About the IMHM Specimen Collection
More and more large and expensive hospitals and poor outcomes for patients-- this was the state of affairs when Dr. George F. Edenharter, superintendent of what was by then called Central Indiana Hospital for the Insane, established the Pathological Department here in 1895. This cutting-edge medical research facility received national attention when it opened in 1896. Dr. Edenharter recognized that, despite anyone's best intentions, the system was not working. He understood the importance of the emerging field of pathology, and he believed a financial investment by the State of Indiana into this kind of scientific research would improve outcomes for patients and save the State, and Hoosier tax payers, money in the long run by slowing or eliminating the seemingly constant need for new mental hospitals.
The Pathological Department was dedicated to studying physical causes of mental diseases, like tumors and traumatic injuries, and to finding effective cures for them. When permission was granted, autopsies were performed on patients who passed away in the hospital, so that doctors could better understand these diseases and conditions. Many specimens were preserved for future research and as teaching aids for medical students and practicing physicians who came here to learn about the research being done. These are the specimens still reside in the Anatomical Museum of the Indiana Medical History Museum.
The Pathological Department of Central State Hospital now houses the Indiana Medical History Museum, seen above. The facility is very much a time capsule with many of the original furnishings, equipment, specimens, and records surviving intact.