Surgery, Medical Theory and Chapped Hands


Surgery, Medical Theory and Chapped Hands

In the 19th century the most important advance in medical science was called (at the time) Listerism.  Simply put, Joseph Lister, working with  Louis Pasteur’s advances in microbiology and the discovery that bacteria cause putrefaction and infection, came to a conclusion:  In a medical setting the first line of defense is to keep the patient isolated from all such bacterial agents.… Read more.


Information provided here comes from, Science magazine, and a number of academic studies including

Rothstein, William G. 1972.  American Physicians in the Nineteenth Century. From Sects to Science.  Johns Hopkins University Press.

Training doctors

Before about 1750 most men aspiring to become a doctor generally did so by apprenticing themselves to an already established physician.… Read more.

Harrison Quinlan

Born in Manhattan to privilege, Harrison became a physician and surgeon. He served as an Army surgeon in the Mexican-American War, and otherwise ran a private practice from his Waverly Place home.

As a young man he met , originally of Paradise in Hamilton county.… Read more.

Amelie Savard***

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Aenean commodo ligula eget dolor. Aenean massa. Cum sociis natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Donec quam felis, ultricies nec, pellentesque eu, pretium quis, sem. Nulla consequat massa quis enim.… Read more.


 Excerpted from Eugenics and Public Health in American History
 Martin S. Pernick, PhD
American Journal of Public Health 
Nov 1997 87:11
… Many eugenicists regarded disease as nature’s way of weeding out the unfit[1. Today, terms such as unfit or defective are pejorative and offensive.
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Bellevue Hospital

Bellevue, located  on First Avenue in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, is the oldest public hospital in the country. It was founded in 1736 as a quarantine hospital  and built in what was then wilderness, almost two miles north of the settled region of Manhattan.… Read more.



Smallpox is a contagious and often fatal infection caused by the variola virus. It presents in 2 clinical forms: variola major smallpox (historic mortality rate: 30%) and variola minor, which produces a milder smallpox-like illness (historic mortality rate: less than 1%). 

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The Foundling

*The Foundling plays a part in The Gilded Hour.

There were dozens of orphanages (orphan  asylums)  in New York in the last quarter of the 19th century, and almost all of them were run by religious groups. The Roman Catholic church was especially vigilant in setting up and administering orphan asylums, but the Protestant churches and the Jewish community also founded orphanages for their own children in need.[1.

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Sisters of Charity of New York

The Sisters of Charity of New York is a religious congregation of women in the Catholic Church whose primary missions are education and nursing and who are dedicated in particular to the service of the poor.

The founder of the order, Elizabeth Ann Seton, was canonized as the first American-born saint. 

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