Voyage to the Other Side

By Emily Miranker, Events & Project Manager

Tomorrow is the 159th anniversary of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birth. Best known as the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, he was a prolific writer beyond his detective fiction writing fantasy-science fiction, humor, plays, poetry, historical novels, and non-fiction. Doyle was trained as a doctor, at the renowned University of Edinburgh Medical School in the late 1870s, so it was not a surprise to me to spot his name on the spine of one of our books here in the library stacks. The title was a bit of a surprise.

Conan Doyle_History of Spiritualism spine_1926

A favorite author’s name on a book’s spine catches my eye in the stacks.

Spiritualism was the belief that the spirits of the dead exist and are able to communicate with the living. Spiritualism came to Britain in October 1852 when American Maria Hayden visited London to work as a medium conducting séances and spreading the Spiritualist message.[ii] Along with the technological and scientific innovations of the period, Victorians were also fascinated by the supernatural, paranormal, and occult.

Conan Doyle had a longstanding interest in mystical subjects; he was a Freemason, a founding member of the Hampshire Society for Physical Research in 1889, and he joined the London Society for Psychical Research in 1893.[iii] His Spiritualist beliefs deepened at the height of World War One when war-related deaths abounded, particularly the death of his son Arthur Alleyne “Kingsley” Doyle at the Battle of Somme in 1916. Kingsley was 25.

In The Wanderings of a Spiritualist, Conan Doyle evocatively describes his experiences of a séance held in Merthyr, Wales.

For two hours my wife and I had sat within listening to the whispering voices of the dead, voices which are so full of earnest life, and of desperate endeavours [sic] to pierce the barrier of our dull senses. They had quivered and wavered around us, giving us pet names, sweet sacred things, the intimate talk of the olden time. Graceful lights, signs of spirit power had hovered over us in the darkness. It was a different and a wonderful world. Now with those voices still haunting our memories we had slipped out into the material world—a world of glaring iron works and of twinkling cottage windows. As I looked down on it all I grasped my wife’s hand in the darkness and I cried aloud, “My God, if they only knew—if they could only know!” Perhaps in that cry, wrung from my very soul, lay the inception of my voyage to the other side of the world.[iv]

Many criticized Spiritualist mediums as frauds. Others attributed these other worldly experiences not to chicanery but as hallucinations or the products of mental illness.[v] To 21st century minds it may seem odd that Doyle, a doctor and creator of the supremely logical Sherlock Holmes, was so fervent a believer. Dr. Andrzej Diniejko considers the paradox of Victorian Spiritualism as the “child of rationalism and loss of religious faith; a strange hybrid of science and evolutionary metaphysics which attracted the minds of many people at the turn of the nineteenth century.”[vi] Other notable Victorian Spiritualists included biologist Alfred Russell Wallace, poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, eventual Prime Minister Arthur Balfour, scientists William Crooks and Oliver Lodge, and novelist Charles Dickens.  Even Queen Victoria and Prince Albert attended séances; and in Paris physicists Pierre and Marie Curie did as well (though Marie with far less enthusiasm than her husband).

In an article Doyle wrote for the London spiritualist weekly, Light, in 1917 he stated that “the weight of disproof lies upon those who deny.” He continues, “These phenomena have passed through the stage of being a parlor game; they are now emerging from that of a debatable scientific novelty; and they are, or should be, taking shape as the foundations of a definite system of religious thought, in some ways confirmatory of ancient systems, in some ways entirely new.” Conan Doyle’s belief was such that even risking some tarnish to his reputation he went “on public record as a student of these matters.”[vii]

Conan Doyle died of a heart attack –or passed to the Other Side‑ on July 7, 1930. His son Adrian Doyle informed the New York Times for its obituary that “my father fully believed that when he passed over he would continue to keep in touch with us. All his family believe so, too.”[viii]

That being the case, Happy Birthday Sir Arthur!

References:
[i] Henry Maudsley. Body and mind: An inquiry into their connection and mutual influence.  New York: Appleton and Co., 1884.
[ii] History of Spiritualism: Spiritualism Comes to Britain. https://www.apsychicspace.co.uk/?p=821 A Psychic Space. Published June 1, 2016. Accessed April 27, 2018.
[iii] Hesketh Pearson. Conan Doyle, his life and art. London: Methuen, 1943.
[iv] Arthur Conan Doyle. The Wanderings of A Spiritualist. New York: George H. Doran Company, 1921.
[v] J. Barry “The Nineteenth Century: Medicine, Spiritualism and Christianity.” Raising Spirits: How a Conjuror’s Tale Was Transmitted across the Enlightenment. London: Palgrave Pivot, 2013.
[vi]  Andrzej Diniejko. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Interest in Spiritualism. The Victorian Web. http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/doyle/spiritualism.html Updated November 14, 2013. Accessed April 30, 2018.
[vii] Arthur Conan Doyle. Memories and adventures. London: John Murray, 1930.
[viii] Conan Doyle Dead From Heart Attack. The New York Times Learning Network. https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/bday/0522.html Published July 8, 1930. Updated 2010. Accessed May 1, 2018.

