History of Medicine
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Curious? Take a Look
Take a look and find something new. Explore this selection of remarkable materials and the exhibitions that feature them.
Follow where your curiosity leads you!
The Cripple, 1864
The men who enlisted to serve during the American Civil War, many of whom were as young as 18, were often unprepared for the ruthless realities of war. They were usually marshaled for service without training, and often stationed miles from where they had grown up. The US General Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia published The Cripple, one of six small hospital newspapers printed in the Washington, DC area during the Civil War period. The newspapers included news, poetry, and jokes, among other things, and served as an amusement and morale-builder for sick and wounded soldiers. To learn more about the life of Civil War veterans, visit the online exhibition Life and Limb: The toll of the American Civil War.
A True Relation of a Barbarous Bloody Murther, ca. 1688
This sensational pamphlet reports on a murder investigation that used a forensic test based on an ancient belief: that the corpse of a victim will bleed if touched by the murderer. To learn more about the history of forensic science, visit the online exhibition Visible Proofs: Forensic Views of the Body.
“The Yellow Wall-Paper,” 1892
American activist, writer, and artist Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860–1935) wrote a story of a woman driven mad by the extreme treatment prescribed by her doctor for her depression, during the summer of 1890. More than a year later, The New England Magazine published Gilman’s “The Yellow Wall-Paper.” Unusual for the time, readers were both intrigued and disturbed by the story. In a letter to the editor, a respondent signing off only as “M. D.” described the piece as sensational and morbidly fascinating, and questioned if such literature should even be permitted in print. The National Library of Medicine has a copy of “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” bound with a complete volume of the magazine (New Series, Vol. 5, Old Series, Vol. 11, September 1891-February 1892). To read this story, visit the online exhibition The Literature of Prescription: Charlotte Perkins Gilman and “The Yellow Wall-Paper.”