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Wistar Archives

The Archives of The Wistar Institute were established to preserve the history of The Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, its role as the nation’s oldest independent biomedical research institute, and of the Wistar family as related to The Institute.Wistar Dissection Kit

Our history extends back to the Colonial Era of Philadelphia and the role of Caspar Wistar, M.D. (1761-1818), Chair of Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the first American textbook of anatomy.

The Wistar Institute was founded in 1892 and named for Dr. Wistar by his great-nephew Isaac Jones Wistar (1827-1905).

[At right: Dr. Caspar Wistar’s dissection kit. It dates from around 1808, the year when Wistar became the Chair of Anatomy at the University of Pennsylvania.]

Important collections of the Archives include:

Records and correspondence of the Wistar family, beginning with the New Jersey glass house established by Caspar Wistar in 1726.

Correspondence and manuscript collections compiled by Isaac Jones Wistar, Philadelphia businessman and philanthropist, president of The American Philosophical Society and The Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia.

The Civil War collections of Brigadier General Isaac Jones Wistar, including official records, correspondence, books, and ephemera.

Records of The Wistar Institute, its Directors and scientists, and of the Wistar Press, WISTARAT, and the Wistar Museum.

[At left: The sword Brigadier General Issac Wistar used at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, in October, 1861. Wistar was injured in battle, and his soldiers used the sword to help stabilize his wound. He refused to remove the blood from the sword in commemoration, hence the rust from the blood today.]

Any inquiries regarding the Wistar Archives can be directed to