Maker’s Mark: A Look at Early Modern Printers’ Devices

By Emily Miranker, Events & Project Manager

Did you know that required trademarks go back to 1266? In England, bakers were required by parliament to use a distinctive mark on the bread they sold.[i] Fun design/history/bibliographic fact, the Drs. Barry and Bobbi Coller Rare Book Reading Room here at the Library features trademarks in its décor. More specifically, the room’s chandelier have printers’ marks. As an homage to book history and the art of the book, the chandeliers of our reading room are decorated with printers’ marks.

RBR chandelier

I got to know these marks beyond “those pretty design bits on the lights” when we created special bookplates (another age old way to ‘mark’ your stuff) for Adopt-a-Book donors. The virtual bookplates that donors receive features four of these marks keeping them connected with the legacy and art of the book.

TIna's first demo of bookplate sketches

Our incredibly talented graphic designer sharing sample sketches for the adoption bookplates; artistic inspiration courtesy of early modern printers, the architecture of the rare book room and the Academy building.

As the name suggests, printers’ marks are a device or emblem, like a logo, that early printers used to make clear the source of the item. According to Printer’s Marks, the first of these is Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer’s Mainz Psalter of 1457. Among the best well-known of these old printers’ marks is one that you will find on our library’s custom designed chandeliers and on our adoption bookplates (upper righthand corner) the device of Aldus Manutius: the dolphin and anchor.

 

Hippocrates_Omnia Opera_1526-printers mark_watermark

The dolphin twined around an anchor predates Manutius. Going back to Roman times, this pair symbolizes the adage, “Make haste slowly.” (The dolphin is haste, and the anchor is slow.)

Next to Aldus in the upper left corner of the bookplate, the ethereal hand manipulating the compass with the Latin motto Labore et Constantia (Work and Constancy) belongs to Dutch publisher Christophe Plantin (1520-1589). During his life, he used a large number of devices and they could vary in appearance. There are three primary types; the first features a tree and the second a scroll with a Latin motto twined around a grape vine; the third is the hand and compass and first appeared in 1557.[ii] The compass is symbolic of the motto: the leg of the compass turning around is work while the stationary point is constancy.

Below Plantin’s mark on the lower left, is the printer’s mark of Paris printer and bookseller Poncet Le Preux (1508 – 1551). His initials P L P are ‘tethered’ together by a tasseled cord.

Lastly, the monogram in the lower right corner of the bookplate that also adorns our chandeliers belongs to Badius Ascensius or Jodocus Badius (1462 – 1535). Originally from Flemish town of Asche, he set up a print shop in Paris, Prelum Ascensianum, in 1503. The initials in the monogram are I V A B, the A and V intersecting to form the diamond shape at the center, which stand for his Latinate name Iodocus Van Asche Badius.

Your Name Here bookplateWe invite you to come look at these gorgeous marks on the chandeliers and in the books themselves at our First Monday tours. The first Monday of every month at 12 pm we do a free tour of the Rare Book Room. Or adopt a book in our collection and receive a copy of these marks in the custom designed donor bookplate.

Bonus mark! This is the mark used by Badius’ printing house, Prelum Ascensianum (his monogram featuring at the bottom center, the shop’s name visible on the center crossbeam of the press itself) and my personal favorite because it is a printer in action.Beroaldi_Opvscvlvm _1511-tp-ornament_watermark

References:
[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trademark#History Accessed 4/18/18
[ii] Roberts, William. Printer’s Marks: A Chapter in the History of Typography (New York: George Bell & Sons, 1893).
printermark shop ad

Intern in our Digital Lab this Summer

The New York Academy of Medicine’s Library is looking for a digital intern to work in the Library’s digital program.  The internship will provide hands-on experience with creating and building digital collections, editing metadata for digitization projects, and conducting quality control of scanned images. The Intern will have an opportunity to learn about the digitization process and how to build digital collections.

We are looking for an intern who is imaginative and interested in learning more about developing digital collections and how metadata is used to enhance collections.

