Mobile Medical Museum Mobile, AL

Mobile Medical Museum

The Mobile Medical Museum at 1664 Springhill Avenue is housed in the Vincent-Doan-Walsh house. This house is the oldest privately owned home from the 1800’s that still stands in Mobile and has been the site of the museum since 2003. The Medical Museum was founded in 1962 by Dr. Samuel Eichold, II.

Daryn P. Glassbrook, PhD, Executive Director of the museum gave me a guided tour of this fascinating place. Tours are available by appointment. The museum welcomes approximately eleven hundred visitors each year which is significant for this specialized museum.

Orbit, Explorations of the Eye

The temporary exhibit, “Orbit, Explorations of the Eye”, covering the centuries of ophthalmological practices began our tour. Entering the main gallery area, I was introduced to Howard the Leach, he harkens back to the very early days of medicine when blood-letting was thought to be a cure for some illnesses.



Moving onto Mobile’s medical past, we discussed Dr. Josiah Knott’s role in determining the cause of the yellow fever outbreak. I also learned about the formation of the Medical College of Alabama, founded in 1859 that would become Knott’s legacy.

Main Gallery

Two large anatomical models, pre-dating the Civil War, one illustrating the Lymphatic system and one the Nervous system, dominate the main exhibit room. These models were most likely used for teaching at the Medical College.  These colorful displays were brought over from Europe and how they survived the Civil War occupation is a mystery.



J. Marion Sims, the father of gynecology, has an unequalled story in the history of medical practice. Sims is responsible for the invention of several pieces of gynecological equipment but does have a less than stellar reputation. It is said that while treating his female patients, many of whom where female slave in the 1840’s, he did not use anesthesia during their treatment. Many thanks to those women who endured so much to help those who have benefited from the treatments he pioneered.

William Rankin, an engineer and physicist was responsible for developing the first x-ray to be produced using cathode tubes in 1913. His first x-ray was that of his wife’s hand. He is considered the father of diagnostic radiology and was awarded the first Nobel Prize for Physics.


You would think you’d find skeletons in a medical museum. Here there are two both of which date back about 120 years. Both are of Asian heritage. They also have several human skulls that are used as teaching tools.

Iron Lung

In the rear gallery of the museum is an Iron Lung which was used between the 1930s and 1950s during the polio epidemic. Although helpful in the patient’s treatment, it could not have been a comfortable experience to have been contained in one of these



Iron Lung Treatment area


Heart Lung Machine

Alongside the Iron Lung is a Heart Lung machine that was used in the process of heart transplants. You can learn how both of these machines contribution to life saving procedures.




In the garden, the museum is awaiting on installation of three new sculptures. An herb garden is featured where traditional medicinal herbs are grown.

The Mobile Medical Museum is a small unique museum with countless stories to tell. I encourage everyone to seek this out the museum to learn the stories of Mobile’s rich medical past. This museum adds a distinctive flavor to Mobile’s own unique history.

Lunch and Learn at the Mobile History Museum

On Wednesday’s each month Mobile’s history museum presents free hour long historical  talks by individuals and authors on a wide range of subjects.

March 14-Daryn Glassbrook, Ph.D. -People’s Drug Store

Dr. Glassbrook

Daryn Glassbrook, PhD., Executive Director of the Mobile Medical Museum presented a brief history of People’s Drug Store as well as a overview of the history that the medical profession as played in Mobile.





Dr. Harris

People’s Drug established between 1900 and 1906 by Thomas N. Harris, M.D. and was the first drug store in Mobile for African Americans and was located at 500 Dauphin Street  Thomas Derrick was the African American druggist from 1903-1906.  A.N. Johnson, a black businessman, bought People’s from Harris and sold it in 1907.

Thomas Derrick

Glassbrook detailed the history of several of the important African American physicians and businessmen who have been important to the practice of medicine in Mobile. Robert A. Boyd was the first African American doctor to practice in Mobile. Many of the black physicians in the era attended Howard University or Meharry College for their medical training.

The Medical College of Alabama was founded in 1859 by Dr. Josiah Clark in Mobile at 500 St. Anthony Street. The college was for whites only and also had a pharmacy school.

Dr. Clark

In 1895, twelve African American physicians formed the American Medical Association of Colored Physicians which became the National Medical Association. Robert Fulton Boyd was the first president of the NMA.  While the American Medical Association initially tried to exclude NMA members, it later discouraged racial discrimination but it was not until the height of the civil rights movement that the AMA would take issue with its policy racial exclusion

The Mobile Medical Museum provides the community with the rich history of the medicine in Mobile.  Tours of the museum are available on request.


March 28-Julie Williams, Ph.D and a Rare Titanic Family

Dr. Williams

Dr. Williams delighted her audience with a thrilling family story of her great uncle, Albert Caldwell, his wife, Sylvia and infant son, Alden, all who survived the sinking of the Titanic.


Dressed as Sylvia Caldwell and through her elaborate retelling of Albert and Sylvia’s treasured story, Julie recounts their journeys to Bangkok, throughout Europe and their epic encounter with the “unsinkable” Titanic.


TitanicJulie told me after her presentation that it was this story that ignited her love of history.  She is an assistant professor at Samford University and the author of two other historical publications.




Be sure and check out her future speaking engagements or find her book on Amazon.   It’s an intriguing read about a stunning moment in history.

Albert Caldwell and young Julie