Birthing, Midwifery, Obstetrics books available in the John Martin Rare Book Room

Bibliography of books featured in the John Martin Rare Book Room Open House, March 26, 2015


1. Eucharius Roeslin (ca. 1490-1526). De partu hominis, et quae circa ipsum accidunt, adeoque, de parturientum & infantium morbis atque cura. Frankfurt: Apud Chr. Egenolphum, [1551]. First published in German in 1513 as, “Der swangern Frauwen und hebammen Rosegarten,” this book was originally intended for midwives who were not acquainted with Latin. It is probably the first printed book devoted exclusively to obstetrics and went through numerous editions and translations. Illustrations of the birth chair, the lying-in chamber, and various positions of the fetus in utero are seen for the first time and are the earliest obstetrical illustrations printed from wood blocks. 

Heirs: 200; call#: RG91 .R712 1551



2. Soranus, of Ephesus (ca. 98-ca. 138). Rouphou Ephesiou Peri ton en kystei kai nephrois pathon.. Ruffi Ephesii De vesicae renum. Paris: Apud Adr. Turnebum, 1554. This work is an extract from the early chapters of Soranus’ own On diseases of women, a famous and standard text on the subject for over fifteen centuries. Soranus was opposed to abortions unless for reasons of the mother’s health and eschewed mysticism and superstition. His descriptions were quite accurate and he was well aware that the uterus lacked horns as was believed by many later authorities. Heirs: 34; call#: R126 .R8 1554

3. Jakob Ruff (1500-1558). De conceptu et generatione hominis. Frankfurt am Main: [Apud Georgium Corvinum, impensis Sigismundi Feyerabendii, 1580]. A comprehensive handbook, the treatise opens with a discussion of conception, development, and nutrition of the fetus. The anatomy of the uterus and a set of precepts for pregnant women are followed by a section on parturition including care of the mother and infant. Rüff describes and illustrates two instruments for dilating the cervix and a smooth and toothed forceps for delivering the dead fetus. He was perhaps the first to suggest that forceps could be used for delivering a live baby. Fifteen forms of unnatural presentation of the baby are discussed and each is illustrated by a woodcut in which the infant is depicted as a grown child. Heirs: 233; call#: RG91 .R83

4. Girolamo Mercuriale (1530-1606). De morbis muliebribus praelectiones. Venice: Apud Felicem Valgrisium, 1587. Mercuriale organized this work on obstetrics into four books; the first discussed sterility and uterine tumors, the second abortions, the third the puerperium, and the fourth diseases of the uterus. Mercuriale advocated use of the vaginal speculum to determine the state of the uterus, suggested packing the cervix with a sponge to dilate it, and was among the first to refer to the lack of fertility among the noble class. He is sometimes credited with developing the milk theory of puerperal fever since he was the first to state that milk retention was the cause of uterine inflammation. Heirs: 359; call#: RG91 .M45 1587

5. Eucharius Roeslin (ca. 1490-1526). The birth of mankinde, otherwise named the woman’s booke. Set foorth in English by Thomas Raynalde. London: Thomas Adams, [1604]. A 2nd English translation of Roselin’s De partu hominis, English midwives and physicians were largely dependent on this book for guidance in the practice of obstetrics until the eighteenth century when Smellie and Hunter published their scientific treatises. Unlike the first and literal translation from the Latin in 1540, Raynalde gave a free translation with many original additions. Raynalde borrowed freely from other authors and included several anatomical plates and descriptive text from Vesalius’ Fabrica. Extremely popular, there were over ten subsequent editions of Raynalde’s translation.Heirs: 201; call#: RG91 .R27 1604

6. Adriaan van de Spiegel (1578-1625). De formato foetu. . . . Epistolae duae anatomicae. Tractatus de arthritide. Padua: Apud J. B. de Martinis, & L. Pasquatus, [1626]. The physician Liberalis Crema of Padua, had bought several copperplates from Casserius’ grandson and in 1626 to publish a few selections from the posthumous works of Spiegel. He chose nine appropriate plates and added his own explanations to these selections. The plates deal with the pregnant uterus, placenta, and the child and are among Casserius’ most beautiful engravings. Four of them represent entire female figures with the abdomen cut open. Heirs: 413; call#: RG600 .S66 (folio)

