Diagnosis: History Paper – due Mon Feb 25
In this assignment, you will explore one episode of illness in the past, using primary sources to diagnose the disease and discuss its treatment. Our two sets of primary sources are both the digitized archive diaries we’ve worked with in class – Martha Ballard’s diary from rural southern Maine (ca 1785-1812) and the Journals of the Corps of Discovery, led by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark (1803-1806). Choose one of those two.
Begin your research either with a specific episode mentioned in our recent readings or in the additional resources posted below*, or by going straight to the diaries for a keyword search. The Ballard diary has predefined searches for herbal medicines and medical conditions, which you can see in the pulldown menu under “Midwifery and Herbal Medicine,” or you can search for a particular word at http://dohistory.org/diary/search.html . You may need to play around a bit with search terms to find something that brings good results (see the lists below for more ideas).
Some accounts of illness in the Lewis and Clark Journals include:
14 Sept 1803 Bilious Fever, Goiter
13-14 Nov 1803 Ague/ Use of Rush’s Pills
1-6 Feb 1804 Clark is sick
17 June 1804 Dysentery
14 August 1804 Smallpox among the Mahar
mid-late August 1804 Death of Sergeant Floyd (he died on the 20th)
31 Jan 1805 Pleurisy, bleeding
11 Feb 1805 Sacagawea’s labor and birth
15-17 June 1805 Sacagawea’s illness
16-21 Feb 1806 Fever/ use of Rush’s Pills – at least 3 men are sick: Gibson, Willard, Bratton
Once you’ve settled on one story, study the diary entries, looking back and forward a few to see if there were any additional notes or any other relevant historical details that might help you diagnose the patient’s troubles. You may need to do a little additional research to understand the disease or its treatment then, beginning with “Medicine at the Turn of the 19th Century,” part of a UVA Medical Library exhibit about medicine on the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Paper Mechanics: Using Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s “1787” chapter as a model for your paper, begin with a (footnoted) exact quotation from the original primary source. Then, in a 4-5 page double-spaced paper, consider and try to answer the following questions:
- Given only the partial information in the primary source, can you diagnose what the affliction was, and with what degree of certainty?
- How was the afflicted person treated for this disease, and by whom?
- How did the patient respond to the treatment?
- How did you figure out what happened in this story? What questions are left unanswered?
- What does this episode tell us about the perception, treatment, and course of this disease in the past?
In your paper, I am looking for your careful, deep reading of the primary source material, and your attention to details of the episode. Please correctly cite all of your sources (Chicago Style) and use quotation marks to enclose all exact quotations.
*Other useful readings and resources for this assignment –
E. G. Chuinard, “Medical Mystery at Fort Clatsop,” Explorations into the World of Lewis and Clark (note that you cannot read the last page of this article on Google Books. Alas.)
“Medicine and Health on the Lewis and Clark Expedition” (UVA Medical Library)
Reference Document: 19th Century Medical Terms (PDF – University of Cincinnati Library)
Some helpful search terms for Martha Ballard’s diary
Keywords: medical conditions and treatments (see also medicinal ingredients)
bled bleed bleeding bleeding bleed bled blistered blister blisterd blisters btister blisterd blister blistered blisters btister blisters blister blistered blisterd btister btister blister blistered blisterd blisters bones bone brused bruised burning burnd burnt burns burn burnss byrns byrnns byerns byrns burnss burn burns byrns byrnns byrns burn burns burnss byrnns burns byerns byrnns burn burns burnss byrns cankar canker caster castor cleaverly cleaverly cleverly cleverly clisters clister clysters clysters clister clisters collic colic comforlable comfortable complains complaint complained complaind complained complaint complains complaind complaind complaint complains complained consint consent consented consentd consented consent consint consentd consentd consent consint consented disentery dysentery disentary desentry disentry disentary dysentery disentery desentry disentry desentry dysentery disentery disentary disentry disentry dysentery disentery disentary desentry displacd displaced desection dissection dessection dessection dissection desection drest dressed dresst dresst dressed drest elixer elixir proprietas elixir examined examine examind examind examine examined faintness faint fainted faintd fainting fainted faint faintness faintd fainting faintd faint faintness fainted fainting fainting faint faintness fainted faintd feaver fever feavour feavor feavour fever feaver feavor feavor fever feaver feavour fitt fit headaick headache herbs herb laudenum laudanum opiates opium opiates laudanum laudenum opium opium laudanum laudenum opiates medecin medicine medicin medisin medicin medicine medecin medisin medisin medicine medecin medicin phi physic phyed physsicked physicked physic phisic physsicked physsicked physic phisic physicked poultise poultice poultised poltis poullises poultised poultice poultise poltis poullises poltis poultice poultise poultised poullises poullises poultice poultise poultised poltis puking puke puked pukt pukd puked puke puking pukt pukd pukt puke puking puked pukd pukd puke puking puked pukt purge purging purgd purgd purging purge remedies remedy remidies remidies remedy remedies salv salve sick sic sic sick swet sweat swett sweling swelling sweld sweld swelling sweling syrrip syrup syrrup cyrrup syrrup syrup syrrip cyrrup cyrrup syrup syrrip syrrup tinchture tincture tinckture tinckture tincture tinchture worms worm wounded wound