The Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are one of Baltimore’s many hidden treasures. These tiny crime scenes, created in the 1940s at a scale of 1:12, are studied by detectives and investigators from around the world who come to Baltimore for training on forensic and crime scene studies.
On Wednesday, July 13, MedChi, The Maryland State Medical Society, will present a lecture on the Nutshells with Bruce Goldfarb, caretaker of the Nutshells, from the Medical Examiner’s office.
Francis Glessner Lee, the heiress to the International Harvester fortune, was the brains, money, and talent behind the Nutshells. She had wanted to be an attorney, but her family forbade this, so she funded a legal medicine program at Harvard. Eventually, Harvard disbanded the program, and it, and the Nutshells moved to Baltimore, along with the new Medical Examiner, Russell Fisher, MD, who held the position for more than 35 years.
Maryland is one of a few states to have a statewide medical examiner, instead of a more common “county coroner”, who does not even need to have a medical background (see: Antonin Scalia’s declaration of death in Texas via phone by a judge named Cinderella). At crime scenes, police frequently walked on evidence, moved critical clues and generally paid no attention to the details. By creating the Nutshells, detectives and investigators could be trained to pay attention to the minutiae which would provide clues as to “who done it”.
Because of their location at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Nutshells are never on display to the public, and are part of a permanent installation, so the chance to hear their story and see intimate photographs of them is an uncommon opportunity for the general public.
Tickets to the lecture are $5.00 per person and funds raised will be used to preserve MedChi’s archives which date back to its founding in 1799. For information on reservations, which are required, please email [email protected]