An exhibition that ranges from the Middle Ages to the present and from monsters to in vitro fertilization must draw on many and varied sources. Because research is only beginning on several of the topics covered, some are inevitably detailed, and many are not available in English. This bibliography is organized page by page, beginning for each topic with the most accessible works. Those new to the field might like to start with these.

The list can be viewed from the beginning by clicking the ‘Resources’ link in the top right corner of every page. Alternatively, the specific readings for each page can be accessed directly from the ‘Resources’ buttons below the text.


These titles survey all or most of the period covered by the exhibition:

Hopwood, Nick (2009), ‘Embryology’, in Peter J. Bowler and John V. Pickstone (eds), The Cambridge history of science, vol. 6: The modern biological and earth sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 285–315.

Duden, Barbara (1993), Disembodying women: perspectives on pregnancy and the unborn, translated by Lee Hoinacki, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Originally published as Duden, Barbara (1991), Der Frauenleib als öffentlicher Ort: Vom Missbrauch des Begriffs Leben, Hamburg: Luchterhand.

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia. An expanding historical database on ‘the changing understanding of embryos’ at Arizona State University.

Dunstan, G. R. (1990) (ed.), The human embryo: Aristotle and the Arabic and European traditions, Exeter: University of Exeter Press.

Duden, Barbara, Jürgen Schlumbohm and Patrice Veit (2002) (eds), Geschichte des Ungeborenen. Zur Erfahrungs- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Schwangerschaft, 17.–20. Jahrhundert, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. A collection of essays exploring the history of pregnancy.

Pancino, Claudia and Jean d’Yvoire (2006), Formato nel segreto: nascituri e feti fra immagini e immaginario dal xvi al xxi secolo, Rome: Carocci.

Highly illustrated volumes that accompanied exhibitions:

Mörgeli, Christoph and Uli Wunderlich (2002), ‘Über dem Grabe geboren.’ Kindsnöte in Medizin und Kunst. Begleitband zur Ausstellung im Medizinhistorischen Museum der Universität Zürich vom 26. April bis 31. Oktober 2002, Bern: Benteli Verlag.

Schulz, Stephan, Irmgard Müller and Friedrich Graesel (2005), Körper—Form—Seele. Visualisierungen des Ungeborenen und die Diskussion um den Schwangerschaftsabbruch, Medizin im Museum, Jahrbuch der Medizinhistorischen Sammlung der RUB, Essen: Schulz und Müller.

Jacobs, Marc and Hilde Schoefs (2002) (eds), Inside out: het ongeboren leven in beeld, Brussels: Vlaams Centrum voor Volkscultur.

For general orientation on visual images in the history of science:

Daston, Lorraine and Peter Galison (1992), ‘The image of objectivity’, Representations 40, 81–128.

Schlich, Thomas (2000), ‘Linking cause and disease in the laboratory: Robert Koch’s method of superimposing visual and functional representations of bacteria’, History and philosophy of life sciences 22, 43–58.

Lynch, Michael and Steve Woolgar (eds.) (1990), Representation in scientific practice, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

Pang, Alex Soojung-Kim (1997), ‘Visual representation and post-constructivist history of science’, Historical studies in the physical and biological sciences 28, 139–71.

On developmental icons:

Gould, Stephen Jay (1997), ‘Ladders and cones: constraining evolution by canonical icons’, in Robert B. Silvers (ed.), Hidden histories of science, London, Granta, pp. 37–67.

Rudwick, Martin J. S. (1992), Scenes from deep time: early pictorial representations of the prehistoric world, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Clark, Constance Areson (2001), ‘Evolution for John Doe: pictures, the public, and the Scopes trial debate’, Journal of American history 87, 1275–303.


The images come from a wide range of sources: processional panels, commissioned paintings, religious manuscripts, church frescos, political pamphlets, midwifery manuals and anatomical atlases, as well as other scientific treatises and textbooks. They were produced all over Europe between the 1500s and the 1830s. The literature reflects this diversity. It explains the contexts—religious, medical, scientific and political—in which the different representations were made.


Duden (1993).

Duden, Barbara (2002), ‘Zwischen “wahrem Wissen” und Prophetie: Konzeptionen des Ungeborenen’, in Barbara Duden, Jürgen Schlumbohm and Patrice Veit (eds), Geschichte des Ungeborenen. Zur Erfahrungs - und Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Schwangerschaft, 17.–20. Jahrhundert, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pp. 11–48. On the diverse conceptions of the unborn in the pre-modern era.

Fissell, Mary (2004), Vernacular bodies: the politics of reproduction in early modern England, Oxford: Oxford University Press, chapter 1: ‘Reforming the body’, pp. 14–52. On the politics of conception narratives and representations of the female pregnant body in late medieval and early modern England.

Lechner, Gregor Martin (1981), Maria gravida: zum Schwangerschaftsmotiv in der bildenden Kunst, Munich: Schnell & Steiner, 1981. An art-historical study of representations of the pregnant Virgin, including the Sankt Pölten Madonna (p. 408).

Morel, Marie-France (2005), ‘Voire et entendre les foetus autrefois: deux examples’, Spirale 36(4), 23–35, on representations of the pregnant Virgin.

Newman, Karen (1996), Fetal positions: individualism, science, visuality, Stanford: Stanford University Press. The book’s assumption of similarity and continuity among different images of the unborn is problematic. See Duden, Barbara (1999), ‘The fetus on the “farther shore”: toward a history of the unborn’, in Lynn M. Morgan and Meredith W. Michaels (eds), Fetal subjects, feminist positions, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 13–25.

Experiencing pregnancy

Duden (1999).

