The Story of John Williams the Oculis and his career in quackery

This was the advertisement in Kingston’s Chronicle and Gazette, which ran on October 20th, 1841, heralding the arrival of Mr. Williams. His visit to Kingston came near the end of his illustrious career in quackery, preceded by nearly forty years of travelling in Europe and the United States, treating patients and selling his so-called miracle cure for blindness. … More The Story of John Williams the Oculis and his career in quackery

Smallpox – A Short History of Vaccination (Part 2)

Janet Parker was the last person in the world to die from smallpox in 1978. She was working as a scientific photographer above one of the labs at Birmingham Medical School. The lab was working with smallpox and Parker contracted the disease on August 11th. She would die a month later.This event shook the world not only because the last smallpox case in the UK was 5 years prior, but because smallpox was on its way to being confined to the history books. … More Smallpox – A Short History of Vaccination (Part 2)

Parenting Manuals and the 1920s-50s Canadian Family

While perusing the many books that make up the Museum’s little-known reference library for a work assignment, I discovered a small collection of books concerning parenting and child rearing. These books are early incantations of the parenting books that are so incredibly common today. The earliest is from 1926 and the most recent is from 1959. At face value, these books aren’t of much interest to anyone other than prospective parents, of which I am certainly not one! However, knowing that Canadian society changed dramatically from 1926 to 1959, I wondered if any of the changes in healthcare and the social fabric of the country would be reflected in these books. With the help of a little background research, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much these little books could tell us about the history of Canada. … More Parenting Manuals and the 1920s-50s Canadian Family

The History of Vaccinations: The Build Up to the Spanish Flu

An understanding of disease resistance has existed in written records as far back as 429 BCE when the Greek historian Thucydides acknowledged that those who survived a smallpox epidemic in Athens were subsequently protected from the disease. Since a basic understanding of the biological underpinnings of infection was not understood for a long time, it was not until 900 AD when the Chinese developed a rudimentary smallpox inoculation. Chinese physicians noted how uninfected people who were exposed to a smallpox scab were less likely to acquire the disease or, if they did, that it was milder. The most common method of inoculation was to inhale crushed smallpox scabs through the nostrils. … More The History of Vaccinations: The Build Up to the Spanish Flu