The internship is paid or may be taken for course credit.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Create digital collections on Islandora website
  • Collect, edit, create and organize metadata according to standards
  • Conduct quality control on scanned images and digital collections

Qualifications and Experience

  • Familiarity with technology, digital collections, and/or digital humanities projects
  • Experience with metadata schemas (e.g. MODS, Dublin Core, MARC, IPTC etc.)
  • Knowledge of XML, XSLT, and OCLC
  • Coursework in Library and Information Science

Start Date: June 2018.

Hours: Approximately 10 hours a week for 12 weeks.  Intern must be available 2 days per week between the hours of 10:00am-5:00pm, Monday through Thursday.

To Apply

Please forward cover letter and resume with “Digital Intern” in the subject line to library@nyam.org.  Please also outline your academic needs for obtaining course credit, if applicable.  Deadline: May 18, 2018.

Secrets in the Scan

By Emily Miranker, Events & Projects Manager

One of the initiatives I oversee here is our wonderful online Library Shop. It features public domain images from our collection on various products. It’s a way for you to take a piece of the library home. Are these two hundred, four hundred, six hundred-year-old images edited? No.

Mostly no.

We keep our images unedited to preserve their historic integrity. The little warps in the vellum, the darkening on the edges of pages from centuries of fingers turning them, little spots of ink or stains from years of use are all part of the life story of each book.

That said, here’s the “mostly” part.

Many of the images used on the shop come from very old books. Books of any age usually don’t lie flat, and certainly not really old ones with big, beautiful bindings. To scan images, our books lie in a cradle; each side propped up by a wedge. This means an image in the initial scan is often at a slight angle. You don’t see it square on.

 

Cockeyed images aren’t the most visually pleasing, moreover the images sit true on the book pages themselves. Therefor some of our images are rotated after scanning to correct for the angle introduced by that cradle in the scan bed, as in the example below.

Truing Images

Aldrovandi_monstrorumhistoria_1642_p324 watermarkedA real treat came for me when I got to work with this glorious image from the Italian naturalist Ulisse Aldrovandi (1522-1605). This is a phoenix from Monstrorum Historia, a volume in a set of encyclopedic works on animals. In Monstrorum, Aldrovandi documented and illustrated anomalous creatures both observed and imagined. The phoenix is a mythological bird that cyclically regenerates or is reborn from the flames and ashes of its previous self.

For the special occasion of the Academy’s 2017 Gala, I was going to edit the background from this image to show just the bird itself. Far more elaborate image editing than I typically get to do. (Part of this was actually done with an editing tool called the “Magic Wand” which struck me as very fitting.) I edited out most of the background and zoomed in to tidy up the image. I started to notice these strips of “fuzz” all over.

re editing

Zooming in even closer –around 200% magnification– I realized, “These aren’t fuzzy strips; I’m seeing the impression of the text from the page behind this!” The text from page underneath the phoenix page wasn’t removed with the layer of background (that tan parchment color), so it was now more starkly visible. The quality of the 17th century printing was so high and the scan was so powerful that not only had the page with the phoenix itself been captured, but the words from the page beneath as well. Not an official palimpsest (a piece of writing material with traces of previous or even removed writing still visible); but a delightful discovery in my scanned image.

Shop Ad for scan secrets post

The British National Health Service and the Fight for Universal Health Insurance in the United States

Today’s guest post is by Andrew Seaton, the 2018 Paul Klemperer Fellow in the History of Medicine. Andrew is a History PhD candidate at New York University. His dissertation explains the survival of the British National Health Service since 1948, and its significance at home and abroad. Andrew will be presenting his Fellowship research on Wednesday, April 18, at 4 p.m. in the Hartwell Room. Please email history@nyam.org if you would like to attend. Space is limited.

Americans have often looked to other countries in their debates about extending health insurance. Health reformers in the Progressive Era held up Germany’s sickness insurance as a model to work toward, only to have this turned against them during the First World War.[1] In the postwar period, the British National Health Service (NHS) became a focal point of discussion. President Truman’s attempts to include “national health insurance” within existing Social Security legislation coincided with the establishment of the NHS in 1948. When Truman’s opponents – foremost among them the American Medical Association (AMA) – depicted the NHS as emblematic of the problems with “socialized medicine,” (see image below) progressives rushed to its defense.

Figure1_watermark

Typical representation of the British National Health Service by the American Medical Association. “The Rebellion of British Doctors,” Editor and Publisher, March 6 1948.

