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University of Iowa News Release


May 6, 2008

PHOTO: "An image from a medical handbook by Johannes Scultetus (1595-1645) that provided surgical instruction to doctors of the era."

Annual open house for medical rare book room is May 15

The John Martin Rare Book Room will hold its annual open house from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 15, on the fourth floor of Hardin Library for the Health Sciences at the University of Iowa. Currently on display in the room, "'No Small Presumption': Surgical Works from Six Centuries" features rare books from the earliest days of surgery through the 1900s. The event is open to the public.

Although chloroform and ether were not widely used before the 1850s, a surprising number of surgical procedures were used hundreds, even thousands, of years ago, including operations for cataracts, bullet removal, hernias and bladder stones. Exhibit visitors can view and page through early texts and illustrations used to instruct and guide surgeons.

Highlights include woodcuts and engravings of elaborate and relatively modern instruments, including drills, scalpels and saws designed for speed and efficiency. Important early works in anesthetics and antisepsis will also be featured. The exhibit is part of a series of lectures and presentations sponsored by the UI History of Medicine Society.

For additional information, contact Ed Holtum, curator, at 319-335-9154 or Learn more about the John Martin Rare Book Room online at

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5137 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa, 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACTS: Ed Holtum, John Martin Rare Book Room, 319-335-9154,; Becky Soglin, UI Health Science Relations, 319-335-6660,