Supporting Learning: History of Medicine

A new series of resources that I have been working on is designed to support teaching of the history of medicine.

Moments in Medicine was originally conceived as a workshop session for school groups visiting the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. We have now adapted it as a series of free resources available online on the Bodleian’s website.

The series draws on original sources held at the Bodleian. These range from medieval works covering topics such as uroscopy and medicinal herbs, through to the birth of the NHS. Items include significant texts such as Ibn Sina’s Canon of Medicine, the first edition of the Pharmocopoeia Londinensis, and Robert Hooke’s Micrographia, but also more ephemeral items that give an insight into everyday life such as a leaflet sent to householders in 1948 telling them about the new National Health Service.

Circular medieval uroscopy chart showing eight urine flasks.
Medieval uroscopy chart

Each resource includes a brief description explaining the background to the text, which helps place it in context, and questions which prompt students to explore the source and its significance to the development of public health in Britain. There are also links to digitised versions of the texts and to further reading on the topic.

The resources have been evaluated by a range of volunteer test users and have been piloted in schools. Each resource is fully accessible to assistive technology – such as screen readers – and all the images have explanatory alt text.

I hope that Moments in Medicine will complement any GCSE History course, and will also be of wider interest. I am developing further resources in the series, including insights into the role of subscription hospitals in the nineteenth century and national public health approaches during the twentieth century. Please let me know if there is anything else you would like to see included.

If you found this useful, you might also be interested in my earlier blog posts on resources to teach study skills.

Images: The Bodleian Libraries

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