M20383 | Beeton's Shilling Medical Dictionary, A Safe Guide for Every Family, 1894

Beeton's Shilling Medical Dictionary, A Safe Guide for Every Family, 1894
1894, 19th century
18.1 x 11.9 cm
© McCord Museum
Keywords:  Book (26)
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Keys to History

Encouraging self-medication was a major focus of ads for proprietary medicines. But advertisers were not alone in urging individuals to take their health care in hand.

Various doctors and self-styled experts published health guides and family medicine books aimed chiefly at the "keepers of hearth and home." These were much in vogue in the United States and Canada. Formulated in laymen's language, they explained the causes of common ailments, gave remedy recipes and offered tips for maintaining good health. Almanacs, which were very popular in Canada, provided similar information.

By the late 19th century, however, physicians were contesting these publications. Motivated by a desire to expand their monopoly on healing - and occasionally by altruism - they pointed to frequent dosage mistakes in the formulas and denounced the offers of diagnosis by correspondence made by unscrupulous publishers. Some such offers still appear today, but the publishers run the risk of severe penalties.

Source : Cures and Quackery: The Rise of Patent Medicines [Web tour], by Denis Goulet, Université de Sherbrooke (see Links)

  • What

    This medical dictionary defines the symptoms and treatment of ailments and accidents in layman's language. It also contains an emergency guide and remedy formulas.

  • Where

    Published in London by Ward, Lock & Bowden, this book was distributed in Europe and North America.

  • When

    From the 1860s on, medical dictionaries for the general public became increasingly popular.

  • Who

    Designed to enable self-medication, this book was meant for use in the home. The author's aim was to provide families with information on diagnosing illnesses and preparing certain remedies.