7. Reinier de Graaf (1641-1673). De mulierum organis generationi inservientibus tractatus novus. Leiden: Ex officina Hackiana, 1672. Twenty-seven engraved plates illustrates Graaf’s anatomical research, including an accurate understanding of the anatomy of the female genitalia, the first description of ovarian (Graafian) follicles and the corpus luteum, and the demonstration of ovulation anatomically, pathologically, and experimentally. He opposed the Aristotelian doctrine of the egg forming in utero as a result of activation of the menstrual blood by the male semen, and held that generation takes place from the ovum pre-existent in the ovary. Heirs: 638; call#: QM421 .G68

8. Francois Mauriceau (1637-1709). Traité des maladies des femmes grosses, et de celles qui sont nouvellement accouchées. 2nd ed. Paris: Chez l’auteur, 1675. Mauriceau, a Parisian, was an ordinary surgeon and not a doctor of medicine, but his close observation and detailed studies of the fetus, the pregnant uterus, the female pelvis, and the techniques of delivery made him a leading obstetrician of his time. His famous work on pregnancy and delivery, was first published in 1668. Heirs: 604; call#: RG93 .M4 1721

9. Girolamo Mercurio (1540-1616). La commare o’ raccoglitrice. Venice: Per Domenico Louisa, 1713. First issued in 1596, this was one of the earliest works on obstetrics to be published in, maintaining an authoritative position in Italy and Germany for more than 125 years. The work is divided into three parts: the first deals with natural labor and care of the mother and child, the second with abnormal presentations, and the third with diseases that complicate pregnancy and affect the newborn. Heirs: 377; call#: RG91 .M47 1713

10. Pierre Dionis (1643-1718). Traité general des accouchemens. Paris: Charles-Maurice d’Houry [et] Laurent d’Houry, 1718. In this popular and accomplished treatise on obstetrics, Dionis gives a comprehensive account of the male and female genital organs, the mechanisms of conception and gestation, natural childbirth, and the complications of delivery. It was in this work that Dionis gave the first clear description of interstitial pregnancy–pregnancy in the uterine end of the Fallopian tube. Dionis took a strong stand against cesarean section, advocating that the mother should be dead before delivery was attempted and he felt that anyone performing such surgery on a live woman should be severely punished. His book influenced the practice of obstetrics for over half a century. Heirs: 652; call#: RG93 .D56

11. Hendrik van Deventer (1651-1724). Observations importantes sur le manuel des accouchemens.  Paris: Pierre François Giffart, 1734. This book contains forty full-page illustrations of various aspects of delivery and other facets of midwifery. As a practitioner in his native city, Deventer directed his greatest efforts to the practice of midwifery and to the study of its many unsolved problems. It was through his investigations of the normal and deformed pelvis and their effects on the course of labor that he was able to make significant contributions to the science of midwifery. Heirs: 678; call#: RC93 .D44 1734

12. William Smellie (1697-1763). A sett of anatomical tables, with explanations, and an abridgement, of the practice of midwifery. London: [n. publ.], 1754. Only two years after his famed treatise of midwifery appeared, Smellie published this set of plates. The life-size plates are distinguished for their accuracy and are only to be compared with those of Smellie’s pupil, William Hunter, whose Anatomia uteri humani gravidi was one of the finest of all anatomical atlases. The greatest figure in English obstetrics, William Smellie, who, after twenty years of village practice, went to London to devote himself to the teaching and practice of obstetrics. To him are owed the first attempts to measure the fetal cranium in utero, and also important studies on the mechanism of delivery. Smellie introduced three new types of forceps and outlined safe rules for their use. Heirs: 826; call#: RG93 .S57 (folio)

