A Century of “Stiffs, Skulls, and Skeletons”

Stanley B. Burns, MD, is an ophthalmologist, Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, and an internationally distinguished scholar of medical photographic history scholarship. For over four decades, Dr. Burns has studied, collected, and written on medical photography and founded The Burns Archive in 1977, which contains over a million vintage photographs.

Co-authored with Elizabeth A. Burns, creative and operations director of The Burns Archive and Press, his new book Stiffs, Skulls & Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism showcases the fascination with the dead body and parts among the medical community in the 19th and early 20th centuries. From cadavers to x-rays and deformed bones, these images are very different from ones appearing in modern day medical textbooks and journals, but they are a snapshot of the past and the progress we have made in over a century of healing.

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