Bodies in the Basement: The Forgotten Stolen Bones of America's Medical Schools

By Dolly Stolze at Atlas Obscura

Harvard Medical School in the 19th Century. Photo: Journal of American History

Harvard Medical School in the 19th Century. Photo: Journal of American History

In the summer of 1989, a construction crew working in the basement of a building at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta stumbled across thousands of human bones. Known as the Old Medical College Building, it was used as a lecture hall and laboratory space from 1835 until 1913.
Since dissection of human cadavers was illegal in Georgia until 1887, acquisition and disposal of a corpse had to be done in secret. So the school purchased bodies from freelance body snatchers and kept one full-time in their department.

University of Pennsylvania Medical School students with a cadaver (1890) (via University of Pennsylvania Libraries)

University of Pennsylvania Medical School students with a cadaver (1890) (via University of Pennsylvania Libraries)