A survey of more than six hundred miracle records in the canonization files of the Vatican Secret Archives from the seventeenth century to the twentieth century reveals that more than 95 percent are healings from illness. The history of the canonization process is summarized to explain the sources. The diagnoses amenable to miracle cure change through time to reflect current medical preoccupations and methods. Physician testimony has always been crucial to the investigation of miracles for declaring the hopeless prognosis and the surprise at recovery. From this analysis, medicine and religion emerge as parallel semiotic endeavors, using their canons of wisdom and careful observation to derive meaning in suffering.
This article considers the quality of midwifery skills and practice principally in eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and early twentieth-century England. It discusses the merits of assessing effectiveness via differentials and changes in late-fetal rather than maternal mortality. Evidence from the lying-in hospitals, both in-patients and out-patients, in terms of stillbirths and the deaths of mothers and children is set against what is known from demographic studies of the background levels of early-age and maternal mortality. The conclusions emphasize the value of taking a "fetal health" perspective, rather than viewing midwifery simply in terms of maternal well-being. They also note the apparent superiority of London's position compared with the provinces and the steady improvement during the eighteenth century, and lack of progress during the nineteenth; and they reconfirm the particular dangers to mothers delivered as hospital in-patients. Finally, the considerable methodological problems faced by such studies are emphasized.
The appointment of James Lorrain Smith as first full-time professor of pathology at the University of Edinburgh in 1912 led to a series of reforms in pathology teaching there. Most significant was the inception of what Lorrain Smith called the "case method of teaching pathology," which used the investigation of clinical cases as the basis for a series of exercises in clinico-pathological correlation. This paper examines the social and cognitive organization of the case method of teaching, and shows how such exercises were expected to inform the students' future medical training and practice. In so doing, it also throws light on the relationship between medical science and clinical practice that obtained in Edinburgh at that time.
This article looks at medical approaches to women's fertility in Argentina in the 1930s and explores the ways in which eugenics encouraged the reproduction of the fit and attempted to avoid the reproduction of the unfit. The analysis concentrates on three main aspects: biotypology (the scientific classification of bodies), endocrine therapy, and sterilization. The article concludes by suggesting that a eugenically oriented obstetrical and gynecological practice encouraged both endocrine treatments (to achieve the ideal fertile woman) and sterilization, which, in spite of being legally banned, found a subtle application.