Medical History

Dentist Horace Wells set up shop in Hartford in 1836, before the discovery of anasthesia. At an exhibition in 1844 he became certain that nitrous oxide could revolutionize medicine. He tried to demonstrate his findings... but things didn't go as planned.

Women weren't initially welcome in the Civil War armies, but thousands eventually ended up serving as nurses. We feature five here. Listen in to learn about nurses like Sally Louisa Tompkins, whose hospital became one of the most successful of the war.

Polio: The Dread Disease

Polio was a terrifying threat in the early 20th century: It often left victims paralyzed or dead. Yet two vaccines caused an immediate drop in polio cases and today they've nearly eradicated the disease. But what exactly happened? Tune in to find out.

In part two of this interview series, Dr. Holly Tucker discusses the research methods behind her new book, "Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution." Listen in to learn more about the controversial history of transfusions.

In part one of a special author interview, Dr. Holly Tucker talks about her new book, "Blood Work: A Tale of Medicine and Murder in the Scientific Revolution." Tune in to learn more about the startling history of blood transfusion.

Civil War Medicine: Mary Edwards Walker

When the Civil War began, Mary Edwards Walker sought work as a surgeon. When the Union refused to give her an appointment, she worked as a volunteer. She became the first woman to win a Medal of Honor. Tune in to learn more about Mary Edwards Walker.

Who was the real Sherlock Holmes?

Arthur Conan Doyle wasn't the first person to write a mystery novel, but his focus on scientific methods and brilliant protagonist made the stories of Sherlock Holmes world-famous. Yet is Sherlock Holmes based on a real person? Tune in to find out.

He Was Killed by Mesmerism

Today, Franz Mesmer is hailed as the father of hypnosis. His original pursuit was called mesmerism, but what exactly was it? How did it (supposedly) work? Listen in as Sarah and Katie explore the strange theories of Franz Mesmer.

From 1827 to 1828, Burke and Hare were accused of killing fifteen people and selling their bodies to medical students. But were they really resurrectionists? Tune in to learn the truth about Burke and Hare in this podcast.

John Snow's Ghost Map

In this episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class, Katie and Sarah discuss Dr. John Snow's famous "ghost map" and work tracing a cholera outbreak in Victorian London.