McClive, Cathy (2002), ‘The hidden truths of the belly: the uncertainties of pregnancy in early modern Europe’, Social history of medicine 15(2), 209–27.

Duden, Barbara (1991), The woman beneath the skin: a doctor’s patients in eighteenth-century Germany, translated by Thomas Dunlap, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Original edition: (1987), Geschichte unter der Haut: ein Eisenacher Arzt und seine Patientinnen um 1730, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.

Physicians on the female body:

Wilson, Adrian (1995), The making of man-midwifery: childbirth in England, 1660–1770, London: UCL Press.

Fissell (2004). On Rueff’s book in the context of changing ideas about the womb and the female body, see chapter 2: ‘The womb goes bad’, pp. 53–89.

Lloyd, G. E. R. (1983), ‘The female sex: medical treatment and biological theories in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.’, in Lloyd, Science, folklore and ideology: studies in the life sciences in ancient Greece, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 77. For the quotation in the box.


Roper, Lyndal (2004), Witch craze: terror and fantasy in baroque Germany, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, chapter 6: ‘Fertility’, pp. 125–59, especially pp. 141–9, on early modern images of the female body and fashion.

Hall, Edwin (1994), The Arnolfini betrothal: medieval marriage and the enigma of Van Eyck’s double portrait, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Medical interest

Duden (2002), on diverse views of the unborn: the ‘coming child’, the ‘nasciturus’, and on ‘mola’ as a product of misdirected generative force.

Dream anatomy. A National Library of Medicine exhibition on anatomical images from 1500 to the present

Physicians’ views:

King, Helen (2007), Midwifery, obstetrics and the rise of gynæcology: the uses of a sixteenth-century compendium, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Park, Katharine (2006), Secrets of women: gender, generation and the origins of human dissection, New York: Zone Books. Especially chapter 2: ‘Secrets of women’, pp. 77–120, and chapter 3: ‘The mother’s part’, pp. 121–59, on the medical understanding and management of barrenness, pregnancy and childbirth in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance.

Fischer-Homberger, Esther (1983), Medizin vor Gericht. Gerichtsmedizin von der Renaissance bis zur Aufklärung, Bern: Hans Huber. Early-modern medical writers on marriage, pregnancy, sterility, impotence and physical similarity: ‘Der Zweck von Ehe und Familie’, pp. 175–83; ‘Eheliche Pflichten’, pp. 183–8; ‘Unfruchtbarkeit und Impotenz’, pp. 189–209; ‘Konzeption und Schwangerschaft’, pp. 222–54; and ‘Ähnlichkeit’, pp. 254–67.

De Renzi, Silvia (2007), ‘Resemblance, paternity, and imagination in early modern courts’, in Staffan Müller-Wille and Hans-Jörg Rheinberger (eds), Heredity produced: at the crossroads of biology, politics, and culture, 1500–1870, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, pp. 61–83.

Midwives’ views:

McClive, Cathy (2008), ‘Blood and expertise: the trials of the female medical expert in the ancient-régime courtroom’, Bulletin of the history of medicine 82, 86–108.

Marland, Hilary (ed.) (1993), The art of midwifery: early modern midwives in Europe, London: Routledge.

Sharp, Jane (1999), The midwives book; or, the whole art of midwifry discovered, edited by Elaine Hobby, New York: Oxford University Press. An annotated edition of an 1671 manual by an English midwife.


Keele, Kenneth D. (1983), Leonardo da Vinci: anatomical drawings from the Royal Library, Windsor castle, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, especially the preface and p. 78.

Acquiring a soul

McLaren, Angus (1990), ‘Policing pregnancies: changes in nineteenth-century criminal and canon law’, in G. R. Dunstan (ed.), The human embryo: Aristotle and the Arabic and European traditions, Exeter: University of Exeter Press, pp. 187–207.

Needham, Joseph (1959), A history of embryology, 2nd edition revised with the assistance of Arthur Hughes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 109–114. On the Aristotelian view of conception and embryonic growth in Rueff’s work.

McLaren, Angus (1984), Reproductive rituals: the perception of fertility in England from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth century, London: Methuen. On abortion, ensoulment and quickening, see especially chapter 4: ‘“All manner of art, to the help of drugs and physicians”: abortion as birth control’, pp. 89–112, and chapter 5: ’“Converting this measure of security into a crime”: the early nineteenth century abortion laws’, pp. 133–44.

Jones, David A. (2004), The soul of the embryo: an enquiry into the status of the human embryo in the Christian tradition, London: Continuum. Especially chapter 5: ‘Medicinal penalties’, pp. 57–74, on abortion; chapter 6: ‘Soul talk’, pp. 75–91; chapter 7: ‘The timing of ensoulment’, pp. 109–24; and chapter 8: ‘The embryonic Christ’, pp. 125–40. Argues, against much social historical writing, that Christianity has always stood for the inviolability of life from conception.

Badurina, Andjelko (2000) (ed.), Leksikon religijske ikonografije, liturgije i simbolike zapadnog krscanstva [A lexicon of the religious iconography, liturgy and symbols of Western Christianity], 4th edition, Zagreb: Krscanska sadasnjost, pp. 420–4. On the iconography of the Annunciation.

Cvetnic, Sanja (Department of Art History, University of Zagreb), personal communication (emails, 12 February, 6 and 15 October 2008) about medieval Christian iconography.

Dugac, Zeljko (Department of History of Medicine, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Zagreb), personal communication (emails, 3 February, 4 and 25 September 2007 and 11 and 12 February 2008) about medieval and early modern Christian iconography, especially the motifs in the Beram fresco.

