M2622.1-5 | Syringe
1838-1848, 19th century
Gift of David Ross McCord
© McCord Museum
Keywords: Syringe (1)
Keys to History
The child mortality rate was the most serious public health problem in the 19th century. The major epidemics that regularly engulfed Canadian cities hit small children especially hard. Setting up health offices was the first measure designed to effectively attack this dramatic problem, which touched most families. In the second half of the century, the doctor-hygienists, among others, campaigned to make vaccination obligatory so as to counter the ravages of variola or smallpox. However, the production of vaccines did not come under tight control, and they were much less effective than those we have today. The population was so wary of vaccines that riots broke out in Montreal, and the vaccinators came under attack. It took patience, more efficient vaccines, and especially public awareness campaigns to overcome popular fears and prejudices.
Source : Big Cities, New Horizons [Web tour], by Robert Gagnon, Université du Québec à Montréal (see Links)
This medical device is not, strictly speaking, a syringe, but what was known in those days as an awakener. It is shown here in its wooden case, the inside of which, lined with blue velvet, bears a label indicating the name of the inventor, Dr. Lipkau.
Made in France, this awakener was probably used by a Canadian doctor.
It is hard to say when this device was used. The information we have appears to indicate that it was used in the 1830s and 1840s. As for its efficiency...
This awakener was patented by Dr. Lipkau of Paris.