This previously unpublished primary source allows modern readers to reimagine medicine as practiced two hundred years ago by a rural physician in New England through his case histories, ...
This previously unpublished primary source allows modern readers to reimagine medicine as practiced two hundred years ago by a rural physician in New England through his case histories, correspondence, biographical sketches, and personal commentary. Throughout his fifty-year practice, beginning with a preceptorship in Hingham, Massachusetts, Jeremiah Barker documented his constant efforts to keep up with and contribute to the medical literature in a changing medical landscape, as practice and authority shifted from historical to scientific methods. He performed experiments and autopsies, became interested in the new chemistry of Lavoisier, risked scorn in his use of alkaline remedies, studied epidemic fever and approaches to bloodletting, and struggled to understand epidemic fever, childbed fever, cancer, public health, consumption, mental illness, and the “dangers of spirituous liquors.” He corresponded with luminaries such as Benjamin Rush, Samuel Mitchill, and Lyman Spalding, and he published several articles in the first US medical journal, the Medical Repository
. Perhaps many rural physicians practiced at this level, but few such written records have survived. Barker’s rare transcribed manuscript, never before published, is presented in its entirety with extensive annotations, a five-chapter introduction to contextualize the work, and a glossary to make it accessible to twenty-first-century general readers, genealogists, students, and historians.Less