Category Archives: History of Medicine

glass eyeballs

Glass eyeballs and amputating saws and enema syringes, oh my!

As Curator for the History of Medicine Collections in the Rubenstein Library, I often feel I have one of the best jobs in our library.  I have the opportunity to work with wonderful people, but also remarkable rare books, manuscripts, and a wonderful collection of material objects.

amputating saw

Amputating saw

Over the years, a number of generous donors have given a variety of instruments and artifacts to the History of Medicine Collections. These items are often used in classroom instruction and teaching, and enrich and enliven exhibits and displays. The depth and breadth of this collection represents advances made in science and medicine, and reflect the importance of our historical understanding of material culture.

glass eyeballs

Glass eyeballs

Artifacts range in date from the 17th century to today, with many aspects of medicine highlighted in the collection: surgery, gynecology, pediatrics, and more. That “more” category includes items like our prosthetic glass eyeballs, the irises of which are all blue. These hand-blown glass items were intended to serve as prosthetic eyes. In a box reminiscent of a Whitman’s sampler, these eyes were made in a variety of sizes with differing tints of yellow and white. This box would have been used and carried by a traveling salesman of sorts – a person who visited doctors’ offices and sold them to patients in need.

A remarkable collection guide is now available to document the range of historical medical artifacts we have in our holdings.

enema syringe

Enema syringe

I’m often asked by students and researchers what my favorite item is. It really changes on a weekly basis. Currently, I’m intrigued by our range of microscopes. They are quite beautiful, span several centuries, and some include ivory specimen slides – with specimens!

microscope

Box mount microscope

 scope2

Screw barrel microscope

Some of my other favorites? Female pills and dental keys. Why were these female pills created and what are they? When I ask students, they often answer that it’s really just Midol.

female pills

Female pills

The dental keys really illustrate how medical technology has evolved in tooth extraction. The illustration below shows how a dental key would be used. This image is from the monumental work by J. M. Bourgery, Atlas of human anatomy and surgery, that includes a translation of his work and colored facsimiles. Of note, we also have the nine volume original work of Bourgery.

dental chart

key

Dental key

A tremendous amount of thanks go out to so many people: our donors who have generously given such wonderful materials; previous staff of the History of Medicine Collections who researched these items, provided descriptions, and took photos that we can now share; and current staff from the Rubenstein Library’s technical services department and DUL digital projects – all who have made this guide possible.

What will your favorite item be?

Post by Rachel Ingold, Curator for the History of Medicine Collections in the Rubenstein Library.

SLA2053

Now Accepting Applications for our 2014-2015 Travel Grants

Researchers! The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2014-2015 travel grants.SLA2053

The Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture,  the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, and the History of Medicine Collections will award up to $1,000 per recipient to fund travel and other expenses related to visiting the Rubenstein Library. The Rubenstein also offers the Eleanore and Harold Jantz Fellowship, a $1500 award for researchers whose work would benefit from use of the Jantz Collections.

The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, NC and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers.

Please note that the Rubenstein Library will be closed to the public from July 1st, 2015 through August 23rd, 2015, while we relocate to our newly renovated space. These dates are subject to change.

More details—and the grant application—may be found on our grants website. Recipients will be announced in April 2015.

McDougall's “localization of touch” experiment on his son Duncan.

Cradle as Laboratory: Psychology Notebooks in the Duke Libraries

The practice of experimentation on one’s own children belongs to a somewhat queasy tradition in psychology that embraces parenthood as an opportunity for “natural experiment.”  Psychologists throughout the twentieth century have kept tabs on their children’s development, blending the pride of parenthood with the detached methodology of science. So it’s no surprise to find in the papers of William McDougall, the first head of Duke University’s psychology department, extensive notes on four of his children, Angus, Duncan, Janet, and Leslie. Just how the disciplinary practices of psychology in the early twentieth century filtered into McDougall’s child-rearing becomes apparent when comparing the McDougall journals to a contemporaneous laboratory notebook from a psychology student, Walter R. Miles, in the Rubenstein Library’s History of Medicine Collections.

 

McDougall's “localization of touch” experiment on his son Duncan.
McDougall’s “localization of touch” experiment on his son Duncan.

