Tag Archives: Tuberculosis

Doctor Johnson and his ailments

Samuel Johnson, L.L.D. ca.1770. Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru – The National Library of Wales. Public Domain Samuel Johnson, one of the greatest English literary figures of all time, is remembered more for what he said than for what he wrote. Other writers may have been more successful or more profound, but none had as great a […]

Robert Louis Stevenson and hereditary hemorrhagic telangiectasia

Sally Metzler Chicago, Illinois, USA   Fig. 1: Edward Joseph F. Timmons, Stevenson House, ca. 1940, oil on canvas, Collection of the Union League Club Chicago. Famed Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) traveled to Monterey, California, in 1879 and lived for three months on the second floor of a white adobe boarding house called […]

Ladies in red: medical and metaphorical reflections on La Traviata

Milad Matta Gregory Rutecki Lyndhurst, Ohio, United States   Illustration by Jason Malmberg. “. . . phthisic beauty[’s] . . . most famous operatic embodiment was Violetta Valery . . .This physical type became not only fashionable but sexy . . . When a society does not understand—and cannot control—a disease, ground seems to open […]

How conflict and bureaucracy delayed the elimination of yellow fever

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Army Surgeon General George Miller Sternberg, Wikimedia The Golden Age of Bacteriology (1876-1906) saw the emergence of techniques to cultivate bacterial pathogens and develop vaccines and anti-toxin therapies against them. The new bacteriologists rapidly identified the agents causing anthrax, gonorrhea, typhoid, tuberculosis, cholera, tetanus, diphtheria, plague, and […]

Health, wellness, and their determinants

Travis Kirkwood Ottawa, Ontario, Canada   Original map made by John Snow in 1854. Cholera cases are highlighted in black. 2nd Ed by John Snow. Public Domain due to age. John Snow is often referred to as the father of modern epidemiology. His work is certainly worthy of this1 and present-day public health2 still strives toward […]

What did Dorothy Reed See?

Sara Nassar Cairo, Egypt   Dorothy Mabel Reed Mendenhall (Photograph by A. Pearsall, courtesy of Alan Mason Chesney Archives of John Hopkins Medical School). “They say that genius is an infinite capacity for taking pains.”1 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Study in Scarlet.   Dorothy Mabel Reed Mendenhall opened the doors of medicine at […]

“The Sick Child” in Scandinavian art

Göran Wettrell Sweden   Figure 1. The Sick Child, Gabriel Metsu, 1660-65, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam Within Western figurative pictorial art there has long been an interest in showing sick children, their psychological attitudes, the effects on the family, and indeed the very reality of disease. One of the best known works on  this subject is by […]

Ford Madox Brown: his model and his medical grandfather

Few ladies would look their best when painted in bed with their hair down while recovering from a dangerous infection. But Emma Hill looks beautiful, resting, her coiffure immaculate, sheets unruffled, a flower in her hand. In 1848 while still in her teens, she had become the model and then mistress of Ford Madox Brown, […]

Smetana, his music, his illness

Bedřich (Frederic) Smetana was one of the major figures of nineteenth century European music. Regarded as the founder of the Czech national school of music, he composed The Bartered Bride opera and the symphonic poem “Má Vlast” (My Homeland) with its beloved Vlatava (The Moldau) melody. Like Ludwig van Beethoven, he composed exceptional music even […]

Vampires and the Tuberculous Family

Sylvia Pamboukian Moon Township, PA   Public Health poster, New York National Child Welfare Association, ca. 1920-23. Library of Congress “The Tuberculous Family.” Listed by Library of Congress website with “No known restrictions on publication” An isolated village, a series of mysterious deaths, a mob in the graveyard at midnight—it sounds like the climax of […]