10 Strange Medical Practices from History

What do whale hotels, cat pianos, and malaria pills all have in common? They represent an era when medicine was less of a science and more of an art (for better or for worse). One of the things I do as a reference librarian is answer questions from researchers all over the world. This tends to be rewarding work and sometimes, I even stumble across articles throughout history riddled with fun facts. So today, I’m going to share some stories I’ve found featuring some of the strangest medical (mal)practices of the past few centuries.

Krakatoa: Fire in the Skies

Skies at sunset blazed unearthly shades of chartreuse and crimson throughout the Fall of 1883. Newspapers from around the world reported the eerie phenomenon and described how the strange sight captivated the masses. Public response varied from the dumbfounded, to the delighted, to the dismayed. Years later, scientists finally uncovered the truth behind the anomaly and connected it to the cataclysmic eruption of Krakatoa, a small volcanic island in the Sunda Strait.

Historical Women in STEM

Throughout history there have been many women who have greatly contributed to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). While names like Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale are familiar to most, there are so many ingenious others who may not be as familiar; women who were leaders in their fields, who made major discoveries, and whose work led to critical social and political change. Below is a list of just some of the women who have made significant contributions to the fields of STEM. You can discover their stories through historical newspapers.