Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science

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Web of Healing


The sources included on this list are representative of the primary and secondary literature that helped inform the content of this site. The secondary bibliographies are not meant to be exhaustive and in many cases are limited due to the specific geographic and temporal bounds of this project. See the links page to check out further resources on the topics discussed in this site.


Secondary Sources

Binger, C.A.L. Revolutionary Doctor, Benjamin Rush, 1746-1813 (Norton, 1966).

Brock, Helen, “North America, A Western Outpost of European Medicine,” in The Medical Enlightenment of the Eighteenth Century, ed. By Andrew Cunningham and R.K. French (Cambridge University Press, 1990).

Duffy, John. The Healers: The Rise of the Medical Establishment (McGraw-Hill, 1976).

Duffy, John. From Humors to Medical Science: A History of American Medicine (University of Illinois Press, 1993).

Drinker, Cecil K. Not So Long Ago: A Chronicle of Medicine and Doctors in Colonial Philadelphia (Oxford University Press, 1937).

Estes, J. Worth and Billy G. Smith, eds. A Melancholy Scene of Devastation: The Public Response to the 1793 Philadelphia Yellow Fever Epidemic (Science History Publications, 1997).

Friedenberg, Zachary. The Doctor in Colonial America (Routlege, 1998).

Goodman, Nathan G. Benjamin Rush, Physician and Citizen, 1746-1813 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1934).

Kett, Joseph F. The Formation of the American Medical Profession: The Role of Institution, 1780-1860 (Yale University Press, 1968).

Starr, Paul. The Social Transformation of American Medicine (Basic Books, 1982).

Powell, J.H. Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793 (University of Pennsylvania Press,1949).

African Americans

Primary Sources

Gris-Gris (Library Company, DuSimitiere papers).

Pariset, Etienne. Observations sur la fievre jaune, faites a Cadix, en 1819 (College of Physicians)

Rush, Benjamin. Testimony about Derham’s expertise to the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, November 14, 1788 (Historical Society of Pennsylvania, correspondence of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society).

Rush, Benjamin. Letters from James Derham to Benjamin Rush (Historical Society of Pennsylvania, correspondence of Benjamin Rush).

Rush, Benjamin. Medicinal recipes sent from Derham to Rush (Historical Society of Pennsylvania, correspondence of Benjamin Rush).

Secondary Sources

Bankole, Katherine. Slavery and Medicine: Enslavement and Medical Practices in Antebellum Louisiana. (Garland Publishing, Inc., 1998).

Barber, Karen. “How Man Makes God in West Africa: Yoruba Attitudes Towards the Orisha.”  Africa. 1981.

Berlin, Ira and Ronald Hoffman (eds).  Slavery and Freedom in the Age of the American Revolution. (University of Illinois Press, 1983).

Blockson, Charles L.  Philadelphia: 1639-2000.  (Arcadia Publishing, 2000). 

Chireau, Yvonne P.  Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition. (University of California Press, 2003).

Dubois, W.E.B.  The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study. (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1899).

Kiple, Kenneth and Virginia King.  Another Dimension to the Black Diaspora: Diet, Disease, and Racism. (Cambridge University Press, 1981).

Morais, Herbert. The History of the Negro in Medicine.  (Publishers Company, Inc., 1967).

Nash, Gary.  Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community, 1720-1840.  (Harvard University Press, 1988).

Pierson, William D. Black Yankees: The Development of an Afro-American Subculture in Eighteenth-Century New England. (University of Massachusetts Press, 1988)

Raboteau, Albert J.  Slave Religion: The “Invisible Institution” in the Antebellum South. (Oxford University Press, 1978).

Savitt, Todd. Medicine and Slavery: The Diseases and Health Care of Blacks in Antebellum Virginia (University of Illinois Press, 1978).

Sobel, Mechal. The World They Made Together: Black and White Values in Eighteenth-Century Virginia.  (Princeton University Press, 1987).

Trotter, Jr., Joe William and Eric Ledell Smith (eds).  African Americans in Pennsylvania: Shifting Historical Perspectives. (Pennsylvania State Press, 1997).

Wright, Donald R. African Americans in the Colonial Era: From African Origins Through the American Revolution.  (Harlan Davidson, Inc., 1990).

Native Americans

Primary Sources

Barton, Benjamin Smith, M.D. Collections for an Essay Towards a Materia Medica of the United States. 1798 (University of Pennsylvania, Rare Books and Manuscripts).

Barton, William P.C., M.D. Vegetable Material Medica of the United States; or Medical Botany...Illustrated by Coloured Engravings, made after original drawings from nature, done by the author. 1817 (University of Pennsylvania, Rare Books and Manuscripts).

Heckewelder, John Gottlieb E. Names of various trees, shrubs & plants in the language of the Lenape. 1815 (American Philosophical Society).

Rush, Benjamin. An Oration, delivered February 4, 1774, before the American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia. Containing, an enquiry into the natural history of medicine among the Indians in North-America. 1774 (American Philosophical Association).

Secondary Sources

Axtell, James. Natives and newcomers: the cultural origins of North America (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Cowan, David L. “The impact of the materia medica of the North American Indians on professional practice,” in Botanical Drugs of the Americas in the Old and New Worlds: Invitational Symposium at the Washington-Congress 1983 (Stuttgart: WVG, 1984).

Duffy, John. The Healers: the Rise of the Medical Establishment (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1976).

Schiebinger, Londa and Claudia Swan, eds., Colonial Botany: Science, Commerce, and Politics in the Early Modern World (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005).

Starr, Paul. The Social Transformation of American Medicine (New York: Basic Books, 1982).

Vogel, Virgil J. American Indian medicine (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970).

