Posts tagged ‘History of Medicine’

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

Early Surgical Instruments from the Mayo Clinic

Early Surgical Instruments from the Mayo Clinic

Left to right: An orthopedic drill, soldering iron, and cork-screw used in early surgeries at the Mayo Clinic


One of the first operations at Saint Marys Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota, was performed by Dr. Charles H. Mayo on September 30, 1889. He was assisted by his brother Dr. William J. Mayo and his father, Dr. William W. Mayo. The Mayos equipped the operating room with surgical instruments to meet their immediate needs. Some of the early instruments used by the Mayos are seen in this image. The old-fashioned hand drill was used in orthopedic surgery. A soldering iron was used for cauterizing, and a corkscrew was used in the removal of fibroid tumors. Dr. Charlie was known for his mechanical skills and he fashioned some extra instruments to be used at the hospital.

Courtesy of the W. Bruce Fye Center for the History of Medicine

October 23, 2015 at 9:32 am


Renee Ziemer, Coordinator of Mayo Clinic Historical Unit, became an Assistant Professor of the History of Medicine.

On Saturday, September 28, at the Annual Meeting of the Methodist-Kahler School of Nursing Alumni Association, Hilary Lane was nominated and accepted as an honorary member of the association.  This honor was in recognition of participating in the storage of part of the nursing school’s library books in the History of Medicine Library, curating a permanent exhibit of nursing memorabilia, and helping produce a flyer accompanying the exhibit.

October 29, 2013 at 2:19 pm

New History of Medicine Exhibit

In 1950 Mayo Clinic Library accepted a bequest consisting of the library of the late Boyd T. Williams, M.D., of Hudson, Wisconsin. Doctor Williams had collected extensively, and claimed to have one of the country’s largest libraries on cancer and tumor disease.  Although there appears to be no professional relationship between Williams and Mayo Clinic or the Mayo brothers, he surely knew of the Clinic and perhaps wanted his collection to permanently reside in a place where it might be used by researchers and clinicians.

This exhibit highlights some of the books from the Williams Collection and an accompanying handout describes a man as complex and baffling as the disease he sought to cure. For more information, see Boyd T. Williams Exhibit (Mayo intranet only) or visit the exhibit at the History of Medicine Library, Plummer 15-07. The History of Medicine Library is open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Monday – Friday.  Or call Hilary Lane at 284-3676 to arrange a visit.

Hilary Lane
Coordinator, History of Medicine Library

January 30, 2012 at 1:09 pm

History of Medicine Library – Book Exhibit

Mayo Clinic History of Medicine Library is located on the 15th floor of the Plummer Building.  The book exhibit “A Brief History of Midwifery: Selections from the Mayo Foundation History of Medicine Library” is available for viewing, (more…)

March 4, 2009 at 9:33 am

Donors to the Libraries in 2008

Gifts that enhance the Library’s collections are welcomed and we appreciate the generosity of current and emeritus staff and students of Mayo Clinic and the College of Medicine.  (more…)

March 4, 2009 at 9:32 am