The left-wing health economist, Michael M. Davis – whose papers are housed in the New York Academy of Medicine historical collections – stood as a central advocate for the British model. Davis was one of the most important American health campaigners of the mid-twentieth century. He founded organizations such as the Committee for the Nation’s Health (CNH) in 1946 to promote national health insurance, and worked closely with Truman to achieve legislative reform.[2] Cognizant of attacks in the Progressive Era on the German model, the CNH realized that AMA “misinformation” about the British scheme would seriously harm their chances of securing their goal of comprehensive health coverage for all. Responding to this threat, the CNH rebutted AMA communications on the NHS in their own pamphlets (see image below), provided statistics and details about the British health service to newspaper editors, and reprinted favorable media coverage from the U.K.

Figure2_watermark

Committee for the Nation’s Health, “The Truth About Britain’s Medical Program” (March, 1949).[3]

Trans-Atlantic trips undergirded American battles over the NHS. Dozens of opponents and supporters of extending health insurance in the U.S. undertook field studies in Britain to aid in the battle back home. Davis – by this point nearly eighty years old – undertook such a trip in 1959 with his wife, Alice. They not only met with their extensive contacts in the medical profession and British civil service, but also spoke to ordinary people in public parks across the country to find out how they felt about the NHS. The Britons that Michael and Alice Davis met – from hotel maids to university professors – were “practically unanimous” in saying they “wanted the Health Service,” pointing to the end of anxieties about doctors’ bills as the main cause of satisfaction.[4] The following year, Davis presented these findings as a talk to various American community and labor organizations in an attempt to stimulate interest in national health insurance.

Despite these efforts, Davis and other progressives lost their battle with the AMA. Congress struck down Truman-era health bills, the CNH ended its activities in 1956, and trade unions turned towards securing the best deals for their members through private health insurance rather than advancing a federal health program. The reputation of the NHS played an important part in these events; the AMA’s negative vision of the NHS triumphed over that presented by figures like Davis. This underlines the importance of transnational perspectives when thinking about the history of health care in America – and indeed in Britain – alongside the significance of convincing a wider public when attempting to enact structural change. If Davis’s dream of universal medical coverage in the U.S. is ever to be realized, it will rest in part on shaping popular opinion about America’s place in the wider world of health systems.

References:
[1] Beatrix Hoffman, The Wages of Sickness: The Politics of Health Insurance in Progressive America (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2001), 54-74.
[2] For a biography of Davis, see Alice Taylor Davis, Michael M. Davis: A Tribute (Chicago: Center for Health Administration Studies, 1972).
[3] New York Academy of Medicine, Library of Social and Economic Aspects of Medicine of Michael M. Davis, Box 64, CNH Releases on British N.H.S., “The Truth About Britain’s Medical Program” (March, 1949).
[4] New York Academy of Medicine, Library of Social and Economic Aspects of Medicine of Michael M. Davis, Box 62, Bibliography: England: 2, Michael M. Davis, “My Observations Last Summer of the British National Health Service” (1960).

Time Tested Tips for Spring Cleaning

By Emily Miranker, Projects Manager

Ah, March. That time of year when our fancy lightly turns to thoughts of … spring cleaning!

Whether your style is to pare down to your most joyful possessions à la Marie Kondo, follow the flow charts of decluttering tips that abound online, or grab the latest Martha Stewart Living off the magazine rack: spring cleaning is upon us.

Once upon a time, when spring finally came around after the dark, cold of winter, families would literally pull  everything out of their house and scour the place from top to bottom. After a long winter of heat and light from candles, coal, and oil, the dust, soot, ash, and general grunge must have been oppressive.[1] Cleaning everything off heralded both a figurative and an actual “breath of fresh air,” since it was presumably safe and comfortable to once again open windows and the door without freezing.

Our collections are a trove of tips for daily (and healthful) living, and as I prepare to whip my own home back into shape I pulled out A Collection of Choise Receipts, a beautiful compendium of recipes and how-tos from the culinary and domestic to the medical from 17th century London. I needed to consult it to solve the dilemma of the patina of dinge on my wall art that snuck in through the cracks of the window A/C unit.

Happily, Choise Receipts has just the thing:

cleaning of pictures_watermaked

“Take the Picture out of the frame, lay it flat on the ground, sprincle [sic] it with water, then sift Wood ashes and strew it upon the Picture, then pour more water upon it, then with your hand rub it very well then wash it off.”

