Man: His Structure & Physiology


“Man: His Structure & Physiology: Popularly Explained and Demonstrated” by Robert Knox, 2nd edition, London: H. Bailliere, 1858.

This month we’ve chosen to highlight an anatomical atlas by Scottish anatomist, zoologist, and physician, Dr. Robert Knox (1791-1862). His popular book entitled Man: His Structure & Physiology: Popularly Explained and Demonstrated was originally published in 1857, with a second edition (shown here) printed a year later in 1858.

Knox was an esteemed professor at The University of Edinburgh — famous for his dissections and lectures which were often ticketed and open to the public. Prior to the 1832 Anatomy Act, it was discovered that Knox relied on illegal methods to acquire his cadavers. Knox was connected to the Burke and Hare West Port murders of 1828, and despite never being tried, his reputation was forever marred in controversy.

The atlas is described in simple language and includes some detailed plate illustrations — several of which can lift (“pop-up”) off the page. The idea behind this design was to imitate a dissection as much as possible, allowing students and readers to discover multiple layers of physiological detail. As the preface of the second edition describes, it is an “elementary and educational Work, containing such an outline of Human Structure and Human Physiology as may prove a safe basis whereon to build the edifice of special or philosophic inquiry and research” (London, October, 1857).

The book is available to view at the Osler Library during regular hours. For those who are not able to visit the library in person, a digitized version of a more recent pressing can be accessed at

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Plate #3 from Robert Knox’s “Man: His Structure & Physiology: Popularly Explained and Demonstrated”, 2nd edition, 1858.

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Plate #6 from Robert Knox’s “Man: His Structure & Physiology: Popularly Explained and Demonstrated”, 2nd edition, 1858.






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Plate #8 with explanations on opposite page in Robert Knox’s “Man: His Structure & Physiology: Popularly Explained and Demonstrated”, 2nd edition, 1858.

For the Love of Cocoa

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The name Cadbury has been synonymous with chocolatey sweets in Britain and abroad since Quaker chocolatier John Cadbury (1802-1889) opened his first factory in 1831. Cocoa: All About It was written by his son, Richard Barrow Cadbury (1835-1899), and originally published under the pseudonym ‘Historicus’ in 1892. The book chronicles the natural history of the tropical American cocoa plant – its spread and cultivation around the world, the history of its use, and a detailed account of nineteenth century manufacturing processes as exemplified by the Cadbury family’s factory in Bournville, near Birmingham, England.

Truly a must-read for all chocolate lovers, this classic book provides a detailed and intriguing account of the world’s most popular indulgence. It is available to view at the Osler Library during regular opening hours, and if you’re unable to visit the library in person, a fully digitized version can be found by visiting

Read, indulge, and enjoy!


First edition copy of Cocoa: All About It, published 1892, with a gatefold reproduction of an illustration from the Latin Book on Chocolate (1639) depicting Neptune receiving a ‘Casket of Chocolate’.

Bookside Manner

Do you ever highlight, underline, or add your own notes and musings into the margins of your own books? Do you dog-ear your pages? Upon discovering this 1963 Gazette editorial in the archives, we felt inspired to put the following question out there to all book lovers and bibliophiles: How is your “bookside” manner?

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“Cruelty To Books.” Author unknown. The Gazette, April 20, 1963. Part of the Osler Library’s Kelen Family fonds, it is from a 1960s scrapbook arranged in memory of Osler Librarian, W. W. Francis (1878-1959).

For those inspired by this topic, we suggest taking a look at writer and physician Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1883 posthumous “lost” novel The Narrative of John Smith, wherein the altruistic protagonist Smith lobbies for a bill to be passed by the House of Commons concerning better care and preservation of books:

“Since we have societies for the prevention of various kinds of cruelty, why do we not have a society for the prevention of cruelty to books?”

History of Medicine on Overdrive

Looking for some reading over the long weekend? Like listening to audiobooks during your commute? Check out some medical history titles now available on Overdrive.

Overdrive is a digital media library that McGill subscribes too. You can borrow and download e-books and audiobooks for a lending period of up to 3 weeks.

Here are a couple of newly available titles for history of medicine:

The medical book: from witch doctors to robot surgeons, 250 milestones in the history of medicine, by Clifford Pickover.

            Touching on such diverse subspecialties as genetics, pharmacology, neurology, sexology, and immunology, Pickover intersperses “obvious” historical milestones—the Hippocratic Oath, general anesthesia, the Human Genome Project—with unexpected and intriguing topics like “truth serum,” the use of cocaine in eye surgery, and face transplants.


The iMinds series has short, readable on Bubonic Plague, Epidemics, Penicillin, and other medical topics.

Medical detectives: the lives and cases of Britain’s forensic five, by Robin Odell.

            The development of forensic pathology in Britain is told here through the lives of five outstanding medical pioneers. Spanning seventy years, their careers and achievements marked major milestones in the development of legal medicine, their work and innovation laying the foundations for modern crime scene investigation (CSI). Sir Bernard Spilsbury, Sir Sydney Smith and Professors John Glaister, Francis Camps and Keith Simpson were the original expert witnesses. Between them, they performed over 200,000 post-mortems during their professional careers, establishing cruicial elements of murder investigation such as time, place and cause of death


Nothing but the tooth: a dental odyssey, by Barry Berkovitz.

            This book offers facts and figures regarding famous historical figures, such as John Hunter, Dr Crippen, Doc Holliday, and Paul Revere, exploring how their connections to dentistry shaped them, as well as the story of the two young dentists who discovered the principles of general anaesthesia. Other chapters focus on the amazing ranges of teeth in animals, from the teeth in piranhas to the tusks and ivory of elephants and narwhals, looking at their biological and cultural significance.


