Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

The Well-Equipped Surgeon’s Chest — Don’t Leave Home Without It 

Woodall, John (1570–1643). The Surgeons mate or military & domestique surgery. 2nd edition, London, 1639.

Woodall, John (1570–1643). The Surgeons mate or military & domestique surgery. 2nd edition, London, 1639.The John Martin Rare Book Room recently acquired a 1639 copy of John Woodall’s, The Surgeon’s Mate, the second and greatly expanded version of the work first published in 1617. Intended as a tutorial for apprentice ship surgeons, the book was extremely popular as an authority in its time and brings to light first-hand medical care as practiced aboard sailing vessels in the early 17th century. The first surgeon-general of the East India Company, Woodall was responsible for supplying each ship with a surgeon’s chest. This accompanying volume details the various ailments, medicines, and surgical techniques for dealing with the myriad of health problems and injuries faced by sailors, including gunshot, gangrene, amputation, ulcers, and fistulas. In the passage, below, Woodall advises the junior surgeon on how to prepare a patient for the ordeal of amputation, a procedure in all too frequent use on ships.

“If you be constrained to use your saw, let first your patient be well informed of the eminent danger of death by the use thereof; prescribe him no certaintie of life, and let the work be done with his owne free will, and request, and not otherwise. Let him prepare his soule as a ready sacrifice to the Lord by earnest prayers, craving mercie and helpe unfainedly: and forget thou not also they dutie in that kinde, to crave mercie and helpe from the Almightie, and that heartily. For it is no small presumption to dismember the image of God.” [spelling from original].

Woodall was one of the first to recommend lemon juice for preventing and treating scurvy, years before James Lind confirmed its efficacy in his Treatise on the Scurvy in 1753. Woodall’s organizational talents were well recognized during his lifetime as was his courage; he remained in London to treat victims of the 1603 and 1638 plague outbreaks during which he contracted and recovered from the disease twice. Our copy of this important work is in excellent condition and includes well preserved leaves illustrating the vast armaments of surgical tools necessary for the well-equipped ship’s surgeon.

New Director for Hardin Library Appointed

Linda Walton has accepted an offer to become the next Associate University Librarian and Director of the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences effective August 31. Linda comes to the University of Iowa Libraries from the Galter Health Sciences Library at Northwestern University where she has been the Associate Director.

“She has solid experience in health sciences librarianship and plenty of energy,” says Nancy L. Baker, University Librarian. “I am delighted to have Linda join the Libraries’ administrative group and assume leadership of the Hardin Library.”

Linda was attracted to the UI and the Hardin Library primarily because of the commitment to and progressive nature of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. “The interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of the University shows that the people are truly interested in health care and their patients,” said Walton. “Nancy Baker and the Libraries’ administrative team recognize the unique attributes of a health sciences library and sees this as a plus to the library system as a whole. Working together is critical in this complex information age.”

Some of the challenges Linda sees for all librarians involve understanding the ethical and legal information access issues brought about by the ease of information transfer over the Internet. She also wants to enhance the library user experience by developing tools that help faculty, students, staff and researchers connect with information resources more effectively.

After completing her graduate degree in library science at Indiana University, Linda worked for a small private psychiatric hospital library. This position proved to be the beginning of her career in health science librarianship. She appreciated the structure of health science libraries which allows for networking among libraries, developing library services and programs through grant funding and interlibrary lending. The fast pace of the medical world and being a part of the clinical setting all added to the excitement of being a health sciences librarian for Linda.

Hardin Library for the Health Sciences is part of the University of Iowa Libraries. Hardin serves the combined information and research needs of the five health science colleges of the University of Iowa as well as the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. Each year Hardin also fulfills nearly 30,000 information requests of health professionals across the country. For more information about Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, check online at