Scrubbing ash onto the picture may sound counterintuitive, but wait. Mixing water and wood ashes like this would yield a crude form of lye (mostly potassium carbonate). Lye combined with water and fat (animal or plant) is what makes soap; the key to cleanliness since soap breaks up the chemical bonds of dirt.[2] In fact, this recipe makes a good deal of sense for spring cleaning, since at the end of winter all that burning of wood to keep warm would have yielded plenty of wood ash to be repurposed into lye or soap.

Turning our attention from the walls to the doors, here’s a handy solution to troublesome locks and fixtures:

Cleaning brass locks_watermarked

“For the cleaning of brass locks. Rub them with v[i]n[e]gar and rotten stone.”

Mix vinegar –got that– and rottenstone –what now?! Since when do stones rot? Rottenstone (sometimes called tripoli) turns out to be a finely ground, porous rock. The stone is typically a mixture of limestone and silica.[3] Weathered and softened by the leeching away of its calcium carbonate makes the rock friable – crumbly. This crumbly tendency gives rise to its name, rotten—decomposing, breaking down—stone. It is used as a polishing abrasive for metal and woodworking. Think of it as pumice for for your locks and fixtures. Vinegar is called for in this solution probably because its acidity combats the tarnishing that occurs with time and exposure to air.

Are these old-timey recipes for cleaning really effective, really worthwhile? Here’s Choise’s author’s response to that:

Approved of_watermarked

“This receipt is approved of.”

References:
[1] McNamee, G. “Spring Cleaning: Its History and Importance.” Encyclopaedia Britannica Blog,16 April 2008. Accessed 1/22/17.
[2] Living Naturally. “How to Use Wood Ashes in the Home and Garden.” The Old Farmer’s Almanac, 30 November 2017. Accessed 1/22/17.
[3] Wikipedia Contributors. “Rotten Stone.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, 30 November 2017. Accessed 1/20/2017.

Saving the Race from Extinction: African Americans and National Negro Health Week

Today’s guest post is written by Paul Braff, a PhD candidate in American History at Temple University whose research focuses on African American history and public health during the twentieth century. On Tuesday, March 6, Paul will give The Iago Galdston Lecture: “Who Needs a Doctor?: The Challenge of National Negro Health Week to the Medical Establishment.” Click HERE to register for this event.

In 1896, Frederick Hoffman, a statistician for the Prudential Insurance Company of America, released his assessment of African American health. His Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro recommended against insuring the race and gave an emphatic confirmation of what Charles Darwin and other scientists and doctors had asserted for years: African Americans were going extinct.[1] Within the context of the burgeoning professionalization of the medical field, such a conclusion had the potential to omit African Americans from medical care, especially when combined with the preconceived racial differences of the time.

Joke

A common joke in the early twentieth century.[2]

For Booker T. Washington, this negative view of the future of his race and the idea that blacks could not understand basic health or improve their situation had the potential to undermine all attempts at racial uplift. As he put it, “Without health and until we reduce the high death-rate [of African Americans] it will be impossible for us to have permanent success in business, in property getting, in acquiring education, to show other evidences of progress.”[3] For Washington, health was the building block upon which everything, political rights, economic self-sufficiency, even citizenship, rested.

To fight this white perception of African American health, in 1915 Washington launched a public health campaign, “National Negro Health Week” (NNHW). The Week focused on both public and private displays of health, emphasizing hygiene as well as painting and whitewashing, the latter overt actions to demonstrate that African Americans could achieve “proper,” or white, standards of cleanliness and connect being clean with health improvement. Thus, the Week incorporated Washington’s racial uplift philosophy as NNHW extolled health and cleanliness values to blacks that aligned with those of whites in the hope of decreasing racial differences. This non-clinical definition of health, in which practicing proper hygiene and painting, not physician overseen checkups and vaccinations, made one healthy, allowed African Americans to understand their own health and empowered them to become leaders in their communities. The straightforward and inexpensive activities the Week suggested were easy to duplicate and rally the community behind. The connections made in organizing a Week could then be used for more extensive African American social and political activities. Although he died later that year, the campaign lived on for another 35 years and became part of Washington’s legacy.

Washington

“National Negro Health Week: 17th Annual Observance, Sunday, April 5, to Sunday, April 12, 1931,” USPHS, Washington, D.C., 1931, cover, Folder 2, Box 5, “National Negro Health Week Collection,” Tuskegee University Archives, Tuskegee, AL.

NNHW’s popularity attracted the interest of the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), and when the Great Depression made the Week difficult to finance, the USPHS took it over in 1932. With the vast resources of the USPHS behind it, the Week grew into a massive campaign that had millions of participants in thousands of communities participate each year.

Chart

Susan L. Smith, Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired: Black Women’s Health Activism in America, 1890-1950 (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 1995), 70.

