Posts filed under ‘History of Medicine’

Latest Acquisitions to the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library Courtesy of the Laurence and Hazell McColl Endowment Fund – 2018

The following items were recently added to the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library, courtesy of the Laurence and Hazell McColl Endowment Fund:

Extremely rare first edition of Guillemeau’s Traité, ‘decidedly the best of the renaissance books on ophthalmology’.

Guillemeau, Jacques. Traité des maladies de l’oeil, qui sont en nombre de cent treize, ausquelles il est suiect. Paris, Charles Massé, 1585.

Guillemeau’s Traité

Guillemeau’s Traité


First Latin Edition, and the first illustrated, of this famous obstetrical work. Translated by Caspar Bauhim, and enlarged with numerous case records.

Rousset, François. Foetus vivi ex matre viva sine alterutrius vite periculo Caesura … Casparo Bauhino Professore Medico Basil. ord. latio reddita: varijs Historiis aucta & confirmata. Adiecta est Iohanni Albosii Protomedici Regii foetus per annos XXIIX, in utero contenti & lapidifacti Historia elegantiss[ima]. Basel, Conrad Waldkirch, 1591.


Rousset, Foetus vivi ex marte viva

Rousset, Foetus vivi ex marte viva

The Padovan protophysician Franceso Fanzago’s account of the birth and life of conjoined twins born in the province of Brescia in 1802.

Fanzago, Francesco. Storia del mostro di due corpi che nacque sul Bresciano in Novembre 1802. Padova, Giuseppe and Fratelli Pinada, 1803.

Fanzago, Storia del mostro di due copro che nacque

Fanzago, Storia del mostro di due copro che nacque

Very scarce first edition of one of Da Monte’s important commentaries on Avicenna’s Canon.

[Avicenna].  Monte, Giovanni Battista da.  In quartam fen primi Canonis Avicennae, Lectiones: À Valentino Lublino Polono Collectae.  Venice, Balthassar Constantini, 1556.


A Pioneering Work on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

[Somis, Ignazio]. Ragionamento sopra il fatto avvenuto in Bergemoletto, in cui tre Donne, sepolte fra le rovine della Stalla per la caduta d’una gran mole di neve, sono state trovate vive dopo trentaseete giorni. Turin, Stamperia Reale, 1758.


April 5, 2018 at 5:11 pm

New Exhibit in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library: IMPRESSIONS OF MEDICINE IN AMERICA: 1680-1820

In a famous recollection of the France he had known on the eve of the revolution, Talleyrand said: “those who were not living in and about the year 1789 know not the pleasure of life”. In the same year, on the other side of the Atlantic, George Washington assumed office as the first President of the United States. For the future of the world that was an historic moment. It was a climax to over a decade of turmoil since 1776 – but for America, the best was surely yet to be.

This exhibit focuses on the theme of medical history from the years 1680 to 1820. These dates have been chosen because they represent the period from Thomas Thacher, (1620-1678) who wrote the earliest medical document to be printed in the American colonies, to the death of Samuel Bard, (1742-1821) who helped further medical education in America.

Benjamin Rush at the Bedside

The courage of Benjamin Rush (1745-1813) was taxed to exhaustion in the 1792 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. When most people fled Dr. Rush stayed to care for patients.

Visitors can see this exhibit in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library on the 15th floor of the Plummer Building. 

Viewing times are Monday through Friday 9 a.m. till 1 p.m.

Exhibit Curated by Hilary J. Lane

Instructor in History of Medicine

Coordinator, W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

Plummer 15-07



January 15, 2018 at 11:40 am

New Donation to the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

Quran Strassman Dontaion

Quran donated by the Family of W. Paul Strassmann, Ph.D.

The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library recently received a beautiful hand written copy of the Quran from the family of W. Paul Strassmann, Ph.D. of Lansing, Michigan.  The colophon in this Quran states it was written by Ahmad Bin Syed Mahmood Baghdadi, son of Syed Mahmood, who was likely from Baghdad, Iraq.  It was completed on a Thursday, being the first day of Rajab (seventh month of the Islamic calendar) 952 Hijri.  This date corresponds to the 8th, 9th, or 10th day of September in the year 1545, making this Quran over 400 years old.

