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Dog bites to broken hearts in 16th Century Medicine

80,000 case notes, 66 volumes, and 10 years of work: transcribing the case notes of 16th century doctors.

Pembroke Fellow Professor Lauren Kassell led the research into the case notes of two 16th century doctors, Simon Forman and Richard Napier. The ten year 'Casebooks' project involved working with 80,000 case notes from the 1590s to the 1630s, one of the biggest historical medical collections in existence. The notes have been extremely difficult to decipher, but 500 have now been digitised and transcribed, and made available online. The categories of selected cases - "witchcraft", "devil, haunted, possessed", "mind-gut connections", and "angels" among others - reveal the range and complexity of the cases, which the doctors treated with a combination of physical science, astrology, magic and religion. The images of all the manuscripts are available on the Casebooks website. 

Read more about the cases:

BBC: Prescribing deer dung and pigeon slippers

Guardian: Purges, angels and ‘pigeon slippers’: methods of Elizabethan quacks finally deciphered

Photo: Casebooks Website


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