Wednesday, January 8, 2014
The first day of class for Hist 424 was a syllabus day in which we discussed what we were to expect from the class and were told what we will be reading. The first book we will read will be Marrow of Tragedy, a book about medicine and health in the civil war. We listed things we might expect to see in the book. These included: ways diseases spread, the knowledge of this spread at the time, and the treatments used with the current theories of the time. We established that the germ theory of medicine had not yet developed and the "professionals" in health at the time believed in hackneyed theories such as the theory of humors or the miasma theory, the latter being more plausible as it suspected bad air to be the culprit of disease spread. We also hit on the point that it was women in the home (precursors to the modern nurse) that were responsible for most patient health improvement through providing comfort, rest, and food to the injured. The harsh and often harmful roles of the doctors were discussed; however, we did not discuss what experimental backing, if any, these treatments were based on. I am curious to find out whether or not there was any viable medical research that common battlefield doctors would have been exposed to in their training, or if their treatments were just a result of ignorance.