EXHIBITS: Colonial Doctoring

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Science  14 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5746, pp. 207
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5746.207a

If you're tracing the history of smallpox vaccination in the United States or probing past inequalities in health care, reach for the virtual bookshelf at the new site Medicine in the Americas. The collection from the U.S. National Library of Medicine houses scanned versions of eight medical books published between the early 18th and early 20th centuries. It includes a 1721 offering which advocates inoculating patients with material from smallpox sores to prevent a serious case of the disease. You can also browse a pioneering 1903 assessment of the health of the growing African-American urban population. In Atlanta, Georgia, the death rate from pneumonia and tuberculosis was 137% higher among African Americans than among whites, a disparity the report blamed partly on inadequate medical care: “Here in this city of push, pluck and Christian progress, there is not a decent hospital where colored people can be cared for.” Curator Michael North plans to add 100 more titles on medicine throughout the Americas.


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