Nurse. Photograph. Britannica ImageQuest, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 May 2016.
quest.eb.com/search/139_1891082/1/139_1891082/cite. Accessed 1 Nov 2017.
Even better: an iron lung. I’ve never seen an iron lung, but the newspapers had pictures of children in iron lungs, back when people still got polio. These pictures – the iron lung a cylinder, a gigantic sausage roll of metal, with a head sticking out one end of it, always a girl’s head, the hair flowing across the pillow, the eyes large, nocturnal – fascinated me, more than stories about children who went out on thin ice and fell through and were drowned, or children who played on the railroad tracks and had their arms and legs cut off by trains. You could get polio without knowing how or where, end up in an iron lung without knowing why. Something you breathed in or ate, or picked up from the dirty money other people had touched. You never knew.
~Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye
What do you think about when you think about medical history? For us, it's the Mutter Museum exhibit we saw at the Albuquerque Museum several years back. It's T. Coraghessan Boyle's The Road to Wellville, Andrea Barrett's The Air We Breathe (and New Mexico's own history of "lungers"), The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, the movie Burke & Hare. We think of what we've heard about medicine during the wars - amputations during the Civil War, aftereffects of the deadly use of mustard gas in WWI, MASH (did you know the movie and TV series were based on a book?). Stories about the influenza pandemic in 1918, like Katherine Anne Porter's poignant "Pale Horse, Pale Rider". We're just waiting to see how the PBS TV series Victoria deals with Queen Victoria being given chloroform for the birth of her last two children after birthing seven other children without anesthetic. And, of course, the iron lung, as Margaret Atwood has referenced above.
Of course, we know there's a lot more to the history of medicine than what our smattering of education, a lot of it garnered from pop culture and media, has provided us with. We thought you might be interested in exploring this fascinating topic with us, so we present you with the following list of books from our library catalog.
The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister's Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine by Lindsey Fitzharris
Strange Medicine: A Shocking History of Real Medical Practices Through the Ages by Nathan Belofsky
Hysteria text by Richard Appignanesi ; drawings by Oscar Zarate
Hell and Good Company: The Spanish Civil War and the World It Made by Richard Rhodes
The Man Who Touched His Own Heart: True Tales of Science, Surgery, and Mystery by Robert Dunn
Pandora's DNA: Tracing the Breast Cancer Genes Through History, Science, and One Family Tree by Lizzie Stark
The Enlightened Mr. Parkinson: The Pioneering Life of a Forgotten Surgeon and the Mysterious Disease That Bears His Name by Cherry Lewis
Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World by Laura Spinney
Dr. Mütter's Marvels: A True Tale of Intrigue and Innovation At the Dawn of Modern Medicine by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
Bleeding Blue and Gray: Civil War Surgery and the Evolution of American Medicine by Ira M. Rutkow
Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker
Lotions, Potions, and Deadly Elixirs: Frontier Medicine in the American West by Wayne Bethard
Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America's Most Storied Hospital by David Oshinsky
For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts Advice to Women by Barbara Ehrenreich
The Daily Practice of Compassion: A History of the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Its People, and Its Mission, 1964-2014 by Dora L. Wang
The Vaccine Race: Science, Politics, and the Human Costs of Defeating Disease by Meredith Wadman
The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek by Howard Markel