Title: Spreading calipers used by Dr. Montague Cobb


Date: mid 20th century

Source: Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

Copyright/Permissions: Public Domain, CC0 1.0. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Dr. Michael L. Blakey

Location(s): Washington D.C., USA


Date posted: January 29, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on Spreading calipers used by Dr. Montague Cobb

Categories: Implements and Devices Nurses and Physicians

Title: Lancet owned by Edward Jenner


Date: 1720-1800

Source: Science Museum, London

Copyright/Permissions: Lancet owned by Edward Jenner, England, 1720-1800. Credit: Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

References: Boylston, Arthur. “The Origins of Inoculation,” Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, Vol. 105, no. 7 (2012): 309-313; Schiebinger, Londa. Secret cures of slaves: people, plants, and medicine in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017. John Quier and Donald Monro. Letters and essays on the small-pox and inoculation, the measles, the dry belly-ache, the yellow and remitting and intermitting fevers of the West Indies. London: Printed for J. Murray and C. Elliot, 1778.

Location(s): London, England

Commentary: This short blade is called a lancet. This medical tool was used to inoculate subjects with a sample of viral material, a common but risky practice in the eighteenth century. British physician John Quier exceeded the limits of the safety of smallpox inoculation in his cruel experiments on enslaved people in Jamaica by inoculating at-risk patients including pregnant women, children, and patients suffering from other illnesses.

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Date posted: January 28, 2021 | Author: | Comments Off on Lancet owned by Edward Jenner

Categories: Implements and Devices Slavery and Medical Knowledge Vaccination

Title: Dr. James Marion Sims and nurse repairing a vesico-vaginal fistula patient. From Henry Savage, The Surgery, Surgical Pathology, and Surgical Anatomy of the Female Pelvic Organs, in a Series of Coloured Plates Taken from Nature. With Commentaries, Notes, and Cases. Second Edition. London, John Churchill & Sons, 1870. Hand-coloured lithograph, Folio – leaf: 313 x 240 mm.

Artist/Maker: J.B. Léveillé

Date: 1870

Source: Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library

Copyright/Permissions: Image Courtesy of the Hagströmer Medico-Historical Library, Karolinska Institutet

References: Owens, Deirdre Cooper. Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and The Origins of American Gynecology. Athens, GA: UGA Press, 2017.

Location(s): Montgomery, Alabama, USA; London, England

Commentary: U.S. physician James Marion Sims (1813-1883) experimented on enslaved Black women such as Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy, operating on them without anesthesia to develop various gynecological procedures (including a treatment for vesicovaginal fistula). Taken from a 19th century medical text, this image depicts Sim’s female patient as white, erasing Sims’s exploitation of Black women and the key role they were forced to play in the founding of modern gynecological medicine.


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