The Face Mask – A Life-Saving Device Pioneered by Dr. Wu Lien-teh

The history of the masks that we wear have their roots in a few different areas, including both from the medical community, as well as from the Personal Protective Equipment of firefighters and soldiers in the late 19th and early 20th century. The first surgical mask came in 1899 when Carl Flügge (1847-1923) was working on tuberculosis research when he developed his droplet theory of infection. This theory proved that microorganisms can be expelled as droplets from the respiratory tract and reach another person. Flügge, his pupils, and successors conducted further experiments to determine that droplets are especially expelled during activities of talking, coughing, blowing, and sneezing. … More The Face Mask – A Life-Saving Device Pioneered by Dr. Wu Lien-teh

Parenting Manuals and the 1920s-50s Canadian Family

While perusing the many books that make up the Museum’s little-known reference library for a work assignment, I discovered a small collection of books concerning parenting and child rearing. These books are early incantations of the parenting books that are so incredibly common today. The earliest is from 1926 and the most recent is from 1959. At face value, these books aren’t of much interest to anyone other than prospective parents, of which I am certainly not one! However, knowing that Canadian society changed dramatically from 1926 to 1959, I wondered if any of the changes in healthcare and the social fabric of the country would be reflected in these books. With the help of a little background research, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much these little books could tell us about the history of Canada. … More Parenting Manuals and the 1920s-50s Canadian Family

The Plague Doctor, Popular Culture, and COVID-19

At the time when doctors believed that miasmic fumes were responsible for the transfer illnesses, rather than germ theory, medical professionals developed elaborate outfits to protect against the believed noxious air. The bubonic plague ravaged across Europe and Asia through the 14th to 17th centuries, with the prevailing theory was that it was caused by the miasmic theory of “malignant air”. In reality, the bubonic plague was actually spread when infected fleas from small animals entered into the human system by a flea bite. “The Plague Doctor” uniform was quite useless in assisting to protect against the disease, which killed an estimated 200 million people worldwide. But in many ways, the protective uniform worn by these doctors seems similar to what current medical professionals wear when treating those with infectious diseases. … More The Plague Doctor, Popular Culture, and COVID-19

Benzedrine Sulfate: From Military Stimulant to Weight Management

“Due to the drug’s new found psychiatric uses, Benzedrine Sulfate tablets became a military staple during the World War II by both the Axis and Allied forces.” Benzedrine Sulfate’s was originally introduced as a decongestant produced in the form of a nasal inhaler. In 1936, Benzadrine Sulfate tablets came on the market to treat a … More Benzedrine Sulfate: From Military Stimulant to Weight Management

Discovering Diseases: The Beginnings of Germ Theory and Preventative Precautions

“Germ theory was not easily accepted. All across Europe and into the USA and Canada, it was heavily contested and challenged by medical professionals who were unwilling to accept the changes to the scientific system.” … More Discovering Diseases: The Beginnings of Germ Theory and Preventative Precautions

Quarantine and Isolation: A Brief History of Public Health Measures Against Infectious Disease

“From isolation in the home to the closure of public spaces, history contains many pertinent lessons in the control of infectious disease.” By now, most of us are no strangers to the idea of quarantine. “Self-isolation” and “social distancing” have come to be the new normal for many people all over the world as we … More Quarantine and Isolation: A Brief History of Public Health Measures Against Infectious Disease

Teacher Candidates and Museum Placements: Something Different (in a Good Way)

The following was written by Justin Ao, a Queen’s Education Program Placement Student, who was with the Museum of Health Care during March 2020. Education as an institution has evolved through the years – not only what we teach, but how and why we teach is drastically different from mere decades ago. As a Queen’s … More Teacher Candidates and Museum Placements: Something Different (in a Good Way)

The Introduction of Psychiatric Nursing: The Rockwood Training School for Nurses

Nurses were expected to be proficient in both mental health and physical nursing, as well as to be knowledgeable of the various mental illnesses and how they may appear. For the majority of the nineteenth century, trained nurses did not work at hospitals or asylums. The members of staff who interacted frequently with the patients … More The Introduction of Psychiatric Nursing: The Rockwood Training School for Nurses