Blogs

New Resource – Thieme eNeurosurgery

16 January 2014 - 4:05pm by Lei Wang

eNeurosurgery is a library of neurosurgical e-books from Thieme Publishers. It also includes a collection of illustrated procedures as well as images and videos. The product has the capability to search the Thieme e-journals and the PubMed database. To find eNeurosurgery, go to the Resources list on the home page, or use Orbis or the e-books database to look it up by title.

eNeurosurgery

Finn the Therapy Dog

15 January 2014 - 2:26pm by Mark Gentry

Update:  Click here for Finn's schedule

Finn the Therapy Dog - the newest member of the Cushing/Whitney Medical Library's staff - will be officially introduced to the Yale community at a coffee hour on Friday, January 24th at 10am.  Finn, a certified therapy dog, will attend the event with his friend, Krista Knudson.  Finn will be in the Medical Library most Fridays for anyone in need of a furry friend.  Come join us on most Fridays!

ACP PIER is now ACP Smart Medicine

7 January 2014 - 5:10pm by Mark Gentry

This point-of-care decision support tool is available through the Medical Library subscription to Stat!Ref.  ACP Smart Medicine provides access to hundreds of evidence-based recommendations on diagnosis, therapy, prevention, screening and more.  You will find links to ACP Smart Medicine on the Clinical Resources or Evidence-based Practice portal pages. It is also available for mobile devices through the Stat!Ref Mobile application.

Access ACP Smart Medicine now. 

If you are a member of the American College of Physicians, you are eligible for personal access to Smart Medicine through www.acponline.org

Secret Miracles of Nature

12 December 2013 - 9:41pm by Melissa Grafe

We have a secret!  Blog post on an item in the Books of Secrets exhibit, by student curator Nell Meosky   

Levinus Lemnius (1505-1568) was a Dutch physician who served the community of Manhuissatraat for nearly fourty years, traveled throughout Western Europe, and was highly regarded for his work during epidemics in 1529, 1532, and 1537.[1] Late in life and after his wife’s death, Lemnius went to seminary and became a priest, a transition which informs much of his most well-known book, De Occultis Naturae, which was first published in 1564. [2]Nearly a century after Lemnius’s death, De Occultis Naturae (literally, “The Hidden Nature”) was translated into English by an unknown translator, and given the title The Secret Miracles of Nature.[3]  Later, the work would be combined with a German manual on midwifery to produce Aristotle’s Masterpieces.

Upon first glance, The Secret Miracles of Nature is an imposing book, much larger than other books of secrets of its day at approximately 11” by 7”. This is likely a sign that the printer was able to invest significantly in creating an impressive image for the book, supported by the robustness of the paper and binding that were used to construct it. Thanks to the reputation of Lemnius, who is described on the title page as “that great physician” and is acknowledged by scholars as well-respected, the printer was probably able to expect good sales of the book to higher class readers. The size of the book allows for more generous margins, which a reader could use to take notes on the recipes recorded within. The font of the text is somewhat larger than that of contemporary books of secrets, but not to scale with the size of the book, creating a formidable amount of reading to be done to reach the end of its 300-some pages. It does not appear, though, that the book was necessarily meant to be read from cover to cover in one setting, as it is made of up discrete recipes. The cover is worn and the edges of the pages, particularly at the very front and back of the book, appear almost charred, very brittle and dark. This suggests that the book was in fact used frequently, and the uneven staining of the pages hints that some of the sections may have been used more often than others. Although no readers’ names are recorded in the book, it seems to have been last owned by an individual around 1911, 250 years after its debut.

Lemnius (or the translator) organized the volume into four discrete books: the soul and its immortality; plants and living creatures; diseases, their symptoms and cures; and other rarities. There is also a “bonus book” at the end, containing rules for how a man should lead his life. This book is particularly interesting because of Lemnius’s late-life career as a priest, and it begs the question of whether the four books were penned previously, with the fifth being added once Lemnius completed seminary. Within these books are many chapters, which are named quite descriptively and leave little room to imagine what is discussed on the pages indicated. This organization, and the abstract-like titles of chapters, makes it very easy to find the particular question that you are looking for an answer to – in fact, the titles could serve as something of an executive summary for those who do not wish to read the entire text. However, despite the clear organization of the books in their titles, their content overlaps. In book 1 (on the immortality of the soul), chapter V, Lemnius writes “of the strange longing of women with child, and their insatiable desire of things; And if they cannot get them they are in danger of life.” This chapter, while tangentially related to the soul because of the generation of a new soul through pregnancy, does not seem to quite fit the theme of the rest of the chapters of that book. However, after paging through the rest of the chapter, a logical flow begins to emerge: Lemnius begins with relationships between men and women, then to pregnancy and determination of gender (…the chapter on driving pests away from corn not withstanding).

