Capturing the Evolution of Medicine

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It’s easy to take modern medicine for granted and to forget that humans haven’t always had the technology and knowledge that we have today. This compilation features photos that reveal how the practice of medicine has evolved over the years, some dating as far back as the 18th century. It showcases, not so much the ignorance of our ancestors, but how every advancement we enjoy in medicine today, began at some point with trial and error.

You can see the full compilation here.

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Most likely taken in the mid-19th century, shown here are doctors wearing masks to protect themselves form the Bubonic Plague. The beaks of the masks contained scented substances. The disease is now known to be contracted through the skin and spread through fleas and small rodents.

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Taken at the Chicago Orphan Asylum in 1925, it was thought that tanning babies would offset winter rickets, a softening of the bones that occurs in infant mammals due to deficiency of vitamin D, phosphorus or calcium. It typically results from malnutrition and potentially leads to fractures and deformity.

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This scary contraption was known as Dr. Clark’s Spinal Apparatus, shown here in an advertisement from 1878.

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This surgeon’s kit was used during the US Civil War.

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This antique birthing chair was used up until the 1800s.

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This was Lewis Sayre’s scoliosis treatment. Sayre was a principal founder of the Bellevue Hospital Medical College and of the American Medical Association, to which he was elected vice-president in 1866 and president in 1880.

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Category: Photography