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Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures with Tegan Kehoe | Archives Talk

Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures with Tegan Kehoe | Archives Talk Online

In the 1870s, surgeons and their assistants sprayed tarry-smelling carbolic acid during operations, with the hope of sterilizing the operating field. An example of this spraying device is held in the USCF Library Archives and Special Collections. In this talk, public historian Tegan Kehoe will share stories from her book Exploring American Healthcare through 50 Historic Treasures, including the story of this carbolic acid sprayer and others that are part of a larger story about the advent and acceptance of germ theory. 

The book presents a history of health and medicine in the United States, tracing paradigm shifts such as the introduction of anesthesia, the adoption of germ theory, and advances in public health. It showcases little-known objects that illustrate our complex relationship with health and highlights objects related to famous moments in medicine, ranging from “vitamin D beer” to the discovery of penicillin. Each artifact illuminates some piece of the social, cultural and technological influences on how people approach fundamental questions about health.

Tegan Kehoe is a public historian specializing in healthcare and science. She is the Exhibit and Education Specialist at the Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Her projects there have ranged from an exhibit that used xylophones to explain how anesthesia affects the brain, to a display of the personal items belonging to a WWI nurse. Kehoe’s research interests include material culture and interpretation strategies in the history of medicine and the history of scientific study methodologies. She received her M.A. in History and Museum Studies from Tufts University.

This event is brought to you by the UCSF Library Archives & Special Collections.

Archives Talks are free and open to the public.

Wednesday, Feb 9 2022
12:00pm - 1:10pm
Time Zone:
Pacific Time - US & Canada (change)
This is an online event. Event URL will be sent via registration email.
  Archives and Special Collections     ZSFG  
Registration has closed.

Event Organizer

Profile photo of Polina Ilieva
Polina Ilieva

Associate University Librarian for Collections

UCSF Archivist