diseases, doctors, medical instruments, museums and collections

Le bruit de diable: gunpowder, tops and purring cats

No, this isn’t a telescope, it’s a stethoscope. René Laennec (1781-1826) invented this device in 1816, as a way to solve the ethical dilemma of having to put his ear to the chest of a young woman patient. He started with a rolled up piece of paper to help him hear her heart and her breathing, but… Continue reading Le bruit de diable: gunpowder, tops and purring cats

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midwives

Midwifery and ventriloquism: did Elizabeth Cellier write her own books?

Possibly my favourite historical figure of all time is Elizabeth Cellier, the ‘Popish Midwife’ who was involved in one of those complicated ‘plots’ of late seventeenth-century England; the ‘meal-tub plot’, in which a list of plotters turned up in her kitchen. Was it genuine, or planted by those who wanted to represent Roman Catholics as… Continue reading Midwifery and ventriloquism: did Elizabeth Cellier write her own books?