Picturing Medical Progress . . . . . . . . . .

. . . a web site to supplement the book.


contents of book



for teachers


Ordering information may be found at

Rutgers University Press

and Amazon.com.

  Reviews and observations  

Reviewed in the New York Times on 8/25/09 by Abigail Zuger in the Science Times section (p. D5).

Excerpt from the book review in JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association 302: 22 (December 9, 2009), 2492-2493, by Margaret Humphreys, MD, PhD, of Duke University.

Hansen’s work is well grounded in primary research and includes the footnotes expected by medical historians, but at the same time it is completely accessible to any reader interested in the history of medicine.  With so much riding on the image and with so many images presented, readers can make their own judgments about the drama, glorification, or derision evident in the popular media. . . .  Hansen is indeed trying to capture popular culture, and his analysis of medical images reflects this goal. . . .  While it is difficult to research popular culture — to capture what “everybody knew” at a given point in time — Hansen has done an admirable job of excavating the role played by images of medical progress in the popular media.  Picturing Medical Progress from Pasteur to Polio is both a remarkable work of medical history and an entertaining account of medicine’s golden age viewed through the eyes of the public.


An annotation of the book appears on NYU's “Literature, Arts, and Medicine" Database.” Here's a link.

Comments relevant to comic art by Michael Rhode at ComicsDC, information and events relating to cartoons and comics (including comic books, comic strips, political cartoons, animation and caricature) in Washington, DC and its environs.

Comments by Michael Rhode of the Otis Archives at A Repository for Bottled Monsters, an unofficial blog for the National Museum of Health and Medicine (nee the Army Medical Museum) in Washington, DC., with news about the museum, new projects, musing on the history of medicine and neat pictures.


Pre-publication reviews

“This book is analytical, nostalgic, sensitive, and just plain fun.  Hansen’s meticulous privileging of the visual is a pathbreaking achievement for methods in the social and cultural history of medicine.  You can be rewarded simply by looking at the wonderful pictures, but you will ‘see’ so much more in his lively prose.”
 -- Jacalyn Duffin, Hannah Professor, Queen’s University

“Even as a long-time collector of medical prints, I learned a lot from this extraordinary book. . . .  The images are wonderful, but this is not just a picture book; it’s a great read as well, filled with remarkable insights.”
-- William Helfand, author of five books on medical imagery and a trustee of the Philadelphia Museum of Art


“This rich exploration of the intersection of popular culture and the history of medicine opens wide a window on a time . . . when physicians, nurses, and scientists were highly regarded warriors against disease and human suffering.  It is a major contribution . . . vital to scholars and valuable to those who hope to spark a renewed enthusiasm among Americans for the study of science and medicine.”
-- Alan Kraut, Professor of History, American University

  "Picturing Medical Progress from Pasteur to Polio is an authoritative, well-written account that will be a significant contribution not only to the history of American medicine, but to the history of American popular culture."
-- Elizabeth Toon, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester.

Picturing Medical Progress from Pasteur to Polio: A History of Mass Media Images and Popular Attitudes by Bert Hansen is published by Rutgers University Press.

web pages (c) 2009 Bert Hansen

revised 22 June 09