Qurans are written from memory and each writer is part of “the Chain” which is traced back to the Prophet Mohammad who memorized the Quran from the Angel Gabriel, who was instructed by Allah.  Each person who has memorized the Quran through a teacher in the chain receives a certificate giving the name of the teacher.

Even though Ahmad is the writer, it is not clear if he copied this Quran from another copy or wrote it based on memory.  Experts who have memorized the Quran, and are part of the Chain, have pointed to some errors in the pages they have reviewed.  It appears these are minor and unintentional.  On some pages the error or omission has been corrected by the writer and can be seen in the margins.  This was the common way corrections were done.

The last page of this Quran (Arabic text is read from right to left) has a disclosure from the writer.  This disclosure is not part of the Holy Text that ends on the page prior and can be translated into English as follows:

However, the release of these praiseworthy words was completed; which are the words of the lord of masters and slaves.  The lord who is the originator and repeater (brings everything back in the day of judgement), the effector of what he intends, one who does not have anyone to oppose, to equal, or to resemble.  He is the one who supports everything good.  This was completed in the first day of the great month of Rajab (lunar month), year 952 (lunar year) of the prophet’s migration (because the year starts when the prophet migrated) peace and blessings be upon him.  On Thursday in the morning (sometime between sunrise but way before noon).  Was written by the needy (he means the need for the mercy of lord not the need for money) and worthless slave (also means that he is worth nothing and feels that this humble work is worth nothing when compared to the wealth of the lord) who is in need of the mercy of Allah, the affectionate.  Ahmad bin (son of) Syed Mahmood Baghdadi (likely from Baghdad, Iraq).  May Allah forgive both of them, Ameen. completed.

Several more photos of this beautiful book follow:

3621455_0012 (Electronic Presentation)3621455_0021 (Electronic Presentation)3621455_0034 (Electronic Presentation)

Hundreds of other unique and rare titles are also housed in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library. Visitors are welcome on Plummer 14, Monday- Friday from 9 am to 1 pm.

Special thanks to Mr. Rashid A. Fehmi, CPA, Business Development, Mayo Clinic, Mohamad A. Mouchli, M.D., Gastroenterology, Mayo 9E and Ms. Wanda Elkharwily, Mayo Clinic Libraries, Plummer 12 for their kind assistance in gathering this information.

Submitted by Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator of the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

June 22, 2017 at 9:34 am

New Acquisitions for the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

Two new volumes were recently added to the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library using funds from the Laurence and Hazel McColl Endowment Fund.

Details about these new books follow:


The Surgeons Mate or Military and Domestique Surgery

The Surgeons Mate or Military and Domestique Surgery

Woodall, John.  The Surgeons Mate or Military and Domestique Surgery.  London, Rob: Young for Nicholas Bourne, 1639.

The first book for naval surgeons in its original English binding.

A contemporary of Harvey, Woodall was surgeon to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital and to the East India Company.  His Surgeons Mate was widely used by surgeons on land and at sea for many years.  In it Woodall gives details of his methods of amputation.  He recommended amputation through healthy tissue but “most of the discussion of the subject in his Surgeons Mate (1639) concerned division through the upper level of the dead tissue.  Woodall explained that such excision was painless and that after a limb had been removed the surgeon could whittle away the dead tissue until it was almost gone; two or three men sufficed to help with the operation” (Wangensteen and Wangensteen, The Rise of Surgery, p. 18).

Published over a century before the appearance of James Lind’s famous classic, A Treatise on Scurvy (1753), this is the earliest medical work to give an account of the use of citrus fruits for the prevention of scurvy at sea.  ‘Woodall knew the value of limes, lemons, and oranges, and gave them a prominent place in his account of the treatment of scurvy … [and the book] was made required reading for all naval surgeons in the East India Company’ (Garrison-Morton).

De Sterilitate utriusque sexus, opus in quatuor libros distributum

            Medical Instruments foldout from The Surgeons Mate




Hucher, Jean.  De Sterilitate utriusque sexus, opus in quatuor libros distributum: cui annexus est liber de diaeta et theraphia puerorum.  [Geneva,] Gabriel Cartier, 1609.


