As I sit here fighting my regular asthma/bronchitis battle brought on by seasonal allergies, my thoughts turned to the medicine of the past. In genealogical research, we often find references to diseases, treatments, and other medical information that may escape our modern knowledge. The Internet can be helpful, but in my experience I often find that the answers I find online are not quite right or accurate for the historical period in which I am researching.
One excellent print source to help you is A Medical Miscellany for Genealogists, by Dr. Jeanette L. Jerger. The Miscellany is composed of:
- medical descriptions reflecting 19th century understanding of the most prevalent diseases;
- definitions of obsolete or infrequently-used terms that assist in contextual understanding;
- popular herbal remedies;
- treatments for prevention and cure of disease;
- ethnic variations in cause, prevention, and treatment of disease;
- and historical reference points.
Jerger consulted dozens of historical and modern references to compose her list. The alphabetical list includes cross-references for multiple terms that refer to the same thing. From Abdominal Dropsy to Zwischentrager, this reference book will help you in deciphering causes of death, or illnesses and treatments mentioned in family diaries or writings of the time. A random check of items listed in the book found a significant number that were not readily available online.
This book is an excellent addition to your home library. It is available for $22 from Heritage Books.