An unrecorded 1824 edition of Buchan’s Domestic Medicine

November 17, 2014

The Miner Library has recently acquired a previously unrecorded copy of William Buchan’s Domestic medicine. The Scottish physician William Buchan (1729-1805) published the first edition of his manual of medical and hygienic advice for lay audiences at Edinburgh in 1769. The Domestic medicine was phenomenally successful, appearing in at least a hundred editions published on both sides of the Atlantic through the third quarter of the 19th century. The book was also translated into several European languages. There are presently 91 editions of Buchan’s Domestic medicine in the Miner Library’s Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine.

Buchan port

Our most recently acquired edition of Buchan is the “New edition” published at London by Thomas Kelly in 1824. It includes the full text of Buchan’s original manual, as well as excerpts from his  Advice to mothers, the full text of Luigi Cornaro’s (1475-1566) often republished 16th-century manual on diet and hygiene, and supplemental texts on sea-bathing, vaccination, electro-therapeutics, etc. added by later editors and publishers.

Buchan electher

The above image illustrates Chapter LX, “Of medical electricity,” one of the sections added posthumously to this edition.

“A Miner Moment” video highlights the life of Dr. Charles Briggs (1855-1933)

October 29, 2014

Here’s a video (3:47) we produced, highlighting one of our remarkable archival collections.

Charles M. Briggs, M.D., (1855-1933) was a physician practicing in the village of Fairport, NY, from 1880 until his death in 1933. The Charles M. Briggs collection consists mostly of personal diaries from his boyhood in West Macedon, NY. The diaries and objects belonging to Dr. Briggs were presented to us by his granddaughter, Betty Satterwhite Stevenson.

Dr. Charles M. BriggsCharles Briggs was the fifth of nine children. He attended the district school until he was 18, then entered a three-year college preparatory course at the Macedon Academy.

In the autumn following his graduation in 1876, Charles began a preceptorship with H. D. Vosburgh, M.D., of Lyons, NY. Charles’ medical studies with Dr. Vosburgh included regular duties at the Wayne County almshouse and asylum. In the autumn of 1877, Charles entered the Buffalo Medical College. After graduation, Briggs settled in Fairport, where he remained in medical practice for the rest of  his life.

The earliest of the 19 diaries in our collection is dated 1871, begun when Charles was just 15 years old. The entries in the diaries kept from 1871 to 1875 briefly chronicle his daily routine of chores, school work, family, and church life.

The diary for 1876 records Charles’ preceptorship with Dr. Vosburgh. Charles attended lectures by Dr. Vosburgh in the evening, while studying and attending to duties at the insane asylum at Lyons during the day. His duties included book and record keeping, showing visitors about the asylum, occasionally assisting in the restraint of some of the more vigorous inmates, and even waiting on tables when a large group of visitors was in attendance. He also had the opportunity to intermittently practice dissection on the corpses of deceased insane.

The diaries are fascinating, and provide unique insights into the life of a medical student in the 19th century.

We think the video is pretty good, too. Let us know what you think, because we’d like to share more “Miner Moments” with you in the future!

Posted by Susan Andersen

Basil G. Bibby Collection in Dentistry & Oral Surgery

August 6, 2014

Cataloging of the Basil G. Bibby Collection has recently been completed. The nearly 500 monographic titles and twenty periodical titles in the collection are now fully accessible on the University of Rochester Libraries’ bibliographic database (Voyager). The Bibby Collection is named in honor of Basil Glover Bibby, D.M.D., Ph.D. (1904-1988), director of the Eastman Dental Center (EDC) in Rochester, N.Y. from 1947 to 1970. During his years as director, Dr. Bibby acquired for the EDC library numerous titles of historical importance on dentistry, oral medicine and oral surgery. When the EDC became part of the University of Rochester Medical Center in 1997, the rare book portion of the Center’s library was transferred to the Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of the Edward G. Miner Library

Bibby 1845

Steel-engraving from the atlas to Richard Owen’s Odontography (1845)

The earliest book in the Bibby Collection is Bartolomeo Eustachi’s Libellus de dentibus (A brief treatise on the teeth) published at Venice in 1563. About half the collection was printed before 1900, and includes such classics as Pierre Fouchard’s Le chirurgien dentiste (Paris, 1728); Joseph Hurlock’s A practical treatise upon dentition (London, 1742), the first English-language book on children’s teeth; John Hunter’s The natural history of the human teeth (London, 1771); A.L.B.B. Jourdain’s Traité des maladies et des operations réellement chirurgicales de la bouche (Paris, 1778), the first specialist text on oral surgery; Joseph Fox’s The natural history of the human teeth (London, 1803), the first work on orthodontics; numerous editions of Chapin A. Harris’ The dental art, a practical treatise on dental surgery first published at Baltimore in 1839; Sir Richard Owen’s two-volume Odontography (London, 1840-45); Norman William Kingsley’s A treatise on oral deformities (New York, 1880), etc., etc. The periodicals portion of the collection includes full runs of the American journal of dental science (60 vols., 1839-1909), The British journal of dental science (75 vols., 1856-1930), The Dental cosmos (78 vols., 1859-1936), etc.

When Dr. Bibby’s collection was transferred to the Miner Library, all the books on dentistry, operative dentistry, oral biology, etc. previously in its historical collections were moved to the Bibby Collection. Since then, we have continued to develop the collection through purchases carefully made on the antiquarian book market.

Bibby 1882

Wood-engraving from Alfred Coleman’s Manual of dental surgery and pathology (Philadelphia, 1882)



Recently Acquired Drawings of Erwin H. Austin

February 8, 2014

The Miner Library’s Rare Books & Manuscripts Section has recently been given the twenty-one pen and ink drawings by Erwin Hoyt Austin (1912-1976) that illustrated Joseph Garland’s The Story of medicine, published at Boston by Houghton Mifflin Co. in 1949. Narrating the history of medicine from classical Greece to the mid-20th century, Garland’s book was intended for an adolescent audience.