Debates over generation

Roe, Shirley A. (1981), Matter, life and generation: eighteenth-century embryology and the Haller-Wolff debate, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cohen, I. Bernard (1973), ‘A note on Harvey’s “egg” as Pandora’s “box”’, in Mikulas Teich and Robert M. Young (eds), Changing perspectives in the history of science: essays in honour of Joseph Needham, London: Heinemann, pp. 232–49.

Pinto-Correia, Clara (1997), The ovary of Eve: egg and sperm and preformation, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Roger, Jacques (1997), The life sciences in eighteenth-century French thought, edited by Keith R. Benson and translated by Robert Ellrich, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Original edition: Roger, J. (1963), Les sciences de la vie dans la pensée française du XVIII siècle, Paris: Armand Colin.


Leroi, Armand Marie (2003), Mutants: On the form, varieties and errors of the human body, London: HarperCollins.

Daston, Lorraine and Katharine Park (1998), Wonders and the order of nature, 1150–1750, New York: Zone Books. See especially chapter V: ‘Monsters’, pp. 173–214, on monsters as sources of wonder and portents of the divine; for the ‘pope-ass’ monster, see pp. 187–9.

From ‘monsters’ to modern medical miracles: selected moments in the history of conjoined twins from medieval to modern times. A NLM online exhibition.

Hagner, Michael (1999), ‘Enlightened monsters’, in William Clark, Jan Golinski, and Simon Schaffer (eds), The sciences in enlightened Europe, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 179–217.

Appel, Toby A. (1987), The Cuvier-Geoffroy debate: French biology in the decades before Darwin, New York: Oxford University Press. On Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire.

Enke, Ulrike (2000) (ed.), Samuel Thomas Soemmerring: Schriften zur Embryologie und Teratologie, Basel: Schwabe & Co. Especially pp. 20–80, for a detailed discussion of Soemmerring’s collecting and ordering monsters and work on the Abbildungen und Beschreibungen einiger Misgeburten (which is reprinted on pp. 113–63).

Fischer, Jean-Louis (1991), Monstres: histoire du corps et de ses défauts, Paris: Syros-Alternatives.


How and why did the German anatomist Samuel Thomas Soemmerring create what is generally considered the first connected series of images to show the development of human embryos? The (German) literature on Soemmerring is complemented by titles that discuss traditions of anatomical representation and pictures of the uterus and pregnancy in this period, legal medical interest in abortion and infanticide, and the public health contribution to the rising state interest in a healthy and numerous population.


Enke (2000). On Samuel Thomas Soemmerring’s embryological work.

Porter, Dorothy (1999), Health, civilization and the state: a history of public health from ancient to modern times, London: Routledge, pp. 49–54.

Clark, Michael and Catherine Crawford (eds) (1994), Legal medicine in history, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, part I: Early modern practice, pp. 25–86, and part II: The growth of science, pp. 25–163.

Fischer-Homberger, Esther (1983). Legal and medical writers on abortion (pp. 267–77) and infanticide (pp. 277–92).

Jordanova, Ludmilla (1985), ‘Gender, generation and science: William Hunter’s obstetrical atlas’, in W. F. Bynum and Roy Porter (eds), William Hunter and the eighteenth-century medical world, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 386–412.

Wellmann, Janina (2010), Die Form des Werdens: Eine Kulturgeschichte der Embryologie, 1760-1830, Göttingen: Wallstein.

A blind spot in anatomical images

Enke (2000), especially pp. 81–110 for Soemmerring’s research on the Icones (reprinted on pp. 165–89) and review in the Göttingische gelehrte Anzeigen (p. 82 for his review of Denman).

Samuel Thomas Soemmerring: Naturforscher der Goethezeit in Kassel. With contributions by Manfred Wenzel, Ulrike Enke, Jutta Schuchard, Sigrid Oehler-Klein, Irmtraud Sahmland and Horst Haeberlin (1990), Kassel: Stadtsparkasse Kassel.

Dumont, Franz (1997) (ed.), Samuel Thomas Soemmerring: Briefwechsel 1784–1792. Part I: November 1784—Dezember 1786, Stuttgart: Gustav Fischer, pp. 358–9 and especially 314–17: on the portrait of Soemmerring.

Temporalizing pregnancy

Clark and Crawford (2004), especially Mark Jackson, ‘Suspicious infant deaths: the statute of 1624 and medical evidence at coroners inquests’, pp. 64–86, and Mary Naggle Wessling, ‘Infanticide trials and forensic medicine: Württemberg, 1757–93’, pp. 117–44.

Fischer-Homberger (1983), pp. 175–253. Legal and medical writers on sexuality and reproduction, especially on the signs and duration of pregnancy.

Leavitt, Judith Walzer (1988), Brought to bed: childbearing in America, 1750–1950, New York: Oxford University Press. Especially chapter 2: ‘“Science enters the birthing room”: the impact of physician obstetrics’, pp. 36–63.

Düring, Monika von, Georges Didi-Huberman, Marta Poggesi and Saulo Bambi (1999), Encyclopædia anatomica: a complete collection of anatomical waxes, Cologne: Taschen. On the Florentine wax models.

Lesky, Erna (1976) (ed.), A system of complete medical police: selections from Johann Peter Frank, translated from the third, revised Vienna edition of 1786 by E. Vilim, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Especially the introduction, on Frank’s career.

Rosen, George (1953), ‘Cameralism and the concept of medical police’, Bulletin of the history of medicine 27, 21–42.

Collecting embryos

Enke (2002), pp. 92–7. On Soemmerring’s collecting.

Grundmann, Kornelia and Gerd Aumüller (1992), Das Marburger Museum Anatomicum: Geschichte und Ausstellungsgegenstände (mit Photographien von G. Jennemann), Marburg: Magistrat der Stadt. On the Marburg anatomical museum and its collection, including Soemmerring’s specimens.

