University of Nebraska Medical Center

New rare book selections on display in Wigton Heritage Center

Beginning March 1, visitors to the Wigton Heritage Center’s American College of Surgeons Rare Book Gallery on Level 5 of Wittson Hall will see eight new selections. The selections on display feature books from the Hiram Winnett Orr, MD, Rare Book Collection and the Leon S. McGoogan Health Sciences Library Rare Book Collection. The book topics include anatomy, surgical instruments, obstetrics, and women’s health.  

The featured anatomy books were created by Scottish anatomists: 

  • John Bell’s Engravings, explaining the anatomy of the bones, muscles, and joints (1794) includes macabre illustrations created by Bell, reflecting the popularity of Gothic literature of the period. 
  • In A system of anatomical plates (1825), Bell’s student John Lizars created illustrations beautiful and precise in their execution. 
  • Man: his structure and physiology (1857) was written by the infamous Robert Knox, known for his role in purchasing bodies from the murderers Burke and Hare  for use at his anatomy school. Knox’s book is a flap anatomy book with movable parts to display different layers of anatomy. 

Surgical instruments are features of three of the books from the Hiram Winnett Orr, MD, Rare Book Collection, on permanent loan from the American College of Surgeons. 

  • Surgical Operations: In the Pentateuch and other distinct surgical operations (1666) by Hieronymous Fabricius ab Aquapendente highlights illustrations of surgical instruments used in trepanation and lithotomy.  
  • Johannes Scultetus, a contemporary of Fabricius, is represented with Kheiroplotheke seu D. Joannis Sculteti . . . Armamentarium chiurgicum (1656) featuring illustrations of surgical instruments and images of how to use them for trepanation, tracheotomy, and mastectomy. 
  • The works of that famous chirurgion Ambrose Parey (1634) is an English translation of French surgeon Ambroise Paré’s work on everything from surgery to distillation to cryptid animals.  

The final two selections feature women’s health and obstetrics: 

  • Yoshitora Utagawa’s triptych, Fubu no on o shiru zu, “Realize one’s parental love” (circa 1880) features Japanese woodblock prints of the ten lunar months of gestation. The beautifully colored images include flowers representative of each month.   
  • The ideal woman, for maidens-wives-mothers (1915) by Mary Ries Melendy contains information and advice for the different stages of women’s lives. Melendy graduated from a homeopathic medical college and an eclectic medical college in Chicago. After graduation, she taught on diseases of women and children at a naturopathy school in Chicago.  

Can’t make it to the UNMC Omaha campus? Not to worry! You can visit the online gallery to learn more about the authors/creators, view images from the books, and learn more about the other 10,000+ rare books housed at the McGoogan Library.   

To book a research appointment, email history@unmc.edu or request a tour of the Wigton Heritage Center here

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