Bridgeman Images is delighted to announce its representation of the extraordinary Burns Archive and Museum of Historical Photography
The Burns Archive holds the largest private collection of early medical and historical photography. Founded in the late 1970s, it contains over one million photographic images that begin at the dawn of both photography and modern medicine.
It is recognized as the most important private comprehensive collection of early historic photography and was rated as “One of America’s Top 100 Collections”.
The collection was established and continues to be curated by Stanley B. Burns, MD, a New York ophthalmologist; it remains a family-run archive with his daughter, Elizabeth Burns, at the helm.
The Burns Archive provides great insight into medical practices that date back as early as the 1800s. It has influenced television shows such as Cinemax/HBO’s The Knick, a medical drama set in the early 1900s, with Dr Burns and Elizabeth Burns serving as advisers on the program to corroborate its medical accuracy.
They have also advised on the PBS show Mercy Street, a medical drama set during the American Civil War, as well as contributing images and advising on other PBS programs as well as countless documentaries and feature films such as Total Recall (1990), Starship Troopers (1997), The Others (2001), Gangs of New York (2002), Men In Black 3 (2012) The Big Sick (2017) and The Irishman (2019).
With the current administration of Covid-19 vaccines around the world, the archive’s content takes on a new context. They hold many images that show the manufacturing, storage, and administration of vaccinations from across the world and spanning decades. Images include Professor Gaston Ramon, a French veterinarian who discovered a method for boosting the effectiveness of the vaccines for diphtheria and tetanus in the 1920s.
Other images include the administration of vaccines to World War I soldiers in Poland and the United States, the administration of the rabies vaccine in 1900’s France, and the administration of vaccinations by missionaries in Africa in the 1920s.
Photography is a time capsule that provides a literal look into the past. Early medical photography is a niche subject that largely gets forgotten in favour of text records, but each photograph is its own unique tale that deserves to be preserved.
These photographs provide the context and details that are left out of the medical text. It is that aspect of preserving the visual history of medicine that started Dr Burns on this journey and why he continues it to this day.
Would you like to see more images from The Burns Archive and Museum of Historical Photography available on our website? View our selection.
For any further information about this and other collections, please do not hesitate to contact us.