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Series XVI. Gretchen Worden records, 1950s-2005

The Mütter Museum records (1887 to 2006) is a collection comprised of sixteen series. This collection contains material relating to the Mütter Museum’s operations and history such as correspondence, activity and visitor records, reports, photographs, catalogues of the collection, and event programs and flyers. The sixteen series are the following: “Activity and Accession Records,” “Catalogue of the Mütter Museum,” “Correspondence,” “Curator Reports,” “Education,” “Elizabeth Moyer,” “Ella N. Wade,” “Events,” “Exhibitions,” “Index of Collection,” “Journal on Giants,” “Staff Newsletters,” “Thomas Dent Mütter Lecture,” “Visitor and Group Records,” Miscellaneous,” and “Gretchen Worden.” The Mütter Museum records is an excellent collection for those studying the impressive and fascinating history of the medical museum, as well as the history of medicine, and specifically, medical deformities and oddities. Also of note in the collection, is the “Gretchen Worden records” series. For researchers studying Worden, this series illustrates her life, work, and great passion for the Mütter Museum and its mission.

The first series is “Activity and Accession Records.” This series includes bound records of the museum from 1884, and 1939 to 1970. There are records of inventory, events, presentations, and tour groups.

The second series in the collection is “Catalogue of the Mütter Museum.” Contained in a bound volume are the catalogue records from 1940, and 1947 to 1949. This catalogue documents the items within the Mütter Museum, such as skulls, human deformities, and medical instruments.

“Correspondence” is the third series in the Mütter Museum records, dating from 1973 to 1981. It includes the correspondence of directors, curators, and other staff of the museum at that time. Topics discussed include operating procedures, upcoming events, and internal affairs.

The fourth series is “Curator Reports,” which documents the activity of both the museum and the curator from 1977 to 1979. Documented in the reports are the collections of the museum, projects, workshops, acquisitions, speakers, and events.

The fifth series is “Education Department records.” Included in this series are the Mütter Museum Education Departments Teacher/Student Workbooks, for grades three through twelve, published by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Series six, “Elizabeth Moyer records,” houses materials produced during Moyer’s tenure as museum curator, which lasted from 1970 to 1982 when she retired. Included in this series are address file, calendar, clippings, correspondence, events, grant and fellowship material, magazines and journals, notes, pamphlets, programs, and newsletters, pay stubs, photographs, program books, publications by Elizabeth Moyer, publicity material, resumes (Elizabeth Moyer), reports and memorandums, stationary, travel, and writings by others. Also within the series are materials she collected while curator, including medical journals from 1898 and manuscripts and publications by her peers. Elizabeth Moyer’s curatorial reports are filed in series four, “Curator reports.”

“Ella N. Wade records” is the seventh series with the Mütter Museum records. Ella N. Wade was curator at the Mutter from 1939 to 1957. Included in this series are an autobiography; “Christmas Eve at the College,” an ode by Ella N. Wade; and correspondence. Wade’s autobiographical drafts include a thorough history of the Mütter Museum, which may be of value to researchers more generally interested in the history of the museum.

In the “Events” series, there are flyers, programs and notes for various events held at the Mütter from 1975 to 1997. Events include “Infant Feeding Through the Ages” (1980), “Final Diagnosis of President Cleveland’s Lesion” (1981), and “Hallow Eve Gala,” held in celebration of the reopening of the Mütter Museum in 1986.

The records found in the ninth series, “Exhibitions,” primarily relate to the Bicentennial exhibition of 1976 and the Lewis and Clark exhibition of 2001 and 2002. Both are documented with meeting minutes, correspondence, notes and other supporting materials.

The “Index of Collections” consists of a single bound volume, documenting the Mütter’s collection acquisitions from about the 1950s to the 1960s.

The eleventh series is “Journal on Giants.” This series is comprised of one volume, circa 1930’s, that contains news clippings, notes, and records of giants, including the Mütter giant, as well as documentation of other people with the condition of gigantism.

“Staff Newsletters” is the twelfth series, and included are the newsletters of the staff, such as “F.U.S.E” and “Sibi Non Toti,” from 1988 to 1995. The newsletters contain information regarding Mütter and local area events, as well as staff announcements.

Following “Staff Newsletters” is the thirteenth series “Thomas Dent Mütter Lecture Series.” This series contains announcements, notes, and transcripts for lectures named in Mütter’s honor given at the Mütter Museum from 1989 to 2003. Such lectures include “Management of Conjoined Twins,” by John M. Templeton, Jr., M.D. (1989), “Yellow Fever Revisted: Did the Mosquito Do It?” By Theodore Woodward, M.D. (1992), and “Exhumations of Human Remains: From Jesse James to John Wilkes Booth to Meriwether Lewis,” by James E. Starrs (2003).

“Visitor and Group Records” is the fourteenth series. This series contains visitor and group requests, registers, and records of guests from 1887 to 1985. It should be noted that not all years are documented.

The “Miscellaneous” series houses a wide assortment of documentation relating to museum history, especially news paper clippings, magazines and other documents.

The sixteenth and final series is “Gretchen Worden records,” which is the largest series in the collection. Worden began working at the Mütter Museum in 1975 and was appointed Head Curator 1982. She is best known for her role as Director, a position which she held from 1988 until her death in 2004. Worden’s records are divided into the following subseries: “Administrative Materials;” “Articles;” “Biographical Material;” “Date Books;” “Events;” “Lectures;” “Memos;” “Poems;” “Strong Museum;” “Symposiums (attended);”and “Miscellaneous.” Of note in this series are Worden’s poems about her staff, material from her appearances on Dave Letterman’s Late Show, and her lecture material. “Lectures” include those such as "Breeches of Impropriety: The Case of Dr. Mary Walker" given at the Society of Civil War Surgeons, in Louisville, KY (1992), "Of Science and Humanity: Treasures from the Mütter Museum" given at the Museum of Jurassic Technology, in California (1994), and "The Legible Physician" given at American Medical Writers Association (1996). Within her lectures are Worden’s own notes and transcripts.

Because this collection was created by an existing and active institution, it is likely that this collection will grow as additional records are located and generated.


  • 1950s-2005

Conditions Governing Access note

This collection is open for research.


From the Collection: 28.75 Linear feet (37 document boxes)

Gretchen Worden Series

This series has been placed out of alphabetical order because there are additional unprocessed papers that will be added to the series at a later date. If the researcher would like to consult these papers please contact a library staff member.


Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States