 

Miles's “Cutaneous Sensation Pain Spots” experiment
Miles’s “Cutaneous Sensation Pain Spots” experiment

These images depict similar experiments in localizing sensation. The experimenter stimulated a spot on the subject’s hand or arm using a sharp object (Miles used the point of a compass); a few seconds later, the subject had to indicate, either on the actual hand or on a diagram, where he or she believed the point had been applied. The experimenter recorded both points, noting any discrepancy between the actual and perceived site of stimulation. For Miles, this was a bread-and-butter exercise in the methods of scientific psychology.

The McDougall image comes with a twist, since the experimental subjects were his young children. Rather than illustrating basic principles on a standard psychological subject, McDougall was inquiring specifically into the changing sensory and perceptual abilities of his own kids. The diagram of his son Duncan’s hand and arm are part of a record-keeping practice that encompassed everything from the children’s recognition of colors to their fear of bears.

The fact that these methods traveled a fairly direct path from the lab to the McDougall home, and from the “standardized” psychological subject to the developing child, reveals itself in the telling visual differences between the two sets of experimental notes: Miles’s experiment, neatly taken down in a lab notebook, uses ruler-drawn grid lines and a smoothly-traced outline of the hand and arm, while McDougall’s journal bears indications of its setting in the domestic scene of child-rearing: the data is recorded in grid-less, slanted columns, and the outline of the hand is traced hastily, as though the subject was loath to hold still.

 

Data from Miles's experiment in the relative location of pain stimuli
Data from Miles’s experiment in the relative location of pain stimuli

 

Duke_McDougallChart
Data from McDougall’s test of his children’s color recognition.

 

Post contributed by Alicia Puglionesi. Puglionesi is a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute of the History of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation is on “The Astonishment of Experience: Americans and Psychical Research, 1885-1935.” Alicia is particularly interested in the relationship between the amateur tradition in which psychical research developed and the emerging academic discipline of psychology. She is a 2014 History of Medicine travel grant winner. 

 

Dr. Margaret Humphreys

An African American Surgeon in the U.S. Civil War: Talk by Dr. Margaret Humphreys

Date: Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM
Location: Room 102, Duke Medical Center Library
Contact: Beverly Murphy, beverly.murphy@duke.edu

Dr. Margaret HumphreysPlease join us on Wednesday, June 18 at noon for a lecture by Dr. Margaret Humphreys titled “Finding Dr. Harris: an African American Surgeon in the U.S. Civil War.” The event will be held in Room 102 of the Duke University Medical Center Library. Lunch will be provided.

Dr. Humphreys is the Josiah Charles Trent Professor of the History of Medicine and Professor of Medicine at Duke University and current President of the American Association for the History of Medicine. She is the author most recently of Marrow of Tragedy: The Health Crisis of the American Civil War (Johns Hopkins University Press); a book for which she was a finalist for the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize—awarded annually for the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln or the American Civil War era.

Dr. Humphreys’ talk coincides with several exhibits at the Duke Medical Library. From June 9 through July 19, 2014, the Medical Library & Archives will host the National Library of Medicine’s travelling exhibit Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine. The lower level of the Medical Library includes an exhibition on Civil War medicine, highlighting many materials from the History of Medicine Collections and Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library on display through September of 2014.

Dr. Humphreys talk is co-sponsored by the Duke University Medical Center Library & Archives and the History of Medicine Collections in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. For questions about the event, please contact Beverly Murphy at beverly.murphy@duke.edu or (919) 660-1127.

 

Phrenological bust from the commonplace book of  E. Bradford Todd.

A Vernacular Science of Crime

Phrenological bust from the commonplace book of  E. Bradford Todd.
Phrenological bust from the commonplace book of E. Bradford Todd.

 

The image above, taken from the commonplace book of E. Bradford Todd (found in the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library), is representative of a popular view of the science of phrenology. Seen today on ironic posters and T-shirts, as well as modern ceramic reproductions, the phrenological bust has come to serve as metonym for the entire science of phrenology. The image persists, but so too do misconceptions about the nature of this peculiar nineteenth-century science, which proposed to articulate and even predict the character of an individual based on the shape of the skull.

Phrenology was attractive to the masses and inspired writing of all kinds, from diary entries to letters, as well as published texts and broadsides. E. Bradford Todd, as shown above, recorded the phrenological doctrine – complete with his own sketches – into his commonplace book in mid-nineteenth-century America. Eugene Marshall, a schoolteacher in 1851 in Rhode Island, went to see a phrenological lecture and resolved to study the science, a project he took on with such zeal that he eventually attempted to phrenologize himself. Writing in 1823 when the science was still young, another individual gossiped to a friend via letter that a mutual acquaintance was looking for a wife “with all the proper bumps on her head for he is a great believer [of phrenology]” (Eliza K. Nelson papers).   As seen in these letters and diaries from Duke University’s Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, from its earliest introduction, phrenology captured the mind of the public and promised solutions to life’s problems, both great and small, not least of which was the problem of crime.