13. Charles White (1728-1813). A treatise on the management of pregnant and lying-in women. London: Printed for E. and C. Dilly, 1773. This book, translated into French and German became a mighty force in the reform of medical practice at a time when it was sorely needed, is filled with practical suggestions, emanating from an author of great experience, unusual powers of observation, and sound reasoning. White made substantial contributions to the etiology and prevention of puerperal fever. Without understanding the cause of the disease, he, nevertheless insisted on absolute cleanliness in the lying-in chamber, adequate ventilation, and the isolation of infected patients. Heirs: 981; call#: RG93 .W5

14. Jacques Fabian Gautier D’Agoty (1717-1785). Anatomie des parties de la génération de l’homme, et de la femme. Paris: Chez J. B. Brunet et Demonville, 1773. The eight colored mezzotints show the anatomy of normal pregnancy, pathological female genitalia, and normal and diseased male genitalia. Gautier, a French printmaker, was the first person to print anatomical plates in color on a large scale. Although “his anatomic illustrations impress the critical observer with their arrogance and charlatanry and do not recommend themselves to the student of anatomy either for their faithfulness and reliability or for their technique” (Choulant), they are of great interest from the point of view of book illustration and the history of anatomic illustration. Heirs: 941; call#: QM401 .G38 (folio)

15. William Hunter (1718-1783). Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrata. . . . The anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures. Birmingham: Printed by John Baskerville, 1774. This work, said to be “one of the finest anatomical atlases ever to be produced”, contains life-sized figures which not only are anatomically accurate but are works of art. Hunter spent more than twenty-five years preparing this atlas, employed artists to prepare the engravings at enormous expense to himself, and entrusted the printing of the work to John Baskerville. This monumental work is one of the great publications of world medical literature as well as a classic of book production. Heirs: 942; call#: RG520 .H9 (oversized vault)

16. Angélique-Marguerite le Boursier du Coudray (1712-1789). Abrégé de l’art des accouchements. Nouvelle éd. Paris: Chez Debure, père, 1777. Le Boursier, a prominent Parisian midwife, first published this work in 1759 to aid French midwives and to improve the survival rate of newborns. She used the book as she traveled throughout France, giving demonstrations to thousands of students. Robert, a pupil of Le Blon, is known to have illustrated only three books and this was his most copiously illustrated book. Heirs: 919; call#: RG93 .L4 1777

17. Jean Louis Baudelocque (1745?-1810). L’art des accouchemens. Paris: Chez Méquignon l’aîné, 1781.
After the French Revolution, Baudelocque was appointed professor of obstetrics at the École de Santé and director of the Maternité. As France’s leading obstetrician, Baudelocque attended many women from Europe’s top royal families. He was an advocate of cesarean section, a view that led him into a bitter lawsuit late in his career. Baudelocque’s obstetric contributions include a forceps which he based on an earlier model of Levret as well as a pelvimeter of his own design. Comprehensive in scope, it did much to popularize clinical pelvimetry and the plates depict instruments, normal and pathological pelvices, as well as methods of forceps-assisted delivery in difficult presentations of the infant. Heirs: 1061; call# RG93 .B3 1781

18. Alexander Gordon (1752-1799). A treatise on the epidemic puerperal fever of Aberdeen. London: Printed for G.G. and J. Robinson, 1795. This treatise shows Gordon’s insights into the contagious nature of puerperal fever, its epidemiology, pathology and the means of prevention. “Gordon was the first to advance as a definite hypothesis the contagious nature of puerperal fever, thus preceding Holmes and Semmelweis by half a century. He also advocated the disinfection of the clothes of the doctor and midwife.” Gordon’s main interest were midwifery and obstetrics and, in addition to a considerable private practice, he regularly gave lectures on this subject to the University students of Aberdeen. Heirs: 1112.5; RG811 .G67 1795

