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Putting the people back into people’s history 

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Tour Launch: Medical History Tour

Come on the Beyond the Bell Tours Medical History Tour to learn about Philadelphia's amazing and unique medical history. Hear about America's first female doctors, the rise of public health and what continues to make Medicine in Philadelphia cutting edge today. 

Beyond the Bells’ Medical History Tour leaves guests wowed and informed about the historical and cultural legacy of healthcare in Philly (in under two hours).

Though Philadelphia is widely known as the birthplace of our nation, The City of Brotherly Love is also the birthplace of American medicine, and its rich, over 250-year historical and cultural legacy of healthcare continues to make waves in the life sciences field today.

Home to almost 100 hospitals, seven medical schools,​ two dental schools, three colleges of pharmacy, a veterinary school, a school of optometry, a school of pediatric medicine, and a plethora of nursing schools, it’s no wonder the city is often coined as one of “Eds and Meds.”

With such a resounding presence of medicine in the city, it is hard to believe that it’s been less than 300 years since Benjamin Franklin and Dr. Thomas Bond founded America’s first public hospital, tucked away on Spruce Street.

So, what happened in between (and whose contributions to Philadelphia’s unique medical history are we forgetting to include in the narrative)?

This is what Beyond the Bell’s Medical History Tour attempts to uncover for its guests as they traverse the city and track influential persons, moments and issues in Philly’s medical timeline that have been ignored or forgotten.

The tour’s route includes:

Independence Hall

Guests will begin by hearing an overview of Philadelphia’s amazing medical history from their tour guide, highlighting what has made the city stand out as a significant trailblazer in the life sciences.

President’s House - Yellow Fever: Race and Public Health

Here guests will dive into the medical contributions of Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Both Rush and Allen were important leaders during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. Guests will discuss the role of race in the epidemic— and, conversely, how the epidemic further affected the issue of race. Guests will also gain insight into the relationship of public health and cities.

6th and Arch- Women in Medicine

Guests will immerse themselves in the remarkable history of Women in Medicine (and the badass ladies who first got their medical degrees here in Philadelphia)!

Annual Reminder Plaque and Barabara Gittings

This stop on the tour will explain how the landmark decision of declassifying homosexuality from a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disordersgained momentum in Philadelphia in the late 60s and early 70s.

Pennsylvania Hospital

Here guests will discover the notorious Jeering Episode of 1869, when 35 women dared to attend a public medical lecture for the first time.

12th and Locust at the Mazzoni Center

The tour concludes with a recount of The Trans Wellness Conference and how Philadelphia remains on the cutting edge of medicine today.

Beyond the Bells’ two-mile Medical History Tour of Philadelphia is offered upon request and costs $49 per person. (Wheelchair accessibility and sliding scale prices are also available upon request.)

You can learn more about Philadelphia's Medical History on the Beyond the Bell Tour's Medical History Tour, which you can book here. Availability, booking, and further information can be found on our website. You can also check us out on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.