Resurrection Men and the Doctors Riot


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ABC Gotham

Society & Culture

Doctors and medical students have not always been respected, rigorously- trained, caring professionals.  In fact, around the time of the Revolutionary War and thereafter, they were regarded with suspicion and even horror.  Not only was the job itself grisly and failure- prone, but for students, dissection was nearly impossible due to strong cultural biases against desecrating bodies.  Forced to find a way to learn about the human body, medical students hired-- or become-- Resurrection Men, or grave robbers.  Their callous indifference to mourning families offended the sensibilities of the citizens of New York City. Finally, after a particularly gruesome encounter in April 1788, New Yorkers decided they would no longer stand for constant grave- robbing. A two- day riot ensued, in which both medical schools in New York City were attacked, anatomical models were destroyed, and an estimated 20 people were killed. How has medical education changed over time?  This episode of Sawbones, Kathleen's favorite medical history podcast, tells you everything you need to know. Check out the Facebook page for lots of good images!