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Although the Whipple Museum does not have any live frogs or zoological specimens within its collection, it does have many frog-related objects. Why would this be? This section examines the links between frogs and scientific practice, and the contribution that this common amphibian has made to scientific knowledge.

Read more at: Why Frogs?
Plaster and wax frog anatomical model

Why Frogs?

Historians of science can learn a lot from frogs, just like the scientists whose work they study.

Read more at: Frog-plates
Frog plate


These tools for microscopists are among the Whipple Museum's oldest objects designed for use with frogs. Natural philosophers used microscopes and vivisected frogs to witness and display bodily motions like circulation firsthand.

Read more at: Ziegler's Wax Models
Wax models of frog, salmon and axolotl 'primordial skulls'.

Ziegler's Wax Models

Models like these played prominent roles in growing 19th century fascination with comparative anatomy and development. Representation of the forms of frog anatomy could be challenged on various grounds and produced in various ways.

Read more at: Frogs in the Classroom
Large wax and plaster anatomical model of a frog

Frogs in the Classroom

For over a hundred years, frogs have been staple resources in the teaching of life sciences. Posters and models were used as complements to live frogs as tools for understanding anatomy, but also often replaced them entirely. They represent shifting ideas about visual learning, and their history provides opportunities to reflect on why we teach with frogs at all.

Read more at: Frogs and Animal Electricity
English electro-galvanic machine in closed wooden box

Frogs and Animal Electricity

In late 18th century Italy, two philosophers contested experiments on the muscular motion of frogs by arguing about which kind of electrical instrument best represented the frog's behavior. Galvani and Volta's heated controversy shows how instruments were used to defend or disprove claims about animal bodies and electricity.

Read more at: Frogs and Physiological Instruments in 20th Century Cambridge

Frogs and Physiological Instruments in 20th Century Cambridge

When Cambridge University modernised its scientific departments in the late 19th century, it suddenly demanded far more, and more complex and expensive, scientific instruments than it ever had previously. Academics' research into frogs demanded new specialised equipment, which were often designed with the particular physiology of frogs in mind, much of it produced in collaboration with scientific instrument companies.

Read more at: Frogs in the Foster Collection
One shelf of the collection of bound Foster Pamphlets.

Frogs in the Foster Collection

Paper technologies changed the way that people communicated about science and technology, which in turn changed what they talked about and in what terms. This page examines two different examples of such printed matter, and how frogs' positions in scientists' information order reflect conceptions of frogs' bodies. Explore Whipple Collections