Exploring American Healthcare Through 50 Historic Treasures

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Product Details

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Publish Date
6.1 X 9.1 X 0.8 inches | 1.55 pounds

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About the Author

Tegan Kehoe is a public historian who specializes in the history of healthcare and science. She is the exhibit and education specialist at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and received her MA in history and museum studies from Tufts University.


Like visiting a museum without ever leaving your favorite reading chair. Kehoe offers a fascinating selection of objects with lively and engaging interpretations.--Elena Conis, professor, Graduate School of Journalism; Department of History; and Center for Science, Technology, Medicine and Society University of California, Berkeley
Centered on the way tangible artifacts can encourage empathy with patients of the past, Kehoe's well-sourced and approachable primer to the history of the health sciences through its material culture could start curious budding history enthusiasts on a lifelong love affair with the subject.--Megan Rosenbloom, collection strategies librarian at UCLA Library and author of Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin
Though much of medical practice is now conducted digitally and virtually, illness and healing still exist as they always have in the realm of bodies, substances, and objects. In this informative and visually fascinating book Tegan Kehoe explores the history of medicine through the physical. George Washington's toothbrush, an iron lung, a straitjacket, a nurse's uniform, and an ambulance crushed on 9/11 are among the 50 artifacts through which Kehoe expertly captures the ingenuity, heroism, cruelty, and even humor of medicine through the ages.--Suzanne Koven, primary care physician and Writer in Residence at Massachusetts General Hospital
As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes public health and health care to the forefront of global concern, Kehoe offers great insight into how conceptualizations and treatments of disease and promotion of health have evolved over centuries through analysis of 50 medical artifacts. The collection would be a great supplement to George Rosen's canonical A History of Public Health though of course Kehoe's text brings readers closer to the present. The author's introduction notes that medicine has been variously conceived, whether as a progressive march forward of science or as a gruesome, macabre activity. The objects presented here include those representing both sides of the conceptual universe, from tools employed in developing vaccines and antibiotics, encapsulating the former, to some used in nefarious applications of eugenics and pesticide use, recalling the latter. The volume will be a great tool for students of public health history, presenting tangible evidence from the late 1700s to the present. Kehoe's text may also help contextualize current culture wars surrounding responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, including popular debates about masking, vaccinations, and lockdowns. This is a great resource for undergraduates, scholars of medical history, and medical antiquarians. Highly recommended. All readers.-- "Choice Reviews"