Friday, January 06, 2012

John Hunter in the classroom

The History of Medicine I course starts up again today, and I'm continuing my series of posts about books I've selected to bring to this class. This term kicks off with the Hunters: John and William. We have a nice variety of works by John Hunter to choose from. I selected this one:

Hunter, John. A Treatise on the Venereal Disease. London: Sold at No. 13, Castle-Street, Leicester-Square, and by Mr. G. Nicol [etc.], 1788.

This is the second edition of Hunter's 1786 study of gonorrhea and syphilis, which he believed were one and the same. Our copy was acquired decades ago through the George E. Burget Memorial Fund. Burget was a faculty member in the medical school during the early 20th century. He donated many of the rare books in our collection, and was a major benefactor and booster of the library. After his death, the Portland Academy of Medicine established a fund for purchasing historical books for the library in his memory. There was also discussion of naming the library's historical collections in his honor.

When possible, I bring a book that can be passed around during the lecture, as well as a rare showpiece. Today the students got to browse through a 1972 facsimile of lecture notes from a 1752 anatomy course given by William Hunter. This also gave me an opportunity to remind them to save their own lecture notes, since they or their instructor might be world-famous someday!

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