“Every Necessary Care and Attention: George Washington and Medicine”, a six panel exhibit, is now on display in the HSL Lobby just until Monday, Sept. 15.
Don’t miss the display case of instruments similar to those that would have been used in George Washington’s time, courtesy of our History of Medicine Collection located on the lower level. Who knows? Some of these artifacts may have been used by George himself!
Instruments on display include:
- Blue cobalt leech jar
- Sterling silver feeding boat
- Heart Model
- Wooden Monaural Stethescope
- Pottery invalid feeding boat
- Bloodletting lancets and case
- Bleeding bowl
- Dental tooth key
- Dental instruments
- Ceramic hot water bottle
- Wooden mortar and pestle
As head of household, plantation owner, businessman, Revolutionary War general, and president, George Washington had many different concerns and responsibilities, from running his estate to ensuring the stability of a new nation. Alongside the traditional demands of political life and military leadership, he focused considerable attention on the health and safety of his family, staff, slaves, and troops.
Like others in the 18th century who needed medical assistance, Washington relied on a combination of home health remedies, common sense, herbal treatments, and medical science, as dispensed by an array of doctors, surgeons, dentists, barbers, apothecaries, nurses, midwives, and the occasional charlatan or quack. He turned to medical advice found in the books in his library, and ordered an assortment of common and patent medicines.
George himself survived smallpox, malaria, anthrax, pneumonia, and skin cancer, but his own health never deterred his and his wife, Martha’s, efforts to keep those close to them in the best possible health given the limitations of the time.
Also visit NLM’s online version of the exhibit, and don’t forget to stop by HSL’s History of Medicine Collection to view some of the instruments and artifacts of the time.