The Early Modern Commons

Search Results for "Prodigies"

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Your search for posts with tags containing Prodigies found 21 posts

The baby who was bathed in a tumbler

One area in which medicine has made gigantic strides in the last thirty years is the treatment of very premature babies. Pregnancy lasts on average 40 weeks; a baby born before 37 weeks’ gestation is classed as premature. Most premature babies are...
From: Thomas Morris on 9 Dec 2018

He swallowed a serpent

A curious phenomenon common to medical history and folklore is that of the bosom serpent – stories of snakes, frogs, lizards and other animals living inside the human stomach or intestines. According to the physician and medical historian Jan Bondeson,...
From: Thomas Morris on 16 Nov 2018

The greatest phenomenon that nature has known

In 1849 a Spanish journal, La crónica de los hospitales, published a case supposed to have occurred some forty years earlier in the Mexican port of Veracruz – at the time, a Spanish colony. It was recorded in private notes made in 1809 by...
From: Thomas Morris on 8 Jul 2018

The man with two penises

On April 9th 1878 the professor of surgery at the University of Maryland, Dr Alan Smith, gave a talk at a meeting of the state medical society. His subject was lithotomy, the surgical removal of bladder stones, an operation he had performed many times....
From: Thomas Morris on 20 Oct 2017

The 43-year pregnancy

In years gone by, it was quite common for a doctor to pass on his practice to one of his children: successive generations of medics might serve their local community for decades. The Watkins family, originally from the Northamptonshire town of Towcester,...
From: Thomas Morris on 4 Aug 2017

A dubious paper

In 1813 the editor of The Medical and Physical Journal, Samuel Fothergill, accepted for publication a paper by John Spence, a Scottish doctor who had moved to Virginia three decades earlier. Spence studied at the University of Edinburgh in the 1780s,...
From: Thomas Morris on 10 Jul 2017

The amphibious infant

It is June 1873, and some very odd tidings are published in the latest edition of the Medical Notes and Queries: A story of an “Amphibious Infant” has found its way into some of the London papers. The subject is introduced thus:—...
From: Thomas Morris on 4 Jul 2017

The snuff-eating nose centipede

Here’s an alarming pair of cases reported in the first volume of the Medical Essays and Observations, published in 1764: A woman of a good heal constitution, and about thirty-six years old, began to complain of a fixed pain in the lower and right...
From: Thomas Morris on 21 Mar 2017

The tooth ant

In June 1873 a respectable American medical journal, The Clinic, published a ‘news in brief’ story which had been culled from a local newspaper in New Jersey. It was evidently reproduced more for entertainment than for its scientific value,...
From: Thomas Morris on 18 Feb 2017

The forty-foot tapeworm

Medical journals do not often publish articles by undergraduates these days, but an 1847 edition of the Southern Medical and Surgical Journal included a short paper by one John D. Twiggs, described simply as a ‘student of medicine’. Mr Twiggs...
From: Thomas Morris on 29 Dec 2016

Joseph Grünpeck’s “Prodigiorum potentorem”

An illustration from Joseph Grünpeck’s “Prodigiorum potentorem” showing the young Maximilian I confronting various prodigies and monsters. From Joseph Grünpeck’s “Prodigiorum potentorem,” Universitätsbibliothek,...
From: Darin Hayton on 8 Dec 2016

The man with 87 children

The English physician Samuel Merriman (1771-1852) was a leading authority on midwifery and the diseases of pregnancy.  His best-known work, published in 1814, was Synopsis of the Various Kinds of Difficult Parturition, a treatise on the dangers of...
From: Thomas Morris on 21 Aug 2016

The double monster

The phenomenon of conjoined twins was poorly understood until the twentieth century. Though even the earliest medical journals contain reports of many cases, the predominant tone is one of horror and even fear rather than compassion or detached interest....
From: Thomas Morris on 12 Jun 2016

The fire-proof man

In 1828 The Lancet reported the antics of  a person they called ‘the fire-proof man’, a Cuban with extraordinary abilities: The French medical journal, La Clinique, gives an account of the experiments of M. Martinez, the fire-proof man,...
From: Thomas Morris on 14 May 2016

Inexpressibly loathsome and sickening

Unlikely tales were often swallowed unquestioningly by the editors of medical journals in the nineteenth century, so it was a welcome corrective to find this preface to a case report published in The Boston Medical and Surgical Journal in 1854: An esteemed...
From: Thomas Morris on 1 Apr 2016

The human piggy bank

Eels seem to have featured regularly in this blog, for some reason. First there was the physician who had a shocking experience with an electric eel, and more recently we’ve had the dubious tale of the boy with an eel in his stomach. Here’s...
From: Thomas Morris on 23 Mar 2016

The boy who vomited his own twin

This delightful case was reported in the London Medical and Surgical Journal in 1835, having previously appeared in a Greek journal, the Sother.  The original article was by a Dr Ardoin – a Frenchman, it appears, in practice in Greece. ...
From: Thomas Morris on 26 Feb 2016

The woman who turned to soap

In February 1846 a group of gravediggers in New York had a truly spooky experience when they were asked to disinter a body from a burial ground on the corner of Broadway and Twelfth Street (a site now occupied by a branch of Pret a Manger – make...
From: Thomas Morris on 13 Jan 2016

Don’t mess with an electric eel

Few creatures have provided such enduring fascination to the medical profession as the electric eel (Electrophorus electricus), a creature capable of delivering an electric shock of up to 850 volts (and 1 amp) on demand.  Though remarkable, they...
From: Thomas Morris on 3 Jan 2016

Digital Manuscripts

Elly over at Medieval Robots revels in how digital humanities are making medieval and early modern material available to broader...
From: Darin Hayton on 30 Jan 2013

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