With generous assistance from the History of Medicine travel grant, I recently visited the Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to conduct research in support of my dissertation, “Criminal Minds: Law, Medicine, and the Phrenological Impulse in America, 1830-1890.” My research takes a serious look at the “pseudoscience” of phrenology and considers the ways in which it was viewed as truthful, scientific, and useful to nineteenth-century individuals. In particular, I examine how phrenology, at the beginning of the century, came to be viewed as a valuable possibility for crafting a criminal science avant la letter, more than half a century before the introduction of Cesare Lombroso’s positivist criminology that would later be considered the birth of modern criminology.

Phrenologists wrote early and often about the problem of crime, which was drawing attention from all corners in the nineteenth century. The growth of cities and urbanization, the increasing rapidity and ease of movement of peoples within and between countries, and the rise of mass media that made sensational stories about murder and theft national (and international) news – all of these nineteenth-century trends combined to render crime a particularly fraught problem. Yet well before “criminology” had been introduced, phrenologists and other enthusiasts were considering the ways in which this new science could be used to help solve crime.

While it was primarily intellectuals and professional phrenologists operating within a narrow orbit who ruminated on the potential of phrenology with regard to the criminal problem, we can also find glimpses of the reception of these ideas in the records of non-phrenologists who encountered the science. For example, in the diary of Jane Roberts, a British author, she records a trip on January 6, 1837, to visit a phrenologist in London, Dr. DeVille, with her friend Mrs. Phillips, Lord Byron’s daughter. During this visit, both received phrenological readings by DeVille, but they also heard a long discourse from him about the truth of the science. Interestingly, the examples DeVille chooses to illustrate and prove the science are linked directly to bad behavior and crime, explaining that attention to the developments of the mind (as read in the skull) can serve to prevent or cure evil propensities. He illustrates this claim with two examples: one story in which he identified two robbers before the fact, and a second where a father brings his son in to see DeVille, before he eventually is sent to prison for his crimes. Miss Roberts was impressed by these stories, and resolved to visit him again.

Whether or not Miss Roberts repeated her pilgrimage to the phrenologist’s office, this interaction is representative of the ways in which phrenological ideas about crime entered into vernacular culture. Phrenologists framed their enterprise as a solution to one of the era’s most pressing problems, in part to sell their services to individuals like Miss Roberts. Yet, as I argue, phrenology also made a clear claim attempted to predict and explain the behavior of criminals, and in so doing signaled the development of a new science of crime.

Courtney Thompson is a PhD candidate in the History of Science and Medicine Program, History, at Yale University

 

 

 

phrenology thumbnail

Congratulations to our 2014-2015 grant recipients!

The Rubenstein Library’s three research center annually award travel grants to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars through a competitive application process. Congratulations to this year’s recipients, we look forward to working with all of you!

Courtney Thompson will use materials related to phrenology such as this small ivory bust in her research.
Courtney Thompson will use materials related to phrenology such as this small ivory bust in her research.

History of Medicine

Cali Buckley, Pennsylvania State University, Department of Art History, for dissertation work on, “Women of Substance: The Materiality of Anatomical Models and the Control of Women’s Medicine in Early Modern Europe.”

Alicia Puglionesi, Johns Hopkins University, Institute of the History of Medicine, for dissertation work on “The Astonishment of Experience: Americans and Psychical Research, 1885-1935.”

Courtney Thompson, Yale University, Department of the History of Science and Medicine, for dissertation work on “Criminal Minds: Medicine, Law, and the Phrenological Impulse in America, 1830-1890.”

