Nope! We’re not trading these cards for anything!

September 19, 2017
Dr. Thomas Electric Oil - front

Trade card (front) advertising Dr. Thomas’ Electric Oil, a remedy prepared by Foster, Milburn & Co., Buffalo, NY

When we say “trade cards,” what comes to mind?

Maybe those cards depicting baseball players, with all those tiny numbers on the back? The ones collected and traded by children of all ages?

It may surprise you to know that we have more than 2,600 trade cards! But they have nothing to do with baseball players, and we wouldn’t trade them for anything. They’re part of the Edward C. Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine.

Trade card (back)

These late 19th and early 20th century cards advertise patent medicines, mineral waters, dietary supplements, and other health products; everything from breath freshener to Coca-Cola.

The rapid development of new consumer markets in the post-Civil War U.S. created a need for an effective national advertising medium, a need met by the lithographed trade card. Today, these colorful cards offer a glimpse of the society, culture, and economy in which 19th century Americans lived. The fact that these palm-sized pieces of paper have survived for over a hundred years in such excellent condition is amazing.

Over the last four years, we have been scanning the trade cards in this collection and uploading them into UR Research. (Enter Atwater Patent Medicine Trade Cards in the Search field at the top of the page.) All 2,600 cards haven’t been scanned yet, but we’re working on it. We just scanned and uploaded the two-thousandth card.

What’s UR Research?

UR Research is an institutional repository developed and hosted by the River Campus Libraries. It provides storage and access for dissertations, preprints, research data, and similar materials.

UR Research also can provide researchers with a private, secure workspace for collaboration with other researchers. Once you set up your own workspace, you can give controlled access to others.

For questions about UR Research: Use the Contact Us form


The Founding Fathers and Medicine

June 29, 2017

As we head into the July 4 holiday, we thought it would be interesting and fun to take a look at the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) and their interactions with medicine at their time. And, even how their influence extends into modern medicine.

George Washington

In December 1799, George Washington awoke in the early morning with pain and shortness of breath. Before the day was over, Washington was dead. What caused this otherwise healthy and active man’s death? Could it have been his doctors? For his ailment, Washington was treated with bloodletting and enemas (common treatments at the time).

PBS Newshour: The Agonizing Last Hours of George Washington

Washington Papers at the University of Virginia

National Constitution Center – The Mysterious Death of George Washington

Thomas Jefferson

According to Monticello’s Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia, Jefferson was deeply interested, though skeptical, of medicine. Despite his skepticism, he was an early advocate smallpox inoculation. Also, he actively developed medical education, supported measures for public health, and encouraged scientific research supported by the government without policy intervention. Jefferson was known to suffer from chronic headaches early in his life and later on was bothered by rheumatism.

Monticello: Medicine Contributions of Thomas Medicine to American Medicine

John and Abigail Adams

In 1776 the American colonies were fighting more than the British. A horrendous smallpox epidemic was brutalizing the Boston area. At the time, the smallpox inoculation was highly controversial. Abigail Adams made the agonizing decision to have her four children inoculated against the deadly disease. All of the children had some reaction to the procedure, ranging from mild to an extensive eruption, yet everyone recovered. John Adams would go on to become the second president of the United States and their eldest son, John Quincy Adams, became the nation’s sixth president.

Abigail Adams, Smallpox, and the Spirit of 1776

Benjamin Franklin

Inventor, author, businessman, politician, diplomat and all-around visionary, Benjamin Franklin’s influence extended to medicine as well. Franklin had a role in the development of the first medical school in the United States. He understood how the common cold was passed from person to person. He correctly understood the nature of psoriasis and was aware of the placebo effect. He also identified the dangers of lead. Franklin put his innovative mind to work and devised a flexible urethral catheter.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1299336/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18447203

http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qg62f


There’s something new in history…

October 6, 2016

…our History of Medicine reading room, that is.

Thanks to the generosity of Richard I. Burton, M.D., we have two, exquisite display cabinets. Dr. Burton also donated a collection of historical portraits and books, collected by him and his father, Kenneth G. Burton, M.D. (1905-1988).Illustration by Vesalius

We plan to unveil some of the 17th- to 19th-century framed prints from the Burton gift along with selections from our own rare book collection.

Currently on display is our first edition (1543) of Andreas Vesalius’ De fabrica corporis humani. This is the most important medical book published during the Renaissance and one of the most influential illustrated books in any discipline or period.

Our copy of the Fabrica is on display (M-F, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.) with a 19th-century engraved print from the Burton collection depicting Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) performing a dissection.

Lithograph of VesaliusEdouard Hamman’s 1849 painting, reproduced as a lithograph by Adolphe Mouilleron in the early 1850s, suggests Vesalius’s conscientious struggle with religion. Religious and cultural forces opposed dissection in Vesalius’s time.

He is pictured as if conflicted in thought, looking at a crucifix on the wall to his right. A skull and several large books suggest his research materials. His dissecting tools and research materials are at hand.

In the coming months we’ll be showing you more treasures from these collections, now that we have an environmentally safe and secure location to do so.  Thank you, Dr. Burton!


Miner Library hosts Shakespeare exhibit: “And There’s the Humor of It”

March 5, 2015

From March 16-April 25, 2015, Edward G. Miner Library will host the National Library of Medicine’s exhibit, “And There’s the Humor of It” Shakespeare and the Four Humors.”

Shakespearelogowithpicture

William Shakespeare (1564–1616) created characters that are among the richest and most humanly recognizable in all of literature. Yet Shakespeare understood human personality in the terms available to his age—that of the now-discarded theory of the four bodily humors—blood, bile, melancholy, and phlegm. These four humors were thought to define peoples’ physical and mental health, and determined their personalities, as well. “And There’s the Humor of It” Shakespeare and the Four Humors explores the language of the four humors that bred the core passions of anger, grief, hope, and fear—the emotions conveyed so powerfully in Shakespeare’s comedies and tragedies.

There will be an opening reception on Wednesday, March 25, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in Miner Library. The exhibit’s co-curator, Theodore Brown, Ph.D., Professor of History and Medical Humanities and Phelps Professor of Public Health and Policy at the University of Rochester, will give opening remarks.

This exhibition was developed and produced by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and the Folger Shakespeare Library.

We gratefully acknowledge support from the University Committee for Interdisciplinary Studies Human Values in Health Care Cluster.


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

March 1, 2015

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


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.


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)