Thomas Pettigrew's Medical Portrait
Gallery (1838) housed in Historical Collections and Services,
Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia.
natural structure of the different parts of the human body
has been very minutely examined, so that anatomy may be said
to have arrived at a high pitch of perfection; but our knowledge
of the changes of structure produced by disease, which may
be called Morbid Anatomy, is still very imperfect."
Baillie,The Morbid Anatomy of some of the most important parts
of the Human Body, 1793, p vi.
medical profession in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
was a growing and changing field. New concepts were continuously
arising and experimentation constantly occurring. Scientists
were testing and pushing the boundaries between life and death
and discovering new and improved methods of diagnosis and
the Enlightenment Era, scientific and industrial revolutions
put forth a new standard of methodical investigation and discovery.
Set procedures were introduced for researchers to follow as
a way of making comparisons between recorded data and experiments.
studies were done as a way of researching diseased structures.
Giovanni Battista Morgagni laid the foundations for the concept
of morbid anatomy in the eighteenth century. He was known as
the "Father of Modern Pathology." Morgagni's work
largely lies in his, "On the Seats and Causes of Diseases
Investigated by Anatomy." It contains detailed descriptions
of hundreds of cases, which he attended throughout the duration
of his life. The work is comprised of 70 letters that describe
about 700 cases, which was written to one of his contemporaries,
but refined for publication. As the first work to establish
the organ concept of disease, it is the foundation of modern
pathological anatomy. Morgagni worked until his death in 1771
at the age of 89.
Thomas Pettigrew's Medical
Portrait Gallery (1838) housed in Historical Collections and
Services, Health Sciences Library, University of Virginia.
Along with Morgagni
was Matthew Baillie. Baillie published his piece, The Morbid Anatomy
of some of the most important parts of the Human Body, which was
the first of its kind outlining the subject of morbid anatomy. It
established morbid anatomy as an independent science. Baillie gave
the first clinical descriptions of gastric ulcer and chronic obstructive
pulmonary emphysema and presented one of the clearest descriptions
ever written on the pulmonary lesions of tuberculosis. His work
was one of the first to solely address pathological changes in the
body. Baillie continued his work into the nineteenth century until
his death in 1823.
having noticed that frog preparations which hung by copper hooks
from the iron railings surrounding a balcony of our house contracted
not only during thunder storms but also in fine weather, I decided
to determine whether or not these contractions were due to the
action of atmospheric electricity ... Finally ... I began to
scrape and press the hook fastened to the back bone against
the iron railing to see whether by such a procedure contractions
might be excited, and whether instead of an alteration in the
condition of the atmospheric electricity some other changes
might be effective. I then noticed frequent contractions, none
of which depended on the variations of the weather." -Galvani,
on his experiments with electricity
the late eighteenth century an Italian physician named Luigi
Galvani performed one of the first experiments with nerve impulses
through electrical charges. He was able to make a frog's muscles
twitch by jolting them with a spark from an electrostatic machine.
This advance was termed "animal electricity."
Laboratory circa 1791
Pennsylvania State University Libraries,Reproduction
of an illustration from The Lancet, 1828-1829.
nineteenth century physician from London, James Blundell,
was troubled by the fact that numerous women during childbirth
after suffering massive bleeding.
introduced an apparatus that he designed to transfuse blood
from one person to another. In 1818 he transfused 10 patients
for postpartum hemorrhaging.
These are only
a handful of the numerous scientists who made considerable contributions
to the world of medicine. Without these people who formed basic
fundamentals of their fields of study, modern scientists and medical
experts could not complete their work today. These eighteenth and
nineteenth century explorers set the standards for today's world
of science and medicine.
the numerous achievements these scientists had, they were often
made fun of and mocked, often times through comedic illustrations
and caricatures. To find out more about these mocking pieces of
art, click on the "Stereotypes and Caricatures" link below.