Medical

Keeping Victorian Preemies Warm: French Couveuse

Up to the late 1800s, it was difficult to keep a premature baby warm. This inspired the creation of infant incubators and although French Doctor Stéphane Étienne Tarnier did not invent the first infant incubator, he did invent what he called a “couveuse” or “brooder.” His baby warming device was inspired by devices used to…

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Battlefield Medicine and Triage Innovator Dominique Jean Larrey

Battlefield medicine and triage innovator Dominique Jean Larrey was at one time forgotten as much as Napoleon was immortalized. Yet, Larrey’s contributions to military medicine and his care and compassion towards wounded soldiers on both sides while he served in Napoleon’s Grande Armée, enabled hundreds of soldiers to survive. It also resulted in him earning…

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Mineral Springs and Watering-Places of Georgian Times

From early times, mineral waters were used to remove or alleviate disease. Waters at watering-places were often ascribed to the occult and sometimes said to be miraculous in their abilities to cure disease, both chronic and acute. Some people had such belief in the mysterious agency of mineral waters they entertained exaggerated notions of their…

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French Midwife and Doctor Named Marie Boivin

Born Marie-Anne Victoire Gillain on 9 April 1773 at Versailles, Marie was educated by nursing nuns at a nunnery located about 29 miles from the center of Paris in a commune called Étampes. There she displayed medical skill, and, in fact, her skills were strong enough she attracted the attention of Louis XVI’s sister, Madame…

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Cholera in France in the 19th Century

The first cholera pandemic began in 1816 in India and eventually reached China before receding in 1826. In 1829, a second cholera pandemic occurred in Russia. This time it marched slowly towards Poland before hitting hard in London where it became known as “King Cholera.” Parisians thought they might avoid the cholera pandemic altogether, but,…

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Pioneering French Midwife: Angélique du Coudray

The pioneering French midwife, Angélique du Coudray, gained fame in the 1700s. She was born in 1712, the same year as the King of Prussia (Frederick II, known as Frederick the Great) and the Enlightenment writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Little is known about Coudray’s early years. However, at twenty-five she graduated from the College of Surgery…

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Smallpox Inoculation in 18th Century France

In France in the 1700s, there was great opposition to a person getting a smallpox inoculation. Part of the problem was doctors could not ensure the inoculations worked because of too many variables. For instance, to create an inoculation, doctors collected pus or scabs from someone infected with smallpox and then introduced this infected matter…

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Masturbation Among Victorian Youth in Boarding Schools

The term masturbation was first introduced in the 18th century. At the time, however, the terms onanism or self-pollution were more frequently used to describe masturbation, terms that Victorians also used. Additionally, in the 19th century, masturbation was more politely referred to as self-abuse or sometimes manualization, as it was done by hand.

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Regency Poisons

Poisons were an important topic in the Regency Era and because of the interest in poisons, a lengthy article was published in 1828 that provide all sorts of information about poisons, including class III poisons designated as “Sedative, or Narcotic Poisons.” All of these poisons could be ingested or applied to the body and were…

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