Terese Austin, Curatorial Assistant and Reading Room Supervisor, recently read Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (New York: Crown Publishers, 2010). Skloot's book recounts the story of how in 1951 doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital removed and cultured cells from Henrietta Lacks, an African American woman who was suffering from cervical cancer, without her or her family's permission. The cells were hugely influential for medical research and treatment, but the history of their use highlights serious questions about medical ethics. The Clements Library's Alexis St. Martin Collection speaks to medicine's long history of negotiating, and sometimes abusing, patient rights. In 1822 Alexis St. Martin, a French-Canadian employed by the American Fur Company at Mackinac, was shot in the stomach, leaving him with an open wound that exposed his digestive system for the rest of his life. St. Martin's doctor, William Beaumont, offered medical care but also undertook a long series of experiments that revolutionized medical understanding of gastric processes. St. Martin eventually signed a contract with Beaumont, but the case highlights the thin line between medical consent and coercion.
|In 1879, Alexis St. Martin was in conversation with Chicago medical facilities about taking up residency there for observation. He eventually refused due to failing health.|
|Utley's Observations are written in a hand-made notebook with an 1806 newspaper cover.|
|The cover of S. D. Power's Art of Good Manners (Akron: Werner Co., 1899) is nearly as colorful as the advice she gives within it.|
|This manuscript map of Hawaii, produced by Mann in 1864, shows the Mauna Loa lava flows from various years.|
|A sampling of some of the World's Columbian Exposition admission tickets to be found in the Handy Family Papers.|