Body of evidence: integrating Eduard Pernkopf’s Atlas into a librarian-led medical humanities seminar

Keith C. Mages, Linda A. Lohr


Background: Anatomical subjects depicted in Eduard Pernkopf’s richly illustrated Topographische Anatomie des Menschen may be victims of the Nazi regime. Special collections librarians in the history of medicine can use this primary resource to initiate dialogs about ethics with medical students.

Case Presentation: Reported here is the authors’ use of Pernkopf’s Atlas in an interactive medical humanities seminar designed for third-year medical students. Topical articles, illustrations, and interviews introduced students to Pernkopf, his Atlas, and the surrounding controversies. We aimed to illustrate how this controversial historical publication can successfully foster student discussion and ethical reflection.

Conclusions: Pernkopf’s Atlas and our mix of contextual resources facilitated thoughtful discussions about history and ethics amongst the group. Anonymous course evaluations showed student interest in the subject matter, relevance to their studies, and appreciation of our special collection’s space and contents.


Eduard Pernkopf; National Socialist (Nazi) Regime; Anatomical Atlases; Medical School Education; Medical Humanities; Medical Students; Medical History; Medical Ethics; Special Collections Libraries; Librarians

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Copyright (c) 2017 Keith C. Mages, PhD, MLS, MSN, RN, Linda A. Lohr, MA

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