Vaginal speculum, Paris, France, 1801-1900
A vaginal speculum examines inside the vagina. This helps medical diagnosis. It can also assist treating that area of the body. This brass ‘duck-billed’ example is known as a bi-valve speculum. The blades extend by rotating the ratchet mechanism. The intimate nature of its use caused initial opposition. However, specula had become routine instruments in gynaecological examinations by the end of the 1800s.
Artificial left arm, Europe, 1850-1910
“Made from steel and brass, the elbow joint on this artificial arm can be moved by releasing a spring, the top joint of the wrist rotates and moves up & down, and the fingers can curl up and straighten out. The wearer may have disguised it with a glove. Among the most common causes of amputation throughout the 1800s were injuries received as a result of warfare.”
Japanese 19th-Century - Obstetric Training Doll, Edo-Tokyo Museum, c. 1870s
“This fascinating and comprehensive multipart documentary explores 5,000 years of medical health care, analyzing smallpox, tuberculosis, the plague and other historical diseases, as well as contemporary afflictions such as AIDS and other viruses.”
This 4-episode documentary was fascinating and very informative! The pioneers of these groundbreaking medical discoveries of the past were incredibly inventive and are most definitely still considered heroes today.
The series is only available streaming on Netflix until August 15th! Otherwise, I’m sure you can just order it as a DVD.
The “Soap Woman” is on display at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia. Her story is truly bizarre. Sometime in the 19th century, a woman who was rather fat died of yellow fever. After her burial in a Philadelphia cemetery, the fat of her body turned into adipocere. This is a fatty wax composition similar to lye soap. She became saponified in this way when her body fat reacted to the combination of chemicals in the soil. She has been on display at the Mutter Museum since 1874 when Dr. Joseph Leidy, a prominent University of Pennyslvania anatomist, donated her body to the museum. According to Dr. Leidy, the “Soap Woman” died in 1792 in Philadelphia. Her body was uncovered by workmen removing bodies from an old burial yard. In 1942, the museum curator, Joseph McFarland, determined that the “Soap Woman” actually died much later. Eight pins and two four-hole buttons of the clothing she was wearing when buried were dated as being from the early 19th century. A “Soap Man” who was buried alongside the “Soap Woman” is sometimes displayed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Germain Henri Hess is born in 1802.
In 1822, Hess began studying to become a physician at the University of Tartu in Estonia. After meeting with a famous Swedish chemist, Hess became inspired and in 1830 Hess took up chemistry research and became a professor of chemistry in Saint Petersburg. Hess outlined the law on thermochemistry and his principle, which paved the way for the first law of thermodynamics, came to be called “Hess’s Law.”
Hess’s Law states that in a series of chemical reactions, the total energy gained or lost depends only on the initial and final states, regardless of the number or path of the steps. This is also known as the law of constant heat summation. (x)
Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) was an African-American engineer and inventor who was a member of Thomas Edison’s research team, which was called “Edison’s Pioneers.” Latimer improved the newly-invented incandescent light-bulb by inventing a carbon filament (which he patented in 1881). In 1882, Latimer developed and patented a method of manufacturing his carbon filaments. Later, the stronger tungsten filament replaced the carbon filament (invented by W. D. Coolidge). Latimer also invented a a threaded wooden socket for light bulbs. (x)