The Health of the Commonwealth by James E. Higgins

The Health of the Commonwealth A Brief History of Medicine, Public Health, and Disease in Pennsylvania by James E. Higgins Temple University Press/The Pennsylvania Historical Association, 138 pp., paperback $19.95 The history of public health and medicine is more important now than ever. As Pennsylvania weathers global pandemics and health crises, it is essential to understand how our current...
read more

Rush by Stephen Fried

Rush Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father by Stephen Fried Crown, 608 pp., hardcover $30 Benjamin Rush is difficult to write about, although at first glance that makes no sense. He was an interesting man who lived during interesting times, someone who knew prominent people and became prominent himself. He had opinions on everything and everyone, with an...
read more

Pennsylvania’s Nostrum Kings

During the early 19th century in Pennsylvania,  a new wave of  entrepreneurship was breaking with the past. In small hamlets and villages, those who had been feeling under the weather typically relied on home remedies they purchased from neighbors or friends, but now a new breed was coming to center stage. These men held larger dreams than the local peddlers, with plans to market their healing...
read more

“I Must Be an Abolitionist”: Pennsylvania Liberty Man Francis Julius LeMoyne

In 1839, when William Lloyd Garrison (1805–79) and his allies lost control of the abolitionist movement in Warsaw, New York, African Americans could only vote in seven states. In the North, free blacks could neither sue nor own weapons, and their wages were disproportionate with those of their white counterparts for the same type of work. The Slave Power seemingly strengthened its influence in...
read more

Ann Preston: Pioneer of Medical Education and Women’s Rights

One of the earliest supporters of a woman’s tight to a medical education was Ann Preston. In the late 1840s, she was refused admission to the famous medical schools of Philadelphia because of her sex, yet she persevered in her efforts to obtain medical training, earned her M.D. degree and spent the rest of her life working for the improvement of women’s medical education and for the...
read more

A Country Seat on the Susquehanna: Wright’s Ferry Mansion

On the eastern bank of the Susquehanna River in southeastern Pennsylvania, ten miles west of Lancaster, Wright’s Ferry Man­sion was built in 1738 for a remarkable English Quaker, Susanna Wright. In 1726, when Susanna was twenty-nine, she purchased one hundred acres in this region on the fringes of Pennsylvania wilderness, then inhabited by a small tribe of Indians and known as...
read more

“Little Doc”: Architect Of Modern Nursing

Lavinia Lloyd Dock (1858-1956) labored long and hard as educator, settlement worker, historian, author, editor, columnist, pacifist and radical suffragist. Beyond this, she strove to internationalize the public health movement while continually elevating the status of women. But her contributions to the field of nursing­ – which helped transform what was then a despised trade into a...
read more

Behind the Battle of Gettysburg: American Nursing Is Born

The battle of Gettys­burg cannot only be characterized as the turning point of the Civil War, for it was so much more. During the war, with casualties high and the need undeniable, women entered hospitals to care for the wounded, but – shockingly­ – were made to feel unwelcome. These resolute women, though, stood fast, and pro­ceeded to establish a new profession. When the war...
read more

The College of Physicians of Philadelphia: “Not for Oneself, But for All”

The celebration com­menced with the ar­rival of out-of-town guests on Sunday evening, January 2, 1887. For the next two days, the fellows of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, led by their president, S. Weir Mitchell, celebrated the centennial anni­versary of their beloved insti­tution. Although the weather was bitterly cold, the gala receptions, lavish dinners, congratulatory addresses...
read more

“And Who is Eakins?”

By late 1912, in his sixty­-eighth year, Thomas Eakins – who today is frequently referred to as the greatest of American painters, notwithstanding more familiar names such as Homer, Whistler and Wyeth­ – was a tired and ailing man. The compact, rugged physique he had retained throughout his middle years had finally given way; first, briefly, to an almost delicate obesity; then, with...
read more