06 February 2012

History of Medicine


The U.S. National Library of Medicine has a website devoted to the history of medicine!  You might be wondering “why” a genealogy blog would post about something like this?

If you are like me, the further you go back in your research into your ancestors, the more likely you are to find that someone died of some disease or condition that you have never heard of before!  In fact, that can be true on modern death certificates as well.  Unless you’ve had medical training and/or personal experience with the disease or condition, why would you know about it ?!?!?

And, it includes material from around the world!

What is the strangest or most unusual “cause of death” you have come across?



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3 comments:

  1. My grandfather died in 1907 of "exhaustion with a contributory condition of acute mania." I believe after examining his medical records that he died of undiagnosed rabies. The only other diagnosis that would fit his history is acute mercury poisoning and that seems even less likely than rabies. (I am a physician.) Contributory to my diagnosis is the fact that he had been attacked by a dog in the past and my knowledge that the incubation period of rabies can be as long as 7 years. (I investigated the case that demonstrated this fact)

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  2. Thank you for reminding me about this resource. My great-great grandfather was in the Civil War and discharged due to rheumatism. I'll use the Library to research the history of this diagnosis and its application during the Civil War.

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  3. "died from a pig falling on him" caused a bit of confusion, until I realised that the deceased man worked in an iron foundry. A "pig" was a large lump of iron which was ready to be shipped out of the factory.

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