Transactions of the Twelfth Session of the AR State Medical Society (1887)

Notes, Primary Sources, Thesis Research

Transactions of the State Medical Society of Arkansas (Little Rock: Press Printing Company, 1887).

Annual Address of the President, James A. Dibrell, Sr. (Van Buren)

“What amazing wonders have not modern scientific investigations accomplished? What a grand display of dazzling brilliants have not been dug up hitherto dark, unfathomed recesses of nature, where Science sat gloomy and enshrouded in her lonely solitude? What a blazing light is chemistry! Old things are done away and the radiant new sheds its lustre over the world, bringing grand results from worlds of microscopic observations teeming with interest and benefit to mankind. True pathology follows in the wake of anatomic histology, and physiology determines with accuracy the therapeusis of medical agents in their different modes of actions on the different tissues. The study of the physiological effects of medicine is one of the great discoveries of the day. [Goes on about surgery for awhile] What has modern medicine not accomplished? It has in some countries, notably England, increased human longevity nearly five per cent. Thus the time is not far distant when man shall live to the period assigned by the Creator, or until the organisms wear out and fail by long work. The same spirit which led medical men to sacrifice their lives in services to the poor, has led them to study enthusiastically and publish the minutes of their study to the world in the interests of humanity. [Discusses diseases traced to sewer gas, dirty water, “educational over-pressure,” contact with disease, and vaccination]” (18-19)

Transactions of 7th Meeting of AR State Medical Society (1882)

Notes, Primary Sources, Thesis Research

Transactions of the State Medical Society of Arkansas at its Seventh Annual Session (Little Rock: Kellogg Printing Company, 1882).

List of Members of the Arkansas State Medical Society – total = 197, 2 from ES

Doctors who were practicing in ES:
J. O. Ducker — physician in Eureka Springs, AR — graduate of Jefferson Medical College, PA
M. Harrison — physician in Eureka Springs, AR — graduate of Louisville Medical College, KY (where Daniel Drake lectured for awhile!)

Breakdown of training by state:
NE Coast –
Maryland (8); New York (8); Pennsylvania (29); Maine (2)

SE Coast –
South Carolina (4); Virginia (3); Florida (1)

South –
Louisiana (20); Georgia (6)

Upper Midwest –
Michigan (2); Ohio (10); Iowa (3); Kentucky (38)

Lower Midwest –
Missouri (24); Arkansas (3); Tennessee (29)

Canada (1)

2 from L. I. H. Medical College, can’t figure out where that was located

Address on the Practice of Medicine, E. R. Duvall, Chairman of the Committee 

…by reason, treatment is more concise, more methodical, more scientific, results more satisfactory. All organs are systematically interrogated — in this manner the reflex and other manifestations, so often puzzling alike to patient and and medical attendant, are accounted for, and their significations placed in their proper relationship.” (50)

“To dose, dose, and dose again, originally significant of the erudition of our calling, and viewed with admiration by confrere and the laity, is now, through the agencies and by the influence of a progressive advancement all along the line, the least of the test by which fitness for responsible trust is to be determined.” (51)

Uses statistics in pro-Smallpox vaccine argument; discussion of English and German critiques of American vaccination practices, which proves they were reading literature from across the Atlantic? (52)

Report by committee appointed to investigate reforming (making more uniform, more rigorous) medical education; report by committee appointed to investigate and attempt to change medical legislation

Both pieces stress a need to monopolize & standardize medicine for the benefit of the people, who are being cheated by charlatans, quacks, and improperly trained doctors.

Piece on using blood to diagnose illness — the “Salisbury method,” from Dr. J. H. Salisbury (OH)

Advocates skilled and knowledgable use of microscopy to observe blood “corpuscules.” Pretty detailed account of what blood does when you add various concentrations of different substances.

Report on Bilious Fever by G. M. D. Cantrell of Hope, AR

Discusses weather, elevation of areas particularly affected by the disease
“…Klebs and Tomasi Crudeli, by their investigations, have discovered in the atmosphere of the Potine marshes peculiar rod-like bodies, which they have called bacillus milariae, and which, by inoculation, they claim will produce paroxysms of intermittent fever.” (96)

“A Plea for Some Neglected Branches in Medicine” by George C. Hartt, Little Rock, AR

Argument for wider, broader training for doctors — “languages, mathematics, philosophy, and the sciences”

“All must acknowledge” that the acquirement of “some” languages — “especially French and German” — “cannot fail to afford both profit and pleasure, enabling him to understand the fresh utterances of foreign masters in their native tongue, and also many words and phrases which these languages are constantly contributing to medicine and to science.” (122)

Advocates knowledge of “geology,” so that physicians can be consulted in healthful locations for building stuff. Wonder why he doesn’t mention health resort therapeutics here? 😦

Argues that botany isn’t considered a real science because it is associated with mysticism (“astrology and alchymy,” “Thomsonian, or steam system, and botanic system…”) (127-128)

References Cuvier


The Great American Water-Cure Craze

Notes, Summaries & Reviews, Thesis Research

Harry B. Weiss, The Great American Water-Cure Craze: A History of Hydropathy in the United States, (Trenton: The Past Times Press, 1967).