In content, The Secret Miracles of Nature is highly comprehensive, blending natural knowledge with philosophy.The language of the forward is difficult and arcane, but the language of the chapters is often easy to follow and engaging, and Lemnius addresses the book to “those that practice physic, and all others that desire to search into the hidden secrets of NATURE for the increase of Knowledge.” Lemnius often makes references to Hippocrates when explaining his medical decisions, and in book 2 includes disease knowledge from the rare and mystical to the most mundane: on physical phenomena, unnatural vs. natural death, the virulence of epidemics, and drunkenness. These medical portions are interesting in their blending of observation and experience with belief and religious texts; for example, on pg. 108 in Book II Chapter X: Every filthy smell is not hurtfull to Man, Lemnius observes of smells that “for some of these will difusse contagions, and resist corrupt diseases. By the way, whence came the Proverb, that horns are burnt there.” Lemnius was an author of great medical and spiritual prowess, and does not shy away from sharing his wisdom of both kinds in this, his greatest work.


[1]PC Molhysen and PJ Block,New Netherland biographical dictionary. Part 8. AW Sijthoff, Leiden 1930. Accessed Oct 27, 2013.http://www.dbnl.org/tekst/molh003nieu08_01/molh003nieu08_01_1789.php

2 Charlotte F. Otten, Hamlet and the Secret Miracles of Nature. Notes and Queries (1994) 41 (1):38-41.

http://nq.oxfordjournals.org/content/41/1/38.extract

[3] Ibid.

Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Travel Award

12 December 2013 - 9:46am by Lei Wang

The Historical Library of the Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library at Yale University is pleased to announce its seventh annual Ferenc Gyorgyey Research Travel Award for use of the Historical Library.

The Medical Historical Library, located in New Haven, Connecticut, holds one of the country’s largest collections of rare medical books, journals, prints, photographs, and pamphlets. Special strengths are the works of Hippocrates, Galen, Vesalius, Boyle, Harvey, Culpeper, Priestley, and S. Weir Mitchell, and works on anesthesia, and smallpox inoculation and vaccination. The Library owns over fifty medieval and renaissance manuscripts, Arabic and Persian manuscripts, and over 300 medical incunabula.  The notable Clements C. Fry Collection of Prints and Drawings has over 2,500 fine prints, drawings, and posters from the 15th century to the present on medical subjects.  The library also holds a great collection of tobacco advertisements, patent medicine ephemera, and a large group of materials from Harvey Cushing, one of the founding fathers of neurosurgery.

The 2014-2015 travel grant is available to historians, medical practitioners, and other researchers who wish to use the collections of the Medical Historical Library.  There is a single award of up to $1,500 for one week of research during the academic fiscal year July 1, 2014 - June 30, 2015.  Funds may be used for transportation, housing, food, and photographic reproductions. The award is limited to residents of the United States and Canada. Applicants should send a curriculum vitae and a description of the project including the relevance of the collections of the Historical Library to the project, and two references attesting to the particular project. Preference will be given to applicants beyond commuting distance to the Historical Library.  This award is for use of Medical Historical special collections and is not intended for primary use of special collections in other libraries at Yale.  Applications are due by Sunday, APRIL 27th, 2014.  They will be considered by a committee and the candidates will be informed by JUNE 6th, 2014. An application form can be found on our website: http://historical.medicine.yale.edu/us/grant

Applications and requests for further information should be sent to:

Melissa Grafe, Ph.D
John R. Bumstead Librarian for Medical History
Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library
Yale University
P.O. Box 208014
New Haven, CT 06520-8014
Telephone: 203- 785-4354
Fax: 203-785-5636
E-mail: melissa.grafe@yale.edu

Delightful Delusions: A reflection on Jan Van de Velde’s “The Quack: Populus vult decipi” (1615-1641)

5 December 2013 - 9:57pm by Melissa Grafe

 

We have a secret!  Blog post on an item in the Books of Secrets exhibit, by student curator Jarrell Ng          

Something that has both puzzled and fascinated me throughout this course is how the professors of secrets and their books became so authoritative even though many of their recipes were fantastical, and probably never worked. The charlatans especially - as depicted in Jan van de Velde’s print “The Quack: Populus vult decipi” (1603-1641) - were blatant in their fraudulence, performing songs, comedy and cheap carnival tricks to attract crowds, “appropria[ting] recipes from earlier books of secrets”[1], and of course fabricating secrets of their own. How could people have been so enthralled by such falsities, and why was such a market of lies so sustainable?

            A common narrative advanced is that the theatricality of their displays - “the mountebanks put on a slapstick comedy, using the characters, devices and gigs of what would later be called the commedia dell’arte”[2] - made the ciarlatania beloved source of entertainment for European publics. Sure, this may account for their popularity, but it fails to explain why people took the further step of actually spending moneyto purchase their phony remedies. Van de Velde’s print seems to acknowledge this; it de-emphasizes the theatricality of the charlatan’s display - he stands back with his arms on his waist, allowing his nostrums to speak for themselves - subtly hinting at the possibility that people were actually drawn to the mountebank’s secrets themselves, and not just beguiled by his diversions.