19. Jacques Pierre Maygrier (1771-1835). Nouvelles démonstrations d’accouchemens, avec des planches en taille-douce. Paris: Béchet, 1822. Maygrier was one of a number of French obstetricians who followed the tradition of Jean Louis Baudelocque in refining the science of midwifery. This textbook contains a series of eighty large engravings. They cover virtually every phase of childbirth including pelvic deformities, pelvimetry, transverse presentations, cesarean section, the use of forceps, and even a section on infant feeding and lactation. Many of the illustrations were used again or adapted by later authors. Heirs: 1261; call#: RG521 .M38 (folio)

20. Marie Anne Victoire Boivin (née Gillain) (1773-1841) and Antoine Louis Duges (1797-1838). Traité pratique des maladies de l’utérus et de ses annexes. Paris: J. B. Baillière, 1833. Here Boivin details the uterus and its adnexa in their normal and diseased states with many illustrative case histories. The folio atlas with its forty-one colored engravings drawn by Boivin illustrate the most common pathological states of the female genitalia. Madame Boivin, one of the most accomplished and respected midwives in all of Europe, was an innovative surgeon and skillful gynecologist. Heirs: 1282; call#: RG301 .B65 (folio)

21. Charles Delucena Meigs (1792-1869). The Philadelphia practice of midwifery. Philadelphia: James Kay, Jun. & Brother; Pittsburgh: John I. Kay, 1838. Meigs was greatly incensed by Holmes’ views that puerperal fever was caused by uncleanliness. In this his first book, he gives a most accurate description of puerperal fever while attributing its cause to the undue strain and trauma on the uterus and other pelvic structures during delivery. Treatments Meigs suggests for the agonies of puerperal fever are bloodletting, fomentations for the abdomen, and words of support from the attending physician. He additionally covers the anatomy of pregnancy and the management of normal and abnormal parturition. Meigs was a professor of obstetrics at Jefferson Medical College for twenty years. Heirs: 1487; call#: RG521 .M518 1838

22. Francois Joseph Moreau (1789-1862). Traité pratique des accouchemens. Paris: G. Baillière, 1841. The art of obstetrics was advanced considerably in nineteenth-century France, and Moreau, a member of the Medical Faculty of Paris, was one of its most active clinicians and writers. This exhaustive text treats the problems of pregnancy, normal and abnormal delivery, and anatomical anomalies of the newborn. The sixty full-page lithographs which complement the text are exceptional. Heirs: 1454; call#: RG521 .M67 1814 atlas (folio)

23. Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894). The contagiousness of puerperal fever. (In New England quarterly Journal of medicine and surgery. Vol. 1 (1842-1843), pp. 503-530.) In it this brief paper, Holmes demonstrated conclusively the contagious nature of puerperal fever. He showed that the dreaded disease, carried by physician from bed to bed, could be avoided by simply washing the hands before and after pelvic examination and after postmortem examination. Like Semmelweis, who confirmed Holmes’ conclusions, Holmes suffered the abuse and ridicule of his fellow physicians, who only reluctantly and after many years conceded the truth. The severity and widespread occurrence of the disease led Holmes to state in the strongest terms the obligation of the physician: “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” (p. 530). The New England quarterly journal of medicine and surgery was published for only one year, and complete copies, such as this one, are uncommon. Heirs: 1744; call#: R11 .N4 vol.1 1842/43 p.503-530

24. Walter Channing (1786-1876). A treatise on etherization in childbirth. Boston: William D. Ticknor, 1848. Channing was the first American doctor to use ether anesthesia in obstetrical cases and he published an early paper on the subject in 1847 following it the next year with the present monograph. He planned the treatise carefully, presenting both the pros and cons of obstetrical anesthesia as well as detailed instructions on his methods and techniques. The over 500 case histories included in the book provide strong support to his arguments for the use of ether anesthesia. Additionally, Channing was first professor of obstetrics at Harvard in 1815 and was also a founder of the Boston Lying-in Hospital. Heirs: 1428; call#: RG732 .C4

