Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Beware of simpler times...

The BF and I visited the Schenectady Museum the other day. It’s a very small museum, housed in the historic Stockade section of the city, in an old two-story home, built in the 1800s. As you might expect, the museum’s exhibits focus primarily on items and events of historical significance to Schenectady, New York and the surrounding areas.

The BF was a history major in college, and he has a particular appreciation for New York State history. Among other things, we were there to see a new exhibit that highlighted the creation of the Erie Canal and the railroads, and their impact on the growth and development of the State.

I am more interested in the personal and social aspects of history, and while the canal and railways certainly impacted the social mores of the day, I found another exhibit at the museum much more fascinating…

The medical exhibit.

All I can say is, be grateful you live in 2014. Medicine and dentistry has come a very long way since the 1800s. This is a photo I took of the exhibit. The room is assembled to look like an exam room may have looked back then. In addition to a speculum on the exam table that looks as though it could give the doctor a clear view of your tonsils through your vagina, and a hammer (to test reflexes?) that could knock a prize fighter out cold, notice the rifle on the fireplace mantle in the background.

Based on some of the instruments I saw, along with the long list of deadly viruses that wiped out entire families during that era (cholera, Spanish fever, tuberculosis), the rifle may have been one of your better options as a patient.


Of course, as an artist and irrational lover of all things paper, my favorite item in the exhibit was this old prescription ledger. While I did my best to try to read some of the scripts, one thing hasn’t changed in centuries – it is still impossible to read the doctors’ handwriting.

And here  is my "altered" book of potions...


3 comments:

Cynthia Julian said...

Love seeing they swum thru your eyes. Am reading the Outlander series in which a main character is a 20th century doctor who time travels to the 18th century. I enjoy reading about the ailments of the time , how she treats them, & the diary she keeps.

Createology said...

I adore old penmanship and the lost art of cursive writing with flair. Old ledger books in museums always grab my extended attention. I love how you added "You will not findthe cure for what ails you in here." Creative Bliss Dear...

Marilyn J. Rock said...

Love this post Kerri! I have seen this at the museum. I cringed seeing the medical set up thinking on how far we've come. Yikes! The ledger paper IS to die for; the writing is an art in itself.

Did you check out the room with the old appliances? That old wringer-washing machine brought back memories (mostly of a broken hand) :)

xo M