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Overview

A primary source for the study of the history of medicine, the Albany Medical College Inaugural Theses contains medical theses from the Albany Medical College, focusing on the disease states, diagnoses, treatments, and epidemiological findings of the period.

Students of medical sociology, medicine, history of medicine, and history of medical education, as well as students of health education, will find facts about the medical social setting--such as "the duties of the physician" and insights on the medical education, medical knowledge, and medical practice in Upstate New York for more than half the 19th century. This material applies to most of the medical education of the period without regard to location, geography causing negligible variance in the kinds of medical/ethical issues and diseases challenging American doctors of the 19th century.

A glance over the topics reveals trends in diseases that were prevalent and those that caused concern at that time. Thesis subjects include acute bronchitis, cholera, dysentery, erysipelas, gastritis, hepatitis, infanticide, insanity, nutrition, pneumonia, scarlet fever, scrofula (tuberculosis of the lymph nodes), syphilis, typhoid fever, vision defects, and yellow fever.

The progress of medical knowledge can be traced with the aid of dissertations written about particular conditions at frequent intervals. For example, students in epidemiological history can examine theses that appear nearly every two years from 1859 to 1890 on the subject of diptheria (for a total of 57 theses). An even larger number of theses are included on the subject of typhoid fever--for a total of 92 theses from 1853 to 1891.

Other dissertations focus on practices later condemned, such as "bloodletting" and "leaching." Some cover mental illness (specifically insanity), the mind, and imagination--works from the early beginnings of the profession of psychiatry as we know it today. In addition, researchers will note trends in obstetrics and gynecology, as well as attitudes toward women's "afflictions" and "hysteria."

The medical historian will find many theses on the medical profession itself and the progress of medicine, including attention to questions about the proper role and etiquette of the physician: what kind of care the doctor is duty-bound to provide and what the doctor's duty is to society.

The theses were filmed from archives of the Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, and compiled by Rue Moore, Canon of the Archives at the Medical Center. Due to its thoroughness and bibliographic integrity, as well as the historical significance of the diseases, topics, and trends covered, the collection is of vital interest to medical historians and students.

ILLUSTRATIONS: Several theses include color illustrations. These are provided with the collection on 35mm slides.

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