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in the hoosegow

Thursday, December 09, 2004

medicus oldicus

So, one of the cooler things I did in New York was to visit the Academy of Medicine's Rare Book Room. We had a very short tour because we did it during the lunch break of our conference and time was limited. There's a fairly comprehensive collection of "americana", i.e. anything written in the United States about medicine from the 18th and 19th centuries. Unfortunately I couldn't get my (gloved) hands on any of the books since they're all locked up with only the spines visible. I can't, therefore, report on any gross pictures. However, I did pick up a bookmark decorated with pictures of old posters from WWI which were about mosquitos. They were oddly suggestive, showing a mosquito in a bayonet-like position heading toward a soldier's bare butt, and another one showing the mosquito looking like a comely woman seducing a man who hadn't tucked in his netting. My other favorite was a public health poster from the early 1900s about midwives. They were described as dirty and untrained, supposedly in comparison to doctors (yes, the same guys who started the whole idea of women giving birth flat on their backs so they, the doctors, didn't have to squat).


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