25. George Spratt (ca. 1784-1840). Obstetric tables: comprising graphic illustrations, with descriptions and practical remarks exhibiting on dissected plates many important subjects in midwifery. 1st American ed., from the 4th and greatly improved London ed. Philadelphia: James A. Bill, 1850. A good example of an early “flap-book,” Spratt’s volume, first published in London in 1833, includes fifty hand-colored, tipped on flaps, sometimes layered four or five to the same image. Spratt was a member of the Royal College of Surgeons, a fellow of the Linnaean Society, a male midwife, and an active printmaker. The cut-outs reveal successive layers of tissues and stages in fetal development. Heirs: 1398.5; call#: RG520 .S76 1850 (folio)

26. Benjamin Hobson (1816-1873). Fu ying hsin shuo. Shanghai: Jen-chi Hospital, 1858. Hobson was one of the early Western missionaries and physicians who worked in China during the nineteenth century. A serious student of the Chinese language, Hobson produced a series of five medical and scientific treatises which were the only Chinese source of information on western science and medicine at that time. This work on childbirth and postnatal care contains many depictions of the pelvic girdle, the fetus in utero, and birth positions. Heirs: 1832; call#: RG521 .H6

27. Ignác Fulop Semmelweis (1818-1865). Die Aetiologie, der Begriff und die Prophylaxis des Kindbettfiebers. Pest, Vienna, and Leipzig: C. A. Hartleben’s Verlags-Expedition, 1861. As obstetrician at the Vienna Krankenhaus, Semmelweis noted the high rate of deadly puerperal fever among obstetrical patients and in particular those attended by medical students who moved freely from the dissecting morgue to the wards. After instituting a strict handwashing policy, Semmelweis saw a dramatic drop in the incidence of the disease which prompted him to notify the Vienna Medical Society of his findings. In spite of his having marshaled overwhelming evidence to support his contention that the disease could be spread by attending physicians, his ideas were vehemently opposed by nearly every prominent physician of his day. A notable exception was Oliver Wendell Holmes who had earlier published a paper on the contagiousness of puerperal fever. By the time that Semmelweis’ ideas finally gained acceptance it was twenty years after his definitive analysis of 1861 and he was dead, having succumbed to septicemia while a patient in a lunatic asylum. Heirs: 1851; call#: RG811 .S43 1861

28. George Julius Engelmann (1847-1903). Labor among primitive peoples. St. Louis: J. H. Chambers, 1882. Engelmann embarked on this study of the labor and delivery practices of primitive peoples after acquiring a collection of ancient Peruvian pottery in 1877. He commented that “it appeared to me as if a study of obstetric customs among the more primitive people might lead to valuable results which would serve to guide the practice of the present day” (p. 1-2). Engelmann subsequently engaged in wide-ranging correspondence, travel, and research to complete what has become a classic contribution to obstetrics. Additionally, he organized the St. Louis School for Midwives (1874) and the Maternity Hospital in 1900 and served as president of the American Gynecological Society. Heirs: 2096; call#: RG511 .E57 1882

29. Étienne Tarnier (1828-1897). De l’asepsie et de l’antisepsie en obstétrique. Paris: G. Steinheil, 1894. Here Tarnier outlines in detail the principles and practice of asepsis and antisepsis in the practice of obstetrics. Tarnier interned in the Maternité Hospital of Paris when puerperal fever was rampant in its wards. During his twenty-two year tenure, he made major contributions to curbing puerperal fever and dramatically reduced the maternal death rate. He also developed a peritoneal exclusion technique for cesarean section, designed an isolation pavilion, used heated bassinets, introduced lavage feedings in his clinic, and developed an intrauterine balloon for the induction of labor. Tarnier is further responsible for modifying obstetric forceps by adding traction rods to solve the problem of how to direct traction properly in high forceps delivery. His basiotribe, still in use today, replaced Baudelocque’s cephalotribe and Simpson’s cranioclast combining the advantages of both in one instrument. Tarnier was one of the earliest to introduce Lister’s principles of antisepsis into obstetrics and was the first to use carbolic acid in this field. Heirs: 1940; call#: RG730 .T37 (extension room)