Drexel’s Legacy Center Photographic Archives + Cyanotype Demo

March 23, 2019
12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Drexel University College of Medicine

This March, in celebration of Women’s History Month, join The Halide Project and The Legacy Center Archives & Special Collections for Women in Medicine and Homeopathy of Drexel University College of Medicine for an afternoon viewing breathtaking vernacular photographs from the collections of Hahnemann University (the nation’s first homeopathic medical school) and The Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania (the first degree-granting medical school for women.)

Learn about some of the nation’s first female physician pioneers through historic photographs including cyanotype, silver gelatin, and albumen prints. After touring the archives, guests will also have an opportunity to make their own cyanotype prints with guidance and materials provided by The Halide Project!

The event will take place at the Drexel College of Medicine on Queens Lane in East Falls (close to the Queens Lane Septa station and a short drive from Center City and 30th Street Station.)

Age 18+; Registration Required below; Discount with Halide Project Membership



From the dissecting room to the streets of Philadelphia, discover what it was like to be a 19th century medical student by way of extant photographs from two of Philadelphia’s most progressive medical schools. The Legacy Center is the repository for the records and heritage of Drexel University College of Medicine and its predecessor institutions, including Woman’s College of Pensylvania and Hahnemann University.

The event will include a behind-the-scenes tour of the Legacy Center’s collections storage area, as well as a hands-on exhibition and talk focused around an incredible collection of cyanotype prints from the 1890s.  Using cyanotype as our main entry point into the photographic trends of the era, visitors will explore photography’s significance to 19th century medical students (particularly women) and the role of the camera in forming their personal and professional identities.

Also on view will be an unparalleled collection of rarely-seen albumen and gelatin silver photographs—many taken by the students themselves—as well as scrapbooks, letters, books, and artifacts from the Legacy Center’s archives. Come discover how male and female students commemorated their time in medical school in similar and divergent ways; how medical missionaries used clinical photography to document extreme medical conditions while overseas; how historic photographs were used to locate and authenticate some of the most important medical specimens in Philadelphia history; and much more!

After touring the collection, participants will have the opportunity to create cyanotypes of their own, guided by members of The Halide Project. Discovered in 1842 by Sir John Herschel, the cyanotype process was initially utilized to make blueprints. In 1843, however, Anna Atkins—the first photographer to use the process to create photograms—published Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions, believed to be the first book to utilize photographic illustrations. Thus, cyanotype was firmly placed within the genre of photography, and a close association between the process and botanic specimens was begun. This association is celebrated to this day, but contemporary artists have also found innovative and creative applications for the process.

Pre-coated cyanotype materials, found objects, a UV exposure unit, and instruction will be provided for attendants to try their hand at the cyanotype process. Participants are also encouraged to bring negatives and/or items from home.

Image featured: from the 1911 yearbook of the Woman’s Medical College of Pennsylvania


Online registration for this event is closed.