Surgeon and historian Stanley B. Burns, MD, FACS, founded The Burns Archive in 1977. The Archive houses over one million historic photographs from the birth of photography through the atomic age. It is renowned for images of the darker side of life: death, disease, crime, racism, revolution and war. The cornerstone is its unparalleled collection of early medical photography, supplemented by an extensive historical medical library.
A highlight of the Archive is the collection of photographs taken by Surgeon Reed Brockway Bontecou, a seminal source of wounded Civil War soldier images. Exhibited at several museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the intriguing and poignant portraits by Dr. Bontecou provide a visual record of the casualties of war and of the physician’s ability to help and heal. The Burns Archive published Shooting Soldiers, a record of Dr. Bontecou’s work, sharing these striking images with a wider audience.
The Burns Archive has produced over 45 books on photographic history and curated and contributed to hundreds of national and international museum and gallery exhibitions. Dr. Burns, with his encyclopedic knowledge and historical expertise of the medical field, provided guidance and historic accuracy for PBS’ Mercy Street. As the on-set medical, historical and technical advisor, he turned the actors into Civil War physicians and nurses.
He advised on-set for all medical procedures and operation scenes. Working closely with the art, props and FX departments, Dr. Burns and The Burns Archive assisted in perfecting details of the period. Over the past 40 years, thousands of publishers, curators, authors, researchers, artists and filmmakers have utilized the Archive and its unique source of visual documentation. Dr. Burns and The Burns Archive are an invaluable resource for both the entertainment and educational communities.