About the Project – Reading Early Medicine

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2024-05-15 20:30:07

The project takes an inclusive view of “health and healing” as a topic in printed works in English c.1475-1700. The bibliography has been compiled from extensive searches of the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). We used a wide range of subject and title word searches including (where * is a truncation):

In later stages of the project, in recognition that many English medical texts were translations of writings in Latin or European vernaculars, the team also searched for medical authors including well-known ancient authorities such as Hippocrates and Galen and contemporary authors like Jean Fernel, Amatus Lusitanus and Daniel Sennert. This corpus is much broader than the British Isles, because so many of the works are translations from Continental texts. Paracelsus, for example, the 16th century radical German healer who revolutionized therapeutics, can be read in English; so too can Felix Platter, the noted anatomist. Excluded texts include almanacs and Bills of Mortality and texts with less than 30% medical content, broadly described. For example, although almanacs often included some healthcare information such as good times for bleeding, such information was a relatively low proportion of the text, and, more important, they are a very substantial and clearly-defined genre.

After assembling the corpus, we coded each text with categories we designed to help users find their way. These categories include topic, genre, and occupation of the author (when stated in the text) and recorded location information. More about these categories can be found on the Key Definitions page.

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