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

An Anatomical Work of Uncommon Beauty

Bourgery, Marc Jean (1797-1849). Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme, comprenant la médecine opératoire. 8 vols. Paris, 1831-1854. Bourgery, Marc Jean (1797-1849). Traité complet de l’anatomie de l’homme, comprenant la médecine opératoire. 8 vols. Paris, 1831-1854.
Paule Dumaitre in his Histoire de la médecine et du livre medical (Paris, 1978) commented that Bourgery’s work is considered today without question the most beautiful French work of anatomy published in 19th century. It is also without question one of the most beautifully illustrated anatomical and surgical treatises ever published in any language. The 726 hand-colored lithographs were executed after drawings by Nicolas Henri Jacob (1781-1871), a pupil of David. Jacob made his drawings from dissections and other anatomical preparations, some of which were prepared by Claude Bernard (see Heirs of Hippocrates No. 1792 ff.). One of the activities Bernard undertook in 1845, most likely to compensate for income lost when he resigned as Magendie’s student assistant, was to prepare dissections for Jacob. Although he is not recognized as a contributor, drawings made from some of his preparations appear in this first edition. Bourgery studied medicine at Paris where he interned under Laennec and Dupuytren and won gold medals for excellence from the Paris faculty of medicine and hospital administration. After ten years as health officer at Romilly, Bourgery returned to Paris to continue his career in anatomy and surgery. In addition to the present work he prepared an earlier illustrated anatomy and contributed a number of papers to the medical journals of his day. Bourgery divided his treatise into four parts which covered descriptive anatomy, surgical anatomy and techniques, general anatomy, and embryology and microscopic anatomy. Four volumes of the set are devoted to surgical anatomy and cover in detail nearly all the major operations that were performed during the first half of the nineteenth century. The University of Iowa Libraries’ copy lacks Planche 85 in Volume IV (lymphatics of the axilla).

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

Heirs of Hippocrates Now Online

We are pleased to announce that the book catalog, “Heirs of Hippocrates” last published in 1990 (3rd edition), is now available as an online database and offered to the public on the internet at no charge.


“Heirs” is an annotated bibliography of the historic books in the John Martin Rare Book Room and has become a source of authority for antiquarian book dealers, librarians, bibliographers, historians, and collectors from around the world.

This new product is the result of the labor of many individuals, most notably, Linda Roth, Hardin Library’s Web Producer (please see the About Heirs Online for further acknowledgements).

The online version is much more than the full text of the book; although it can be browsed, the content has been entered in the form of a database to allow for precision searching and quick recall.

We invite you to take a look at this new and important scholarly contribution to the history of medicine and printing.

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

Extreme Makeovers From The Sixteenth Century

Tagliacozzi, Gaspare (1545-1599). De curtorum chirurgia per insitionem, libri due. Venice, 1597.

taglio-2a_small.jpgAlthough Tagliacozzi was not the first plastic surgeon (it had been practiced in India centuries earlier) he is usually credited as the first modern practitioner of the art. Loss of facial parts from dueling, street fights, and syphilis were common during the 16th century. His work covers the anatomy of the nose and includes sections on the restoration of the nose, lips, and ears by means of autografting; it is replete with stunning engravings illustrating the techniques and instruments used in the various procedures. The popularity of the work caused it to be plagiarized almost immediately. However, Tagliacozzi’s work was opposed on religious grounds by such authorities as Paré and Fallopius and condemned by the church whose authorities exhumed his body and reburied it in unconsecrated ground.

History Through Deaf Eyes Exhibit Opens at Hardin

NOTE: “History Through Deaf Eyes” will continue through Thursday, February 23rd .

Well over one hundred attendees showed up Friday afternoon, November 4 for the official opening of the exhibit, “History Through Deaf Eyes” now on display at the Hardin Library.

The touring exhibit, developed by Gallaudet University and sponsored by numerous funding agencies was greeted enthusiastically by attendees from all parts of the country.

Staff from The Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs supplemented the exhibit with artifacts including photographs and objects relating to the early years of the institution.

The opening ceremony was highlighted by addresses from Dr. Jane K. Fernandes, Provost of Gallaudet and Jack R. Gannon, retired Gallaudet faculty member, and the curator of the project.

The exhibit covers nearly the entire first floor of the library and traces the sometimes controversial history of deafness and deaf education in America through photographs, documents, and multimedia.

Professor Richard Hurtig of the UI Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology was instrumental in procuring the exhibit.

