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Bicentennial Program: Dr. Richard Kahn Presents “Diseases in the District of Maine 1772 – 1820: The Unpublished Work of Jeremiah Barker, a Rural Physician in New England”

Thursday, December 3, 2020 @ 6:00 pm 7:00 pm

The Camden Public Library will host an online presentation with physician and medical historian Dr. Richard Kahn about his new book Diseases in the District of Maine 1772 – 1820: The Unpublished Work of Jeremiah Barker, a Rural Physician in New England. The book explores a lost manuscript, an unpublished book written 200 years ago by a rural New England physician who lived and practiced in Gorham and Portland, ME. The program will be held on the Zoom meeting platform. Email jpierce@librarycamden.org to request a link to attend.

Assisted by his wife Patricia, a medical librarian, Kahn began work on the Jeremiah Barker papers more than 30 years ago with the rediscovery of the Barker Manuscript at the Maine Historical Society Library in Portland. The papers contain a fifty-year record of Barker’s reflections on diseases, diagnoses, treatments, and outcomes, with an unusual effort to consult and cite the medical literature and other physicians in a changing medical landscape. In short, it is a remarkable record of medicine as practiced in northern New England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, during the shift of medical authority from Hippocrates and Galen to the beginnings of the scientific method.

Yale University historian John Harley Warner wrote in his foreword to Kahn’s book, the Jeremiah Barker’s manuscript “. . . offers an extraordinary window into the medical world of one non-elite, non-urban physician in the Early Republic . . .” and “. . . gives us an accessible, engaging, and important source for exploring and reimagining that world.” Kahn’s book delivers Barker’s manuscript transcribed and presented in its entirety with extensive annotations, a five-chapter introduction to contextualize the work, and a glossary to make it accessible to 21st century general readers, genealogists, students, and historians.

Kahn is retired after having practiced internal medicine in the midcoast area for fifty years. He has had an “almost pathological” interest in medical history since attending medical school at Tufts University School of Medicine. He has been active in several organizations devoted to medical history, most notably the American Association for the History of Medicine and the American Osler Society. Kahn will donate all proceeds from the sale of his book to Maine Historical Society.

To find out more, visit rjk@rjkahn.com Click on the image below to purchase the book directly from the Maine Historical Society. (Also available through Amazon and Oxford University Press.)