About Author: Donna Hirst

Posts by Donna Hirst


Wayne Richenbacher to speak on Stonewall Jackson Case Study

The University of Iowa History of Medicine Society invites you to hear:

Wayne Richenbacher, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Cardiothoracic Surgery, University of Iowa

The Demise of Stonewall Jackson: A Civil War Case Study


Thursday, January 24, 2013 5:30-6:30;   Room 401, Univ. of Iowa Hardin Library for the Health Sciences

Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, commander of the Second Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia, was wounded at the Battle of Chancellorsville during the American Civil War. He died eight days later. This talk will focus on Jackson the brilliant military strategist, Hunter Holmes McGuire the chief surgeon of Jackson’s Corps and medical care provided to Jackson following his injury.

This talk is available as a YouTube video:


Stonewall Jackson


Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, December 2012

PROSPER ALPINI (1553-1617). De medicina Aegyptiorum. Paris: Apud viduam Gulielmi Pelé, & Joannem Duval, 1646.

Alpini, an Italian physician and botanist, graduated from Padua and traveled through Greece, Crete, and Egypt from 1580 to 1583. Following his travels, he returned to Padua where he remained as professor of botany and director of the botanical garden until his death. This work was one of several books that resulted from his travels and is a comprehensive account of medicine as it was practiced in Egypt.

While in Egypt  Alpini studied its plant life ; his work, De plantis Aegypti  liber, includes over seventy full-page illustrations of Egyptian plants, among them the earliest representations of the coffee and cotton plants. Also included in this work is Alpini’s, De balsam, which sets forth, in the form of a dialogue between an Egyptian and a Hebrew physician, the merits and uses of balsam.

Alpini illustration



Marquis Berrey to speak to History of Medicine Society

The Univ. of Iowa History of Medicine Society invites you to hear Marquis Berrey, Asst Prof, Classics, Univ of Iowa

Performance and Power: Medical Attitudes toward Technology in the Hellenistic Period
Thursday, November 29, 2012, 5:30-6:30
Room 401, Univ. of Iowa Hardin Library for the Health Sciences

The Hellenistic period in the ancient Mediterranean (c.323-31 BCE) saw the invention of screws, pistons, and steam-driven toys, along with numerous advances in the size and scale of weaponry.  What influence did these developments have on the use of mechanics in contemporary medicine?  Marquis Berrey will investigate the different responses of three royal physicians, whose attitudes toward technology can be correlated with their understanding of the social power and performance of medicine.



Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, November 2012

JACQUES GAMELIN (1738-1803) AND LAVALÉE, JACQUES.  Nouveau recueil d’ostéologie et de myologie.  1779

Gamelin,published this atlas of the bones and muscles for artists in an edition of 200 copies, engraved from drawings that Gamelin made at his own dissection facility with the assistance of professors of the College of Surgery of Toulouse. The first part of the work is devoted to bones; the second part concerns muscles. Gamelin personally engraved some plates; others are by Martin and Lavalée. The plates are larger, more artistically varied, and more expressive and fantastic in their conceptions than other works of its type. Allegorical scenes of death and battle appear throughout the book. Gamelin, in the preface to the second book, is critical of what he considered the typically unvaried nature of the figures in anatomical illustrations. His figures are distinguished by their bold and dramatic nature poses, such as the écorché crucifixion in the second book or this remarkable praying skeleton from the first.

Gamelin illustration


Judith Houck, Univ. of Wisconsin will speak on The Medicalization of Menopause over the past 100 years

Judith Houck, Assoc. Professor of Medical History, History of Science, & Gender and Women’s Studies, Dept. of Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin-Madison will speak on “The medicalization of menopause over the past 100 years”,   Thursday, October 25, 2012, 5:30-6:30,  Room 401, Univ. of Iowa Hardin Library for the Health Sciences

How did menopause change from being a natural and welcome end to a woman’s childbearing years to a deficiency disease in need of medical and pharmacological intervention? Judith Houck traces the history of this transformation over the last 100 years, exploring how pharmacological options, cultural ideas and anxieties of the moment affected medical and popular understandings of menopause at any given time.





New Exhibit at Hardin

There’s a new exhibit at the Hardin Library, 3rd floor near the front door.

Title:  Cutting for the Stone

This exhibit includes information about lithotomy (the removal of bladder stones), which is perhaps the least well-known of the ancient surgical procedures.  Bladder stones have been recorded as far back as 6,500 B.C.    Hippocrates warned that young physicians should not risk performing the complex procedure but rather rely on lithotomists.  The exhibit highlights famous suffers from the 1600-1700’s. Bizarre facts and records are revealed.

Jean Civiale, in the early 19th century, collected data about optional lithotomy procedures, thus being the first known physician to practice Evidence Based Medicine.

bladder stone
bladder stone


Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, October 2012

JOHN LIZARS (1787?-1860). A system of anatomical plates of the human body. Edinburgh: W. H. Lizars, [1840?].

Lizars developed a great reputation as a teacher and was also a bold and forthright surgeon. He made a number of original contributions, was a pioneer in performing ovariotomies in Europe, and he clearly demonstrated the value of abdominal exploration as a diagnostic procedure. However, he was somewhat ahead of his time and received criticism for exploring new surgical techniques, though later many of his techniques became widely accepted. Lizars was an active writer and prepared many papers on hernia, lithotomy, and hemorrhoids. Although it contains no new discoveries, this superb atlas is certainly one of the most elegant works of the nineteenth century. The 101 lithographs were drawn by the author and his brother, William, from the author’s dissections.

Lizar illustration


Harold Williamson to speak on the History of the Dept. of Pharmacology


The University of Iowa History of Mediciine Society invites you to hear:  Harold Williamson speak on The History of the Dept. of Phamacology at the Univ. of Iowa.  Thurs. Sept. 27, 5:30-6:30, Room 401 Hardin Library.

Learn about the first 100 years of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Iowa. The department traces its origins to 1870, when Dr. Philo Judson Farnsworth was appointed to the chair of materia medica, the name of the first offering on drugs. The first two heads of the department (Drs. Farnsworth and Chase) were practicing physicians in Iowa. During their tenure the presentation of drugs moved from materia medica to pharmacology. Beginning with the third head of the department (Dr. Plant), appointments were made to those who had extensive experimental training and research became prominent.



Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

CLAUDE NICOLAS LE CAT (1700-1768). Traité des sens. Nouvelle ed. Amsterdam: Chez J. Wetstein, 1744.

Le Cat, a man of many interests, was one of France’s foremost surgeons and researchers. Le Cat was interested in the physiology of the nervous system. He was a contemporary of Haller and incorrectly believed, contrary to Haller, that the dura mater and arachnoid were the seat of sensation.



Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, August 2012

REINIER DE GRAAF (1641-1673). Tractatus anatomico-medicus de succi pancreatici natura & usu. Leiden: Ex officina Hackiana, 1671.

Graaf, a Dutch anatomist and physiologist, was celebrated for his work on digestion as well as on the anatomy of the genital organs of both sexes. He was an early investigator of the pancreas and collected the pancreatic juice of dogs by means of artificially created pancreatic fistulae.   more…