Articles and Research
I’m currently working on the biography of Dr. Florence Nightingale Ward, a surgeon and homeopath from the turn of the past century. When I was completing my B.A. degree at Mills College a few years ago, I wrote my senior thesis on Florence. A slightly edited version of this paper was published in 2005 in Volume 11 of The American Homeopath.
Here’s a little lead-in to the paper, to give you a feel for it. You can download the whole thing from the link below. As I work on Florence’s biography, I’ll be adding more information to this page:
The types of health care available to Americans in the mid-nineteenth century were the most varied in the industrializing western world. Traditional medical practitioners; herbalists, also known as “Indian Doctors”; the Thomsonian “every man a doctor” school of botanical medicine; and last but not least, the homeopaths, were only the top four of many candidates for the handling of America’s medical needs...
The 1880s saw a schism in the American homeopathic movement. A small group of conservative homeopaths who fought for homeopathic purity stood against the large number of liberals who wanted homeopathy to be assimilated into mainstream medicine. This conflict nearly led to the extinction of the discipline in the United States. The practice of Florence Nightingale Ferguson Saltonstall Ward, M.D. (1860-1919) illustrates this tension...
Ward’s example is particularly worthy of study in that she was a woman with both a successful career and a family at a time when many did not consider this either suitable or even achievable...
Here is the paper as it was written for my thesis:
Until I began to research homeopathic history, I was not aware of the depth of influence the profession had on science and the medical arts in the United States.
With this influence on institutions and communities, there are many places one can find original documents, books, photographs, remedies, and memorabilia. Being the homeopathy geek that I am, I've gotten a lot of enjoyment out of discovering these places, seeing these items, and doing research.
Historical Research Locations
I include a list of places I've visited in order to view and do research. This is by no means a complete list - many libraries and medical colleges, and small local museums across the country include homeopathic items in their collections. Not to mention the many families and homeopathy historians who have private collections. We're lucky that so many public institutions have taken these donations and continue to preserve our heritage. I hope you'll find the time to check some of them out.
The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Washington DC: In order to view the large number of homeopathic remedy kits, including one owned by Samuel Hahnemann, you need to make an appointment with a medical history curator. I found it very exciting to behind the scenes at the Smithsonian!
Library of Congress, Washington DC: The Rare Book Room has a large number of original pamphlets, articles, books, and other publications from the 19th and early 20th centuries. In order to visit this and many other rooms in the library, you must get a library reader's card first. There online search catalogue is one of the best in the world. Among other treasures, I found a "Domestic Physician's" book that had been owned and used by Susan B. Anthony's mother through her childhood. Inside Ms. Anthony writes about how useful this book and homeopathic kit they owned had been, and how homeopathy was hers and her family's first choice for medical care.
UC Berkeley Bancroft Library: Open to the public with a current form of ID, the Bancroft library is the repository for many items having to do with California history, including homeopathy. I viewed scrapbooks full of articles from local newspapers mentioning homeopathy and homeopaths, advertising pamphlets, student magazines and newsletters for the Homeopathic Medical College of the Pacific based in San Francisco, articles about Fabiola Hospital in Oakland, the first hospital in the East Bay formed by a league of women including Phoebe Apperson Hearst, and staffed by homeopathic doctors.
UC San Francisco Rare Book Room: When The Homeopathic Medical School of the Pacific was incorporated into the UC system in 1915, UCSF inherited their large library of books and manuscripts. They also were given a copy of Hahnemann's 5th Edition of the Organon in which he handwrote notes for his 6th edition. With an appointment, the public can view any of this material. If you peruse their collection online, you can request specific items to be ready for you at your appointment.
Here is a list of some of my favorite books on homeopathic history:
Divided Legacy, Volume III, by Harris Coulter
A Vital Force: Women and American Homeopathy, by Anne Taylor Kirschmann
The Faces of Homeopathy, by Julian Winston