An Annotated Catalogue of the Edward C. Atwater Collection of American Popular Medicine and Health Reform: A-L
This is a catalogue of the Edward C. Atwater Collection of rare books dealing with "popular medicine" in early America which is housed at the University of Rochester Medical School library. The books described in the catalogue were written by physicians and other professionals to provide information for the non-medical audience. The books taught human anatomy, hygiene, temperance and diet, how to maintain health, and how to cope with illness especially when no professional help was available. The books promoted a healthy lifestyle for the readers, giving guidance on everything from physical fitness and recreation to the special health needs of women. The collection consists of works dealing with reproduction [from birth control to delivering and caring for a baby], venereal disease, home-nursing, epidemics, and the need for public sex education. These books, covering areas largely ignored by the medical profession, made important contributions to the health of the American public, and the collection is a vital piece of medical history. The collector is Edward C. Atwater, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and the History of Medicine at the University of Rochester Medical School. Christopher Hoolihan is History of Medicine Librarian at the University of Rochester Medical School's Edward G. Miner LIbrary.
A Traffic of Dead Bodies enters the sphere of bodysnatching medical students, dissection-room pranks, and anatomical fantasy. It shows how nineteenth-century American physicians used anatomy to develop a vital professional identity, while claiming authority over the living and the dead. It also introduces the middle-class women and men, working people, unorthodox healers, cultural radicals, entrepreneurs, and health reformers who resisted and exploited anatomy to articulate their own social identities and visions. The nineteenth century saw the rise of the American medical profession: a proliferation of practitioners, journals, organizations, sects, and schools. Anatomy lay at the heart of the medical curriculum, allowing American medicine to invest itself with the authority of European science. Anatomists crossed the boundary between life and death, cut into the body, reduced it to its parts, framed it with moral commentary, and represented it theatrically, visually, and textually. Only initiates of the dissecting room could claim the privileged healing status that came with direct knowledge of the body. But anatomy depended on confiscation of the dead--mainly the plundered bodies of African Americans, immigrants, Native Americans, and the poor. As black markets in cadavers flourished, so did a cultural obsession with anatomy, an obsession that gave rise to clashes over the legal, social, and moral status of the dead. Ministers praised or denounced anatomy from the pulpit; rioters sacked medical schools; and legislatures passed or repealed laws permitting medical schools to take the bodies of the destitute. Dissection narratives and representations of the anatomical body circulated in new places: schools, dime museums, popular lectures, minstrel shows, and sensationalist novels. Michael Sappol resurrects this world of graverobbers and anatomical healers, discerning new ligatures among race and gender relations, funerary practices, the formation of the middle-class, and medical professionalization. In the process, he offers an engrossing and surprisingly rich cultural history of nineteenth-century America.