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A Visit to the Doctor, Then and Now
October 18 | 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm| $6
Join us on Wednesday, October 18, 2017 starting at 5 PM as we explore how a visit to the doctor evolved from the end of the 18th century through today.
Dr. Hezekiah Chaffee practiced medicine from the 1760s through the early 19th century on Palisado Green; his house is maintained by Windsor Historical Society as a museum. Tour Dr. Hezekiah Chaffee’s house and doctor’s office at 5, then at 6 PM, hear retired Windsor physician Dr. William Harris and Dr. Melissa Grafe, Head of the Medical History Library at Yale University, speak about the state of medical training in the late 18th century, and speculate about Dr. Chaffee’s daily life and practice.
This was a seminal time in the history of medicine. In the 1750s, when Hezekiah Chaffee moved from Massachusetts to the Hartford area, the first medical schools in this country had yet to be founded. When Chaffee established his practice, most doctors thought disease was caused by an imbalance of four humors or bodily fluids: blood, phlegm, yellow bile, and black bile. To restore balance, bloodletting was a common treatment, accomplished with lancets or leeches. Yellow bile and black bile could be purged with powerful laxatives and emetics, or through blistering which involved heating a glass cup over flame, then applying it directly to the skin. The blister that resulted would seep yellow fluid, the desired result. Surgery encompassed bone-settings and amputations, all without anesthesia.
Decades after Dr. Chaffee’s death, Dr. Horace Wells of Hartford would pioneer the use of nitrous oxide (or laughing gas) in tooth extractions in 1844. A visit to the doctor was not for the faint of heart! So come tour the doctor’s office and learn about the history and progress of medicine in the 18th through 20th centuries from Dr. Grafe and Dr. Harris.
$6 adults, $5 seniors and students, $4 WHS members.