All of these dissertations submitted for the Degree of Doctor of Medicine to the Examination of the Reverend John Andrews, D. D. Provost (Pro Tempore), The Trustees and Medical Faculty of the University of Pennsylvania.
Rev. John Andrews is considered one of America’s first scholars for he dedicated his career as a student, tutor, professor, lecturer, author, founder and administrator of schools and colleges.
During this period, Pennsylvania enjoyed an unchallenged pre-eminence as the leading institution of medical education on the continent. The School of Medicine’s faculty was famous throughout the nation.
Fractured Legs Took More Than Splints.
An Inaugural Dissertation on Fractures of the Leg by John Parker of North Carolina. An Early American imprint (1804) explains the condition and treatment for a broken leg. An excerpt: “If inflammation should come on, the splints and bandages are to be removed, the limb is to be placed in a flexed position, and bleeding, gentle laxatives, and cold applications to the leg are to be made use of.”
“I shall consider Dysentery as an intestinal fever.”
Observations on that Form of Disease Nosologically (sic) Called Dysentery, a dissertation for a degree in medicine by John Hoskins. Early American Imprint (1804). Hoskins explains the misery and various levels of dysentery. In 1804 the most advanced thinking included the use of blood letting and cathartics.
“…for the purpose of propagating the human race.”
An Essay on the Means of Lessening the Pains of Parturition by Peter Miller. An Early American Imprint (1804). Miller acknowledges the suffering women bore…”for the purpose of propagating the human race.” Case studies are examined of hard and easy labor. Blood-letting and other treatments to relieve pain are discussed. Sterilizing instruments was not the protocol.
“an operation has been occafionally performed, called the Csefarian fection which is perhaps the moft dangerous one in furgery.”
An Attempt to Ascertain the Cause of the Extensive Inflammation, Which Attacks Wounded Cavities and Their Contents by James Cocke. An Early American Imprint (1804). Cocke considers various elements that might affect treating wounds and infections circa 1804. Bacteria was not really recognized yet. Some examples of treatment are gruesome and outcomes not really understood.
“Another method of bleeding called scarification of the eye ball and lids, is eminently entitled to our attention.”
An Essay on Ophthalmia, or Inflammation of the Eyes by Elijah Griffiths. An Early American Imprint (1804). A short account of Ophthalmia, (eye irritation including conjunctivitis) its causes and the method of cure. Treatment included the application of cups to the temples and adjacent parts and “Leeches may be repeatedly applied, and the nearer they fix to the parts inflamed, the greater will be the benefit resulting from their employment.”
“…when the carbonates of Lime, Magnesia, and Potash…were first used as medicines, is of a remote date.”
An Inaugural Essay on the Effects & Modus Operandi of the Carbonates of Lime, Magnesia, and Potash in the cure of General & Local Diseases by James Archer of Maryland. In 1804 the cause of many diseases of the stomach and intestines was thought to be marsh miasma i.e. bad night air. Chalk (carbonates) were used to neutralize acrid discharge and Primæ Viæ acid. Treatments included injecting carbonate-solutions into the rectum. Case studies include treatments that seem torturous by modern standards.
Notable Doctors attested to the Miraculous Healing Power of Mercury.
An Inaugural Dissertation on the Use of Mercury in Fevers by John H. Camp. Early American Imprint (1804) surveys notable doctors’ positive opinions about the medicinal uses of mercury and Calomel. Theories on how mercury worked in the body is also addressed whether ingested or applied as a salve. Also references the use of Opium as a cure.