The John Martin Rare Book Room will hold its annual open house on Thursday, May 15 from 4:30 to 7:30. The exhibit, “’No Small Presumption’–Surgical Works From Six Centuries,” will feature rare books from the earliest days of surgery through the twentieth century. The event is open to the public.
Although chloroform and ether were not widely used before the second half of the 19th century, a surprising number of surgical procedures were employed hundreds and even thousand of years ago, including operations for cataracts, bullet removal, hernias, club foot, and bladder stones. The open house will allow visitors to view and page through the early texts and illustrations used by surgeons for instruction and guidance. Of special interest are the woodcuts and engravings of the elaborate and sometimes quite modern instruments developed over the centuries for specific tasks, including drills, scalpels, and saws designed with speed and efficiency in mind. Important early works in anesthetics and antisepsis will also be featured.
The exhibit is part of a series of public lectures and presentation sponsored by the University of Iowa History of Medicine Society. The John Martin Rare Book Room is located on the fourth floor of the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. For additional information, please contact Ed Holtum, Curator at 335-9154.