Von Graefe’s Cataract Knife (From the Collection #32)

The Story Cataracts are an opacity of the eye’s crystalline lens, found behind the pupil. This opacity stops rays of light from reaching the retina, causing blindness. The first recorded cataract surgeries occurred as early as 600 BCE. Couching, a process in which the cataractous crystalline lens is displaced inside the vitreous cavity of the … More Von Graefe’s Cataract Knife (From the Collection #32)

The Young Husband (From the Collection #31)

The Story Advice manuals as a distinct form of literature began appearing as early as the 17th century. William A. Alcott (1798-1859) was a prolific 19th-century advice writer and proponent of vegetarianism with a keen interest in civil, social, moral, and religious reform. He wrote numerous manuals and guides addressing marital, domestic, cultural, financial, and health and … More The Young Husband (From the Collection #31)

Carbolic Steam Sprayer (From the Collection #24)

The Story Lord Joseph Lister revolutionized surgery in the late 19th century by introducing antiseptic methods. These drastically reduced the incidence of infection and death, enabling the field of surgery to expand rapidly. In the 1860s, mortality rates for surgeries were at 45-50% due to infection. Rates of infection were especially high in trauma cases, … More Carbolic Steam Sprayer (From the Collection #24)

Midwifery Washbasin (From the Collection #22)

The Story This tin-glazed earthenware basin marks the beginning of an era. At a time not long before germ theory was established in the 19th century, this washbasin played an important role in reducing puerperal (childbed) fever amongst new mothers in hospital. This antiseptic midwifery basin originates from the obstetrical clinic at the Vienna General … More Midwifery Washbasin (From the Collection #22)

Physician’s Treatment Book (From the Collection #19)

The Story In the 1800s medical students and physicians often kept lecture notes and practical information in small bound notebooks. This particular volume contains handwritten recipes for medications, financial accounts, and personal comments. This book is also important for its association with its first owner. Dr. Jennie Gray Wildman (c 1863-1953) is a member of … More Physician’s Treatment Book (From the Collection #19)

Medicine Chest (From the Collection #10)

The Story An early form of ‘doctor’s bag’, a wooden medicine chest was designed to hold instruments and drug supplies.  Some were finely crafted from imported woods and brass and had fitted drug bottles.  Wealthier families also kept their own medicine chests for home use.  Such appears to be the case with this particular chest.  … More Medicine Chest (From the Collection #10)

Pill Machine (From the Collection #12)

The Story Before mass-production began in the nineteenth centuries and even into the beginning of the twentieth century, pharmacists created medicines in-house. For centuries they rolled pills by hand. This labour-intensive process began with a doctor’s prescription that indicated the weight of every ingredient needed to produce one pill as well as the number of … More Pill Machine (From the Collection #12)

Lebenswecker (From the Collection #1)

The Story Carl Baunscheidt (1809-1873), a German mechanic and inventor, first produced the lebenswecker in 1848. Translated most directly as “life awakener”, the lebenswecker is comprised of six parts (a wooden cap, head cover, shaft, and plunger, and a metal needle head and spring), and is used to pierce the skin without drawing blood. Baunscheidt … More Lebenswecker (From the Collection #1)