Tag Archives: History Essays

A look back at insulin

Shrestha Saraf Sutton Coldfield, United Kingdom Sanjay Saraf Sudarshan Ramachandran Birmingham, United Kingdom   Sir Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best co-discoverers of Insulin. Library and Archives Canada. Via Wikimedia. As we approach the centenary of the isolation, purification, and clinical use of insulin, it is an appropriate moment to reflect on the impact of […]

Queen Juana: the mad or the betrayed?

Juliana Menegakis London, United Kingdom   Juana I de Castilla, ca. 1500 Master of Affligem. Museo Nacional de Escultura. Via Wikimedia. Juana of Castile is known by her epithet “the Mad.” But was she truly insane? Infanta Juana of Castile and Aragon was born in 1479 to Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of […]

The assassination of President McKinley: death from traumatic gunshot pancreatitis?

Portrait of William McKinley. by Albert C. Fauley, 1896. Via the Ohio State House. On September 6, 1901, the 25th president of the United States, William McKinley, was shot twice with a concealed weapon by the anarchist Leon Czolgosz at the Temple of Music on the grounds of the Pan-American exposition in Buffalo, New York. […]

Syndrome K and the Fatebenefratelli Hospital

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Giovanni Borromeo – Italian doctor – Righteous Among the Nations. Via Wikimedia. CC BY-SA 3.0 “Whoever saves one life, it is as if he saved the whole world.” —Talmud (Mishnah Sanhedrin 4:5)1 Italy was an ally of Nazi Germany and was required to enact anti-Semitic laws.2 Beginning in September 1938, […]

The medical exploits of Roald Dahl

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1. Roald Dahl (1916-1990). Photo: © Roald Dahl Nominee Limited. Source Roald Dahl (1916-1990) (Fig 1) was born in Llandaff, Wales. He was named after Roald Amundsen, the Norwegian explorer who had reached the South Pole just four years earlier. Dahl is known as a popular author of ingenious, […]

Harvey Cushing and pituitary diseases

JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Harvey Cushing. Cropped from: Harvey Williams Cushing and Sir Charles Scott Sherrington. Photograph, 1938. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain. Of the many aspects and contributions of Harvey Williams Cushing (1869-1939) (Fig 1), this sketch concentrates on his identification of a basophilic tumor of the pituitary with adrenal hyperfunction that […]

When needs trumped faith and dogma: early twentieth century Los Angeles women’s social conscience

Saty Satya-Murti Santa Maria, California, United States Michael Engh Los Angeles, California, United States   Fig 1. Los Angeles Population Growth shown in a promotional pamphlet from 1915. From: Abbott, James W. Among cities Los Angeles is the world’s greatest wonder–Why?. [Los Angeles, The Cadmus press, 1915] Source: The Library of Congress. In early twentieth […]

Leeching and François-Joseph-Victor Broussais

JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Broussais & leeching. Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica. The practice of bloodletting began with the Egyptians and was succeeded by the Greeks, Romans (including Galen), and healers in India. In medieval times it spread throughout Europe. The “leech craze” was so popular in the nineteenth century that it has […]

Creating a race of orphans: Lebensborn, the “spring of life”

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   Lebensborn birth house, nurse in Lebensborn home. 1943. German Federal Archives. Via Wikimedia Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1973-010-11 / CC-BY-SA 3.0 Nazi Germany was a racial state. People of “pure” Aryan or Nordic heritage were believed to have superior physical, intellectual, and moral qualities. People from other ethnic or racial groups were […]

“Plague of the Sea, and the Spoyle of Mariners”—A brief history of fermented cabbage as antiscorbutic

Richard de Grijs Sydney, Australia   Germans eating sauerkraut. Hand-colored etching by James Gillray (1756–1815), published 7 May 1803. (© National Portrait Gallery, London: NPG D12809; CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) “. . . those affected have skin as black as ink, ulcers, difficult respiration, rictus of the limbs, teeth falling out and, perhaps most revolting of […]