Tag Archives: Moments in History

Abraham Lincoln’s smallpox

Howard Fischer Uppsala, Sweden   [Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad looking at an album of photographs.] Anthony Berger. 1864. Library of Congress. A brutal, bloody civil war had been tearing the United States of America apart for two years when President Abraham Lincoln arrived in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863. Four months before […]

Sir Frederick Treves, who operated on King Edward VII

Frederick Treves was born in Dorchester in 1853 and studied medicine at the London Hospital Medical College. He gained fame as Royal Surgeon to Edward VII, operating on his appendix just two days before the planned coronation. His decision to operate on June 24, 1902, caused the coronation to be postponed, and considering that the […]

“Gentlemen! This is no humbug.”

Summer A. Niazi Jack E. Riggs Morgantown, West Virginia, United States   First Operation Under Ether, by Robert C. Hinckley, Boston Medical Library in the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, 1882-1893 (Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology) Source The words “Gentlemen! This is no humbug” is one of the most famous statements in the history of […]

Phillipe Gaucher (1854-1918)

Philippe Charles Ernest Gaucher. Via Wikimedia. In the days when syphilis was rampant in Europe and diagnostic modalities few, many unrelated medical conditions were erroneously attributed to it. There was, for example, the distinguished professor of syphilology and dermatology at the Hôpital Saint-Antoine and the University of Paris, who “aggressively promoted” the idea that poliomyelitis […]

Deserving but unrecognized: the forty-first seat

Marshall A. Lichtman Rochester, New York, United States   This gold medal is given to each laureate in literature. Each medal has one face that bears a profile of Alfred Nobel with his name and the date of his birth and death inscribed; the alternative side is unique to the discipline being honored. The medal […]

The last illness of Édouard Manet

George Dunea James L. Franklin Chicago, Illinois   A Bar at the Folies-Bergère. Édouard Manet. 1881-1882. The Courtauld Institute of Art. Accessed via Wikimedia. Édouard Manet (1832–1883) was one of the most famous modernist painters of nineteenth-century France. He painted life as creatively and elegantly as he lived in it, translating onto canvas the fashionable […]

Michel de Montaigne in his circular library

Portrait of Michel de Montaigne c. 1570 At the age of thirty-eight, in 1571, the aristocratic Michel de Montaigne retired from public life and “servitude at the court” in order to spend in his château “what little remains of his life, now more than half had run out.” He passed the next ten years or […]

The bullet in Garibaldi’s ankle

Giuseppe Garibaldi will forever be remembered as the greatest hero of the Italian risorgimento and struggle for independence. Even today there is no city in Italy, large or small, that has not raised a statue in his honor. He had been popular even before Italian unification, throughout Europe and especially in England. Had he not […]

The death of King George II

In November 1760, the King of Great Britain rose early as was his custom and drank his habitual cup of chocolate. He then went to use his commode on wheels, and minutes later was discovered slumped on the floor, dead. The next day his physician, Frank Nicholls, “opened the body” and found the king had […]

Ether dome

The first operation using ether as anesthesia took place in 1846. This daguerreotype is not of that operation, but rather is a recreation of the event. The patient is unknown, but the surgeons include John Mason Warren, John Collins Warren, George Hayward, and Solomon D. Townsend. Following the first use of ether, the operating theater […]