Robert Fludd (1574-1637) was a prominent English Paracelsian physician, astrologer,and mathematian. He was the first person to discuss the circulation of the blood, and did in fact arrive at the correct conclusion. His conclusion was based on the macrocosm-microcosm analysis, a theory in which all occurrences in the microcosm (man) are influenced by the macrocosm (the heavens). His theory was that the blood must circulate because the heart is like the sun and the blood like the planets. William Harvey later explained the circulation of the blood in more modern and experimental terms, though still referring to the macrocosm-microcosm analogy of Fludd.
Notes from the Rare Book Room Category
Sir Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875) was an English scientist and inventor of many scientific breakthroughs of the Victorian era, including his 1838 invention of the stereoscope (a device for displaying three-dimensional images). Stereopsis, was first described by Wheatstone in research which led him to make stereoscopic drawings and construct the stereoscope. He showed that our impression of solidity is gained by the combination in the mind of two separate pictures of an object taken by both of our eyes from different points of view.
Thursday, October 28, 2010, 5:30-6:30
George W. Beran, D.V.M., Ph.D., Prof. Emeritus Vet. Microbiol. & Prev. Med., ISU
One Health: Human & Animal Rabies, an issue in human & animal relations
Friday, November 19, 2010, 5:30-6:30
Mark Waddell, Ph.D., Assist. Prof., Dept. of History, Michigan State University
Viper’s Flesh and Unicorn’s Horn: The Quest for a Magical Panacea
Thursday, January 27, 2011, 5:30-6:30
Axel Ruprecht D.D.S., M.Sc.D., F.R.C.D.(C), Prof. of Diag. Sci. & Oral & Maxillofacial Rad., UI
The History of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology
Thursday, February 24, 2011, TBD
Micheil Cannistra, Sparks essay contest Winner, 3rd Year Med. student, U of I
Indian Giver: Lynch Syndrome, The Navajo, and the Genetic Revolution
Thursday, March 24, 2011, 4:30-7:30
John Martin Rare Book Rm,. 4th floor, Hardin Library for the Health Sci., U of Ia
Open House in the John Martin Rare Book Room
Friday, April 28, 2011, 6:00-9:00
Allen Shotwell, M.A., M.S. , PhD (ABD) in History & Phil. of Sci. at Ind. Univ.
The Anatomist and the Book in the Early Sixteenth Century
Although born in Ireland, Valentine Greatrakes was English, his ancestors having settled there in the late sixteenth century. In 1641, the family was forced to flee England during an Irish revolt. He was privately educated in theology and the humanities in Devon where the family lived. When he was nineteen, Greatrakes returned to Ireland, determined to regain what he could of his father’s estate. About four years after he regained his estate, Greatrakes “had an Impulse, or a strange perswasion . . . that God had given me the blessing of curing the Kings-Evil”, also known as scrophula. His method was to use his hands to stroke the affected part. His successes were such that he was soon charged with practicing medicine without a license but he countered that, since he charged no fee, he needed no license. Although forbidden to heal, he continued as before and eventually was stroking for all manner of complaints. He effected many cures, achieved great popularity, and was even called upon by Charles II to exercise his powers on three patients from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. After his 1666 tour of England , he returned to live quietly in Ireland and cure those who came to his door. The highlighted tract was written in response to charges contained in a pamphlet by David Lloyd (1635-1692) which attacked his morals and techniques. Greatrakes prepared this small book to answer those criticisms and certify the validity of his cures. Essentially prepared as a letter to Robert Boyle, the book contains, in addition to the autobiographical introduction, over fifty letters from individuals, public figures, patients, churchmen, physicians, and Fellows of the Royal Society testifying to the success of his cures.
The University of Iowa History of Medicine Society and the University Libraries invite you to an Open House in the John Martin Rare Book Room
“The Essentials: A hands-on look at key works in the history of medicine
from seven centuries”
Thursday, March 25th
4:30 to 7:30
John Martin Rare Book Room, 4th floor, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. The event is open to the public.
James studied at Oxford and was granted his M.D. from Cambridge by royal mandate in 1728. He settled in London after practicing at Sheffield, Lichfield, and Birmingham. A successful physician, he became quite wealthy and famous when his “fever powder” became the most popular nostrum of the day. The chief ingredients were lime phosphate and antimony oxide and the medicine was used as an emetic, purgative, diaphoretic, or alterative depending on the dose and condition of the patient. James authored a number of books but the present work is the one for which he is best remembered.
It remains the largest, most exhaustive, and most erudite English language medical dictionary written before the nineteenth century. It was published in weekly installments beginning in 1742 and ending in August of 1745. Although never identified or acknowledged by name, there is ample evidence that Samuel Johnson, a close friend and student of James, contributed to the dictionary.
It is interesting that James includes a detailed entry on the unicorn horn (shown here) at a time when most scientists had begun to doubt its existence.
Puerperal fever, often called childbed fever, ravaged obstetrics patients in the U.S., Britain, and Europe throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Its symptoms included severe abdominal pain, fever, and debility and carried a mortality rate as high as seventy percent during some epidemics. Even though the greatest incidences occurred in close-quartered “lying-in hospitals,” (state-supported maternity hospitals) only rarely did the notion of contagion figure into the arguments and these were largely ignored.
In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) published, The contagiousness of puerperal fever,in The New England quarterly journal of medicine and surgery. In this moving, lucid, and somewhat acerbic paper, Holmes, then a prominent Boston physician and lecturer, demonstrated conclusively the contagious nature of childbed fever and, based on his and his colleagues experiences, showed that the dreaded disease was carried on the unwashed hands of the physician from patient to patient. Holmes also set forth strict guidelines with regard to hand-washing, cleanliness, and physician isolation to avoid and cut short epidemics. Sadly, Holmes’ warnings went largely unheeded partly due to the fact that his paper was published in a little-known journal but mostly because the medical establishment was unwilling to entertain the notion that “gentlemen physicians” could harbor disease. Several years later, Vienna physician, Ignac Semmelweis (1818-1865), independently, verified Holmes’ conclusions by means of a controlled study based on hand-washing. Even so, the contagiousness of puerperal fever was denied by many prominent physicians until the acceptance of the germ theory of disease in the late 1800’s at which time Holmes’ words from 1843 finally rang true:
Whatever indulgence may be granted to those who have heretofore been the ignorant cause of so much misery, the time has come when the existence of a private pestilence in the sphere of a single physician should be looked upon not as a misfortune but a crime.
Although Blasius was a practicing physician in Amsterdam, his real interest lay in anatomy and, in particular, comparative anatomy. He worked closely with philosophers and scientists such as John Locke, Jan Swammerdam, and Niels Stensen to promote the study of anatomy and to widen the availability of both animal and human remains for closer study. Balsius’ 1681 work is his most ambitious project and, according to historian Francis J. Cole, is the “first comprehensive manual of comparative anatomy based on the original researches of a working anatomist…” While the author provides meticulously detailed descriptions of 119 species, it is the eye-catching images that capture the reader’s attention.
Swiss physician, Daniel Le Clerc was born at Geneva and studied medicine at Montpellier and Paris. He received the M.D. degree at Valencia in 1670 and returned to Geneva to enter private practice. Although successful as a physician, and later as a politician, Le Clerc expended great energy in writing and scholarship. Considered by many authorities to be the father of the history of medicine, Le Clerc is best known for his monumental Histoire de la médicine. The first edition was published in 1696 and, after the second edition had been exhausted, Le Clerc found it expedient to write a third edition, which he updated to the middle of the seventeenth century. Most striking is his inclusion of ten finely executed engravings depicting various personalities associated with medical history.