Tag Archives: History

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. […]

Body and soul, balance and the Sibyl of the Rhine: the life and medicine of Saint Hildegard of Bingen

Mariel Tishma Chicago, Illinois, United States   Hildegard von Bingen receives divine inspiration and passes it on to her writer. Miniature from the Rupertsberger Codex des Liber Scivias. Via Wikimedia St. Hildegard of Bingen wrote two medical texts, three books of visions and prophecies, one of the first mystery plays, songs, musical compositions, and letters. […]

The three contraries of Benjamin Franklin: “the gout, the stone and not yet master of all my passions”

James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois, United States   Fig 1: Portrait of Benjamin Franklin. From a carbonic alloy engraving, drawn by C. N. Cochin 1777, engraved by A.H. Richie. Public Domain. Via Wikimedia  On May 23, 1785, Benjamin Franklin wrote from Passy on the outskirts of Paris to George Whatley that “at Fourscore the three […]

Book Review of Viruses, Plagues, and History by M. B. A. Oldstone

Arpan Banerjee Solihull, United Kingdom   Cover The first edition of Viruses, Plagues, and History was published to great acclaim twenty years ago and has now been updated to include the pandemics of the twenty-first century. These include the SARS, MERS, and Zika virus outbreaks, which have now been eclipsed by COVID-19. The early story […]

Medicean optics: an analysis of Raffaello’s Portrait of Pope Leo X and Two Cardinals

Vincent P. de Luise  New Haven, Connecticut, United States   Portrait of Pope Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de’ Medici) and his cousins, the cardinals Giulio de’ Medici and Luigi de’ Rossi. Raffaello Sanzio (Raphael). ​o​il on panel 154 cm x 119 cm (​61 in. ​x 4​9​ ​in​). 1518-1519. Galleria degli ​Uffizi​, ​Firenze​. Source: Wikimedia Commons. Myopia, or nearsightedness, is […]

Otology in late Victorian Ireland

Tony Ryan Cork, Ireland   Figure 1: Unblocking the eustachian tube using Politzer’s bag. Source Introduction Henry MacNaughton Jones (1844-1918) was born in Cork City and graduated MD at Queen’s College, Cork, in 1864. Just four years later he founded the thirty-bed Cork Ophthalmic and Aural Hospital, where he practiced as a physician and surgeon. […]

Mount Everest and a medical atlas

Tony Ryan Cork, Ireland   This is a story of a medical atlas, the author, the illustrator, and her great-uncle. The book, the Atlas of the Diseases of the Membrana Tympani, was written by Dr. Henry MacNaughton Jones in 1878. This atlas of diseases of the “eardrum” was illustrated by nurse and artist, Margaret Boole. […]