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Dr. Edmund Franken to Speak on Lincoln and Milk Sickness

The public is invited to a University of Iowa History of Medicine talk on “Poisoning on the Prairie: Abraham Lincoln, Nancy Hanks Lincoln and Milk Sickness” at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 23, in Room 401 of the UI Hardin Library for the Health Sciences.

The speaker will be Edmund A. Franken, Jr., Professor Emeritus, Division of Diagnostic Radiology.

Light refreshments will be served. The lecture is part of a series of presentations sponsored by the UI History of Medicine Society.

Franken will discuss the epidemic of milk sickness that swept the wilderness of Southern Indiana shortly after seven-year-old Abraham Lincoln and his family moved to the area. The disease was responsible for the death of Lincoln’s mother and several relatives. While pioneers presumed correctly that milk sickness was due to a poison, the medical community pursued other causes and inhibited the development of knowledge to prevent the disease. The puzzle was not completely solved until the 20th century. The presentation will also include information about the young Abe Lincoln and the role that the social environment of the area played in his development.