Contexts Pharmacist

A pharmacist in his workshop surrounded by the paraphernalia of his trade - advertising Richard Siddall. Etching. Source: Wellcome Collection.


The essays below offer contexts for understanding early medicine. They are authored by leading scholars and peer reviewed. 

A man smokes a pipe accompanied by three women

Early Modern Drugs

Benjamin Breen, University of California Santa Cruz

A friar sizes up a side of beef held by a butcher

English Ethnicity and Health

Mary Floyd-Wilson, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

An illustration of a prosthetic arm


Emily Cock, Cardiff University

Detail of a rose in medical incunabulum

Manuscript to Print

Lori Jones, University of Ottawa


Portrait of Paracelsus

Chemical Medicine, Theory

Bruce T. Moran, University of Nevada

A man distills liquid using a still

Chemical Medicine, Practice

Bruce T. Moran, University of Nevada

A woman is let blood by a surgeon

Medicine on the Early Modern Stage

Tanya Pollard, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York

A sufferer from pox stands under an astrological globe


Kevin Siena, Trent University


The Range of Healers in Early Modern England

Mary Fissell, Johns Hopkins University 



Olivia Weisser, University of Massachusetts Boston


Patients 2


Olivia Weisser, University of Massachusetts Boston

This print shows a printing workshop, with people engraving, inking, and running copper plates through the press, and hanging the printed sheets up to dry.

Printing Images

Rebecca Whiteley, University of Manchester

Uroscopy chart

Medical Images

Rebecca Whiteley, University of Manchester


Military Medicine

Seth LeJacq, Duke University

Apothecary shop


Zachary Dorner, Johns Hopkins University

We also plan to feature essays on the following topics: 

  • Venereal Disease
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Animals
  • Plague
  • Sex and Gender
  • Midwifery
  • Surgery
  • Universities
  • Apprenticeship
  • Magic and Medicine
  • Deformity & Monstrosity
  • Food and Medicine
  • Medicine and the Household
  • Medical Advertisements/Proprietary Medicine
  • Itinerant Practitioners
  • Women and Medical Authority/Print
  • Generation
  • Plants and Botanical Knowledge