Medical History Interest Group Lectures

The Medical History Interest Group lectures promote a greater understanding of the historical and philosophical underpinnings of today’s health care disciplines and are sponsored as part of the Ruth and John Moskop Lecture Series.

Many of our lectures have been recorded and are available in our archives.

Spring 2023 Schedule

If This Sterilizer Could Talk: Public Health, Milk and Museum Artifacts

Steam power ran the engines of the Industrial Revolution, but in the latter part of the nineteenth century, steam was harnessed in a different transformation. Milk pasteurized using steam sterilizers was one of the first ways that the germ theory revolution reached average Americans’ homes. One such steam sterilizer is in the Country Doctor Museum, which is part of Laupus Health Sciences Library’s history collections. Sterilizing milk also generated a public health controversy: at what point in the process from cow to table should milk be made safe to drink?

In this presentation, historian Tegan Kehoe will explore the history behind this question, drawing from the chapter featuring the museum’s steam sterilizer in her new book Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures. The book looks at the history of health and medicine through the lens of artifacts in museums and libraries across the country. The presentation will illuminate the important role that milk played in late nineteenth-century debates about safe food and child health, and include other examples of artifacts related to public health controversies of the past.

Presented by Tegan Kehoe, MA, Exhibit and Education Specialist at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation
Monday, January 23, 2023 at 12 pm
Virtual only on Microsoft Teams
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“What are in these pills, doc?”: Modern Chemical Insights into 19th C. Alternative Medicines

ECU doctoral candidate, Elizabeth LaFave, will speak about the research that she and undergraduate students learning in her chemistry lab have conducted for the past few years. LaFave and her team studied herbal “remedies” from ECU’s Country Doctor Museum within homeopathic kits and vials, dating from the 1840s to the early 1900s. This presentation will describe how the research was conducted, including using mass spectrometry and spectroscopic techniques to identify the actual components in these remedies. The team completed the chemical research in tandem with historical research, studying historical materials such as medical advertisements and other information, to more fully develop a picture of how the chemical analyses could fit into the atmosphere of debate between traditional allopathic medicines and alternative homeopathic treatments during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Presented by Elizabeth LaFave, PhD Candidate in the Department of Chemistry at ECU
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 4:00 pm
In-person and virtual

Attend the event virtually.

The Country Doctor and Early Medical Practices

This presentation includes an introduction of the Country Doctor Museum, some early medical treatments and the use of patented medications.  Dangers of some patented medications that contained toxic substances will also be discussed.  Some discussion of medical items in the Country Doctor Museum collection.  Highlighted will be the development of two scientific instruments used in early study and treatment of diseases, the microscope and stethoscope.  Also, presented will be some 19th century doctors’ decisions to use surgical intervention in traumatic injuries and amputations.  A brief discussion of Joseph Lister and his antiseptic surgery will also be included.

Presented by James Allen Bailey, PhD, Professor Emeritus of Law Enforcement Minnesota State University Mankato
Wednesday, April 12, 2023 at 4:00 pm
In-person and virtual

Attend the event virtually.

All lectures are held at the 4th floor Evelyn Fike Laupus Gallery of the Laupus Library (except where noted).

Refreshments will be provided.

Lectures may be recorded.

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