A Q&A with Jeremy Montgomery, PhD candidate in History at Mississippi State University in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Node of Excellence and a History of Medicine Collections travel grant recipient.
What is your research project?
My dissertation examines the medical armamentarium in the United States between 1800-1860. Taking a synchronic view, my project seeks to describe medical education, knowledge production, and treatment options between the regions. It takes seriously the diverse medical marketplace by incorporating discussions about “regular” and “irregular” forms of medicine. In addition to the types of medical care, my project examines the black and white body, free and enslaved, also. Lastly, my dissertation discusses and describes symptomology, therapeutics, and Materia Medica within the early-to-mid nineteenth century.
What collection(s) did you use from Duke’s History of Medicine Collections?
While at the Rubenstein Library, I reviewed multiple sources. For this trip, I narrowed my search for sources that discussed Materia Medica and therapeutics. In particular, I reviewed the Peter Washington Little Manuscript, Notes on the Lectures of Materia Medica by Benjamin Barton, M.M. Haworth Medical Diary and Journal, Isaac Brooks Headen papers, Caleb Budlong Physician’s account books, Henry Fish Papers, Salisbury, [Mass.]., Lee Griggs daybook, Lee Griggs physician’s ledger, Lectures on the diseases of children, New Haven; Charles Watts papers, New Orleans, Physician’s account book, Lectures on Materia Medica and Therapeutics, Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics, On the Teaching of Pharmacology, Materia Medica, and Therapeutics in Our Medical Schools, Materia Medica and Therapeutics, and last but not least The Essentials of Materia Medica and Therapeutics.
What surprised you, or was an unexpected find, in the collection you used?
I was surprised by my findings in the M.M. Haworth Diary. From the opening pages (see above) to his prescription list, I found this to be a rich primary source. This source list the diseases and their prescription(s). The multiple prescriptions are revealing because this time period does not connect a particular pathogen to a disease so it may be argued that the treatments will be different. In addition, this source listed the dosages. The apothecary symbols next to the prescriptions allow greater depth with regards to the medical armamentarium in the nineteenth-century. In short, it was a great day!
Anything else you’d like to share?
Yes! The History of Medicine Collections travel grant was my first travel grant I have received in my professional career, and it was generous. Furthermore, the staff at the Rubenstein Library are incredible. I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Ingold—Curator, History of Medicine Collections. Rachel helped me navigate the application process and invited me for coffee when I arrived. If she invites you for coffee, please accept. We discussed my project some more and she was able to point me to additional resources that I was able to view on my week-long trip. In fact, the M.M. Haworth Diary is an example of an additional source that Rachel was able to help me review on my trip.