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Curious Remedies: The Making of Early Modern Medicine

The Lee Library’s current exhibit, “Curious Remedies: Medicine During the Renaissance,” highlights medical knowledge of the Renaissance and Early Modern period with books from Special Collections. Before chemical engineering or even the discovery of penicillin, physicians relied on plants, minerals, and animals to concoct medicines for their patients. Botanical encyclopedias called herbals helped scientists identify plants and their medicinal properties, and physicians and apothecaries circulated recipes for medicinal compounds in books and manuscripts called pharmacopoeias. Recipes for home remedies were also commonly found in books on cookery and household management!

To find examples of early herbals and pharmacopoeias, search the library catalog with the subject terms “Materia medica–Early works to 1800;” “Botany–Early works to 1800;” or “Pharmacy–Early works to 1800.”  Shown here is a page from a 1670 English pharmacopoeia, The Pharmacopoeian Physician’s Repository by Everard Maynwaringe.


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