 

John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History

FOARE Fellowship for Outdoor Advertising Research

Craig Lee, Department of Art History, University of Delaware, “Letter Building: Signage, Supergraphics, and the Rise of Semiotic Structure in Modern American Architecture”

Daniel Towns, Department of History, Stanford University, “The View and the Value: Historical Geography of Signs in San Francisco”

 

John Furr Fellowships for JWT Research

Lisa Haushofer, Department of History, Harvard University, “Edible Health: ‘Health Foods’ in Science, Industry, Culture in Britain and the United States, 1884-1950

 

Alvin A. Achenbaum Travel Grants

Dr. Cynthia Meyers, Department of Communications, College of Mount Saint Vincent, “Advertising Agencies and the Decline of Sponsorship in the Network Era of Television”

Dr. Cristina Ziliani: Economics, University of Parma, Italy, “Premium Sales Promotions: A History of Practice and Research, 1890-1990”

Cara Fallon, Department of History, Harvard University, “The Emerging Concept of Healthy Aging in the United States, 1920-1990”

Catherine Hennessey Wolter, Musicology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, “Sound Conversions in Print: A Cultural History of the Player Piano and Early Radio in America Through the Lens of Print Media”

Kelly Jones, History of Medicine, State University of New York – Stony Brook, “’New Hope for Headache Sufferers’: Pain and its Control in Advertisements for Headache Remedies, 1950s-1970s

Daniel McKay, Independent Scholar, “Trading Fears: Marketing the ‘Japan Brand’ to American Tourists and Consumers”

 

John Hope Franklin Research Center 2014-15 Travel Grant Awardees

Emilye Crosby, State University of New York-Geneseo Topic: “Anything I Was Big Enough To Do: Women and Gender in SNCC”

Paul Grant, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Topic: “Unimagining the Christian Nation: Alienation, Memory, and German-African Reciprocity in Akropong, Ghana 1835-1938”

Nicole Maurantonio, University of Richmond, Topic: “Ombudsman for Humanity: Chuck Stone, Mediation, and the Graterford Prison Hostage Crisis”

Gilet Rosenblith, University of Virginia, Topic: “Low Income African American Women in the South and the Carceral State”

Nicholas Syrett, University of Northern Colorado, Topic: “American Child Bride: A History of Minors and Marriage in the United States”

Adam Wolkoff, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Topic: “Possession and Power: A comparative social and legal history of capitalist social relations in the late nineteenth-century United States”

 

Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture Mary Lily Travel Grants

Dr. Georgina Colby, linguistics and cultural studies, University of Westminster, for a book on Kathy Acker combining philosophical analysis with literary and critical theory, exploring connections between feminist theory, Acker’s use of philosophy, and her experimental writing practices.

From the Kathy Acker Papers

Dr. Donna Drucker, civil and environmental engineering, Technische Universität Darmstadt, for a journal article on sexual behavior and the science of contraceptive testing in the mid-twentieth century United States.

Sara Mameni, Ph.D. candidate, visual arts, University of California, San Diego, for dissertation research on Iran-US relations in the 1960s and 1970s—leading up to Iran’s Islamic Revolution of 1979—through the lens of queer theory, feminist theory, and postcolonial studies.

Ivy McIntyre, Ph.D. candidate, history, St. Louis University, for dissertation research on South Carolina families in times of personal crisis in the early Republic.

Andrew Pope, Ph.D. candidate, history, Harvard University, for dissertation research on radical social movements and the New South in Georgia from 1968-1996.

Dr. Jason Scott, Dr. Annalisa Castaldo, and Jennifer Lynn Pollitt, for an edited collection of essays looking at how kink identities, behaviors, and lifestyles are represented in popular and cultural studies.

Mairead Sullivan, Ph.D. candidate, women’s, gender, and sexuality studies, Emory University, for dissertation research on questions of breastedness in feminist and queer theory.

Hope Tucker, independent scholar, for an artist’s video on the fragility of reproductive rights in the American South, as seen through the work of those who documented and labored for these rights in the second half of the twentieth century.

twitter-icon

@rubensteinlib Joins Twitter!

Our first tweet!
Our first tweet!

Dearest readers, do you ever feel that there’s not enough Rubenstein Library in your social media day? True, we’re on Facebook, and we have this wonderful blog, and many of our collecting centers also have extensive social media presences (check out the list in the right-hand column) . . . but what if you could follow our every rare-book-and-manuscript action on Twitter?

Well, do we have good news for you! We’ve joined the twitterverse! Come follow us @rubensteinlib, let us know about your research projects and your latest special collections discoveries, and get a behind-the-scenes look at how we spend our working days (and sometimes our non-working days).

See you in 140 characters or less!

