New Accessions: Guides to Health

As part of our series introducing new summer acquisitions to SC&A, we are pleased to showcase two items from 1854 and 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.023

Controul of the passions, printed in 1854, is, on the surface, a guide to the “duties and obligations of the married state”. With a brief nod towards conjugal relations the text focuses primarily on “self pollution”, gonorrhoea and other venereal diseases and includes some choice images of the ravages of syphilis. This item is exceptionally rare, despite it being printed as the twenty first edition, with no copy with this imprint being recorded elsewhere. In keeping with the theme of sexual health and propriety, the second acquisition is The golden referee: a guide to health, printed in 1890.

SPEC 2017.a.024

Heavy on “the injurious effects of solitary and sexual indulgence” one of the most interesting aspects of this book is a printed note on the inside upper wrapper stating that the copyright for the item is owned by Joseph Thornton Woodhead. The same Mr. Woodhead was the owner of the Liverpool Museum of Anatomy, a notorious attraction which remained open in Liverpool until 1937. On the lower wrapper is an advertisement for the Museum, previously at 29 Paradise Street, which seeks to present it as “An interesting collection! An intellectual study!! And a public advantage!!!”. In reality it offered a mix of models and diagrams of the human body, discreet consultations for men with sexual problems and even courses on midwifery with a heavy tone of morality, rather than titillation.

Already included in the collections here at SC&A is a copy of the descriptive catalogue of the Museum at shelfmark Y87.3.222, which includes a matching advertisement to the one found on The golden referee.

SPEC Y87.3.222

For further reading on medical museums the Sydney Jones Library holds:

  • Morbid curiosities: Medical museums in nineteenth-century Britain by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti
  • Medical museums: Past, present, future edited by Samuel J.M.M. Alberti and Elizabeth Hallam.
  • Anatomy as spectacle: Public exhibitions of the body from 1700 to present by Elizabeth Stephens.

This Week’s War: 155

Aside

“In the present crisis the question of the supply of food for the population of the country, both human and animal, has come to occupy a place in the mind of the intelligent… it has become a matter of absorbing interest to every thinking man, and almost a nightmare to many.”

Extract from preface dated July 1917, The National Food Supply in Peace and War by T.B. Wood (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1917), reference number SPEC POV X48.3.47.

World Health Day

In keeping with World Health Day on the 7th of April, we have selected a range of printed material from Special Collections that provides advice on health and wellness, from the 17th century to the 20th century.

The Treasury of Hidden Secrets

How would a 17th century English housewife monitor the health of herself and her family? Homemade remedies made from flora were popular, as shown in the below pamphlet (1653). For instance, wormwood was (and still is) used frequently to settle illnesses of the stomach.

SPEC Knows.pamph 458 (15)

SPEC Knows.pamph 458 (15)

An Essay on the Gout

Among the elites and aspiring middling sorts of the 18th century, taking the waters at Bath was considered an excellent method of promoting one’s good health. The physician George Cheyne published his work, An Essay on the Gout, With an Account of Nature and Qualities of The Bath Waters (second edition) in 1720. Despite suffering from gout and obesity himself, Dr Cheyne promoted vegetarianism and treated famous patients such as Samuel Richardson and Alexander Pope.

SPEC Knows.pamph 221

SPEC Knows.pamph 221

Home Gymnastics for the Well and the Sick

In the later 19th century the popularity of German-influenced “physical culture” led to emphasis on gymnastics in the USA and England. As part of this general trend, Home Gymnastics of the Well and the Sick  (1889) promoted exercises that were simple, without specialist apparatus, for people of varied ages.

SPEC Children EVIII:257

Instructions on how to dad dance – SPEC Children EVIII:257

As always, the items featured in this post are available to view in the Special Collections and Archives reading room. Please see our website for more information.