Sterility continued as a subject of major interest throughout the [seventeenth] century.  Jean Hucher, Chancellor at the University of Montpellier, wrote on sterility of both sexes.  Louise Bourgeois discussed the problem from various angles in 1609 under the title Observations divers sur la stérilité.  Daniel Sennert of Wittenberg (1572-1637) in his Opera made the amusing statement that sterility was due to “imbecility” of the uterus.  François Blondel (1613-1703) of Liège argued that small lean women were more fecund than large adipose ones.  However, of all these works Hucher’s is by far the most extensive and thorough.  He includes discussions of superfoetation and monstrous births, and hydrocephalus in children.

These and hundreds of other unique and rare titles are housed in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library.

Submitted by Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator – W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

March 31, 2017 at 10:59 am

The oldest book in the Mayo Library

liber-serapionisThe oldest title in the Rare Book Collection of the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library is Liber Serapionis aggregatus in medicinis simplicibus (translated as The Book of Simple Medicaments) by the Arabian physician Ibn Sarabi (also known as Serapion, Johannes, the Younger), who was one of the most influential authors for the development of medical theory and practice, and for the Arabic medical tradition in general.

This title was translated from the Arabic into Latin about 1292. In the first part Serapion classifies substances according to their medicinal properties and discusses their actions. The second part is a compilation of the works of Dioscorides, an army doctor in the reigns of Caludius, Nero and Galen. There is also mention of around 40 other Greek and Arabian authors.

(Submitted by Hilary Lane, History of Medicine Library specialist)

December 7, 2016 at 11:37 am

From the History of Medicine Collection: The Mayo Clinic in Comic Strips

Dr Polley with part of his collection of Mayo Clinic comic strips

Dr Polley with his collection

The W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library collects more than just books.  Some of the more interesting items in the collection are comic strips.  In 1983
Dr. Howard F. Polley (1913-2001) donated his collection of cartoons referencing the Mayo Clinic to the library.  Whenever Dr. Polley saw or heard about about a cartoon that mentioned the Mayo Clinic, he contacted the cartoonists and asked if they would be willing to donate an original or printed signed copy for his unique collection.  His collection comprises approximately 82 cartoons and is currently housed in the History of Medicine Library .  The library continues to gather these cartoons and add them to the collection.




The following comics are a small part of the Dr. Polley’s collection:

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October 21, 2016 at 10:22 am

New Exhibit at the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library: Treasures from the Browsing Collection of Henry S. Plummer, M.D.

dr-plummer-bas-reliefDr. Henry S. Plummer, Mayo’s very own Renaissance man, harbored a dream for the Mayo Clinic Library.  He believed physicians who had completed their medical training were in danger of thinking there was nothing in the world but medicine.  His passion was to establish a special collection of fine editions in art, literature, history, travel and philosophy for Mayo physicians to enjoy at their leisure.  Sadly, Dr. Plummer did not live long enough to see his dream fulfilled but his devotion to this idea, and his discriminating taste, live on in what is affectionately called the “Browsing Collection”.

This special collection was opened in April, 1937 and many of these beautiful leather bound books were purchased by Dr. Plummer or were gifts from his personal library.

From the day the Browsing Collection was made available it was a favorite spot with physicians.  There were frequent winter afternoons when all chairs in the room were occupied.  The Browsing Collection was originally housed on the 12th floor and later moved to Plummer Hall to allow more space for study and reflection.

history-of-medicine-libraryThis exhibit was part of Mayo Clinic Heritage Days and displayed in Plummer Hall Saturday, October 1st.  It has now been re-assembled in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library on Plummer 15 for staff and visitors to enjoy.  Viewing hours are between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.


Submitted to LibLog by:
Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator – W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

October 7, 2016 at 9:59 am

New Acquisition in the History of Medicine Library: Bock Kreütterbuch from 1595.

Boch Kreutterbuch Image

Monies from the McColl Endowment Fund for 2016 were used to purchase the following title for the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library:

BOCK, Hieronymus.  Kreütterbuch, darin underscheidt Namen und Würckung der Kreutter, Stauden, Hecken und Bäumen, mit ihren Früchten, so in Teutschen Landen wachsen … Item von den vier Elementen, zamen und wilden Thieren, auch Vögelen und Fischen, Milch, Käss, Butter, Honig, Wachs, Zucher, Saltz, Brot, Wein, Essig, Oeln, Eyer, Blüt, Schmaltz, Unschlit, allerhand Kochkreutter, Specerey, und Gewürtz. Auch wie alle Speiss und Dranck, Gesunden und Krancken, dargereicht werden sollen … Strassburg, Josias Rihel, 1595.


