The Nerve of Harriet Cole in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Harriet Cole was an African-American woman who worked as a cleaning lady at Hahnemann Medical College in the 1880s. When she died from tuberculosis at age 35, Dr. Rufus B. Weaver, the resident professor of anatomy, painstakingly extracted her entire nervous system over the course of five months.

While this sounds like some kind of Dr. Frankenstein-like abuse of medical authority, Harriet Cole did apparently give permission for her body to be used by Dr. Weaver for the furtherance of...

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