Help Fund Medicine’s Dark Secrets

March 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

Dr. Lindsay Fitzharris, medical historian and author of the brilliant Chirurgeon’s Apprentice blog, is launching a campaign to raise money to produce a documentary called “Medicine’s Dark Secrets”.

In the documentary she will delve into anatomical specimen collections, so important to the development of modern surgery,  in an effort to find out who all these specimens came from. Who were these people?

If you, like me, love medical history, head over to the Indiegogo campaign pages and donate! There are lots of goodies waiting for you depending on the amount you choose to donate, and if you donate before March 9th you’ll even enter a draw.

A Mastectomy in 1855

February 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Hawaiian missionaries Asa Thurston and Lucy Goodale Thurston. Daguerreotype, ca. 1864. Public domain.

Letters of Note has published a remarkable letter from Hawaiian missionary Lucy Goodale Thurston to her daughter, describing Mrs. Thurston’s mastectomy in 1855. The operation was done without any form of anesthesia. The doctors had advised her to not use chloroform “because of my having had the paralysis” (probably polio).

Dr. Ford looked me full in the face, and with great firmness asked: “Have you made up your mind to have it cut out?” “Yes, sir.” “Are you ready now?” “Yes, sir; but let me know when you begin, that I may be able to bear it. Have you your knife in that hand now?” He opened his hand that I might see it, saying, “I am going to begin now.”

Read the whole account here.

As you can tell from the picture above, the operation was successful and Mr. Thurston lived for another 21 years.

Hat tip to Suture for a Living.

Bubonic Plague Figurine

August 22, 2010 § Leave a comment

Photo by Øystein Horgmo © All rights reserved.

We went camping in Finland this summer and spent one day in the city of Turku. In the city museum part of Turku Castle I found this wooden figurine, depicting a victim of the Black Death.

By the time we reached this part of the castle however, my kids (3 and 6 years old) were so fed up (I can’t blame them) I didn’t have time to write down any details about the statuette. If someone reading this have, please write a comment.

The Medical Museion

May 10, 2010 § 8 Comments

Photo by Øystein Horgmo © All rights reserved.

The old building of the Royal Academy of Surgeons in Copenhagen now houses the Medical Museion – a meeting point of medical history, art and science. I finally had a chance to visit last weekend. « Read the rest of this entry »

Exquisite Bodies

September 1, 2009 § Leave a comment

wellcome-exquisite-bodies
The Wellcome Collection in London is hosting an exhibition of 19th-century anatomical wax models, entitled “Exquisite Bodies” from July 30th to October 18th (photo credit). In Victorian Britain, the demand for cadavers for dissection was very high, but the supply was low. One solution was to make anatomical wax models to teach anatomy. A lot of these models also found their way into museums,  teaching the public about reproduction and contagious diseases.

There’s a lot to explore on the exhibition’s website: image galleries with some of the most prominent items, an interactive anatomical Venus and videos on these Victorian wax wenches.

Also check out the Guardian’s image gallery and an audio slideshow from BBC News.

Living for a Suture

August 11, 2009 § 3 Comments

man-sewing-life

This weekend I did something I seldom do. I sewed a large patch on one of my jackets (photo credit). Over 500 stitches by hand. And while I was sewing I thought about suturing. « Read the rest of this entry »

Turning the Pages

May 28, 2009 § 1 Comment

vesalius-p559The National Library of Medicine hosts a great web project called Turning the Pages. Using a flash-based interface, they let you read old medical tomes like Andreas Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica and Ambroise Paré’s Oeuvres by literally turning the pages. The books are also filled with curator’s notes on the text and illustrations. This is as close as most of us will get to a hands-on experience. Excellent!

The illustration above is from page 559 of De Humani Corporis Fabrica.

1800s Surgical Kit Explained

May 21, 2009 § 1 Comment

unboxing1Head over to MedGadget to see what’s hiding in this 19th century surgical kit. A fascinating look at pre-anesthesia surgery with Dr. Laurie Slater, editor of medical antiques website Phisick.

Historical medical films on YouTube

February 25, 2009 § 3 Comments

The Wellcome Library, which catalogues books, manuscripts, archives, films and pictures on the history of medicine, has started to make their historical medical films available on YouTube.

Over 100 hours of historical films and video is going to be digitized. As of now, 25 videos have been published, the subject matter ranging from public health information on obesity in children to descriptions of surgical procedures, like the removal of a tuberculoma of the brain, shown above.

A great source of both medical history and the history of visual communication in medicine!

Thanks to Thomas for the tip.

A Healing Passion

October 30, 2008 § 6 Comments

The Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow.

The Hunterian Museum at the University of Glasgow. Photo by Øystein Horgmo © All rights reserved.

This weekend I was visiting a friend in Glasgow and found the time to see the Hunterian Museum. It has a permanent exhibition called “A Healing Passion“, dedicated to the impact of Glasgow and Western Scotland on medicine. « Read the rest of this entry »

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