Confederacy because of his Southern sympathies and outspokenness against the Federal government.  Vallandigham was elected to the Ohio state legislature in 1845 and as a member of the US House of Representatives, he was outspoken against the  policies of the Republican Party especially when it came to the topic of slavery.   He soon became the leader of a group of Midwest Democrats known as Copperheads. The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats who opposed the Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates.

During the Civil War he continually attacked the Lincoln administration.  He claimed that Lincoln was destroying the Constitution. In 1863 he made numerous speeches throughout Ohio against the war and the government.  This lead to him to become one of the most suspected and hated men in the North. He was arrested in May by military authorities for expressing treasonable sympathy with the enemy.  He was tried and found guilty by a military commission and sentenced to imprisonment. Soon afterward Lincoln commuted his sentence to banishment behind Confederate lines.

Vallandigham eventually made his way to Canada where he continued to attack Lincoln and the Republicans.  In September 1863 the Ohio Peace Democrats nominated him for governor. He returned illegally to Ohio in 1864 and took an active part in that year’s election campaign. He also wrote part of the national Democratic platform in which the war was denounced as a failure.

After the war Vallandigham criticized the Radical Reconstruction policy of the Republicans as both unconstitutional and tyrannical, but in 1870 he recognized the uselessness of further opposition and urged his party to emphasize financial issues instead. He died the following year after accidentally shooting himself with a firearm that was an exhibit in a murder trial.


“Clement L. Vallandigham | Biography – American Politician.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.


The Mutter Museum Shares a Taste of the Civil War

by fifer1863 on October 27, 2015

The Mütter Museum Shares a Taste of the Civil War

By Emily Yates, Special Assistant to the Museum Director Mütter Museum 

The Mütter Museum will host a Civil War food event on Sunday November 8, 2015 from 10 am – 4 pm. Come to the Refreshment Saloon to taste authentic recipes like Tryphena Fox’s Louisiana Pumpkin Preserves from William C. Davis’ A Taste for War (recipe below).  All recipes will be accompanied by historical interpretation by Becky Diamond (author of The Thousand Dollar Dinner) to bring insight into how these foods affected the health and morale of soldiers and civilians.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 3.45.39 PMThe Refreshment Saloon is in conjunction with exhibition Broken Bodies, Suffering Spirits: Death, and Healing in Civil War Philadelphia, which will be open until 2019. The event is supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Mütter Museum is located at 19 S. 22nd Street Philadelphia, PA. For more information about the Refreshment Saloon event visit:

Tryphena Fox’s Louisiana Pumpkin Preserves

Clean and cut up a medium-size pumpkin and boil in water for 3 hours or until soft. Make a thin syrup of 2 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Place the cooked pumpkin in it, and continue to boil occasionally skimming the top until scum no longer rises and the pumpkin is very tender. Remove and skin the pumpkin, cutting it into 1 inch cubes. Meanwhile, boil the syrup until it is reduced and thick. Place the pumpkin cubes in a crock or canning jar, add a little vanilla or lemon extract to the syrup, and pour the hot syrup over the pumpkin, sealing the container. Serve hot or cold.

-A Taste for War by William C. DavisMutter Museum


In the mid-nineteenth century, the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables was dictated by the changing seasons. The obstacles created by the Civil War made it doubly difficult for soldiers to obtain garden-quality produce. Sweet preserves were a tasty and portable way to give soldiers some variety in their diet. When sugar became scarce in the Confederacy, sorghum became the primary replacement for sugar. Introduced into the South during the 1850s, sorghum stalks were crushed to extract a sweet juice that was boiled down to a molasses-like consistency and used to make jelly or preserves and baked into cakes and pies.

Pumpkin was grown successfully in both the northern and southern states. Southern “matrons” used both melon and pumpkin to make preserves. During the war, many fruits that were typically dried for use as winter provisions for the troops were instead converted into brandy, making dried fruit harder to come by. Pumpkin became an excellent substitute, and was helpful in treating and preventing diarrhea and scurvy.

In the North, pumpkin preserves were often called pumpkin marmalade. Preserves were also made out of pumpkin chips, a uniquely American sweet. Uncooked pumpkin was cut into strips or slices and simmered in sugar syrup flavored with lemon until translucent, then dried. It could be eaten like candy or used to make preserves, as evidenced by one Civil War soldier’s diary which states, “We were forever supplied with preserve made of pumpkin chips.” Another useful resource from the colorful squash was its seeds. The oil from pumpkin seeds was used to make a “cooling and nutritive milk” and was also considered a diuretic.

-Becky Diamond, author of The Thousand Dollar Dinner



Two New Tutorial Videos

October 13, 2015

Just a quick post to share two new videos that I created. The first video is based on some recent online discussion about creating overlays to find the location of original images.  This video shows how you can take an modern photograph and then overlay an original and some tips for aligning the images. The […]

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Pope Pius IX During the Civil War

September 28, 2015

Over the past few days, Pope Francis has been visiting the United States and talking to families, prisoners and politicians.  During the Civil War, politicians also sought the guidance and support of Pope Pius IX. Pius IX was Pope from June 161846 to his death in 1878. During his pontificate, he convened the First Vatican […]

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Students Reenact the Battle of Antietam

May 8, 2015

This is a cool way for students to learn about the Civil  War.  Note the cannons.  

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Two New Gettysburg Rock Carving Videos

April 7, 2015

Family Fun Finding Rock Carvings in Gettysburg National Military Park The kids had the Monday after Easter off and it was a beautiful day so we packed a lunch and headed to Gettysburg for the day.  While there, we did a lot of walking around Devil’s Den, Little Round Top and the Wheatfield.  We also […]

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Library of Congress Acquires Collection of Civil War Images

March 31, 2015

Library of Congress Acquires Collection of Civil War Images The Library of Congress recently took ownership of more than 500 rare Civil War images when 87-year-old Robin Stanford delivered her stereograph images from her collection to the library. “They’re just tremendously significant,” Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War Photography, told the Washington Post. “These are […]

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Google Earth Tour of the Lincoln Assassination

February 2, 2015

Using Google Earth to Tour the Lincoln Assassination You know that I am a huge fan of Google Earth. Lately I have really enjoyed creating tours of various locations like the Rose Woods and Devil’s Den in Gettysburg.  With the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, I thought I would offer a Google […]

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Merry Christmas

December 25, 2014

On January 3, 1863, Harper’s Weekly ran the following Thomas Nast image of Santa Claus visiting the Civil War Soldiers What can you see in the picture?  There is so much to see in this photo.  From the drummer boys playing with the Jack-in-the-box to the troops chasing a pig in the background (notice one […]

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Using GIMP to Colorize Civil War Era Photos

October 14, 2014

Bringing Civil War Photos to Life with Color As you know I am a huge fan of having students use primary sources in the classroom.  This is especially true when comes to using photographs from the Library of Congress.  I have blogged about using images in the past.  I have also crated videos on finding […]

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Touring Gettysburg with Students and Their iPads

October 6, 2014

I recently had the opportunity to lead a group of students on a trip to Gettysburg. The original plan was to take the Seniors and visit Little Round Top and Devil’s Den.  My role was to talk to the students about the fighting at Devils Den and another teacher would talk about Little Round Top. […]

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Google Earth and Devils Den

September 23, 2014

Using original photographs and Google Earth to Explore the Battle of Gettysburg In an effort to continue my exploration of original Gettysburg photographs using Google Earth, I have created a new video on exploring some of the famous locations in Devil’s Den.  Be sure to check out my Rose Woods video and other videos on my […]

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NHD in PA Student Institute

September 2, 2014

Received the following from the Pennsylvania National History Day Coordinator and thought I’d share: ————————————————————————————- Dear Teachers: Registration is now open for the 2nd Annual National History Day in Pennsylvania Student Institute.  This year’s program will include advice and guidance for student on selecting and narrowing a topic, writing an effective thesis, and creating an evidence […]

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Exploring the Rose Farm with Google Earth

July 22, 2014

I am often asked about where the Rose Woods is in Gettysburg and how others can find it when they visit.  Well, I took a few minutes and created a video showing you exactly where the Rose Woods is in Gettysburg and where you can find the famous photographs of the dead soldiers.     […]

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Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive

July 2, 2014

The Digital Library of Georgia has released the Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive online.  This is way cool to access these primary sources.  The following is a press release: The Digital Library of Georgia is pleased to announce the availability of a new online resource: The Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive. The Savannah Historic Newspapers Archive provides online […]

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History of Confederate Flags and a Giveaway

April 8, 2014

The following is a guest post from Michael Cronin who is the Founder and CEO of Gettysburg Flag Works  ——————————— When we think of American flags, “red, white and blue” is probably the first thing that comes to mind. When it comes to civil war flags, this is still the case, but the faithful red, […]

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Please Help National History Day in Pa

March 4, 2014

I received the following the other day and thought I would share.  Please help if you can. _____________________________________________________ National History Day in Pennsylvania needs your help! Each year, NHD in PA supports the Pennsylvania Delegation to the Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest at the University of Maryland by covering student entry fees for […]

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Fort Morgan video

February 21, 2014

Fort Morgan, Alabama Found this neat video on Fort Morgan that I thought I’d share. Enjoy!  

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The Gettysburg Project

February 5, 2014

Quick post today on The Gettysburg Project The purpose of the Gettysburg Project Site is to enhance public  awareness and appreciation of the Battle of Gettysburg and The Gettysburg Address through the song “Gettysburg,” other Civil War inspired music, and links to other Gettysburg Memorial websites and blogs. The song Gettysburg was inspired by the […]

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