Vanja, Christina (2004), ‘Das Kasseler Accouchier- und Findelhaus 1763 bis 1787: Ziele und Grenzen “vernünftigen Mitleidens” mit Gebärenden und Kindern’, in Jürgen Schlumbohm and Claudia Wiesemann (eds), Die Entstehung der Geburtsklinik in Deutschland, 1751–1850: Göttingen, Kassel, Braunstein, Göttingen: Wallstein, pp. 96–126. On the Kassel foundling house and lying-in hospital.

Picturing development

Hopwood (2002), Embryos in wax: models from the Ziegler studio, Cambridge: Whipple Museum of the History of Science; Bern: Institute of History of Medicine, University of Bern. See pp. 7–15, on the transition from non-developmental to developmental models (‘La Specola’ to Kuriger).

Wellmann, Janina (2007), ‘Keine Ikone der Entwicklung: die Icones embryonum humanorum von Samuel Thomas Soemmerring’, in Ulrich Johannes Schneider (ed.), Kulturen des Wissens im 18. Jahrhundert, Göttingen: De Gruyter, pp. 585-94. Argues that Soemmerring’s plates do not show development. We accept some of the points—and agree that the process was far from complete with Soemmerring—but put more weight on the visual evidence of the changing shapes shown on the plate.

Choulant, Ludwig (1962), History and bibliography of anatomic illustration, translated and annotated by Mortimer Frank, New York: Hafner. Original edition: Choulant, Ludwig (1852), Geschichte und Bibliographie der anatomischen Abbildung nach ihrer Beziehung auf anatomische Wissenschaft und bildende Kunst, Leipzig: Weigel. See also: Dream anatomy. A National Library of Medicine exhibition on anatomical images from 1500 to the present.

Huisman, Tim (1992), ‘Squares and diopters: the drawing system of a famous anatomical atlas’, Tractrix 4, 1–11. On the Albinus-Wandelaar drawing system.

Enke (2000), p. 85 for the comment by the Countess of Kesselstadt, pp. 86–90 on the importance of Hunter’s work to Soemmerring and pp. 104–10 on Soemmerring’s later reception.

Suter, Adrian Christoph (1986), ‘Die anatomischen Reliefdarstellungen des Einsiedler Kleinkünstlers J. B. Kuriger (1754–1819)’, Med. Diss., Medizinhistorisches Institut der Universität Bern.

Geus, Armin (1985), ‘Christian Koeck (1758–1818), der Illustrator Samuel Thomas Soemmerrings’, in Gunter Mann and Franz Dumont (eds), Samuel Thomas Soemmerring und die Gelehrten der Goethezeit. Beiträge eines Symposions in Mainz vom 19. bis 21. Mai 1983, Soemmerring-Forschungen 1, Stuttgart: Fischer, pp. 263–78.



Daston and Galison (1992).

Clarke, Edwin and L. S. Jacyna (1987), Nineteenth-century origins of neuroscientific concepts, Berkeley: University of California Press. Shows how Romantic nature philosophy shaped biological thought. See especially pp. 58–84, on Gabriel Gustav Valentin’s and Jan Evangelista Purkyne’s work on the unity of form between somatic cells and eggs, and the cell as the basic element of tissues.

Hopwood (2002), pp. 15–23 and 33–9.

Lenoir, Timothy (1989), The strategy of life: teleology and mechanics in nineteenth-century German biology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nyhart, Lynn K. (1995), Biology takes form: animal morphology and the German universities, 1800–1900, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Russell, E. S. (1916), Form and function: a contribution to the history of animal morphology, London: Murray. The classic study, examining changing approaches through the nineteenth century.

Tuchman, Arleen Marcia (1993), Science, medicine and the state in Germany: the case of Baden, 1815–1871, New York: Oxford University Press.

Histories of development

Churchill, Frederick B. (1994), ‘The rise of classical descriptive embryology’, in Scott F. Gilbert (ed.), A conceptual history of modern embryology, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, pp. 1–29.

Desmond, Adrian (1990), The politics of evolution: morphology, medicine, and reform in radical London, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Appel (1987).

Lenoir (1989). On Karl Ernst von Baer: pp. 72–95.

Tammiksaar, Erki and Sabine Brauckmann (2004), ‘Karl Ernst von Baer’s “Ueber Entwickelungsgeschichte der Thiere II” and its unpublished drawings’, History and philosophy of life sciences 26, 291–308.

Meyer, Arthur William (1939), The rise of embryology, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, pp. 267–8 and fig. 67, facing p. 255. On artificial incubators.

Cells and disciplines

On teaching and learning (with the microscope):

Coleman, William (1988), ‘Prussian pedagogy: Purkyne at Breslau, 1823–1839’, William Coleman and Frederic L. Holmes (eds), The investigative enterprise: experimental physiology in nineteenth-century medicine, Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 15–64.

Jacyna, L. S. (2001), ‘“A host of experienced microscopists”: the establishment of histology in nineteenth-century Edinburgh’, Bulletin of the history of medicine 75, 225–53. On acquiring microscopic skills.

Gooday, Graeme (1991), ‘“Nature” in the laboratory: Domestication and discipline with the microscope in Victorian life science’, British journal for the history of science 24, 307–41.

Kettenmann, Helmut, Jörg Zaun and Stefanie Korthals (2001), Unsichtbar—Sichtbar—Durchschaut: das Mikroskop als Werkzeug des Lebenswissenschaftlers, Berlin: Max-Delbrück-Centrum für Molekulare Medizin Berlin. Especially ‘Mikroskope aus Berlin and Brandenburg’, pp. 15–35, by Jörg Zaun and Helmut Kettenmann, on the boom in instrument, and especially microscope production, around the new University of Berlin.