However, such participation came with a price as the USPHS worked to redefine the Week’s definition of health. Under the USPHS, physicians were the ultimate arbiters of health and the focus changed from cleanups and whitewashing to vaccination and getting regular checkups from doctors and dentists. With the white medical establishment more centrally enthroned in the Week and the nascent Civil Rights Movement starting to take shape, African Americans called for an end to a Week based upon race.

National Negro Health Week illuminates the important role non-experts can play in defining personal health, and how those definitions can become internalized. Exploring the role of non-experts allows historians to examine the ways in which social constructions of health can be challenged, and the study of NNHW better positions scholars and public health officials to understand how race and health intersect today.

References:
[1] Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (London, UK: John Murray, 1871). Reprint. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2004, 163; Frederick L. Hoffman, Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro (New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1896), 35; George Frederickson, The Black Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914 (New York, NY: Harper and Row, 1971), 236-237, 252-258.
[2] “An Important Work,” April 12, 1926, in “The Tuskegee Health Collection, 1926,” 853, Tuskegee University Archives, Tuskegee, AL (TA). See also “Negro Health Week Conference,” November 1, 1926, 1, Box 1 Folder 2, “National Negro Health Week Collection,” TA and Edwin R. Embree, “Negro Illness and the Nation’s Health,” Crisis, March 1929, 84, 97.
[3] Booker T. Washington, Gallery Proof, January 15, 1915, 827, “National Negro Health Week,” Reel 713, Booker T. Washington Collection, TA.

Diagnosing Love:  A Look at Classical Sources

By Anne Garner, Curator, Rare Books and Manuscripts

1Galen_galenilibrorum_1525_v1_frontispiecedetail_watermark

Frontispiece from Galeni librorum (1525)

In lyric from the 7th Century BCE, Sappho offers the famous description of the symptoms of lovesickness:

My heart beats (but my blood is gone)
At the sound of your sweet laugh.
I cannot look at you for long,
I cannot speak.

My tongue is wounded, and a light
Flame runs beneath my skin.
In my eyes there is no sight,
But my ears roar.

Dank sweat and trembling pass
Where my body was before.
I am greener than grass,
I am almost dying.

(Sappho fragment 2, translation by Willis Barnstone).[1]

For Sappho, love is an affliction, with all the attendant symptoms of a bad fever: Beset by cold sweat, drumming ears, and shaking, the speaker of Sappho’s poem has also gone green.  Her lines also allude to another physical response to falling  in love, one taken up by Galen, Hippocrates, and other classical writers interested in clinical observation and diagnosis. Sappho’s description of the heart, with fire pulsing under the skin, suggests that love may also cause a spike in pulse rate.

Texts from Greek and Roman medical authorities support the idea that an increase in pulse rate might signal an unrequited love.  Both men and women were susceptible to physical illness as a consequence of desire in stories told by Appian, Plutarch, Valerius Maximus, Galen, and others; later sources in the early modern period, especially Dutch genre paintings like those of Jan Steen (see below), often argue that the malady is largely a female ailment.

2dixon_perilouschastity_steenimage_fig5

Jan Steen’s The Doctor’s Visit (c.1663). Taft Museum of Art (Cincinnati, Ohio).

Many of the earliest Greek prose accounts in classical writing date much later than Sappho.  Lovesickness is not mentioned at all in the core Hippocratic corpus, comprised of approximately seventy collected works by multiple authors in Ionic Greek.  And yet, the Greek physician and writer Soranus (fl. 1st / 2nd century CE) tells a story about the physician Hippocrates of Kos, born around 460 BCE. When Hippocrates visits the sick and lethargic king Perdiccas of Macedonia, he notices that his pulse increases each time Phyle, the wife of Perdicca’s deceased father, is near.  His health improves remarkably once Phyle establishes herself at his bedside (and, we are to infer, in his bed).[2]

The Roman physician Galen (130–210) relates the case of the wife of one Justus, kept awake at night by an ailment that she is reluctant to discuss.  After examining and questioning her, Galen suspects her to suffer from melancholy.  But when a visitor to the woman’s sick bed mentions he’s just seen a performance by the dancer Pylades, Galen writes that the woman’s “facial expression changed, and observing this and putting my hand on her wrist, I found that her pulse had suddenly become irregular in several ways, which indicates that the mind is disturbed.” Galen recounts that when other dancers are mentioned the woman’s pulse remained unchanged.  Pylades, Galen concludes, and her love for him, are at the heart of her illness.[3]

