Tag Archives: History

Reconstructing memories and history in One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

Tonse N. K. Raju Gaithersburg, Maryland, United States   García Márquez, G. One Hundred Years of Solitude, 1967. Source Courtesy: Harper &Row. “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” In the opening sentence of his extraordinary […]

The remarkable Harriet Lane

Colin K. L. Phoon New York, New York, United States   Figure 1. Harriet Lane, accessed from the Library of Congress 09/05/2021, The name “Harriet Lane” is well-known to many pediatricians, but perhaps fewer recognize this woman’s other roles in US history (Hint: She was not a pediatrician!). In fact, the US presidency, the military, […]

The death of James Abram Garfield

Philip Liebson Chicago, Illinois, United States   James Abram Garfield. By Ole Peter Hansen Balling. 1881. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Public Domain. The medical treatment of some US presidents and ex-presidents has been controversial. One example is George Washington, who in 1799 at age sixty-seven suffered from an acute throat ailment that was treated […]

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 […]

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 “Ether Controversy”

JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Warren and Morton’s operation in the Ether Dome, restaged with Mass General physicians assuming the roles of the original participants. Warren Zapol, MD, chief of anesthesia and critical care, starred as Dr. Morton, while Philip Kistler, MD, director of the Mass General stroke unit, played Dr. Warren. […]

Jean-Paul Marat, physician and revolutionary

JMS Pearce Hull, England   Fig 1: Death of Marat. Jacques-Louis David. 1793. Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium. Via Wikimedia. The murder of the notorious Jean-Paul Marat in his bath in July 1793 by Charlotte Corday is a tale where revolution, art, and medicine each played a part. When the commoners stormed the […]

Emblems and psychological medicine on the Sutton Hoo purse

Stephen Martin Durham, England, and Thailand   The recent film The Dig1 has brought into the wider public eye the story of an Anglo-Saxon ship burial.2 The burial mound, at Sutton Hoo, in Sussex, England,3,4 contained a high-status figure, almost certainly Royal. The most expensive of the grave goods5 are high-craftsmanship gold, set with very […]

The derailment of Franklin Pierce

Jacob Appel  New York, New York, United States   Pres. Franklin Pierce. neg. from original ink by Brady. [between 1855 and 1865]. Part of Brady-Handy photograph collection. From the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Few subjects have attracted as much attention from medical historians, both well-founded and speculative, as the health of United States presidents. […]

American ginseng as an herbal emissary influencing Qing-American trade relations

Richard Zhang Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States   Panax quinquefolium, as featured in a book by physician-botanist Jacob Bigelow, late 1810s. Public domain courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. On February 22, 1784, the Empress of China set sail from New York Harbor.1 Destined for the eponymous country, the American ship carried thirty tons of a wild root—ginseng. […]