On Auzoux and his models:

Artificial anatomy: papier-mâché anatomical models. An online exhibition by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Grob, Bart (2000), The world of Auzoux: models of man and beast in papier-mâché, Leiden: Museum Boerhaave.

Davis, Audrey B. (1977), ‘Louis Thomas Jerôme Auzoux and the papier mâché anatomical model’, in La ceroplastica nella scienza e nell’arte: atti del I congresso internazionale, Firenze, 3–7 giugno 1975, Biblioteca della Rivista di storia delle scienze mediche e naturali 20, Florence: Olschki, vol. 1, 257–79.

On Theodor Bischoff:

Giese, Christian (1990), ‘Theodor Ludwig Wilhelm von Bischoff (1807–1882). Anatom und Physiologe’, Habilitationsschrift, Institut für Geschichte der Medizin, Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen.

Visual aids

Hopwood (2002), chapter 2: ‘A young doctor of great dexterity’, pp. 15–23 and chapter 4: ‘Solid standards’, pp. 33–9. On Adolf Ziegler.

Jacyna (2001).

Lim, Tit-Meng, ‘Learning developmental biology has priority in the life sciences curriculum in Singapore’, International journal of developmental biology 47, 117–21. See also other articles in the special issue on ‘Teaching developmental biology’

Embryos on show

Altick, Richard D. (1978), The shows of London, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press. See pp. 340–2 for Joseph Kahn and Reimers’ Anatomical and Ethnological Museum.

Bates, A. W. (2008), ‘“Indecent and demoralising representations”: public anatomy museums in mid-Victorian England’, Medical history 52(1), 1–22. On Joseph Kahn and his museum.

Burmeister, Maritha Rene (2000), ‘Popular anatomical museums in nineteenth-century England’, PhD thesis, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey. On Kahn.

Daum, Andreas W. (1998), Wissenschaftspopularisierung im 19. Jahrhundert. Bürgerliche Kultur, naturwissenschaftliche Bildung und die deutsche Öffentlichkeit, 1848–1914, Munich: Oldenbourg. Surveys the nineteenth-century history of German popular science in print.



Gould, Stephen Jay (1977), Ontogeny and phylogeny, Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. A classic exploration of the relationship between embryonic development and evolution.

Gould (1997).

Richards, Robert J. (2008), The tragic sense of life: Ernst Haeckel and the struggle over evolutionary thought, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hopwood, Nick (2005), ‘Visual standards and disciplinary change: normal plates, tables and stages in embryology’, History of science 43, 239–303. Shorter and more highly-illustrated version: Hopwood, Nick (2007), ‘A history of normal plates, tables and stages in vertebrate embryology’, International journal of developmental biology 51, 1–26.

Hopwood, Nick (2006), ‘Pictures of evolution and charges of fraud: Ernst Haeckel’s embryological illustrations’, Isis 97, 260–301.

Gursch, Reinhard (1981), Die Illustrationen Ernst Haeckels zur Abstammungs- und Entwicklungsgeschichte: Diskussion im wissenschaftlichen und nichtwissenschaftlichen Schriftum, Bern: Lang.

Vivid comparisons

Hopwood (2006).

Forgery charges

Hopwood (2006).

Hopwood, Nick (1999), ‘“Giving body” to embryos: modeling, mechanism and the microtome in late nineteenth-century anatomy’, Isis 90, 462–96. On the agenda and methods of Wilhelm His.

Gursch (1981).

Visual culture

Gerner, Cornelia (1993), Die “Madonna” in Edvard Munchs Werk. Frauenbilder und Frauenbild im ausgehenden 19. Jahrhundert, Morsbach: Literaturverlag Norden Mark Reinhardt, pp. 81–9, 183–6.

Menon, Elizabeth K. (2004), ‘Anatomy of a motif: the fetus in late 19th-century graphic art’, Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide 3, issue 1.

Stead, Evanghélia (2004), Le monstre, le singe et le fœtus: Tératogonie et Décadence dans l’Europe fin-de-siècle, Geneva: Droz. On Beardsley and the fetal grotesque see pp. 422–35.

Easton, Malcolm (1972), Aubrey and the dying lady: a Beardsley riddle, London: Secker & Warburg, pp. 179–81, for the suggestion that Beardsley used His.

Franz, Rainald (1998), ‘Stilvermeidung und Naturnachahmung: Ernst Haeckels “Kunstformen der Natur” und ihr Einfluß auf die Ornamentik des Jugendstils in Österreich’, in Erna Aescht et al (eds), Welträtsel und Lebenswunder: Ernst Haeckel—Werk, Wirkung und Folgen, Linz: Oberösterreichisches Landesmuseum, pp. 475–80.

Rationalizing reproduction

Grossmann, Atina (1995), Reforming sex: the German movement for birth control and abortion reform, 1920–1950, New York: Oxford University Press.

Schnalke, Thomas (1995), Diseases in wax: the history of the medical moulage, trans. Kathy Spatschek, Carol Stream, Illinois, Berlin: Quintessence. On the modelling workshops at the German Hygiene Museum, Dresden, see chapter 24: ‘In the service of public health education: moulages in Dresden’, pp. 121–43.

Usborne, Cornelie (1992), The politics of the body in Weimar Germany: women’s reproductive rights and duties, London: Macmillan. Especially chapter 4: ‘Abortion: politics and medicine’.

Hopwood (2002), chapter 8: ‘A company of wax homunculi’, pp. 69–75. On public images of embryos in early twentieth-century Germany.

