A 17th-Century Obstetrical Acquisition

The Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of the Miner Library has recently acquired a 17th century obstetrical text by the French surgeon Jacques Bury. Entitled Le Propagatif de l’homme et secours des femmes en travail d’enfant (The propagation of man and assistance to women in childbirth), Bury’s text was published at Paris in 1623. In one hundred and twenty pages, Bury provides a theory of reproduction and explains the management of pregnancy, the varying presentations of the fetus, and the immediate care of newborns. The text is illustrated with twelve engravings depicting the fetus in utero at delivery.

Le Propagatif de l’homme is a very scarce work. There are only three recorded copies in European libraries. The Miner Library holds the only recorded copy outside Europe. Bury’s treatise is the most recent addition to the Miner Library’s outstanding collection of 17th-19th century books on obstetrics and gynecology.

Rebound in full calf sometime during the 19th century, the Miner copy of Bury’s Propagatif bears the bookplate of the French physician François Moutier, author of L’Aphasie de Broca (Paris, 1908).

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