History of Medicine

This page was last updated: December 3rd, 2021

Historical SSUs

Using our special collection to teach a medical school humanities project in Cornwall

Deborah Mogg gave a talk at last year’s CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Groups conference in Cardiff about how the library has been using its special collection of historical medical items to teach University of Exeter medical students during their SSU. Below is an account of the project published in the Rare Books and Special Collections Group (RBSCG) CILIP special interest group Spring newsletter.

Hospital sites in Cornwall

Objects from our collection


The call bell was an innovation of Florence Nightingale in the Crimean War of the 1850s.

She had based the idea on wealthy houses where the owners would use bells to summon servants.

She wrote: ‘Without a system of this kind, a nurse is converted to a pair of legs for running up and down the stairs’

This bell came from West Cornwall Hospital

Our library history

Suggested Reading

Visualizing Disease. The Art and History of Pathological IllustrationsMeli, D. B. 2017QS11
Anatomy as Spectacle. Public Exhibitions of the Body from 1700 to the PresentStephens, E. 2011QS11
Bodies Beyond borders. Moving Anatomies, 1750-1950Wils, K; De Bont, R; Au, S. 2017QS11
Public Health in HistoryBerridge, V; Gorsky, M; Mold, A. 2011W11
The Human Body in the Age of Catastrophe: Brittleness, Integration, Science, and the Great WarGeroulanos, S; Meyers, T. 2018WA245
Technological Medicine: the changing world of doctors and patientsReiser, S. J. WB35
Confronting Contagion. Our evolving understanding of diseaseSanter, M. 2015WC11
Plague : a very short introductionSlack, P. 2012WC11
Epidemics and Society: from the Black Death to the presentSnowden, F.M. 2019WC11
Fat: a cultural history of the stuff of lifeForth, C. E. 2019WD17
Inconvenient People. Lunacy, Liberty and the Mad-Doctors in Victorian EnglandWise, S. 2012WM11
Faces from the Front: Harold Gillies, The Queen’s Hospital, Sidcup and the origins of Modern Plastic SurgeryBamji, A. 2017WO11
Crucial interventions: an illustrated treatise on the principles & practice of nineteenth-century surgeryBarnett, R., Kneebone, R. & Wellcome Collection 2015WO11
The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian MedicineFitzharris, L. 2017WO11
Physick and Folk Medicine: a history of healthcare in CornwallWhite, R. 2019WX11
History of medicineHall, T. 2013WZ40
The Oxford handbook of the history of medicineJackson, M. 2013WZ40
The history of medicine: a beginner's guideJackson, M. 2014WZ40
A Global History of MedicineJackson, M. 2018WZ40
The Rise and Fall of Modern MedicineLe Fanu, J. 2011WZ40
The Medicine Cabinet: the story of health and disease told through extraordinary objectsMcEnroe, N; Hurley, S. 2019WZ40
An illustrated history of medicinePaul, G. 2016WZ40
Wounded: the long journey home from the Great WarMayhew, E. 2014WZ64
Medicine in First World War Europe. Soldiers, Medics, PacifistsReid, F. 2017WZ64
The prince of medicine : Galen in the Roman EmpireMattern, S. P. 2013WZ100
Ayurvedic Man. Encounters with Indian medicineWZ330
The Healing Presence of Art: a history of Western art in hospitalsCork, R. 2012WZ330
Medieval Bodies: Life, death and art in the Middle AgesHartnell, J. 2018WZ330
Patients as Art: forty thousand years of medical history in drawings, paintings and sculptureMackowiak, P. A. 2019WZ330
A Body of Work. An anthology of poetry and medicineWagner, C; Brown, A. 2016WZ330




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