Harry Weiss’s work provides an excellent starting point for anyone trying to grasp what hydrotherapy was, when it was prominent, and who practiced and promoted it. The book is full of facts, images, dates, publications, and names that prove very useful for expanding on Weiss’s work. It was a bit strange to read a work of history that did not put forth a clear argument, but frankly, I sometimes wish more books were written this way. I suppose once the conversation has been started, however, it’s difficult to continue to produce more meaningful scholarship in this format.

Weiss makes an interesting and useful distinction between “hydropathy” and “hydrotherapy.” The former he associates with the earlier movement, commonly thought to be initiated by Austrian Vincent Priessnitz and characterized by strict adherence to routines (often involving a lot of exercise and various kinds of baths at strange hours), abstinence from stimulating food/drink, the exclusion of therapeutic drug use, and a vehement opposition to mainstream medicine. The latter, which emerged in the last decades of the 19th century, was less radical; most proponents were not only hydrotherapists, and they did not espouse a therapeutic strategy that relied exclusively on water. There was also more of an effort put forth by its main practitioners to provide a scientific foundation for the water’s efficacy and less of a tendency to denounce allopathic medicine. Instead, many of these men (and most of them were men — it seems the closer a sect associated with mainstream medicine, the less women were allowed in their midst) published in standard medical journals and associated with regular physicians.

Simon Baruch, M.D., provides an excellent example of this new kind of scientific hydrotherapist. He studied in Vienna under W. W. Winternitz, which is telling; I have seen in a couple of other places (Valenza, Taking the Waters in Texas and Weisz, “Spas, Mineral Waters, and Hydrological Science in Twentieth-Century France”) the contention that the effort to “scientize” hydrotherapy was far more prevalent in Europe than in the United States. In 1898, Baruch published The Principles and Practice of Hydrotherapy, A Guide to the Application of Water in Disease in New York.

“[It]…was written for students and practitioners of medicine, and represented the observations of Baruch who had gathered material for a third of a century from his private and hospital practice, together with the observations of other investigators. It includes a discussion of the application of water in its various forms, both internally and externally, and its mechanical and thermic action in disease. He thought ‘the nerve fibers and endings furnished a clue to that remarkable sensitiveness of the epidermic layer which opened to hydrotherapy a free gateway to the central nervous system,’ and believed in the ‘existence of active contrastibility upon the part of the muscular walls of the arteries and arterioles, and in a less degree of the veins and lymphatics, and of the capillary epithelium.’

“…Baruch studied the effects of hydriatic applications upon the distribution of the blood, upon blood pressures, upon changes in corpuscular elements, upon respiration and muscular systems, both in man and animals. Many case histories of cures by hydrotherapy are described. He deplored the neglect of the application of water in disease in America, characterizing it as ‘vague and timid until recent times.'” (66)

He evidently succeeded in his goal of bringing medical acknowledgement to hydrotherapy, as he served as professor of hydrotherapy at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. (See if I can find the years of this, as Weiss does not give them?)

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg also conducted extensive research into water’s use as a therapeutic agent, publishing a book on the subject — Rational Hydrotherapy. A Manual of the Physiological and Therapeutic Effects of Hydriatic Procedure, and the Technique of Their Application in the Treatment of Disease — in 1901. Kellogg operated a laboratory beginning in 1883, where he “began to make hundreds of observations with the aid of the calorimeter plethysmograph (for measuring variations in size of an organ or limb), ergograph (for recording work done by muscles), and other devices.” He classified the effects of water extensively — “excitant and sedative,” which were then “subdivided into primary and secondary, and then into general and local effects. The general effects he labeled as restorative, tonic and caloric, and the local effects as sudorific, diuretic, cholagogic, peptogenic, emmenagogic, revulsive, derivative, resolutive, alterative, and caloric.” (66-67) Kellogg also did not believe that water should be used exclusively in medical treatment, and he held that each disease required experience and knowledge on the part of the practitioner before a therapeutic strategy (water-based or otherwise) should be attempted.  (I have read elsewhere that Dr. Kellogg had a bit of an odd reputation toward the end of his life. Could this have affected the reception of his hydriatic studies?)

As hinted at earlier, Weiss provides a very helpful summary of water-cure journals, some of which I was pleased to find were published on into the late 1890s. I need to check out the “Herald of Health,” which ran from 1863-1892, and the same journal under a different title, “Journal of Hygiene and Herald of Health,” which ran from 1893-1897. It’s unlikely I’ll find anything related to Arkansas in the journal, seeing as the state is completely excluded from Weiss’s book, but maybe I can get a feel for the periodical’s  relationship with mainstream medicine.

I do want to talk about how Arkansas was absent. I’m used to seeing only Hot Springs mentioned, but for the entire state to be absent is a bit strange. The entire last half of the book (the “Appendix”) is a state-by-state breakdown of what was going on with the water-cure. States covered include: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas Territory (really?), Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota Territory, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York City and vicinity, New York State, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Canada. This is an old book — published in 1967 — but Weiss read a lot of primary source material, and it worries me that he didn’t run across Arkansas once. Either my subject area is more isolated than I thought or I’ve found an oversight… I guess either way, it’s an interesting little lacuna I’ve stumbled across.