History Essays | Hektoen International

The Polish White Cross – birthed on American soil to support Polish soldiers abroad

Magdalena Grassmann Bialystok, Poland Eva Niklinska Nashville, Tennessee, United States (Winter 2018)   Helena Paderewska with the nurses of The Polish White Cross, 1918   Polish White Cross Symbol Polish medical heritage in the United States has a long history built on the efforts of Polish physicians, nurses, and pharmacists in many American universities, hospitals, […]

An “enematic” saga

F. Gonzalez-Crussi Chicago, IL (Fall 2017)   Primitive method of administering an enema, by blowing directly without the use of an injector 1 Apothecary holding an enema syringe 2 “The Enema” 3 Those of us who have managed to survive sixty, seventy, or more years remember that the enema or clyster was, by far, the commonest home remedy […]

Episteme and translation in an annotated copy of the Canon of Medicine by Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna)

Sang Ik Song & Adam S. Komorowski University of Limerick, Ireland (Spring 2017)   Processes of Translation in European Medieval Medical Episteme Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine, pg 275: Hooper has underlined “nentaphyllon” and re-written the mis-transcription on the margin in Arabic. The episteme and movement of knowledge of medieval medicine in Europe is a syncretic, […]

The divine leaf: physick and the cause for physick

Lynn Veach Sadler Burlington, NC (Spring 2017)   The photograph is of John White’s 1585 watercolor of a Secotan mother and child now in the British Library. Columbus is believed to have rebuked his crew for sharing the Indians’ “drinking” of the smoke of tobacco through toboca/tobaga pipes and chewing its dried leaves. He was among […]

The Friends’ Ambulance Unit South Bank Clinic: the forgotten valor of the pacifists who stayed beyond the fight

Christopher Magoon Philadelphia, PA (Spring 2017)   FAU volunteer labels unit truck Unit leader, Jack Jones, sketches scene of locals in common room For many of the non-Chinese volunteers who aided China during the tumult of 1930s and 40s, a notoriety that borders on mythology remains to this day. Perhaps most famously, an American group […]

Pantaleon or Pantaleimon– A most noble physician

Maria Alexandra Monteiro Porto, Portugal (Spring 2017)   As information about the life of Saint Pantaleon is entangled with tradition, it difficult to distinguish myth from facts. Nevertheless, according to several sources, Pantaleon was born c.AD 275, son of the rich pagan Eustorgius of Nicomedia. His name means “a lion in everything”. Later he would […]

The Lunar Society legacy

J.M.S. Pearce Hull Royal Infirmary, United Kingdom (Summer 2014)   Mention “Lunar Society“ and most academics will stare vacantly, despite the society’s fame during the eighteenth century. Erasmus Darwin (1731–1802), grandfather of Charles Darwin, was a founder of the Lunar Society in Birmingham (c. 1765- c.1800), which counted several physicians in its numbers. The original […]

Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s last illness

Armando Susmano Rush Medical College, Chicago, Illinois, United States (Spring 2012)   Yalta summit, February 1945 From left to right: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin On April 12, 1945, the country was shocked to learn their recently-elected fourth-term president was dead. Yet even after FDR’s death, Roosevelt’s personal physician, Admiral Dr. Ross McIntire […]

Looking back 175 years

Biji T. Kurien University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, United States (Spring 2015)     Louis Pasteur in his laboratory, 1885 Albert Edelfelt It was a time when surgery was performed in the raw. Obviously a horrendous nightmare for both patient and surgeon, it was performed only in do-or-die situations. The odor of pus in […]

Historical reflections on cause, responsibility and blame in medicine

William R. Albury University of New England, Armidale, Australia (Fall 2010) Debauchery and disease In the early years of British settlement in Australia the colonial authorities regarded drunkenness as one of the major evils of the day. Their preoccupation with this social problem was mirrored by the concern of the colony’s medical men with drunkenness […]