Austin title page

A native of Albany, N.Y., E.H. Austin worked his entire career as a designer and illustrator. During the 1940s and 50s, he was associated with the New York State Historical Association in Cooperstown, N.Y.

Austin JennerWilliam Jenner visits John Hunter

In addition to his work for the Garland book, Austin illustrated L.C. Jones’ Spooks of the valley (1948), E.C. Cutting’s Whistling girls and jumping sheep (1951), J. Van Wagenen’s The golden age of homespun (1953), J.W. Hatch’s The Wee’s Tree’s Christmas (1956), and L.C. Jones’ Things that go bump in the night (1959). These drawings for Garland’s The story of medicine were presented to the Miner Library by the illustrator’s son, David Austin, of Rochester, N.Y.

Austin MortonW.T.G. Morton demonstrates ether, October 1846

A Recently Acquired Neurological Book from 1891

January 25, 2014

The Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of Miner Library recently acquired Paul Blocq’s (1860-1896) folio atlas of the spinal cord entitled, Anatomie pathologique de la moelle épinière. Co-authored with Albert Londe (1858-1917), this folio atlas of the normal and diseased spinal cord was published at Paris in 1891. A neurological classic, the Anatomie pathologique is illustrated with forty-six leaves of photographic plates.

Blocq title-page

The preface was written by J. M. Charcot (1825-1893), who headed the neurological service at La Salpêtrière, and whose preparations were photographed for this atlas by Blocq and Londe. Paul Blocq had been a pupil of Charcot and was a rising figure in French neurology when he died at the age of thirty-six. During his brief career, Blocq wrote authoritative articles on Parkinson’s Disease and senile plaques. Soon after the Anatomie pathologique appeared, Blocq published a second major neurological atlas, the Atlas der pathologischen Histologie des Nervensystems (Berlin, 1892), co-authored with the French bacteriologist Victor Babès. Blocq’s colleague, Albert Londe, headed the photographic service at La Salpêtrière.

Normal spinal cord

Normal spinal cord

Blocq’s and Londe’s atlas of the spinal cord is the most recent addition to Miner Library’s fine collection of 18th-20th century neurological atlases.

Dr. Calvin Crane’s Quaker Remedies

January 7, 2014

The Rare Books & Manuscripts Section has recently acquired a wooden patent medicine display case manufactured in 1901 (or soon thereafter) for the Penn Drug Co., Chicago, Ill., for the purpose of displaying the firm’s full line of over-the-counter specifics. Measuring 25 x 40 x 26 cm., the glass fronted case displays thirty-six boxes of remedies in three cascading tiers. Each box contains a glass bottle, often a full complement of pills, and printed directions for their use.


Dr. Calvin Crane’s Quaker Remedies are supposed to derive from formulae prepared by Calvin Crane, a Quaker physician and ancestor of Edward M. Crane, one of the firm’s founding partners. Dr. Crane’s remedies were intended to cure a wide range of bodily disorders, from liver disease to piles, from croup to bronchitis, from nervous debility to gonorrhoea.


The Penn Drug Co. was incorporated late in 1900 by Edward M. Crane, general manager of the Thompson Carriage Co., Oshkosh, WI, and Charles A. Wakeman, a druggist in Oshkosh. The firm was headquartered in Chicago and remained in business into the 1920s. This particular display case appears to have belonged to James G. Hughes, a druggist in Ashland, Vt.



A 19th-Century Practice in Letters

August 26, 2013

The Rare Books & Manuscripts Section of the Miner Library recently acquired a small collection of correspondence – some twenty letters in all – sent to Herman Reeve Ainsworth, M.D. in the 1870s and 80s. Ainsworth was an 1866 medical graduate of New York University, who practiced his entire career in Addison, Steuben County, New York. A physician of some standing, Ainsworth was president of the Steuben County Medical Society in 1874 and served as vice-president of the Medical Society of the State of New York between 1905 and 1907. He was also a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Nine of the twenty letters written to Dr. Ainsworth are from patients. They provide a somewhat startling view into smalltown and rural medical pratice late in the 19th century. In an age before telephones or motorized transportation, patients who lived some distance from their physician’s office needed to contact him or her through the mails. In one moving letter dated 24 August 1895, the husband of a patient in nearby Woodhull, N.Y. writes, “Dear Sir I want you to come up and see my wife. She is sick. Bring along your instruments to make an examination of her womb. I want you to day. Be sure and come.”


A letter from a female patient across the border in Little Marsh, Tioga Co., Pennsylvania, indicates the difficulties or delays patients might experience in getting their medication: “Dr. Ainsworth: I think your medicine has helped me, but I need more … If you could send me some medicine to Woods-Corners Monday, I can get it as my brother will be there. If not, send me a prescription.”


Some of Ainsworth correspondence pertains to billing. The father of one of his patients wrote Ainsworth on 4 June, 1893: “I think it a bout time I paid you for treating our girls eyes. Send in your bill.”

The difficulties of a rural practice during the 1890s is revealed in the latest dated piece of correspondence in the collection. The daughter of one of his patients in a nearby town chides Ainsworth: “You could not have regarded my mother’s condition as serious, when you never came to see her. She might have died. The people around here will now surely say, as they did last winter, you must be afraid you were not going to be paid for your services.”

The remainder of the correspondence in the Ainsworth collection was written to him by other physicians regarding patients Ainsworth had previously seen. No phone calls, no e-mails – simply a letter that required a response through the same lengthy medium: the U.S. Mail.


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