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Curiosities and Remedies

Adam Matthew's newest collection Trade Catalogues and the American Home contains hundreds of catalogues and leaflets related to home remedies, ‘quack’ cures, and items for at-home personal care. These documents provide a fascinating insight into domestic remedies before the days where most people had access to a certified doctor.

From home almanacs, such as Henry's Household Companion, 1885, which suggests treatments for common remedies – while trying to sell products – for the American consumer, to testimonials for new ‘cures’, such as The Great Herb Remedy, which contains letters from consumers claiming the remedy has cure their eczema, kidney pain, nerves, rheumatism. It is possible to see many of the techniques and products sold for health concerns from the late-nineteenth century. Many of which, we now know to be at best ineffective and at worst unsafe.

 

Images © University of California, Santa Barbara. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Click the image to see this document in the collection.

One potentially concerning trend visible within these documents is the inclusion of new technologies, such as electricity, into these remedies and cures. 

The Electropathic Guide is one such document. This 'guide' contains information on using electricity to 'treat over 100 diseases' from head colds to cold feet. It is possible to purchase however many electrodes one would require to complete these treatments via the handy advert at the back of the book.

 

Images © University of California, Santa Barbara. Further reproduction prohibited without permission. Click the image to see this document in the collection.

The reality of health and medicine in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth century can be seen through these documents; many American consumers would not have had easy access to a doctor, and would not have had the same understanding about general health and the human body as their modern counterparts. The almanacs and guides to home care would have been indispensable, and this reliance on written instructions could have been exploited by ‘hacks’ and ‘quack’ cures.

Trade Catalogues and the American Home is available now.  For more information, including trial access and price enquiries, please email us at info@amdigital.co.uk.

Join the webinar on Trade Catalogues and the American Home on 27th April 2017 to discover more about the resource. The full webinar schedule can be found here.

All webinars are recorded and published to our video page and are available to view at your leisure. After 27th April 2017, catch-up on the recorded webinar on Trade Catalogues and the American Home by clicking here.

Full access restricted to authenticated academic institutions which have purchased a licence.





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