I have always had a love of medicine, I think it stems from the fact that I grew up in a family with medical ties. Therefore when I first came to the West Hants Historical Society I was immediately intrigued by the display of historical medicine. The medical world has advanced in so many ways in a relatively short span of time. In the past two hundred years medicine has come leaps and bounds from where it was thanks to research and innovation by some of the most brilliant minds of the past two centuries.
Back in the nineteenth and early twentieth century medicine was fairly primitive because doctors just simply did have the knowledge we have today. This meant they were very treatments available causing simple ailments like the common cold or the flu to be fatal. It also means viruses and infections spread much quicker than they do today, casing them to much more harmful. These epidemics often led to quarantine, when the patient was isolated form society and most of the time died from their ailment due to the lack of treatment.
There were very few regulations on medicine back then meaning most medications contained large amounts of alcohol. Sometimes there were even traces of cocaine or mercury found. Now of course we know that these substances would have had little affect on a patients recovery. Most of the time they only made the patient feel better for a short amount of time before they would become ill again.
Throughout history travelling “doctors” moved from town to town including Windsor. These imposters would often team up with a member of the crowd called a shill, the shill would then proclaim the healing powers of the “medicine”. Unfortunately many members of the town fell for the “doctor” and the shill’s bold proclamation and would purchase the products in hopes of curing their ailment or that of a family member. Then before they realised it was all a scam the “doctor” would skip town on his way to the next town to cheat.
These bits of history are just some of the topics our wonderful display covers. It also houses the rules for scarlet fever quarantine, an old wheel chair and even some dentistry tools. So my recommendation if you have any interest in medicine or history at all for that matter come check our display and all the others we have to offer.
Abbie, summer student