Read the original University of Iowa News Release | Listen to the interview with Dr. Richard Hurtig (posted January 2006) – Listen to MP3 (6.49 MB) or read the transcript

See Also: News@Hardin, January 2006

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

Judging By Appearances

Porta, Giovanni Battista Della (1535?-1615).
De humana physiognomonia libri III. , Naples, 1586.

porta-front-small.jpgThe practice of attempting to discern personality traits from physical appearance goes back to antiquity. In fact, it was Aristotle who coined the term, “physiognomy” to support his own writings and inclinations on the subject. Since that time and until quite recently, the notion that character and personality are somehow imprinted in facial features has received considerable attention through a variety of approaches, many of which have been used for such nefarious purposes as racial stereotyping and the outright support of bigotry and racial superiority.

Porta was a Neapolitan philosopher, inventor, botanist, and playwright whose range of interest appeared to have no bounds. His scientific work set him at odds with the church from time to time and many of his books were banned during his lifetime. Porta posited the belief that human qualities can be discovered by noting similarities between human and animal visages. The work is made especially intriguing by the numerous wood-cut illustrations that correlate animal and human facial features.

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

A Withering Glance at Foxglove

Withering, William (1741-1799). An Account of the foxglove, and some of its medical uses, Birmingham, 1785.

Withering, William (1741-1799). An Account of the foxglove, and some of its medical uses, Birmingham, 1785.William Withering was a keen observer of plants and their medicinal uses and had already published a widely respected and comprehensive treatise on “Botanical Arrangement of all the vegetables” when this, his most famous work was printed. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh and later appointed an early physician to General Hospital, he noted the success of a complex herbal folk recipe in the treatment of “dropsy” (cardiac edema). Withering isolated the active component as the dried leaf of the foxglove (Digitalis purpura) which had been used indiscriminately (mostly as a diuretic) for centuries. It was Withering’s careful documentation and analysis of his many cases together with his instructions for preparation and dosage that introduced digitalis as a safe drug for a specific purpose. The book was written not only as a directive but as warning against the over-use of the drug which, of course, remains in use today. The exquisite hand-colored illustration of the foxglove plant included in this copy is in near mint condition.

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

The Gravid Uterus

William Hunter (1718-1783). Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrate. . . the anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures. John Baskerville, Birmingham, 1774.

William Hunter (1718-1783). Anatomia uteri humani gravidi tabulis illustrate. . . the anatomy of the human gravid uterus exhibited in figures. John Baskerville, Birmingham, 1774.

William Hunter, born in Scotland, was a London physician and obstetrician whose principal interest was in anatomy. Upon becoming professor of anatomy of the Society of Navy Surgeons in 1746, Hunter initiated a series of lectures on anatomy, surgery, and obstetrics which became quite popular and well-attended. In 1768, he constructed an anatomical theater and museum on Great Windmill Street where many of the foremost surgeons and anatomists of the day, including his brother John, were trained. This stunning atlas, containing life-sized steel engravings of the gravid uterus is one of the most elegant and accurate anatomical works in existence. Hunter spent more than twenty-five years preparing the atlas, employed artists to prepare the engravings an enormous expense to himself, and entrusted the printing of the work to John Baskerville, the greatest English printer of the eighteenth century. Portions of the cadavers on which the dissection was made and upon which the engravings were based remain at the University of Glasgow Anatomy Museum where they may be viewed by the public. This important work may be viewed by visiting the John Martin Rare Book Room. In addition to the images displayed here, high resolution scans of all of the plates from this work can be found by consulting Historical Anatomies on the Web, from the History of Medicine Division of the National Library of Medicine.

[Above summary adopted from Heirs of Hippocrates]

For more information about the John Martin Rare Book Room please visit the Web site at or contact Ed Holtum, Assistant Director for Administrative Services and Special Collections, at 319/335-9154 or

Hardin Library 30th Anniversary Open House

The Hardin Library celebrated its 30th anniversary on October 6, 2004 with speakers, a video, music and refreshments. Over eighty people heard President Skorton make remarks about Dr. Hardin and the Hardin Library professionals. A video entitled “Reflections on Hardin Library 1974-2004” was also featured. President Skorton’s remarks, photographs, and the video are still available on the Web site if you were unable to attend the celebration.

Related Links
Hardin Library for the Health Sciences – A Photographic History

New@Hardin article from September 2004 announcing the Open House Celebration