• 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

  • The difference between an aurist and a surgeon?

    “…quacks, and aurists, get reputation for syringing the ear, when surgeons lose it; not because the quack has more knowledge of his profession, but because he takes more pains than the surgeon.” -Unknown, c.1828/1829. (Yes, I’m still holed up in the British Library reading 19th century treatises on aural surgery)

  • Spot on?

    In fact, with one or two exceptions, “aurist,” in England, has been hitherto but another term for “quack.” –James Yearsley (1805-1869), 1839.

  • Dedications

    One of my favorite parts of experiencing a book–whether it’s a nineteenth century treatise, or a trashy beach novel–is reading the dedication page.  I always wonder how much time and effort the author puts into deciding who gets the honor of the dedication (and of course, thinking about who I will dedicate my dissertation to…) and am at times… Continue Reading

  • On Pretended and Itinerant Aurists

    As focused as I’ve been on John Harrison Curtis, my current research focus has branched out, exploring a seeming network of aurists that also practiced in London during Curtis’ time. William Wright (1773-1860), as I’ve mentioned previously, was one of Curtis’ contemporaries, and perhaps his most fierce and prominent competitor. Wright had a very long career–nearly 50… Continue Reading

  • The Sorrows of Deafness

    If, on being introduced to a new circle, you find yourself addressing a person apparently between the ages of eighteen and thirty, who makes small or no reply even to your most piquant remarks, do not immediately set down him or her as either proud, sulky, or irremediably stupid; but let the thought suggest itself… Continue Reading

  • 18th Century Medical Experts and Medical Expertise

    A brief overview of three fantastic historical papers on eighteenth century expertise and experts: Steven Shapin, “Trusting George Cheyne: Scientific Expertise, Common Sense and Moral Authority in Early Eighteenth-Century Dietetic Medicine,” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 77(2): 263-297. What gives a physician his expertise, and how does one trust that expertise? Shapin addresses this issue,… 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

  • The Regent’s Park: A Charity Fair for the Royal Dispensary

    This representation of a fête champétre and ladies’ bazaar was created by the London lithographer Maxim Gauci (1774-1854). Active from 1810 to 1846, Gauci was amongst the first popular lithographers, producing numerous botanical plates for various publications.[1] This particular print illustrates the lively atmosphere of one of the annual events held in support for the… Continue Reading