Check out the Getting Started guide to download the software you’ll need (Mac/Ipad users take note: you will need to download the free Overdrive Media Console from the app store). You’ll need to sign in with your library account number.

Find more information about e-books here.


Some new titles – February

Happy March everyone. Let’s check out a selection of titles that we acquired in February. Take a look!


Barefoot doctors and western medicine in China / Xiaoping Fang. Rochester, NY : University of Rochester Press, 2012.

From the University of Rochester Press:

In 1968, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Communist Party endorsed a radical new system of health-care delivery for the rural masses. Soon every village had at least one barefoot doctor to provide basic medical care, creating a national network of health-care services for the very first time. The barefoot doctors were portrayed nationally and internationally as revolutionary heroes, wading undaunted through rice paddies to bring effective, low-cost care to poor peasants. This book is the first comprehensive study to look beyond the nostalgia dominating present scholarship on public health in China and offer a powerful and carefully contextualized critique of the prevailing views on the role of barefoot doctors, their legacy, and their impact.

Lotions, potions, pills, and magic : health care in early America / Elaine G. Breslaw. New York : New York University Press, 2012.

Historian Elaine Breslaw explores the health crises of early American settlements and identifies the array of Western medicine and indigenous healing techniques practiced side-by-side, together, or in conflict in the period following the American Revolution.

Conserver la santé ou la rétablir : le rôle de l’environnement dans la médecine antique et médiévale : actes du colloque international, Saint-Étienne, 23-24 octobre 2008 / textes réunis et présenté par Nicoletta Palmieri. Saint Étienne : Publications de l’Université de Saint Étienne, 2012.

This volume of proceedings from an international colloquium contains work by scholars Jacques Jouanna, Heinrich von Staden, and Klaus-Dietrich Fischer among many others.

Chinese traditional healing : the Berlin collections of manuscript volumes from the 16th through the early 20th century / by Paul U. Unschuld and Zheng Jinsheng. Leiden ; Boston: Brill, 2012.

An impressive three volume set consisting of one volume of essays and two volumes containing a survey of over 800 Chinese medical manuscripts produced for private use from the 16th to the 20th centuries.

Urban planning and public health in Africa : historical, theoretical and practical dimensions of a continent’s water and sanitation problematic / Ambe J. Njoh. Farnham, England ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, 2012.

The author investigates hygiene and sanitation policies in Africa, and the resulting state of public health, in the light of European colonial urban planning.

Have you had a chance to read any of these yet? What did you think?



Some new titles – January

Carter, Neil. Medicine, sport, and the body: a historical perspective. London; New York : Bloomsbury, 2012.


This book provides a history of the relationship between sport, medicine and health from the mid-19th century to today. It combines the sub-disciplines of the history of medicine and the history of sport to give a balanced analysis of the role of medicine in sport and how this has evolved over the past two centuries.

Harrison, Mark. Contagion : how commerce has spread disease. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012.

Find a review from Times Higher Education here.

Jacques, Jouanna. Greek medicine from Hippocrates to Galen : selected papersLeiden ; Boston : Brill, 2012.

A selection of Professor Jouanna’s papers on Greco-Roman and late antique medicine in English translation.

Leonardo da Vinci, anatomist. [London] : Royal Collection Publications, 2012.

See a write-up about this book on fantastic culture, ideas, and ”interestingness” blog Brain Pickings (with pictures!)

Lessard, Renald. Au temps de la petite verole : la medecine au Canada aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siecles. Québec : Septentrion, [2012].

Listen to an interview with the author from Radio Canada.

Ross, John J. Shakespeare’s tremor and Orwell’s cough : the medical lives of great writers. New York : St. Martin’s Press, 2012.

Did writing 1984 kill George Orwell. Physician John Ross investigates (and the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases reviews – [McGill users]).

Wise, Sarah. Inconvenient people : lunacy, liberty, and the mad-doctors in Victorian England. London : Bodley Head, 2012.

Find a review from the UK’s The Guardian here.

World Leprosy Day

January 30th is World Leprosy Day. Observed either on this day or the nearest Sunday, the day is designed to raise public awareness of leprosy, historically one of the most stigmatized illnesses.

Portrait of Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1914), a Norwegian physician best known for identifying Mycobacterium leprae, the bacterium that causes leprosy, or Hansen’s disease. (Munich: J. F. Lehmann, 1912.) From the Osler Library Prints online.

Portrait of Gerhard Henrik Armauer Hansen (1841-1914), a Norwegian physician best known for identifying Mycobacterium leprae, the bacterium that causes leprosy, or Hansen’s disease. (Munich: J. F. Lehmann, 1912.) From the Osler Library Prints online.

See an article from the current issue of The Lancet about the success of eradication strategies in Iran. (McGill users)

The authors write:

Although leprosy was officially eliminated more than a decade ago, the disease has not been completely eradicated and the scars from the past linger on. Iran, with an annual incidence of less than 100 cases, is among the regions in which strategies recommended by WHO have been implemented successfully thanks to the availability of free multidrug therapy and leprosy elimination campaigns.


Read all about it with some resources from our circulating collection:

Boeckl, Christine. Images of leprosy: disease, religion, and politics in European art. Kirksville, Mo. : Truman State University Press, 2011.

Liang, Qizi. Leprosy in China: a history. New York : Columbia University Press, 2009.

Rawcliffe, Carole. Leprosy in medieval England. Woodbridge, UK ; Rochester, NY : Boydell Press, 2006.

Demaitre, Luke. Leprosy in premodern medicine: a malady of the whole body. Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007.


Or take a virtual tour of New Brunswick’s 19th century leper hospital here. Between 1844 and 1949, 327 patients with leprosy were housed and treated at this lazaretto.