Anesthesia mask

Anesthesia mask
During the Civil War, Confederate doctors administered chloroform by folding a towel or napkin into a cone. The chloroform was then dropped onto the cone and the cone held near the patient’s nose so that the anesthetic could be inhaled. If the doctor did not use great care, the chemical would burn the patient. The mask had to be held precisely one half inch from the face. The anesthesia mask helped prevent burning the patient’s skin. The mask could also be used for ether, a different and more expensive anesthetic. The mask is made of metal and is covered with a piece of cloth. The covered mask is placed over the patient’s nose, and the anesthetic is dropped onto the cloth. While breathing normally, the patient slips into a drug-induced sleep.
Original Format
Local Identifier
Country Doctor Museum
Location of Original
Country Doctor Museum
This item has been made available by The Country Doctor Museum for use in research, teaching, and private study. Researchers are responsible for using these materials in accordance with Title 17 of the United States Code and any other applicable statutes. For information regarding reproduction, please contact The Country Doctor Museum at;
Preferred Citation
Cite this item
Materials on this site may include offensive content, which does not reflect the opinions, values, or beliefs of ECU Libraries. Public access is provided to these resources to preserve the historical record.

Contact Digital Collections

If you know something about this item or would like to request additional information, click here.


Mario Cajar Nov 15 2014

This mask is actually a Yankauer-type mask, invented by New York City ear/nose/throat specialist Dr. Sidney Yankauer about 1904. There were a number of other inhalers used around the time of the Civil War, but the Yankauer mask shown here wasn't invented until almost 50 years later.

Comment on This Item

Complete the fields below to post a public comment about the material featured on this page. The email address you submit will not be displayed and would only be used to contact you with additional questions or comments.

Comment Policy