Hopwood, Nick (2002a), ‘Embryonen “auf dem Altar der Wissenschaft zu opfern”: Entwicklungsreihen im späten neunzehnten Jahrhundert’, in Barbara Duden, Jürgen Schlumbohm and Patrice Veit (eds), Geschichte des Ungeborenen: zur Erfahrungs- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Schwangerschaft, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pp. 237–72. On Vicki Baum: pp. 271–2.

Usborne, Cornelie (2002), ‘“Gestocktes Blut” oder “verfallen”? Widersprüchliche Redeweisen über unerwünschte Schwangerschaften und deren Abbruch zur Zeit der Weimarer Republik’, in Barbara Duden, Jürgen Schlumbohm and Patrice Veit (eds), Geschichte des Ungeborenen: zur Erfahrungs- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte der Schwangerschaft, 17.–20. Jahrhundert, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, pp. 293–326.

von Oertzen, Monika (1993), ‘Das Volksmuseum für Frauenkunde (1929–1933) in Berlin. Eine Position zur Abtreibungsfrage in der Weimarer Republik’, in Gisela Staupe and Lisa Vieth (eds), Unter anderen Umständen. Zur Geschichte der Abtreibung, Dresden: Deutsches Hygiene-Museum and Berlin: Argon Verlag, 1993, pp. 51–7. On Wilhelm Liepmann’s museum.



Hopwood, Nick (1999).

Hopwood, Nick (2000), ‘Producing development: the anatomy of human embryos and the norms of Wilhelm His’, Bulletin of the history of medicine 74, 29–79.

Hopwood, Nick (2012), ‘A marble embryo: meanings of a portrait from 1900’, History workshop journal 73 (Spring), 5-36.

O’Rahilly, Ronan (1988), ‘One hundred years of human embryology’, Issues and reviews in teratology, 4, 81–-128.

Anatomy of human embryos

Hopwood (2002), especially chapter 5: ‘Reconstructing embryos, revaluing models’, pp. 41–9.

Hopwood (2000).

Setting standards

Hopwood (2000).

Publishing in wax and print

Hopwood (2002), especially chapter 6: ‘A new generation of modellers’, pp. 51–5 and chapter 7: ‘Nothing but making models’, pp. 57–67.

Hopwood, Nick (2004), ‘Plastic publishing in embryology’, in Soraya de Chadarevian and Nick Hopwood (eds), Models: the third dimension of science, Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, pp. 170–206.

An embryological empire

Hopwood (2005).

Hopwood (2007).



The Human Developmental Anatomy Center, National Museum of Health and Medicine, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington D.C. The website of the Carnegie collection’s current home gives a brief history.

O’Rahilly (1988).

Maienschein, Jane, Marie Glitz and Garland E. Allen (eds) (2004), Centennial history of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, vol. 5: The Department of Embryology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Morgan, Lynn M. (2009), Icons of life: a cultural history of human embryos, Berkeley: University of California Press.

The Carnegie Department of Embryology

Noe, Adrienne (2004), ‘The human embryo collection’, in Maienschein, Jane, Marie Glitz and Garland E. Allen (eds), Centennial History of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, vol. 5: The Department of Embryology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 21–61. On the collection’s early years under Mall, see especially pp. 21–31; on Osborne Heard, pp. 43–5; for the quotation from Mall p. 35.

Clarke, Adele E. (1987), ‘Research materials and reproductive science in the United States, 1910–1940’, in Gerald L. Geison (ed.), Physiology in the American context 1850–1940, Bethesda: American Physiological Society, pp. 323–50.

Morgan, Lynn M. (2002), ‘“Properly disposed of”: a history of embryo disposal and the changing claims on fetal remains’, Medical anthropology 21, 247–74.

Blechschmidt, Erich (1968), Vom Ei zum Embryo. Die Gestaltungskraft des menschlichen Keims, Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt.

Hinrichsen, Klaus V. (1992), ‘In memoriam des Anatomen und Embryologen Erich Blechschmidt (1904–1992)’, Annals of anatomy 174, 479–84.

From horizons to stages

Corner, George W. (1944), Ourselves unborn: an embryologist’s essay on man, New Haven: Yale University Press. By the Carnegie department’s third director.

Noe (2004), especially pp. 32–8 on the department under Streeter and Corner.

Morgan, Lynn M. (2004), ‘A social biography of Carnegie embryo no. 836’, The anatomical record, Part B: New anatomist, 276B, 3–7. See also Morgan, Lynn M. (2009), Icons of life: a cultural history of human embryos, Berkeley: University of California Press.

O’Rahilly (1988).

Corner, George W. (1951), ‘Preface’ to Streeter, George L., Developmental horizons in human embryos: age groups XI to XXIII. Collected papers from the Contributions to embryology published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington, pp. iii–iv.

O’Rahilly, Ronan (1973), Developmental stages in human embryos, including a survey of the Carnegie Collection. Part A: embryos of the first three weeks (stages 1–9), Washington D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

O’Rahilly, Ronan and Fabiola Müller (1987), Developmental stages in human embryos: including a revision of Streeter’s ‘horizons’ and a survey of the Carnegie collection, Washington D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Hopwood (2005), pp. 281–4.

The Boston egg hunt

Harvard University Library Open Collections Program: Women Working: Scrapbook. Free Hospital for Women Records, Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.

Marsh, Margaret and Wanda Ronner (1999), The empty cradle: infertility in America from colonial times to the present, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999. See chapter 6: ‘“Such great strides”: reproductive technology in postwar America, 1945–65’, pp. 171–209, on the Free Hospital for Women and Rock’s work.

