Tag Archives: History Essays

Another look at the medical problems of Jean-Paul Marat: searching for a unitary diagnosis

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   L’Assassinat de Marat / Charlotte Corday. Paul-Jacques-Aimé Baudry. 1860. Musée d’Arts de Nantes. Via Wikimedia. Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793) was a practicing physician, scientist, and a leader of the French Revolution. He also suffered from a chronic, intractable skin condition, which troubled the last five years of his life. A tormenting […]

Samuel Mudd MD: Good Samaritan or conspirator?

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Figure 1 Samuel A. Mudd, MD. Wikimedia. As he rose in the Washington, D.C. courtroom on June 30, 1865, to hear his verdict, Dr. Samuel Mudd looked older than his thirty-one years (Figure 1). His odobene mustache framed his mouth and his goatee was speckled with prematurely […]

The Philosophers’ Stone: history and myth

S.E.S. Medina Benbrook, Texas, United States   The ouroboros and the squared circle. The ouroboros is an ancient symbol where the metaphysical property of infinity is represented by a serpent or dragon swallowing its own tail. Its image is often used in alchemical texts from the Middle-Ages. Contained within the ouroboros is the squared circle, an […]

Plague epidemics and the evolution of language in England

Andrew P. K. Wodrich Washington, DC, United States   Pierart dou Tielt’s illustration depicts the mortal toll of the Black Death in a Belgian town circa 1353. Similarly, the plague decimated the population of England, spurring the change from French to English as the country’s dominant spoken language. Via Wikimedia Commons here.  Epidemics have had a profound impact […]

The death of Zachary Taylor: the first presidential assassination or a bad bowl of cherries?

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Figure 1: Senator Foote pulling a revolver on Senator Benton on Senate Floor. The quote above Benson’s head reads, “Get out of the way and let the assassin fire! Let the scoundrel use his weapon! I have no arm’s(sic) I didn’t come here to assassinate.” Library of […]

Women in the medical profession: the trial of Jacoba Felicie de Almania

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   A meeting of doctors at the university of Paris. From the “Chants royaux” manuscript, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. BNF, Français 1537, fol. 27v. Source In November 1322 a group of folk healers and empirics were put on trial by the Faculty of Medicine from the University of Paris. Their […]

Two great Scots: John and William Hunter

B. Herold Griffith Chicago, Illinois, United States   Excerpted from a presentation at the meeting of the Society of Medical History of Chicago October 3, 2006 Portrait of William Hunter. Credit: Hunterian Society loan to the Wellcome Collection. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Of the many surgeons who have had ties to Glasgow over […]

The search for Eisenhower’s adrenal tumor

Kevin R. Loughlin Boston, Massachusetts, United States   Figure 1. Letter to KRL from the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology For most Americans, the knowledge of Dwight Eisenhower’s health history is limited to the fact that he had a serious heart attack while president. However, a seemingly casual comment by a non-physician political scientist, Robert […]

A Tale of Two Tonics: Sino-Western psychopharmaceutical modernity in Shanghai, 1936

Richard Zhang Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Advertisement for Sanatogen in the Shen Bao, October 25, 1936.  Source (accessed through Yale University).  Shanghai, 1936: Positioned at the Yangtze Delta, this sprawling, bustling seaport was a multiplicity of cities. It was China’s most lucrative commercial hub for many business elites; a lavish, cosmopolitan adopted home for expatriates from at […]

A sporting end to Henry II, King of France

Julius P. Bonello Adam Awwad Peoria, Illinois, United States   Henry II. Source Since the first wheel rolled out of the mouth of a cave, sports have been a staple in our social fabric. From throwing balls to picking up sticks, from tug-of-war to wrestling, from chess to football, and from horse racing to car […]