August Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room @Hardin Library

marcello2MARCELLO MALPIGHI (1628-1694). De pulmonibus observationes anatomicae. In Thomas Bartholin’s De pulmonum substantia & motu diatribe, Copenhagen, 1663

Marcello Malpighi
Marcello Malpighi

Anatomist, embryologist, physiologist, and microscopist, Malpighi was instrumental in the development of embryology and histology and also a great microscopic anatomist.

Malpighi made many scientific contributions, but many  consider his discovery of the pulmonary circulation the most important.

De pulmonibus observationes anatomicae was initially written in the form of two letters to Borelli at Pisa.  Malpighi described his microscopic studies of the lung of a living frog. Malpighi showed that the lungs were vesicular in nature and described how the branches of the trachea terminate in the alveoli.

In the final letter, he presented his description of the capillaries which he observed linking the arterial and the venous circulation. In so doing, he provided the final proof of the validity of Harvey’s theories on the circulation of the blood.

You may view this work in the John Martin Rare Book Room, Hardin Library for the Health Sciences. Make a gift to the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences by donating online or setting up a recurring gift with The University of Iowa Foundation.





Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room, July 2014: Nathaniel Highmore

Nathaniel Highmore (1613-1685)

Corporis Humani Disquisitio Anatomica

The Hague: Ex oficina Samuelis Brown, 1651.

[Image via Fisher Library Digital Collections, University of Toronto].

Nathaniel Highmore of Dorset, England was a British surgeon known for his 1651 treatise on anatomy, the first of its kind to give an accurate account of the circulatory system. Highmore studied at Oxford beginning in 1631, after which he practiced at Sherborne in Dorset. Corporis, the best-known of his several works, is divided into three sections corresponding to the abdomen, thorax, and head. Although the plates, drawn in the style of Vesalius, echo those of an earlier period, Highmore was responsible for a number of important advances. The most noteworthy of these are his descriptions of the sinus maxillaris (the largest nasal cavity, then known as the antrum of Highmore) and the mediastinum testes (the septum dividing the scrotum, or Highmore’s body).

To learn more about medical history, visit the John Martin Rare Book Room website.

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Elements of the Practice of Medicine

Notes from the John Martin Rare Book Room

June, 2014

RICHARD BRIGHT (1789-1858) and THOMAS ADDISON (1793-1860). Elements of the practice of medicine. London: Longman, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longmans, 1839.

This rare work represents a joint undertaking by two of the most famous physicians in nineteenth-century Europe. The preface describes it as “a work at once elementary and practical to which [teachers] might refer their pupils as a companion and assistant during the period of their studies.”

Elements lists over sixty diseases and conditions and includes a lucid account of their histories, causes, prognoses, diagnoses, and treatments. Though the style is dated, the descriptions of the diseases excel in accuracy and conciseness. Originally issued in three parts from 1836 to 1839, the work is bound in  a single volume. The intended second volume was never published. Hardin has digitized 17 images from the book. See them here.

Text adapted from Donna Hirst, Curator, John Martin Rare Book Room.

Images: Respectively, Richard Bright, Thomas Addison. Credits: Wikimedia,