Pill Machine (From the Collection #12)

The Story Before mass-production began in the nineteenth centuries and even into the beginning of the twentieth century, pharmacists created medicines in-house. For centuries they rolled pills by hand. This labour-intensive process began with a doctor’s prescription that indicated the weight of every ingredient needed to produce one pill as well as the number of … More Pill Machine (From the Collection #12)

Medicine Chest (From the Collection #10)

The Story An early form of ‘doctor’s bag’, a wooden medicine chest was designed to hold instruments and drug supplies.  Some were finely crafted from imported woods and brass and had fitted drug bottles.  Wealthier families also kept their own medicine chests for home use.  Such appears to be the case with this particular chest.  … More Medicine Chest (From the Collection #10)

Seton Needle (From the Collection #3)

The Story Seton needles first became popular in the 15th century as a means of producing counter-irritation. This approach to medical treatment believes that the creation of a superficial irritation on the body, through such means as cupping, blistering, or the use of seton needles, will distract the body from other irritations, reducing the primary … More Seton Needle (From the Collection #3)

Lebenswecker (From the Collection #1)

The Story Carl Baunscheidt (1809-1873), a German mechanic and inventor, first produced the lebenswecker in 1848. Translated most directly as “life awakener”, the lebenswecker is comprised of six parts (a wooden cap, head cover, shaft, and plunger, and a metal needle head and spring), and is used to pierce the skin without drawing blood. Baunscheidt … More Lebenswecker (From the Collection #1)

Good Air and Bad Air: The Importance of Ventilation

Considered by many as the founder of modern nursing, British social reformer Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was one of the most well-known female voices on health care in the 19th century. In this blog entry, I outline what Florence Nightingale believed was the most important consideration of nursing – the ventilation and good air of a patient’s room – and will explore how this advice recurs and develops in the ensuing forty years in home advice manuals. … More Good Air and Bad Air: The Importance of Ventilation

Domestic Nursing: An Introduction to Maintaining the Sick-Room

Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management: A Complete Cookery Book (1861) was perhaps the most well-known and referred-to home advice manual of its time. It was originally published in 24 separate parts from 1859 to 1861, and then compiled as a bound book in 1861, soon becoming a staple in most Victorian homes. … More Domestic Nursing: An Introduction to Maintaining the Sick-Room

Health Care in the Victorian Home

I am very excited to be able to research and share with you a topic I personally find fascinating – health in the Canadian home during the Victorian era. I will be using home advice manuals, written primarily by women authors, to explore how the day-to-day health of families did not primarily fall underneath the purview of the doctor or the midwife, but was left in the care of the mother of the home or the ‘Angel in the House’. … More Health Care in the Victorian Home

A Hair-Razing History of the Beard: Facial Hair and Men’s Health from the Crimean War to the First World War

The period following the Crimean War and until the end of the First World War marks an interesting time for men’s fashion and health. During the Victorian period, beards and other facial hair styles enjoyed resurgence in popularity which had not been seen since the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.[1] While the facial hair trend waned by the end of the nineteenth century,[2] enthusiasm for debating the cleanliness and overall health of bearded and non-bearded men remained strong. With increased attention to the face, and more specifically the hair on it, doctors, nurses, soldiers and the general public engaged in spirited discussions of men’s health. … More A Hair-Razing History of the Beard: Facial Hair and Men’s Health from the Crimean War to the First World War