Tag Archives: 18th Century

In praise of swimming: from Benjamin Franklin to Oliver Sacks

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Oliver Sacks as a young child with his father. Courtesy of the Oliver Sacks Foundation. Benjamin Franklin (1706–1790) was not a physician, but many thought he was so-trained and referred to him as “Doctor” Franklin. After accepting an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Andrews in […]

Thomas Young MD FRS (1773-1829): “The Last Man Who Knew Everything.”

JMS Pearce East Yorks, UK   Fig 1. Thomas Young. Mezzotint by G. R. Ward, 1855, after Sir T. Lawrence. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) It is impossible to place precisely Thomas Young (Fig 1) into any professional class. He was both physician and scientist, renowned for an astonishing range of […]

Roget and his Thesaurus

JMS Pearce East Yorks, UK   Fig 1. Peter Mark Roget (1779-1869). William. Drummond, after Eden Upton Eddis. c.1830s. Credit National Portrait Gallery  There was much more to Peter Mark Roget (1779–1869)(Fig 1) than his indispensable Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Fig 2).1 But little is remembered of his illustrious career in medicine and […]

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and smallpox

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. A painting of Mary Wortley Montagu by Jonathan Richardson the Younger. Via Wikimedia. There are few examples of people with no medical training who independently make significant advances in medical practice. One such person was the elegant, aristocratic Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (1689-1762)—daughter of Evelyn Pierrepont, 1st Duke […]

Potts and Pott

John Raffensperger Fort Meyer, Florida, United States   Portrait of Percivall Pott by George Romney, unsigned, 1788. From the Hunterian Museum, Royal College of Surgeons, London. Source Willis Potts and Percival Pott were both highly skilled surgeons, prolific authors, and contributed to the surgical care of children.   Percival Pott (1714-1788) Percival Pott, at age […]

Benjamin Rush—Heritage and Hope

C. Frederick Kittle Chicago, Illinois, United States   Excerpted from the The Proceedings of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago, Vol. 34, 1981. Based on a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Alumni Association of Rush Medical College, September 13, 1976. Reprinted from Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s “Magazine,” Winter 1976-77. Benjamin Rush by Charles Wilson […]

The beginnings of humane psychiatry: Pinel and the Tukes

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Portrait of Philippe Pinel by Anna Mérimée. 1826. Public domain. From Wikimedia. “It is perhaps not going too far to maintain that Pinel has been to eighteenth-century psychiatry what Newton was to its natural philosophy and Linnaeus to its taxonomy.” -George Rousseau, Historian, 1991 Although modern treatment of […]

The hunt for a yellow fever therapy

Edward McSweegen Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Roux’s syringe for delivering antitoxin, The College of Physicians of Philadelphia  Source In March 2020, a research group in China reported the use of convalescent plasma to treat ten patients suffering from coronavirus COVID-19 infections.1 This type of therapy—passive immunization—dates back to 1891 when the German bacteriologist Emil […]

Modern neuroscience and the ideas of the Enlightenment

Stephen Martin Durham, United Kingdom   Fig. 1. Mrs. Jane Wilkinson, one of the first independent Georgian music teachers. English, Philip Gaugain, 1835. UK private collection. The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement in eighteenth-century Europe that had a major influence on the arts, science, education, religion, and politics. Its principles paved the way for women […]