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100,000 digitised books in the Medical Heritage Library

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By | Digital Developments, From the Collections

The 100,000th item to has been added to the Medical Heritage Library. The Medical Heritage Library (MHL) brings together a huge curated collection of digitised works related to health and medicine in the 19th and 20th centuries, drawn from some of the most important medical history libraries in North America and the United Kingdom.

The UK Medical Heritage Library project has contributed over 30,000 titles to the MHL on the Internet Archive so far. As a result, we have helped to bump the MHL to 100,000 items this month – a major milestone in the provision of free digital resources for medical historians and humanities researchers.

The 100,000th item is Recent Developments in Massage by Douglas Graham, published in 1893 and originating from the collections of the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh. This work is an of update Graham’s much longer (and denser) 1890 publication A Treatise on Massage.


Graham describes a wide range of massage techniques to ease symptoms and treat diseases such as diabetes, diarrheoa, fever, and ulcers. Interestingly, Graham even recommends massage to treat diseases of the eye, as well as sight problems including near and far-sighted eyes, and astigmatism.

How do you massage an eye?

Graham describes three methods, which start off mild and then become eye-wateringly severe. The first is called massage simple, “which is done by moving the lids, under slight pressure, in a radial direction away from the centre of the cornea, and by circular friction, under slight pressure upon the upper lid, around the sclera-corneal margin and adjacent surfaces”. The second, massage medicated, “is done in the same manner, but with the addition of lotions or ointments introduced inside the lids”.

Massage Tramatique “is as near like rubbing the inside of the lids with sand-paper as can be imagined”.

The third method, massage tramatique ” is used for granulations of the conjunctiva and opacities of the cornea. The conjunctiva is at first rendered insensitive by means of cocaine. A finger or thumb is then rendered antiseptic in a solution of corrosive sublimate, and after this it is dipped into some finely pulverized boracic acid. The lid is then turned up or down, and the massage is as strong as can be tolerated for two or three minutes. A profuse flow of blood is occasioned thereby, but very soon, in place of the rugous surface which was felt at first, there is a smooth and soft surface, showing that the granulations have been rubbed off”.

This post is derived from a blog post originally published on the MHL blog on September 25, 2015.

Christy Henshaw

Christy Henshaw

Christy Henshaw manages digitisation at the Wellcome Library. @Chenshaw. Linkedin

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