History of Medicine – Nursing – Public Health – Articles & Podcasts


History of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, Medical Science. Selected online articles from newspapers and popular magazines, and podcasts.

 

Go to Century Past History Resources for a directory of all pages.

‘Architecture Of An Asylum’ Profiles St. Elizabeths Hospital, From State Of The Art To Notorious

in 1962, St. Elizabeths Hospital was notorious – a rundown federal facility for the treatment of people with mental illness that was overcrowded and understaffed. Opened with idealism and hope in 1855, the facility had ballooned from 250 patients to as many as 8,000.

Susan Stamberg, Health News from NPR 2017

7 Surprising Facts about the History of Medicine

How did people in the past treat illness, injury and disease? What medicines did they use? Here, Caroline Rance shares seven facts from medicine’s long and often shocking history – from the first general anaesthetic to early caesareans and medicinal leeches.

Caroline Rance, History Extra 2018

A Brief History of American Anatomy Riots

New York’s riot of 1788 is the most famous of about two dozen ‘Resurrection Riots’ that took place in the United States between the nation’s founding and the late 19th century. These riots were named for the Resurrection Men, also called the ‘sack-em-up men’ or ‘night doctors’ -professional thieves who dug fresh corpses out of local burying grounds and supplied them to medical schools for dissection lectures.

National Museum of Civil War Medicine blog 2017

A Historical Perspective on Women in Surgery

Not ‘looking like a surgeon’ has affected how female aspirants to medicine have been treated since the mid-nineteenth century. If women were unsuited to medicine, then they were considered even less able to wield a scalpel, cut into human flesh, and stand the sight of blood…

Claire Brock, Remedia 2017

A History of Anesthesia

In 1844 Horace Wells, then 29 years old and trying to make it as a dentist, saw a staged show of “Ether Frolics”. After watching a man inhale the gas, trip, and laugh away a painful leg injury, Wells had a realization: the pain-relieving effect might be useful for dental surgery.

I Heart Literati 2015

An archive honoring the voices and experiences of disabled people

Buffalo’s Museum of disABILITY History

Erin Blakemore, Washington Post 2018

Inside Philadelphia’s Byberry Mental Hospital House Of Horrors

For decades, Philadelphia’s Byberry mental hospital neglected and tortured its patients — and got away with it.

Erin Kelly, All That’s Interesting 2018

The veterans who fought for — and won — government health care

Marking a century of veterans’ health care

Jessica L. Adler, Washington Post 2017

Woman healers of the Seventeenth Century

Leslie Wilson, The History Girls Blog 2016

Women in Nursing during the Civil War

Let’s take this opportunity to celebrate the women who served as nurses, both Union and Confederate, throughout the Civil War. Statistics vary, but it is estimated that approximately 3,000 women served as nurses during this turbulent time in American history.

Tammy Kiter, New York Historical Society 2016

A Symphony of Second Opinions on Mozart’s Final Illness

225 years ago, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart drew his last breath. He was only 35. Ever since, generations of doctors have been obsessed with figuring out what caused Mozart’s premature death. At last count, there were more than 136 post-mortem diagnoses in the medical literature. This list is almost guaranteed to expand in the years to come.

Dr. Howard Markel, PBS Health 2016

Baths for Medicinal Purposes

People knew bathing was good for hygienic and health reasons by the early 1800s, and many of the old public baths were restored. However, because there was not enough plumbing for household consumption, baths in private homes was still not possible.

Geri Walton, Unique histories from the 18th and 19th centuries 2014

Bellevue: ‘America’s Most Storied Hospital’ – An Interview with David Oshinsky

Book review. Award-winning historian Professor David Oshinsky explores the complicated history of this venerable public hospital from its humble eighteenth-century beginnings and through the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy and its recent Ebola patient in his groundbreaking new book Bellevue: Three Centuries of Medicine and Mayhem at America’s Most Storied Hospital (Doubleday).

Robin Lindley, History News Network 2017

Billionaires say they’ll end disease: evolution says otherwise

In late 2016, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan pledged to invest at least $3 billion to ‘cure, manage and prevent all disease’, and other billionaires have made similar pledges. But evolution of organisms won’t cooperate.

Jim Kozubek, Aeon

Black Death spread by humans, vindicating rats

One of the worst pandemics in human history, the Black Death, along with a string of plague outbreaks that occurred during the 14th to 19th centuries, was spread by human fleas and body lice, a new study suggests.

Meera Senthilingam, CNN 2018

Can we predict – and prevent – the next big pandemic?

From severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) to AIDS and Ebola, zoonotic diseases cause more than a billion cases of illness each year. As humans increasingly encroach on wildlife territory and increasingly travel long distances in short times, the threat of zoonotic pandemics is growing. At the same time, so are efforts to prevent or curtail them.

Karl Gruber, Ensia 2017

Child Mummy Could Rewrite Smallpox Timeline

The oldest genetic sample of smallpox ever studied could rewrite the timeline for this deadly disease, which ravaged Europe and much of the world beginning in the eighteenth century. Using tissue samples taken from the mummy of a Lithuanian child dating back to the 1600s, an international team of researchers reconstructed the full RNA sequence of the smallpox virus strain that likely killed her.

Nathaniel Scharping, Discover 2016

Common Ailments, Complaints, and Diseases

Ailments, illnesses, and diseases were a mystery in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Physicians were often baffled and did not have a clear understanding of microorganisms or how diseases were transmitted.

Geri Walton, Unique histories from the 18th and 19th centuries 2014

Darwin Americanus

Review of The ‘Book That Changed America; How Darwin’s Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation’, By Randall Fuller.

