My Favorite Book

I’ve been writing this blog for about six weeks now and it’s occurred to me that I’ve barely mentioned my work in the Des Moines University Archives and Rare Book Room. I have a sneaky feeling that I’ve avoided it because I’ve been trying to get a departmental newsletter off the ground for ages, and to cover the Archives on this blog without having debuted the newsletter would just be …wrong.

So, in order to share some of the “cool stuff” that goes on at DMU, I thought I’d start by sharing some of the archives/rare book room stories that have already been featured in DMU’s quarterly magazine, aptly named the DMU Magazine.

And, of course, I’ll start with my favorite article–one which I helped write.

The Des Moines University Archives and Kendall Reed Rare Book Room is home to a beautiful, 1st English edition copy of the The Workes of That Famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey [sic], printed in 1634.

From the article:

French surgeon Ambroise Paré (1510-1590) made innumerable contributions to the field of medicine and is considered a father of modern surgery. On the battlefield, Paré resurrected an old but rarely used concoction of egg yolk, oil of roses and turpentine to treat wounds in lieu of boiling elderberry oil. He also successfully disproved the theory that Bezoar Stones contained magical healing properties. In addition, Paré introduced groundbreaking work in obstetrics and developed the Bec de Corbin, an early version of contemporary hemostats.

Yeah, because before Paré came along, pouring boiling oil into wounds was standard treatment. (And, in actuality, the practice remained popular for many years after Paré’s rediscovery. Ow.)

Anyhow, the content, size and age of this book have made this my favorite ever. When the volume arrived at the library, it came wrapped in paper with a post-it that said “Lindsey”. I love this book so much, I left the post-it on the wrapping for a long time, because I liked having that personal connection with the tome, as if it was mine or something… 🙂

So yeah, the book’s beautiful. More from the article:

The Workes of That Famous Chirurgion Ambrose Parey features more than 300 beautiful and weird woodcut illustrations that supplement his writings on the plague, popular myths (such as the use of unicorn horns to treat illness), materia medica, 16th century medical instruments and much more. The tome is available for viewing in the Rare Book Room along with other books and journals on the history of osteopathy, podiatry, surgical anatomy, military medicine and medical education. Dating from the 17th century to present, DMU’s rare book collection is an important resource for medical students, practitioners and historians.


If you’re in the Des Moines area and would like to see this beautiful book in person, please contact me; I’d love to share it with you. If not, be sure to view the online version of the DMU Magazine and see the photo and the article in its entirety.

One thought on “My Favorite Book

  1. Pingback: Award-Winning Connections « Museum Minute

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