McLaughlin, Loretta (1982), The pill, John Rock, and the church: the biography of a revolution, Boston: Little, Brown, chapter 3: ‘Probing human reproduction’, pp. 38–57, and chapter 4: ‘The human egg hunt’, pp. 58–71.

Pfeffer, Naomi (1993), The stork and the syringe: a political history of reproductive medicine, Cambridge: Polity Press.

Public embryology

Cole, Catherine (1993), ‘Sex and death on display: women, reproduction and fetuses at Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry’, The drama review 37(1), 43–60.

Dubow, Sara (2011), Ourselves unborn: fetal meanings in modern America, Oxford: Oxford University Press. See especially Chapter 2: ‘Interpreting fetal bodies 1930s–-1970s’ on the public exhibitions of embryo specimens.

Noe (2004), sections on ‘Exhibiting development’, pp. 40–5, and ‘Moving the collection’, pp. 45–52.

Rudolph, John (2002), Scientists in the classroom: the Cold War reconstruction of American science education, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, chapters 6–7, on the BSCS.

Smith, Bradley R. (1999), ‘Visualizing human embryos’, Scientific American, March, 77–81. On digital magnetic resonance images of the Carnegie collection.

Smith, Bradley R.(School of Art & Design, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan), personal communication (emails, 7 March and 13 May 2008) about the reception of the digital image collection.

Streeter, George L. and Charles B. Davenport (1933), ‘Human egg-cells—good and bad’, Carnegie Institution of Washington news service bulletin staff edition 3 (7), 18 June, 45–9.

Streeter, George L. (1937), ‘Prenatal growth of the child’, Carnegie Institution of Washington news service bulletin staff edition 4 (14), 9 May, 127–32.


Images first produced around 1960—ultrasound scans and Nilsson’s photographs—still shape public views of embryos. Historians of medical imaging technologies, obstetrics and of the media in this period explain how and why these images were made. Their views are supplemented by those of the (largely) feminist scholars who have critically approached the uses of these representations.


Marland, Hilary (2000), ‘Childbirth and maternity’, in Roger Cooter & John Pickstone (eds), Medicine in the twentieth century, Amsterdam: Harwood, pp. 559–74.

A thin blue line: the history of the pregnancy test kit. Office of NIH history online exhibition.

Arney, William R. (1982), Power and the profession of obstetrics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Especially chapter 4: ‘Monitoring and surveillance’, pp. 99–154.

Nicolson, Malcolm and John E. E. Fleming (2013), Imaging and imagining the fetus: The development of obstetric ultrasound, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Pfeffer (1993).

Seeing the fetal skeleton

The Nobel Foundation website on the history of X-rays

Kevles, Betyann Holtzmann (1997), Naked to the bone: medical imaging in the twentieth century, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press. On the history of X-rays in medicine and popular culture, 1895–1940s, pp. 9–141; on X-rays in obstetrics, pp. 230–2.

Oakley, Ann (1984), The captured womb: a history of the medical care of pregnant women, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, especially the section ‘Ways of seeing’ (pp. 95–107) in chapter 4: ‘No magic answer: antenatal care 1932–9’, on the history of obstetric X-rays.

Making obstetric ultrasound

An online history of ultrasound in obstetrics and gynæcology, by Joseph Woo.

Nicolson, Malcolm, ‘Ian Donald—diagnostician and moralist’. The revised text of the Goodall Memorial Lecture, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, 5 June 2000.

Tansey, Tilli and Daphne Christie (2000), Looking at the unborn: historical aspects of obstetric ultrasound, Wellcome witnesses to twentieth-century medicine vol. 5, Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine, London.

Oakley (1984), especially chapter 7: ‘Getting to know the fetus’, pp. 155–86, on the history of obstetric ultrasound.

Holtzmann Kevles (1997). On Douglas Howry’s and John Wild’s differing approaches to ultrasound, pp. 234–41.

McNay Margaret and John E. Fleming (1999), ‘Forty years of obstetric ultrasound 1957–1997: from A-scope to three dimensions’, Ultrasound in medicine and biology 25(1), 3–56.

Mitchell, Lisa (2001), Baby’s first picture: ultrasound and the politics of fetal subjects, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, especially pp. 27–33, on the early years of obstetric ultrasound at Glasgow.

Uses of ultrasound

McNay, Margaret and John E. Fleming (1999), the section ‘Fetal biometry and biophysical assessment’, pp. 28–39.

Sætnan, Ann R. (2005), ‘All foetuses created equal? Constructing foetal, maternal and professional bodies with obstetric ultrasound’, in David Morgan, Berit Brandth and Elin Kvande (eds), Gender, bodies and work, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing, pp. 139–150. On the politics of fetal standards.

Taylor, Janelle S. (1988), ‘Image of contradiction: obstetrical ultrasound in American culture’, in Sarah Franklin and Helena Ragone (eds), Reproducing reproduction: kinship, power and technological innovation, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 15–45. On uses of ultrasound, including for mother-child bonding.

Nicholson D. (2003), ‘Secrets of success: the development of obstetric ultrasound in Scotland, 1963–1990’, PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

The lonesome space traveller

Duden (1993), especially ‘The Nilsson effect’, pp. 11–24.

Morgan and Michaels (1999). On the cultural politics of fetal images in the late twentieth century.

Jülich, Solveig (2011), ‘Fetal photography in the age of cool media’, in Anders Ekström, Sollveig Jülich, Frans Lundgren, and Per Wisselgren (eds), History of participatory media: politics and publics, 1750-2000, New York: Routledge, pp. 125–41.

Graham, Hilary (1977), ‘Images of pregnancy in antenatal literature’, in Robert Dingwall (ed.), Health care and health knowledge, London: Croom Helm.