This book is a very attractive colored copy of the final edition of Bock’s great herbal, including the Teutsche Speisskammer, a “gallery” of food and drink preparations both for the healthy and the sick, illustrated by 19 woodcuts depicting food gathering and preparation, markets, wine making, etc., by Tobias Stimmer and Christoph Maurer.

bock kreutterbuch

The first illustrated edition of Bock’s herbal was published in 1546, and contained 468 woodcuts (enlarged to 530 in the 1551 German edition) by David Kandel. Kandel for the most part based his woodcuts on those of Fuchs and Brunfels, but some one hundred are entirely original, and include several with charming genre scenes accompanying the plant depictions, many with his initials.  In this copy all of the woodcuts are in fine contemporary coloring, using water and bodycolors, with careful shading of leaves, etc.  Interestingly, where the woodcut is based on Fuchs, the coloring follows that of the publisher’s colored edition of Fuchs, which was ‘based upon the artist’s original colored drawings made from living specimens’ (Blunt).  The coloring of the present copy has the points set out by Dr. William T. Stearn (in Bibliography and natural history, Thomas R. Buckman ed., Lawrence, Kansas 1966, pp. 3-4) for distinguishing publisher’s coloring in Fuchs from copies colored privately or later.


Bock was one of the ‘fathers of German botany’, the triumvirate that included Brunfels and Fuchs.  As a botanist Bock was their decided superior.  He was not shackled to the classical authority of Dioscorides and Pliny, and therefore could recognize new plants without his perception being clouded by supposed classical precedents.  He pioneered descriptive botany, giving a detailed developmental history of each plant in its stages of growth, and was the first to discuss plant communities, thus foreshadowing the science of ecology.

The Speisskammer was first published in an unillustrated quarto edition in 1550.


Nissen BBI 182; Ritter 220; Johnston 138; Wellcome 914.


Submitted to LibLog by:
Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator – W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

March 28, 2016 at 12:03 pm 1 comment

New Exhibit at the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

A new exhibit is now on display in the W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library.

This exhibit will be on display from March – December 2016.



Two views of Clara Jacobi, a Dutch woman who had a tumor removed from her neck in 1689

Two views of Clara Jacobi, a Dutch woman who had a tumor removed from her neck in 1689

Human beings and other animals have had cancer throughout recorded history.  Some of the earliest evidence of cancer is found among fossilized bone tumors, human mummies in ancient Egypt, and ancient manuscripts.  Growths suggestive of the bone cancer called osteosarcoma have been seen in mummies.  The earliest record of neoplastic disease is found in the Edwin Smith Papyrus, part of an ancient Egyptian textbook on trauma surgery.

The Renaissance marked advances in anatomy and wound surgery and scientists developed a greater understanding of the human body.  But until the humoral system of pathology was discarded and classification of tumors begun by means of autopsy, improvement in diagnosis and treatment of cancer was lacking.  During the years 1761-1838 Giovanni Morgagni began performing autopsies in order to relate illness to pathologic findings after death.  Progress was made in the description and classification of cancer which laid the foundation for scientific oncology.  This period also marked the beginning of cancer hospitals.

Joseph Lister made surgery relatively safe and men like Billroth and Volkmann seized upon the idea of radical surgery to treat cancer and were quick to carry out resection which had previously been impossible.  Improved knowledge of the anatomy of regional lymphatics made it possible to plan dissections intended to remove not only the primary tumor but all adjacent tissue that might contain metastases.

This exhibit ends with the discovery of roentgen rays and radium in the late 1800’s by Wilhelm Röntgen and Pierre and Marie Curie respectively, both of which were used in the treatment of cancer.



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Submitted to LibLog by:
Hilary J. Lane
Instructor in History of Medicine
Coordinator – W. Bruce Fye History of Medicine Library

March 8, 2016 at 10:56 am