Plymouth Medical Library

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A number of resources based on the Collection have been created by 4th Year students at Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry as part of their work on a Medical Humanities Special Study Unit. These can be accessed here

Wound healing by Wendy Slater
Mental Health by Oliver Battrick
Herbal healing by Rachna Joshi
Fever before the germ theory by Patrick Long
John Hunter by Michael Hallahan
Tuberculosis by Jaffar Al-Sheikhli
Social Attitudes Towards Women in Medicine by Saskia Ivinson
Pain and anaesthesia in childbirth by Emma Derby
Medical Evidence Through the Ages by Hannah Hagan
Domestic Medicine
Guess the Disease
Obstetric Emergencies

A number of educational resources have also been especially created for use as part of the 'Medicine Through Time' GCSE history course, and available for viewing and download here:

Dissecting the heart
"Physick for Families"
Surgical instruments
Nurse qualities 1730
Surgery and trepanning

Please note the copyright conditions at the end of the resources, and that some of the content may not be appropriate for younger viewers as it is aimed at 14 to 16 year olds.

An exhibition exploring the changing ways in which the human body has been shown in anatomy was put together for the launch event using examples from the Historic Collection. A version of this can be seen here:

Seeing the body (pdf)
Seeing the body (powerpoint)

Below are a few images from the Collection to give alternative ideas of how the it could be used to support education. To arrange to see any of the originals see Visiting Us. More images taken from the Historic Collection can be seen through the Search Images link on the main page. If you would like to discuss the Collection or its use in education, please contact us:

A picture showing how to amputate a patients arm at the shoulder. When do you think this image might be from, and why?

Images from a book of surgical equipment from 1798. The brass boxes in the left hand picture were ‘scarificators’ used for bleeding a patient. The right hand picture shows portable surgical instruments. The handles of the instruments are made from wood. What do these images tell you about the belief in causes of diseases and how to treat them?

The front page of a book by William Walwyn written in 1681. William Walwyn was very involved in the big political and religious changes of his time, and even spent some time imprisoned in the Tower of London. After this he took up medicine, and was inspired by the work of early chemists. He created a new system of medicine which didn’t use bleeding or purging to treat people. Do you think patients believed it would work better than bleeding? Do you think it caught on, or that people kept using bleeding? What does this tell you about peoples understanding of what caused disease at this time?

The picture on the left is from a book printed in 1684, not long after William Harvey made the very important discovery of the system of circulation of the blood. It shows different views of the heart and the lungs in the human body. The picture below is from just over 100 years later. It shows how the system of circulation works, looking at the simple system of a frog and building up to the human system. What do they show about how well understanding of the human body developed during this time?

Copyright 2008 Discovery Library, Derriford Hospital, Derriford Road, Plymouth PL6 8DH
Plymouth Medical Society Historic Collection, Discovery Library, Derriford Hospital, Derriford Road, Plymouth. Devon PL6 8DH.