            Perhaps then, those who purchased these false secrets were simply gullible; naive or desperate enough to be convinced of their authenticity. Yet, given the farcical methods that charlatans used to ‘prove’ their remedies, to merely conclude that all their customers were foolish seems unsatisfying. Even the professors of secrets, who made a more deliberate effort to establish legitimacy than the ciaralatani- and were therefore less obviously unreliable - should, conceivably, have lost their credibility once people tested out the recipes in their books and discovered that many were ineffective. Thus, unless one believes that European publics at the time were truly that half-witted, gullibility offers a painfully inadequate explanation for why commercialized secrets sustained such popularity; as we know, no less than 104 editions of Alessio Piemontese’s work were published from 1555 to 1699.

            Van de Velde’s simple yet sophisticated proposition however, that people want to be deceived (populus vult decipi),is very compelling. As we know, the invention of print did not result in the universalspread of knowledge, or a complete shift away from esotericism. Many constituencies still jealously guarded their secrets from ‘vulgar’, common folk - the Church for instance fought to maintain control of occult forces, while alchemists used decknamenand allegory to obscure the truth of their ‘divine revelations’. Thus, when the professors of secrets published their discoveries in step-by-step recipes within inexpensive books, and the charlatans sold magical remedies in the piazza at affordable prices, they gave the masses a sense of empowerment that went above and beyond the actual utility of the secrets traded. The effectiveness of the recipes or potions was ultimately of little consequence, because what customers in the marketplace were searching for were perhaps not pharmaceutical, alchemical or agricultural recipes per se, but the delightful delusion that it was within their reach to manipulate Nature and control the world around them. The spread of cheap, tradable secrets took power away from traditional authorities such as the Church, and gave those deemed unworthy of such higher pursuits the opportunity to partake in the fashionable hunt for the secrets of nature - the ‘swines’ now had access to the ‘pearls’, and the powerful symbolism of this transition made the question of the pearls’ authenticity largely inconsequential.

            There is something thoroughly romantic about this narrative - certainly much more romantic than the suggestion that people were simply too stupid to realize they were being deceived - and it is perhaps the same romanticism that drives our enduring obsession with the books of secrets today.


[1]Eamon, W. (1994). Science and the Secrets of Nature: Books of Secrets in Medieval and Early Modern Culture. Princeton University Press. p.243.

[2]Ibid., p.238.

Books of Secrets: Alchemy, Medicine, and Magic

15 November 2013 - 11:47am by Lei Wang

Opening Reception: November 18 6:00 -7:30 p.m.
Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Rotunda

On view: November 18, 2013 to January 17, 2014

This is a student-curated exhibit from Professor Paola Bertucci’s undergraduate seminar, Spies, Secrets, and Science.

Books of secrets divulged medicinal, alchemical, artisanal, and other kinds of “secrets” of nature and the arts. These “cheap” books, mostly written as books of recipes or how-to manuals, met with extraordinary success around the 16th century; they were also translated into several languages and reprinted until the 19th century.

Whether real or imaginary, their authors achieved a remarkable level of authority among the reading public. The legendary “Isabella Cortese” and “Alessio Piemontese” revealed much about nature and its hidden ways of operating, just as their better known contemporaries Francis Bacon and René Descartes.

Selections from the Medical Historical Library's collections will be on display.

Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5

4 November 2013 - 4:54pm by Mark Gentry

The new edition of the DSM-5 is now available via PsychiatryOnline.   

Also, use Orbisto find the online book or the print copy in the Medical Library.

The Medical Library has a print copy in the Reserve Room Ref 21 RC455.2 C4 D536 2013.  The Yale School of Nursing also has a copy in the Commons for nursing students shelved under RC455.2 C4 D536 2013.

If you need assistance locating or using DSM-5, please contact your personal or liaison librarian.

FirstConsult: point-of-care App for your iPhone or iPad

1 November 2013 - 12:07pm by Mark Gentry

First Consult, a point-of-care resource included in the popular ClinicalKey online resource, is availble for mobile download to Apple iOS devices. First Consult is a clinical decision support resource that leverages evidence-based medical information to provide clinicians, librarians and others with the easy access to the latest on evaluation, diagnosis, clinical management, prognosis and prevention. No data connection is needed to access the mobile version after the initial download.  You will need to register for a personal account on ClinicalKey.  Details on the First Consult App are available on the Mobile Device Applications page

National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) BioSystems Database

28 October 2013 - 10:18am by Lynn Sette

A biosystem or biological system is a group of molecules that interact in a biological system. One type of biosystem is a biological pathway, which can consist of interacting genes, proteins, and small molecules. Another type of biosystem is a disease, which can involve components such as genes, biomarkers, and drugs.

The NCBI BioSystems Database was developed to (1) serve as a centralized repository of data; (2) connect the biosystem records with associated literature, molecular, and chemical data throughout NLM’s Entrez system; and (3) facilitate computation on biosystems data. This is a remarkable resource for researchers interested in the biological sciences.

Help is available in 4 areas:

  • Using BioSystems. A great place to get started. The About area provides a nice introduction to the records contained within this database along with some great examples, such as "find the pathways in which a given gene or protein is involved" and "retrieve 3D structures for proteins involved in a biosystem."
  • BioSystem Tools. Features primers on some very powerful statistical tools including FLink, which handles large quantities of input and output data.
  • Other Resources. Includes links to other databases, such as PubChem and BioAssay.
  • NCBI BioSystems Database Help.
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