Happy Hallowe’en from Special Collections and Archives: 16mm Film Edition

Nothing says “Halloween” quite like the dangling skeletons and other morbid specimens you might find in a 1930s biology lab. This recently uncovered clip from a 16mm film reel in the College archives shows various lab exercises for a comparative anatomy class in Warner Hall. Students enrolled in the course could apparently look forward to careful study of amphibian and human organ models, diligent vertebrae counting on skeletal mounts, and the dissection of a preserved cat—a process which was unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your enthusiasm for biology) filmed out of focus.

Decades later, alumni were said to seek out the anatomy lab in an effort to “breathe again the characteristic aroma of the laboratory—a combination of such odors as those from preserved dogfish and cats, xylol and alcohol, polliwogs and paraffin, inseparably blended.” So from all of us here at Special Collections and Archives, here’s wishing you have a Halloween that’s just as viscerally macabre!

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