Charis Boke, PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Cornell, was awarded a grant from the Wood Institute at the Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Charis will use this grant, along with a grant from the American Studies Program at Cornell, to conduct archival research at The Wood Institute in January, 2017.
While in residence at the Wood Institute, Charis will draw on its archival resources particularly obtaining to the teaching of medicine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the United States. In addition to using records of class and lecture notes to examine how medical information was framed and transmitted, Charis is also interested in examining medicinal recipe books and materia medica of that era. She anticipates drawing on documents such as: the “Lancaster County recipe book;” the “Notes on the lectures of Benjamin Rush;” the “William S. Wallace notes on the lectures of John Redman Coxe” and the “Nelson Isham commonplace book.” These documents, pertaining as they do to either the ways that plant parts were combined to be administered as medicines, or to the modes of treatment commonly practiced by Eclectic physicians of the mid 19th century, will help inform her interpretation of the historical antecedents for contemporary herbalist practices and formulations. Charis is also interested in examining the “Lisabeth Holloway collection of biographical information on physicians,” specifically attending to physicians listed as practicing between 1890 and 1920, in the moment of transition in medical training in the United States that marked a dramatic decrease in the overt use of plant-based medicines.
The College of Physicians of Philadelphia, founded in 1787, is one of the oldest professional medical organizations in the country. The Francis Clark Wood Institute for the History of Medicine was established in 1976 to promote to the scholarly community the rich historical resources of the College's Historical Medical Library and the Mütter Museum. The Institute sponsors conferences, seminars, and short-term travel grants to researchers who require the resources of the museum and library.
For more information, visit http://www.collegeofphysicians.org/library/wood-institute
Photo from Charis Boke - list of plant medicine preparations to be ordered in the apothecary of the herbal medicine school