There was a lot of writing on the original image, and with a little sleuthing, I found out what most of it meant.
The top line on the table is taken from a poem by William Knox: Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud? Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, Man passeth from life to his rest in the grave.
The second line is from Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 1, as Hamlet holds Yorick’s skull: To what base uses may we return, Horatio?
The third line, Man’s usefulness ends not in death, has no attribution, but it is also seen on a 1901 photograph of an anatomy class, remarkably similar to our archival photograph, but with no identifying information. (And our cadaver doesn’t have a cigarette in his hand!)
Additionally, there’s also the notation P&S, a skull and crossbones, and the year, which was most helpful in targeting the date of the image. Behind the gentlemen is a list of who is in the image, along with their home states. One of the names is E.B. Friedenwald Md.
We were able to corraborate this is Edgar B. Friedenwald, who was one of a number of physicians in a Baltimore family. He was born in 1879, so the age is correct. Karen Falk from the Jewish Museum of Maryland sent me this image: