The Daniel Drake Archival Collection: An Introduction

By Hannah Stitzlein

Edited by Laura Laugle

Until now, the Daniel Drake Archival Collection at the Winkler Center for the History of the Health Professions had been partially inventoried but all of our “Drakiana” had never been brought together in a cohesive collection. Since beginning my internship at the Winkler Center in October, I have been working on the compilation and organization of the materials and documents and I am coming to a close on the project. By the beginning of next year a finding aid will be made available through OhioLINK so that this collection will be searchable on the web.

Daniel Drake’s importance to the University of Cincinnati is of course due to his founding of the Medical College of Ohio in the early nineteenth century which, together with the McMicken University and the Cincinnati Law School, would become the basis for the establishment of the University itself. Dr. Drake spent most of his time teaching at the Medical College of Ohio.  Many of his lectures, addresses, and correspondence are currently being processed with other important articles on Drake’s life and his contribution to the medical field.

During Dr. Daniel Drake’s active teaching career he established the Western Journal of Medical and Physical Science (1828 – 1840), which was later known as the Western Journal of Medicine and Surgery (1840 – 1855).  At the Winkler Center we have the periodical’s run in entirety.  Subjects  range from treating Milk Sickness, a common illness at the time resulting from ingesting the milk of a cow that had fed on white snakeroot, to a case from a man that murdered his whole family claiming insanity – though as the article suggests, it was only feigned insanity. These periodicals illuminate the common diseases of the nineteenth century and give very explicit details on how these diseases and illnesses were treated and practical observations.

Going into this project I knew very little about nineteenth century medicine and will be leaving with a greater understanding. I have also learned a great deal about Daniel Drake’s contribution to the University of Cincinnati and his importance to medicine in our region.

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