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September 1958

The History of Cellular Hypersensitivity

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1958;102(3):490-492. doi:10.1001/archinte.1958.00030010490024

The recognition of allergic states came early in the history of recorded medicine, as evidenced by Hippocrates, Lucretius, Galen, and the Babylonian Talmud. Yet the foundation of investigative work rests in the monumental paper of an Englishman, Charles Harrison Blackley, "Experimental Researches on the Causes and Nature of Catarrhus æstivus (Hay-Fever or Hay-Asthma)," 1873. These important observations were shelved for 30 years, until Dunbar, in 1905, corroborated Blackley's findings.

When Bostock wrote his classical description of hay fever, in 1819, he stated his belief that in his own case it was not caused by the effluvium of grass or hay. This he reaffirmed in 1828 after further study for a second publication. Elliotson, in 1830, disagreed and stated, "I do not believe it depends upon any other part of the grass than the flower." He also described the hay fever case of a lady: ". . . that on handling the

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