Friday, December 02, 2011

Thomas Willis in the classroom

Here's the next installation of a series of posts about books I've been bringing to the History of Medicine I class, including editions of Vesalius, Galen, and Hippocrates. This week's History of Medicine I lecture covered a lot of ground - Leeuwenhoek, Thomas Willis, and Thomas Sydenham. I had a few different choices of what to bring for this class, and decided on a recent acquisition made in 2009.

Willis, Thomas. Pharmaceutice Rationalis, or, An Exercitation of the Operations of Medicines in Humane Bodies: Shewing the Signs, Causes, and Cures of Most Distempers Incident Thereunto ; in Two Parts ; As Also a Treatise of the Scurvy, and the Several Sorts Thereof, with Their Symptoms, Causes, and Cure. London: Printed for T. Dring, C. Harper, and J. Leigh : 1679.

Thomas Willis (1621-1675) was an English physician who co-founded the Royal Society and made important advances in anatomy and neurology, among other fields. This is the first English edition of his last work. Pharmaceutice rationalis is one of the major English works on pharmacology, and also contains observations on diabetes that contributed greatly to endocrinology. I also made sure to show the medical students the section where Willis discusses the effects of what was then a new and trendy beverage: coffee.

Our copy of this book carries the very snazzy bookplate of Otto Orren Fisher:

Dr. Fisher was a scientist and book collector who lived in Detroit. His collection was dispersed, and books he once owned can now be found in many museums and libraries.

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