• A fulfilled career

    Twenty-five years have elapsed since I commenced this line of practice; and I have every reason to be satisfied with what I have accomplished in that period. I leave it to the profession to say what was the state of aural surgery before I commenced practice, and what had been done to increase our knowledge… Continue Reading

  • Birth and Death Dates…

    I’m currently conducting my research through the 19th Century British Library Newspapers Database. I found this: So if Curtis died in 1852 at age 68, that would mean he was born in 1784, not 1778 as most secondary accounts note. I also have another source from the archives stating he died in 1852; most accounts… Continue Reading

  • “Who shall decide when aurists disagree?”

    As aural surgery became a “fashionable” trend amongst aristocratic households and several aurists increased in prosperity, conflict between aurists became characteristic of the field. Aurists fiercely competed with each other for positions, status, and patients, and accused each other of being quacks. “Quack” seemed to be less than an accusatory term than a label thrown… Continue Reading

  • Sound the Trumpets

    Curtis’ Dispensary aimed to not only provide treatment for the poor and destitute populations, but also to supply acoustic instruments to those with severe hearing loss irremediable by medical treatments. Curtis was prolific in instrument design; taking into account new theories on sound and his own understanding of the physiology of the ear, he invented… Continue Reading

  • Mr. Curtis’ Acoustic Chair

    First introduced and described in the fourth edition of his Treatise on the Physiology and Diseases of the Ear (1831), John Harrison Curtis’ acoustic chair earned him national recognition as an inventor during the first half of the nineteenth century. The chair is a large library chair affixed with a trumpet alongside the chair such… Continue Reading

  • Self-Image

    J.F. Clarke (1874) on Curtis’ particular self-image:  His hours for consultation were between 11 and 2. He would not see a patient five minutes before 11 or five minutes after 2; and this practice he carried on even to the last—to a time, indeed, when he literally “wanted a guinea.” He never allowed a servant… Continue Reading

  • Trust in Quacks

    Lacking a proper medical degree or the right sorts of qualifications were often indicators for defining the quack medical practitioner. Or so it was accordingly to the Royal College of Physicians, who were always wary of their financial state in the medical marketplace. Yet the lay public were not always clear as to who the… Continue Reading

  • Sermons and Philanthropy

    I briefly wrote about the Royal Dispensary for Diseases of the Ear, remarking how Curtis’ efforts to increase the prestige of the RDDE relied on patronage and support from respectable physicians and surgeons. London society had praised the RDDE and applauded Curtis for drawing attention the plight of the deaf and providing the poor and… Continue Reading

  • Research Frustrations! RDDE and Lost Records

    In 1817, John Harrison Curtis founded the Dispensary for Diseases of the Ear, the first hospital in England offering specialized care for ear diseases. What was once a small practice aimed at introducing various modes of treatments for all kinds of ear diseases, the Dispensary grew to such a degree that a contemporary noted: “crowds… Continue Reading

  • Curtis’ 1817 Letter to the London Asylum

    In a previous post, I briefly outlined the history of the London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb. In this post, I turn my attention to provide an overview of Curtis’ difficulties in implementing his medical authority within the Asylum. Part of this post is derived from the paper I presented at a joint panel for the… Continue Reading

  • Who’s a Quack?

    In a 1825 article in The London Magazine aptly titled “Of Fashion in Physic,” the writer remarks how the public’s willingness to pay for what they considered “fashionable” trends in medicine and surgery left them vulnerable to ambitious practitioners or charlatans willing to exploit public faith. Speaking of aurists, the writer declared: The people are not… Continue Reading

  • The London Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb

    In examining the relationship and conflict between the medical and social perceptions of deafness, I began to evaluate how certain medical practitioners strove to implement their medical expertise and authority upon educational institutions for the deaf. John Harrison Curtis was no exception to the growing body of aurists who attempted to increase their reputation with… Continue Reading