Collection of the Month October 2008:”Bones, bodies and disease”

Calvin Wells (1908-1978) is often referred to as the father of palaeopathology: he used his medical training to shed light on the diseases and physical problems found in skeletal remains. Special Collections holds his archive and his library of over 800 books. The title of his well-known work, “Bones, bodies and disease”, sums up many of the books e.g. 17th and 18th century medical texts, particularly on gynaecology and obstetrics, by authors such as Thomas Sydenham, Francois Mauriceau and William Smellie.

This illustration depicts “Emblems of Immortality”, caterpillar to butterfly and acorn to oak, from “Philosophy of medicine” by Robert Thornton, published 1799-1800.

Emblems of Immortality

Emblems of Immortality

The collection also includes modern works on archaeology and anthropology, practical medical and nursing works, and books on exotic travels. A few recurring themes: ear, nose and throat medicine, the archaeology of Norfolk, where the Wellses lived in later life, ancient tribes such as the Aztecs, and medical biography, whether of doctors or of famous individuals. All these books appear on the Library Catalogue, and can be easily found using keyword search and limiting by Special Collections.

Web page for the Calvin Wells Archive and Book collection

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