History of Medicine Collections

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The Duke University History of Medicine Collections acquire, preserve, interpret, and make available for research and instruction materials documenting the history of medicine, biomedical science, health and disease in the global context of the Western medical tradition. The collections seek to bring historical perspectives to bear on contemporary health issues and to facilitate an interdisciplinary understanding of the history of medicine. These rich and unique collections include over 20,000 monographs, over 4,000 manuscripts, as well as photographs, illustrations, medical instruments, and a variety of medical artifacts. The collections document the history of health sciences from the 12th-century to the 20th-century with strengths in anesthesia, human sexuality, materia medica, pediatrics, psychiatry, vivisection, and yellow fever.


Recent Submissions

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    18th century English pediatric hospital care
    (2014-06-25) Williams, Andrew N.; Sharma, Raman M.
    Until recently, physician-historians of pediatrics have generally assumed that “pediatrics as a specialized branch of medicine had no real existence before the middle of the nineteenth century” (Abt Garrison. History of Pediatrics, WB Saunders: London; 1965. p.1). This may be true if we equate pediatrics with professional organizations and specialized children’s hospitals (Cone TE. History of American Pediatrics, Boston: 1979; Mahnke CB. ‘The growth and Development of a Specialty: The History of Pediatrics’. Clinical Pediatrics. 2000; 12: 705-714). But as a body of knowledge and practices addressing the sick child, pediatrics has a much longer history (Newton H. The Sick Child in Early Modern England, 1580-1720. Oxford University Press, United Kingdom 2012; Levene A. Childhood and Adolescence In Jackson M. (ed) The Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine. Oxford University Press. United Kingdom 2012 DOI: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199546497.013.0018). Reconstructing the history of what might be called “pediatrics before pediatricians” requires going beyond the rare books and treatises that were long the traditional sources for medical historians. This dataset, compiled from 18th century English hospital admission records, is the first of its kind in this area.