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History of Medicine

Primary resources for the history of medicine


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A Physician Wearing a Seventeenth Century Plague Preventive Costume

This watercolor painting depicts the costume worn by physicians attending plague patients in the 17th century. The costume was described by Jean Jacques Manget (1652-1742) in his Traité de la peste (Treatise on the plague), published in Geneva in 1721. 

Doctor George Stuart's Botanical Syrup and Vegetable Pills, the Greatest Family Medicine in the World

This 1849 advertisement for “Dr. George Stuart's botanical syrup and vegetable pills, the greatest family medicine in the world” features an exterior view of the three-and-one-half story storefront of the Stuart establishment on the 700 block of Race Street in Philadelphia.

The picture of health: images of medicine and pharmacy

Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Merck & Co.

Jenner: Smallpox is Stemmed

Edward Jenner, English rural physician, performed first vaccination against smallpox at Berkeley, in 1796. Despite opposition, Jenner proved his discovery, and lived to see it become accepted medically as a life-saving procedure.

The code of Hammurabi

Clay tablets of ancient Mesopotamia tell the story of medicine 5000 years ago. Under the code of Hammurabi, physicians' fees were set, and patients and physicians might appeal their grievances to the King's court.