Sieveking, Anthea, personal communication (phone conversation, 10 June 2008) on the photograph of a Nilsson ‘reader’.


Diverse and controversial images produced using new technologies, published widely in the media and instrumentalized by political pressure groups, have inspired much critical writing. Feminist scholars were first to react, but they were soon joined by journalists, art critics, sociologists and historians. This is a small sample of a rapidly growing literature.


Squier, Susan Merrill (1994), Babies in bottles: twentieth-century visions of reproductive technology, New Brunswick, N.J., Rutgers University Press.

Franklin, Sarah (1991), ‘Fetal fascinations: new dimensions to the medical-scientific construction of fetal personhood’, in Sarah Franklin, Celia Lury, and Jackie Stacey (eds), Off-centre: feminism and cultural studies, New York: Routledge, pp. 190–205.

Faces of TIME: 75 years of Time Magazine cover portraits, with introduction by Jay Leno and essay by Frederick S. Voss (1998), Boston: Bulfinch Press Book in association with National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Little, Brown and Company. On the history and cultural impact of Time cover pages.

Huyssen, Roger, personal communication (email, 25 June 2008) about the Time cover page.

Maienschein, Jane (2003), Whose view of life? Embryos, cloning and stem cells, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.

Abortion wars

Reagan, Leslie J. (1997), When abortion was a crime: women, medicine and law in the United States, 1867–1973, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Gorney, Cynthia (1998), Articles of faith: a frontline history of the abortion wars, New York: Simon & Schuster. On the early years of the ‘pro-life’ movement, with a discussion of the Willkes’ campaigns.

Petchesky, Rosalind Pollack (1987), ‘Fetal images: the power of visual culture in the politics of reproduction’, Feminist studies 13(2), 263–92.

Hartouni, Valerie (1997), Cultural conceptions: on reproductive technologies and the remaking of life, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. Especially chapter 3: ‘Fetal exposures’, pp. 51–67.

Morgan and Michaels (1999).

Casper, Monica J. (1998), The making of the unborn patient: a social anatomy of fetal surgery, New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press.

Rothman, Barbara Katz (1994), The tentative pregnancy: amniocentesis and the sexual politics of motherhood, revised edition, London: Pandora.

Rapp, Rayna (2000), Testing women, testing the fetus: the social impact of amniocentesis in America, New York: Routledge.

Dubow (2011). Especially Chapter 3: ‘Defining fetal personhood,1973–1976’ and Chapter 4: ‘Defending fetal rights, 1984–2007’.

The first ‘test-tube baby’

Edwards, Robert and Patrick Steptoe (1980), A matter of life, London: Hutchinson & Co. The pioneers’ own account of the early IVF research.

Henig, Robin Marantz (2004), Pandora’s baby: how the first test tube babies sparked the reproductive revolution, Boston: Houghton Mifflin. A popular account of the early IVF research, focusing especially on the controversial American doctor Landrum B. Shettles. For the quotation from Leon Kass, see p. 70.

Test-tube babies (2006). A documentary produced and directed by Chana Gazit & Hilary Klotz Steinman, on Landrum B. Shettles, and his patients.

Franklin, S. (1991). On the new construction of fetal identity.

Assisting conception, regulating research

Mulkay, Michael (1997), The embryo research debate: science and the politics of reproduction, New York: Cambridge University Press. On the 1980s British parliamentary debate on the use of embryos in research. For embryos in the British media, see chapter 5: ‘Embryos in the news’, pp. 69–82.

Franklin, Sarah (1999), ‘Dead embryos: feminism in suspension’, in Morgan, Lynn M. and Meredith W. Michaels (eds), Fetal subjects, feminist positions, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 61–82. See especially pp. 73–8 on Helen Chadwick.

Wallace, Marina and Martin Kemp (2000), Spectacular bodies: the art and science of the human body from Leonardo to now, London: Hayward Gallery and Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 150–7. On modern art and the human body.

Sladen, Mark (ed.) (2004), Helen Chadwick, London: Barbican Art Gallery and Ostfildern: Hatje Cantz.

Wellcome Image Library, personal communication (emails, 28 and 30 June 2008) on the 8-cell embryo image by Kate Hardy.

Kay Elder (Bourn Hall Clinic, Cambridge) and Emma Hallam, personal communication (emails, September and October 2008) about the family photographs on the Bourn Hall website.

Molecular futures in embryo

Anker, Suzanne and Dorothy Nelkin (2003), The molecular gaze: art in the genetic age, Cold Spring Harbor New York: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

Gilbert, Scott F. and Rebecca Howes-Mischel (2004), ‘“Show me your original face before you were born”: the convergence of public fetuses and sacred DNA’, History and philosophy of the life sciences 26(3–4), 377–94. Includes an account of how a human embryo image was selected for the cover of Developmental biology.

Herold, Eve (2006), Stem cell wars: inside stories from the frontlines, Palgrave Macmillan.

Keller, Evelyn Fox (1995), Refiguring life: metaphors of twentieth-century biology, New York: Columbia University Press.

Kolata, Gina (1997), Clone: The road to Dolly and the path ahead, London: Allen Lane.

Oppenheimer, Jane M. (1996), ‘The growth and development of developmental biology’, in Michael Locke (ed.), Major problems in developmental biology, Symposia of the Society for Developmental Biology 25, New York: Academic Press, pp. 1–27.

Anker, Suzanne (BFA Fine Arts Department, School of Visual Arts, New York), personal communication (emails, July and August 2008) about her artwork.


Storey, Helen and Kate Storey (1997), Primitive streak catalogue, London: Helen Storey Foundation.