Women and Healing

Primary Sources

Buchan, William. Domestic Medicine: Or, A Treatise on the Prevention and Cure of Diseases by Regimen and Simple Medicines with An APPENDIX, containing a Dispensatory for the use of Private Practitioners. Philadelphia, 1793 (University of Pennsylvania Rare Books and Manuscripts).

Dewees, William P. A Compendious System of Midwifery, Chiefly Designed to Facilitate the Inquiries of Those Who May be Pursuing this Branch of Study…8th ed., 1837 (University of Pennsylvania Rare Books and Manuscripts).

Haines, Reuben. Catharine Haines, Notebook. 1776 (American Philosophical Society, ms.coll.52, series III: Haines, Reuben [I or II]).

Paschall, Elizabeth Coates. Receipt Book (The Philadelphia College of Physicians).

Smellie, William. A Set of Anatomical Tables. 1793 (The Library Company).

Secondary Sources

Banks, Amanda Carson. Birth Chairs, Midwives, and Medicine (University Press of Mississippi, 1999).

Cody, Lisa Forman. Birthing the Nation: Sex, Science, and the Conception of Eighteenth-Century Britons (Oxford University Press, 2005).

Donegan, Jane B. Women and Men Midwives: Medicine, Morality, and Misogyny in Early America (Greenwood Press, 1978).

Eakins, Pamela S., ed. The American Way of Birth (Temple University Press, 1986).

Goetz, Catherine. “A Woman of the ‘Best Sort’:The Diary of Elizabeth Drinker,” in Billy G. Smith, ed., Life in Early Philadelphia: Documents from the Revolutionary and Early National Periods (Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995).

Hass, Gabrielle. Memory, Wisdom and Healing: The History of Domestic Plant Medicine (Stroud, Great Britain: Sutton Publishing, 1999).

Kass, Amalie M. Midwifery and Medicine in Boston: Walter Channing, M.D., 1786-1876 (Northeastern University Press, 2002).

Kelley, Joseph J., Jr. Life and Times in Colonial Philadelphia (Stackpole Books, 1973).

Klepp, Susan E. “Lost, Hidden, Obstructed and Repressed: Contraceptive and Abortive Technology in the Early Delaware Valley,” in Early American Technology: Making and Doing Things from the Colonial Era to 1850, ed. Judith A. McGaw (University of North Carolina Press, 1994).

Leavitt, Judith. Brought to Bed: Childbearing in America, 1750-1950 (Oxford University Press, 1986).

McGregor, Deborah Kuhn. From Midwives to Medicine: The Birth of American Gynecology (Rutgers University Press, 1998).

Murphy, Lamar Riley. Enter the Physician: the Transformation of Domestic Medicine, 1760-1860 (University of Alabama Press, 1991).

Rosenberg, Charles E. “The Book in the Sickroom: A Tradition of Print and Practice,” Available online at [].

Rosenberg, Charles E. “Medical Test and Social Context: Explaining William Buchan’s ‘Domestic Medicine,’” Bulletin of the History of Medicine 1983(57):22-42.

Scholten, Catherine M. “On the Importance of the Obstetrick Art: Changing Customs of Childbirth in America, 1769-1825,” William and Mary Quarterly 34(1977):426-445.

Starr, Paul. The Social Transformation of American Medicine: The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry (Basic Books, 1982).

Tannenbaum, Rebecca. The Healer’s Calling: Women and Medicine in Colonial New England (Cornell University Press, 2002).

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher. A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary (Vintage Books, 1990).


Primary Sources

Advertisement: Dr. Sanxay’s Medicines, Pennsylvania Packet no. 22, March 23, 1772 (The Library Company).

Advertisement: Thomas Anderton, Venereal Disease, Pennsylvania Packet no. 22, March 23, 1772 (The Library Company).

Advertisement: Dr. Hill’s American Balsalm, Pennsylvania Packet no. 21, March 16, 1772 (The Library Company).

Fumagalli, P., View of the New Market from the Corner of Shippen and Second Street, ca. 1787.  (American Philosophical Society, print).

Secondary Sources

Binger, C.A.L. Revolutionary Doctor, Benjamin Rush, 1746-1813. 1st ed. New York: Norton, 1966).

Delbourgo, James. “Common Sense, Useful Knowledge, and Matters of Fact in the Late Enlightenment: The Transatlantic Career of Perkins's Tractors.” The William and Mary Quarterly, 61(2004): 43.

Gevitz, Norman, ed. Other Healers: Unorthodox Medicine in America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988).

Gevitz, Norman, “Samuel Fuller of Plymouth Plantation: A ‘Skillful’ Physician or ‘Quacksalver’?” Journal of the History of Medicine 47(1992): 29-48.

Helfand, William H. Quack, Quack, Quack: The Sellers of Nostrums in Prints, Posters, Ephemera & Books: An Exhibition on the Frequently Excessive & Flamboyant Seller of Nostrums as Shown in Prints, Posters, Caricatures, Books, Pamphlets, Advertisements & Other Graphic Arts over the Last Five Centuries (New York: Grolier Club, 2002).

Helfand, William H. Patricia Eckert Boyer, Judith Wechsler, Maurice Rickards, and Philadelphia Museum of Art., The Picture of Health: Images of Medicine and Pharmacy from the William H. Helfand Collection (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art; Distributed by the University of Pennsylvania Press, 1991).

Porter, Roy. Quacks: Fakers & Charlatans in English Medicine (Stroud; Charleston: Tempus, 2000).

Young, James Harvey. American Health Quackery: Collected Essays by James Harvey Young (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1992).

Young, James Harvey. "Patent Medicines: An Early Example of Competitive Marketing," The Journal of Economic History, 20(1960): 648-56.

Young, James Harvey. The Toadstool Millionaires: A Social History of Patent Medicines in America before Federal Regulation (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1961).