University of Nebraska Medical Center

Smallpox exhibit featured

The McGoogan Health Sciences Library has a new exhibit on smallpox, “Battling the Speckled Monster: Stories of Slaying Smallpox,” which features three books from the library’s rare book collection and the H. Winnett Orr rare book collection.

The exhibit is located at the entrance of Level 8.

Edward Jenner’s 1798 “An Inquiry into the Causes and Effects of the Variolae Vaccinae” publicized his discovery of the smallpox vaccine derived from cowpox. Jenner’s publication on smallpox was only 70 pages long. The illustrations were printed from copper engravings and hand painted with watercolors. Accurate physical depictions of disease have always been an important component in educating others.

In “The Works of the Right Honourable Lady Mary Wortley Monatgu,” viewers are introduced to one 18th-century woman’s fight to introduce smallpox inoculation to England. This compilation work contains the letters that Lady Montagu wrote home to England while in Turkey. In these letters, she shares her interest in the Turkish practice of smallpox inoculation.

The third book, “A Treatise on the Small-pox and Measles,” is a 19th-century translation of Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariya Razi, known as Rhazes in the west’s 9th century landmark work distinguishing the difference between smallpox and measles. Originally written in the 10th century, Rhazes’ work eventually was translated into Latin and Greek. The English translation was created by William Alexander Greenhill, an English physician.

To view more of the McGoogan Library and Orr collections, visit Level 5 of Wittson Hall.

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