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Books, Journals, New Media
May 17, 2000

Southern Folk MedicineSouthern Folk Medicine 1750-1820

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


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JAMA. 2000;283(19):2588. doi:10.1001/jama.283.19.2588-JBK0517-4-1

Southern Folk Medicine 1750-1820 takes the reader on a journey back to selected areas of the South during the time when home remedies were a primary medical resource for the treatment of illnesses and injuries. The book consists of three parts, 14 chapters, and five appendices.

Part 1, "Domestic Medicine in the Eighteenth Century," has three chapters that establish the setting for the remainder of the book. Chapter 1 introduces the reader to the medical practitioners of the time: "regular" medical practitioners—physicians, surgeons, preachers, and quacks (practitioners with little formal education but not always perceived in derogatory terms)—and "domestic" medical practitioners—those who relied mainly on their own repertories of medical lore, such as wealthy planters, merchants, craftspeople, yeoman farmers, herb women, and backcountry housewives. Chapter two provides brief descriptions of the sources used to compile the composite picture of medical practices in the South: six from North Carolina, five from South Carolina, one from Georgia, and one from Tennessee. Additional information was gathered from numerous published and unpublished period letters, journals, and inventories. Chapter 3 provides brief descriptions of primary categories of diseases of the time, such as bilious fever, pain in the bowels, putrid sore throat, assorted epidemics, and gross and phlegmatic constitution. The importance and role of faith in the effectiveness of medical treatment are also addressed.

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