The Butchering Art with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris and Nicole Angemi - Atlas Obscura

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Butchering Art with Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris and Nicole Angemi

Join us as we waver between life and death at the nation's oldest operating theater.

Many wavered between life and death at the historic Pennsylvania Hospital operating theater. Sometimes, though, the dead came back.

Built in 1804 and used until 1868, the Penn Hospital operating theater was the first of its kind in America. Since there was no electricity, surgeries were performed only on sunny days and at midday. Due to anesthesia not being developed until 1846, patients were generously given a choice of opium, liquor, or a knock on the head with a mallet to render them unconscious. 

While these gruesome surgeries sometimes had patients hovering between the world of the living and the dead, the operations that were performed here helped formalize surgery and turn it into a recognized medical discipline.

In this most suitable of spaces, please join us for a curated tour and lecture from Dr Lindsey Fitzharris, a UK-based Medical Historian as she discusses her most recent book The Butchering Art. Fitzharris will expound on history of 19th-century operating theaters and the contents of this exciting new work about Joseph Lister's quest to transform the grisly world of Victorian medicine.  Dr. Fitzharris will be joined by the dynamic and thought-provoking Pathologist Assistant extraordinaire,  Nicole Angemi. 

Join us for this uniquely paired event as we explore the artistry of butchery.


  • The Butchering Art by Dr. Lindsey Fitzharris will be available on site for sale. Book signing to follow.
  • A portion of the ticket proceeds will be donated to support the preservation of the Pennsylvania Operating Theater.
  • Light refreshments will be served.
  • We will meet inside the main vestibule at the Pennsylvania Hospital at 800 Spruce Street.
  • Street parking is available.

Stay connected! Subscribe to the Atlas Obscura Society Philly newsletter  for a first glimpse at upcoming events.

Advance Tickets Only. All Sales Final. No Refunds or Exchanges.