Chemistry in the Museum: 
Elucidation of 1920s Medical Kits

Kerri L. Shelton Taylor, Columbus State University


This project report describes the process of a team of undergraduate researchers (Chemistry and Nursing majors), who analyzed 20th-century medical kits housed at The Columbus Museum (Columbus, GA, USA). Curators and museum personnel were unfamiliar with the contents and needed assistance in identifying the various chemical contents. Items were identified by the Taylor Lab, which was followed by fully elucidating the chemical information in a chemical report and student-curated exhibit. The intent of this project was to help the museum be aware of how to properly curate and store the medical collections for an extended period. Laboratory analyses were executed to determine the composition of the aged items in the collections. The historical context of these kits and their contents provided knowledge of medicine to the community of Columbus, Georgia, in addition to explaining the use of medically related items in the 20th century. 

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