Dr. Edward C. Halperin

Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series Presents Dr. Edward C. Halperin

Date: Monday, March 31, 2014
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Room 102, Duke Medical Center Library
Contact: Rachel Ingold, rachel.ingold@duke.edu or 919-684-8549

Dr. Edward C. HalperinPlease join the History of Medicine Collections for our spring Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series event. We are pleased Dr. Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., will be presenting, “A Defense of the Humanities in Medical Education.” In his lecture, Dr. Halperin will distinguish between medical humanism and the medical humanities, discuss the role of the medical humanities in medical education with particular emphasis on the role of medical history, and provide some specific examples of the value of the humanities in the education of physicians.

Dr. Halperin was on the faculty at Duke from 1983 to 2006. He was the LR Prosnitz Professor of Radiation Oncology and the RJ Reynolds Professor of Medical Education. From 2006 to 2012 Dr. Halperin was dean of the School of Medicine, Ford Foundation Professor of Medical Education, and professor of radiation oncology, pediatrics, and history at the University of Louisville and university vice provost.

Dr. Halperin’s research has focused on pediatric cancer and the history of racial, religious, and gender discrimination in higher education. He is the co-author/editor of the first five editions of the textbook Pediatric Radiation Oncology and of the fifth and sixth editions of Principles and Practice of Radiation Oncology. He has published more than 200 articles in the peer-reviewed scientific, historical, education, and ethics literature.

Dr. Halperin is currently Chancellor for Health Affairs and Chief Executive Officer at New York Medical College and Professor of Radiation Oncology, Pediatrics, and History as well as Provost for Biomedical Affairs at Touro College.

The reference room for the General Library, now known as the Gothic Reading Room.

Time to Travel!

Trying to find a way to visit the Rubenstein Library to use our collections? You’re in luck! The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library is now accepting applications for our 2014-2015 travel grants.

The reference room for the General Library, now known as the Gothic Reading Room.
Want to be as cool as these gentlemen? Apply for a travel grant and come visit us!

This year are pleased to add another collecting area to our list of travel grant programs. The History of Medicine Collections joins the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture, and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History in offering travel grants of up to $1,000 for researchers whose work would benefit from access to our holdings.

The grants are open to undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, independent scholars, artists, and activists who live more than 100 miles from Durham, NC, and whose research projects would benefit from access to collections held by one of the centers and collecting areas.

The deadline for applications is January 31, 2014. Announcement of grant recipients will be no later than March 28, 2014. Travel grants must be used between April 2014 and June 2015.

Another change this year – our application process is now online. You can find more details including the online application on our travel grant website.

Jeremy Greene to Lecture on History of Pharmaceutical Trademarks

faculty-jeremy-greene blogsizeDate: Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: Room 217, Perkins Library, Duke University
Contact: Rachel Ingold, (919) 684-8459 or rachel.ingold(at)duke.edu

Join the History of Medicine Collections for our fall Trent History of Medicine Lecture Series event to be held on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, in Room 217 of Perkins Library on Duke University’s West Campus. Jeremy Greene, M.D., Ph.D., will be presenting “The materiality of the brand: Form, function and the pharmaceutical trademark.”

Dr. Greene’s talk will explore the limits of patents and trademarks in the sphere of pharmaceutical intellectual property, and illuminate a century of controversy over the clinical, public health, and financial value of “look-alike drugs,” generic drugs that imitated their brand-name counterparts down to exact parameters of size, shape, and color. His historical analysis addresses thorny questions about which qualities of a brand-name drug are considered private property and whether parts of a drug other than its active ingredients (e.g., pill color) can affect its clinical function.

Dr. Greene is Associate Professor, Elizabeth Treide and A. McGehee Harvey Chair in the History of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University’s Institute for the History of Medicine. His broader research interests focus on the history of disease, the history of global health, and the relationship between medicine and the marketplace. Dr. Greene also practices internal medicine at the East Baltimore Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins University Hospital. He has published on a wide variety of topics and his most recent book with Elizabeth Siegel Watkins is, Prescribed: Writing, Filling, Using, and Abusing the Prescription in Modern America, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.

Please note Dr. Greene will also be giving a talk at noon on October 23 on Imitation and Innovation: A Brief History of ‘Me-Too’ Drugs. This talk will be held from 12:00-1:00 pm in the Great Hall of the Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans Center for Health Education at the Duke University Medical Center.

Sponsored by the History of Medicine Collections, the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising & Marketing History, and the Trent Center for Bioethics, Humanities & History of Medicine.