History of Medicine in UVic Special Collections
History of Medicine in the vaults of the McPherson Library holds more than a surprise for the curious reader! The annual symposium of the Research Collective History of Medicine is the occasion for a small exhibition of some gems kept in Special Collections.
First, two early modern manuscripts from the Brown Collection attest to a time when magic, medicine, and astronomy were close and even intimate neighbours. Medicine is then conceived as the right and insightful appreciation of echoes and analogies between the world and the individual. Collections of recipes, growing in size with each generation of readers, are the living form of these practices and meditations: both an art of healing and a treasure of knowledge, medicine inscribes the person in the universal harmony of cosmos.
Then, two mythical books for History of Medicine: the De Fabrica of Vesalius (1555) and the Anatomical Exercises of William Harvey (1653), the first English version of Harvey’s booklet on the circulation of the blood. These two works are essential steps in the birth of modern medicine and seal the divorce between medicine and magic by establishing a scientific method for exploring the body. They are both gifts of Dr. William Gibson, who chose McPherson Library as a meaningful place for receiving and transmitting the legacy of pioneering scientists.
The Universal Medicine of Jean Fernel, in a 1637 edition, may then be viewed as the last testimony of the ancient Medicine, already promising the modern lives of the discipline. A Renaissance man, who knew classical languages as well as astronomy, mathematics, and medicine, Jean Fernel embodies in his Universal Medicine the humanist dream of “Universal Knowledge”.
The treatises of anatomy found in the Seghers Collection show another face of our medical tradition: the vulgarization and teaching of medicine. In German, in French, in English, three books of our collections tell of the spreading of medical knowledge as part of the history of “Progress”. Donated to the Catholic Diocese of Vancouver Island, these books came to UVic in 1976 with the library of the Diocese. Under the name of Seghers Collection, this library constitutes an essential part of BC Heritage.
Mini-exhibitions such as this one are planned throughout the coming year. If you wish to be contacted about upcoming events, or if you need more information, please send an email to Hélène Cazes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A mini-guide for the exhibition follows:
Medicine and Magic
Medical Manuscript Receipt Book, ca. 1680-1716
De humani corporis fabrica libri septem
Basileae : per I. Oporinum, 
824 p. : ill. ; 42.cm
QM21 V4 1555
Universa medicina / Ioannis Fernelii Ambiani ; ab ipso quidem autore ante obitum diligenter recognita, & iustis accessionibus locupletata ; addita sunt eiusdem Fernelii consilia, & Guliel. Plantii Scholia in pharmacopoeam seu librum therapeutices septimum
Geneva : Typis Iacobi Stoer, 1637
, 1172,  p., 4º
R 128.6 F 47 1637
The Anatomical Exercises of Dr. William Harvey, Professor of Physick, and Physician to the Kings Majesty, Concerning the motion of the Heart and Blood, With The Preface of Zachariah Wood… To which is added, Dr. James De Back, his Discourse of the Heart
London: Printed by Francis Leach, for Richard Lowndes, 1653
QP101 H28 1653
Vollständiges Handbuch der Anatomie des menschlichen Körpers : Zergliederungs-Kunde und -Kunst
Bonn : [König], 1839-1845
3 v. ; 23 cm. Library has vol. 1-2
Traité d'anatomie descriptive
Paris : Labé, 1843-1845
2. éd. 4 v. ; 23 cm. Library has t. 2-4
QM23 C89 1843
First book on anatomy, physiology, and hygiene. For grammar schools and families. With eighty-three engravings / by Calvin Cutter
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.; Toronto: Adam Miller, 1873
viii, , 10-191 p.: ill. ; 19 cm