Kenyon Gradert, Los Angeles Review of Books 2017

The Eye at War: American Eye Prosthetics During the World Wars

Account of how the American medical establishment responded to shortages of the special glass used in prosthetic eyes by innovating.

Evan P. Sullivan, Nursing Clio 2017

The Great Plague of 1665: Case Closed?

The presence of Yersinia pestis bacterium in skeletons found in a recently discovered plague pit proves that the Great Plague of 1665 was bubonic. Or does it?

Lara Thorpe, History Today 2016

The High Cost of Cure

How a hospital bill grows 17 feet long

Michael Crichton, The Atlantic 1970

Health & social care explained: An entry point into the many facets of the health and social care system in the UK

This interactive timeline brings 70 years of reform and change in the National Health Service to life, charting the evolution of this public institution from its inception in the post-war years through to the present day.

Nuffield Trust 2017

How Advertising Shaped the First Opioid Epidemic

When historians trace back the roots of today’s opioid epidemic, they often find themselves returning to the wave of addiction that swept the U.S. in the late 19th century. That was when physicians first got their hands on morphine.

Jon Kelvey, Smithsonian 2018

How horses helped cure diphtheria

Mallory Warner, National Museum of American History 2013

How Medieval Medicine is Helping us Today

Gemma Hollman, Just History Posts

How Railway Surgeons Advanced Medicine

How a 19th-century medical specialty added to our knowledge, saved lives — and vanished from the face of the Earth.

Jack El-Hai, Discover 2016

How the 1918 Flu Pandemic Revolutionized Public Health

Mass death changed how we think about illness, and government’s role in treating it

Laura Spinney, Smithsonian 2017

Disease & the Seven Years’ War – Podcast

We explore a very different aspect of the French and Indian or Seven Years’ War. We explore the war through the lens of disease and medicine and how disease prompted the British government to take steps to keep its soldiers healthy.

Erica Charters, Ben Franklin’s World, Episode 116

Mental Health and American Society – Podcast

On this episode of History Talk, hosts Jessica Vinas-Nelson and Brenna Miller speak with two experts, Dr. Susan Lawrence and Zeb Larson, to discuss the history of mental health in the U.S. and the realities of providing meaningful care.

Dr. Susan Lawrence and Zeb Larson, Origins

Miracle Cures

Peter White draws on the latest research to reveal the lives of physically disabled people in the 18th and 19th centuries. In this second episode – the search for Miracle Cures.

Disability: A New History, BBC Radio 4 2018, Episode 2 of 10

More Doctors Smoke Camels – Cigarrette ads in Medical Journals

From the 1930s into the 1950s, medical journals ran advertisements for cigarettes. Around the same time, advertising agencies created campaigns featuring physicians; these continued until 1954, as concerns about the negative health effects of smoking grew. Heavily illustrated.

Johanna Goldberg, Books, Health & History 2014

Nye Bevan’s dream: a history of the NHS

In 1948 the health minister strode into a Manchester hospital to launch a free healthcare service that has brought innovation and controversy ever since

Denis Campbell, The Guardian 2016

Old Names, Provincial Terms, and Synonyms for Illnesses and Diseases

If you have wondered about the strange names given to diseases or illnesses, the following post provides a list of old names, provincial terms, and synonyms that were used for illness and diseases with today’s equivalent

Geri Walton, GeriWalton.com 2014

Old Works of Art Are Helping Med Students Learn How to Diagnose

Artists have long been fascinated by illness, rendering everything from syphilis to arthritis to tuberculosis in careful brush strokes. The diseases depicted, frozen on the canvas, have in turn created a type of diagnostic mystery for modern day physicians.

Olga Oksman, Vice 2017

People with Disabilities in Jane Austen’s England

Jane Austen did not write about disabled people in any of her books, but people with disabilities were just as common in Regency England as they are today. Whether the disability was physical or cognitive, people back then wanted to care for their loved ones who needed extra assistance or intensive support, just as we do now. How did they do it?

Elaine Owen, Every Woman Dreams 2017

Polio’s political fight in a historical perspective

Dora Vargha, The Reluctant Internationalists 2014

Penicillin – Podcast

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss penicillin, discovered by Alexander Fleming in 1928.

In our Time, BBC Radio 4 2016

Review of ‘Smoking Privileges: Psychiatry, the Mentally Ill, and the Tobacco Industry in America’

‘Smoking Privileges’ interweaves the history of psychiatric institutions in the United States with the history of the medical community’s perception of tobacco.

M. Lynn Rose, H-Net Reviews 2017

Sigmund Freud’s Sortie To America

The Father of Psychoanalysis came, saw, conquered—and didn’t like it much

Ronald W. Clark, American Heritage, 1980

Solving the Mystery of an Ancient Roman Plague

Church records from the third century could help identify the disease that nearly killed the empire.

Kyle Harper, The Atlantic 2017

Spanish Flu: The Deadliest Pandemic in History

Dr. Marc Benton, Past Medical History 2016

Spanish Flu: The Deadliest Pandemic in History

In the spring of 1918 people started to fall ill with flu. The initial wave of the illness was not too different to a standard flu epidemic but later that year in August 1918 a second wave hit. This time large numbers of soldiers were beginning to fall ill with a much nastier version of the flu.

Past Medical History 2016

Why Did the 1918 Flu Kill So Many Otherwise Healthy Young Adults?

Uncovering a World War I veteran’s story provided a genealogist and pharmacologist with some clues

Ruth Craig, Smithsonian 2017

Directory at Century Past History Resources

 

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