Galen also discusses the case of one Prince Antiochos, the son of the king of Syria (ca. 294 BCE).  Antiochos’ story appears in Appian’s Syrian Wars. King Seleucus the Conqueror, sick with worry over Antiochos’ sudden illness, brings the great physician Erasistratus to his son’s bedside. Erasistratus examines him, but can’t find any signs of disease.  When he questions him, Antiochos is close-lipped.  Erasistratus stations himself near the young man’s bed, and watches his physical symptoms when people enter and leave the room.  As Appian describes it:

He found that when others came the patient was all the time weakening and wasting away at a uniform pace, but when Stratonice [his stepmother] came to visit him his mind was greatly agitated by the struggles of modesty and conscience, and he remained silent. But his body in spite of himself became more vigorous and lively, and when she went away he became weaker again.

Erasistratus persuades the king to give Stratonice to Antiochus to marry, the only possible solution for his incurable disease.[4]

4ovid_artoflove_1931_frontispiece_watermark

Frontispiece of Ovid’s The Art of Love (1931).

All of these fallen hearts in the writings of Galen and others beg the question: how to treat a lovesick patient? The answer varied, depending on the source. The physicians in stories by Soranus and Galen conclude that relief could be found only in consummation of the relationship.  For others, the answer was more complicated. Ovid, who wrote more than a hundred years before Galen, is emphatic about the necessity of ridding oneself of desire. In his Remedia Amoris (“Remedy of Love”), a poem enumerating the cures for lovesickness, he writes:

I believe in drastic treatments only, for there can be no cure without pain. When you are ill, they deny you all the good things you crave and feed you nothing but bitter physic, and yet you suffer it willingly enough to save the health of your body. You must submit to the same treatment to save your mind, for it certainly is as precious.[5]

So what course does Ovid prescribe?  Ovid seconds Galen’s conclusion that sex with the desired person is a good idea, but makes the suggestion that the desired should be positioned in the most unflattering light possible.  If that doesn’t work, he advises the sufferer to avoid poetry (except presumably, his own), and move to the country.

5emblemataamatoria_ca1690_cupidwithcaduceus_watermark

Philip Ayre’s Emblemata amatoria (c.1690)

References:
[1] Sappho & Barnstone, W. Poems. Los Angeles: Green Integer, 1999.
[2] Jody Rubin Pinault. Hippocratic Lives and Legends. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1992; Michael Stolberg. Uroscopy in Early Modern Europe. Surrey: Ashgate, 2015.
[3] Corpus Medicorum Graecorum, V, 8, 1.  Accessed online February 7, 2018. pp.101-103.
[4] Horace White and Appian, Syrian Wars. New York: Macmillan, 1899.
[5] Ovid and Charles D. Young.  “Remedy of Love.” In The Art of Love. New York: Horace Liveright, c 1931.

What Lies Beneath… #ColorOurCollections 2018


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The third annual #ColorOurCollections week has officially begun! From February 5th through 9th, libraries, archives, and other cultural institutions are showcasing their collections in the form of free coloring sheets. Follow #ColorOurCollections on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media platforms to join in on the fun. Be sure to visit the #ColorOurCollections website for free, downloadable coloring books created for the campaign.

Our 2018 coloring book was inspired by the depths of the sea…as documented in four of our favorite early modern natural histories.

The Alsatian humanist Conrad Lycosthenes’ (1518-1561) sixteenth-century book on signs and marvels includes our cover image, featuring a choppy sea full of terrifying lobsters, scaly serpents, and a retinue of bizarre fish with lolling tongues and vicious fangs.  We’re not exactly dreaming of being airdropped into the water with this motley crew of creatures, but we do think they’ll be awfully fun to color.

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Source: Lykosthenes, Konrad. Prodigiorum ac ostentorum chronicon… (1557)

The Historia Animalium, a five-volume, 4500 page diversionary project for the prolific and energetic Swiss bibliographer Conrad Gesner (1516-1565), was published in Zurich between 1551-1558.  Gesner’s volume four, devoted to sea life, includes ethereal cephalopods, a conniving crab, and fish of all sorts, including bishop fish and other strange hybrid forms.

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Source: Gesner, Conrad. Fischbuch (1575)

The work of the Italian physician Ulysse Aldrovandi (1522-1605) remains one of our favorite sources for coloring images. Aldrovandi maintained a museum of specimens, and published his findings and those of others in a thirteen volume work on natural history.  More on Aldrovandi’s life can be found here (and don’t miss his adorable giraffe, swoon!)

