Show Notes: The Doctors' Riot of 1788

Tracy Wilson

Body snatchers. © Bettmann/CORBIS

Sawbones is a show about medical history. It's for fun. Sometimes it's also for giving me ideas for podcast subjects, which is what happened with today's episode. After listening to the Sawbones episode Corpse Theft and the Resurrection Men while on a plane, I decided we needed an entire episode just on the Doctors' Riot of 1788. That's when a giant mob of people got so angry that buried bodies were being dug up for dissection that they stormed two different sites of medical study in New York. This was just one of at least 17 so-called anatomy riots in the U.S. between 1765 and 1854.

Listener mail is from Heather about our Edna St. Vincent Millay episodes (part 1 and part 2).

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Episode link: The Doctors' Riot of 1788

And! Here are not one, but TWO places to learn whether England was at war with France in a given year. These are also, like Sawbones, for fun, so please no pedantry about whether England was really England or France was really France at any of these times. We have seen the Venn diagram.

And and! We are now on iHeartRadio! HowStuffWorks has a whole station, and you can listen on the iHeartRadio apps.

My research:

  • Bell, Whitfield J. "Doctors' Riot, New York, 1788." Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. Vol. 47, No. 12, December 1971.
  • De Costa, Caroline. "American resurrection and the 1788 New York doctors' riot." The Lancet. Vol. 377, Issue 9762. January 2011.
  • Flexner, Abraham. "Medical Eduation in America: Rethinking the Training of American Doctors." The Atlantic. 6/1/1910.
  • Halperin, Edward C. "The Poor, the Black, and the Marginalized as the Source of Cadavers in United States Anatomical Education." Clinical Anatomy. Vol. 20. 2007.
  • Hulkower, Raphael. "From Sacrilege to Privilege: The Tale of Body Procurement for Anatomical Dissection in the United States." The Einstein Journal of Biology and Medicine. 2011.
  • Humphrey, David C. "Dissection and Discrimination: The Social Origins of Cadavers in America, 1760-1915." Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine. Vol. 49, No. 9, Sept. 1973.
  • Lovejoy, Bess. "The Gory New York City Riot that Shaped American Medicine." Smithsonian Magazine. 6/17/2014.
  • Swan, Robert J. "Prelude and Aftermath of the Doctors' Riot of 1788: A Religious Interpretation of White and Black Reaction to Grave Robbing." New York History. Vol. 81, No. 4, Oct. 2000.
  • Wilson, John. "Stanford University School of Medicine and the Predecessor Schools: An Historical Perspective." Stanford University.

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