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Book and Media Reviews
May 10, 2006


Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: Harriet S. Meyer, MD, Contributing Editor, JAMA.

JAMA. 2006;295(18):2187-2192. doi:10.1001/jama.295.18.2187-b

Physicians have been intrigued by the history of medicine for centuries. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Web site, the oldest item found in the NLM History of Medicine Division is an Arabic manuscript on gastrointestinal diseases dated 1094.1 In medieval and Renaissance times, scholars “sought to restore a connection with the culture of the classical period—as the writings of Hippocrates and Galen were translated into Latin.”2 In 1993 the NLM, along with libraries at Hahnemann University and Washington University School of Medicine, staged exhibits highlighting the 500th anniversary of the birth of Paracelsus.3 Perusal of the Web site shows that early European archives and manuscripts included as subjects “English Leechcraft and Physic” and, to a lesser extent, Chirurgica. Another historical line may be found in the description of the origins of St Bartholomew's Hospital (1123), the oldest in London.4