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Source: Aldrovandi, Ulisse. De piscibus libri V et De cetis lib…(1613)

Finally, a contribution from the Jesuit Filippo Bonanni (1638-`1735), once a student of Athanasius Kircher and later curator of Kircher’s museum collection at the Collegio Romano. Our 1709 edition of Bonanni’s catalog of the Collegio Romano is bound with Bonanni’s important work on conchology, the earliest printed book on seashells.

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Source: Buonanni, Filippo. Musæum Kircherianum (1709)

Intrigued by the mysteries of the deep? Download, print and color our coloring book!

New York Academy of Medicine_ColorOurCollections_2018

Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature: Medical Botany

By Robin Naughton, Head of Digital and Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Librarian
Cross-posted at The Biodiversity Heritage Library blog.

The New York Academy of Medicine Library has contributed nine digitized titles (11 volumes) on medical botany to the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL) as part of the Expanding Access to Biodiversity Literature project.   It is very exciting to share some of the Academy Library’s botanical resources with the wider public.

While the Library’s collections include a large number of printed botanical books dating back to the beginning of the sixteenth century, for this project we were interested in identifying resources that could be sent to the Internet Archive for external digitization, which meant that we concentrated on our holdings from the second half of the 19th century forward through 1922.  After generating lists from our online catalog, we checked to see if any of these resources had already been digitized by the BHL, Internet Archive, or HathiTrust.  For this process, we developed a set of simple guidelines.

  • Resources not available via BHL, Internet Archive or HathiTrust remained on the list.
  • Resources already available via the BHL were eliminated from the list.
  • Resources already available via the Internet Archive were eliminated from the list because BHL harvests content from the Internet Archive, so there would be no need for us to digitize that content.
  • Resources already available via HathiTrust could still potentially be digitized for access via the BHL based on whether our copy provides additional information for the public once digitized. For example, the Indian Medicinal Plants (Kīrtikara & Basu, 1918) has been partially digitized by HathiTrust, but the volume with the images was missing. As such, it became important for us to digitize so that it would be fully available.

We went through multiple lists and rounds of de-duplication to narrow down our potential submission.  Once we finalized the list, Scott Devine, Head of Preservation, conducted a conservation assessment to determine which resources could be sent out for digitization and which were so fragile that they could only be digitized in house.  We separated these into two lists.  The first list was sent to the Internet Archive for digitization and is our contribution to BHL.   The second list will be a project for our new digital lab and we hope to make them available at a future date.

Fig2

Indian Medicinal Plants (1918), plate #256 showing Leea Sambucina.

The Indian medicinal plants (Kīrtikara & Basu, 1918) stood out as a resource to digitize and share widely.  It documents the medicinal plants found in India.  The authors describe a need to provide a text that reproduces illustrations of Indian medicinal plants from other works since there were few prior to this publication.  Dr. W. Roxburgh’s text, reprinted in 1874, was used as a reference throughout.

Although Indian medicinal plants did not focus on the use of plants in the development of drugs, this theme can be seen throughout the resources submitted to the BHL. Each author grapples with the role of plants in the creation and production of drugs.

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A course in botany and pharmacognosy (1902), plate #1 showing organized cell-contents.

In A course in botany and pharmacognosy (1902), Henry Kraemer, Professor of Botany and Pharmacognosy, defines pharmacognosy as the “study of drugs of vegetable origins.” Kraemer devotes the first part of his text to plant morphology and the second part to pharmacognosy.  In addition, he provides illustrations to aid in the study of both parts so that students can connect the descriptions throughout the text to the visual representations.

Fig4

Pharmaceutical Botany (1918), fig 57 showing leaf bases, species and compound leaves.

Youngken’s Pharmaceutical botany, 2nd edition (1918) was expanded to take advantage of the growing area of botany, including a section on drug-yielding plants.  The text focuses on the morphology and taxonomy of plants used in drug development.

In Pharmacal plants and their culture (1912), Schneider argues that the majority of imported plants used in medicine could already be available in the United States.  He focuses on California and outlines what can be cultivated and grown in the state.  Schneider provides a list of uses and common names.

The medicinal plants of Tennnessee (1894) is an observational inventory of Tennessee’s plants and their descriptions based on a similar project conducted by North Carolina.  Published by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, the report emphasizes the importance of documenting and understanding the native plants of Tennessee and how they can help increase usage and revenue.

Overall, readers of this collection can begin to understand the role of plants in the creation, development and economic viability of drugs.  Many of the resources provide some form of inventory, index or list that documents the plants and associated drugs.

All titles submitted by the Academy Library to BHL:

The BHL Expanding Access project is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).