The Gentleman's Magazine and the advent of medical electricity

Hannah Sypher LOCKE and Stanley FINGER
Washington University, St. Louis


Edward Cave began publication of The Gentlemanís Magazine or Traderís Monthly Intelligencer in 1731 at his printing press at St. Johnís Gate. What began as a collection of articles and news items published in other newspapers eventually came to attract a greater number of original submissions from contributors in many fields. The Gentlemanís Magazine is perhaps best remembered for covering the scientific work of the day, and in the period from 1745-1760, its contents reveal that there was a great interest in electricity as a phenomenon, as well as its potential medical applications. Of particular interest was finding cures for diseases considered incurable by traditional means. Patients with nervous system diseases such as epilepsy and palsy were therefore often the subject of early medical trials of electricity. The Gentlemanís Magazine was an integral part of the public discourse on medical electricity, as it published a broad range of articles, including accounts of cures from amateurs, medical cases from doctors, and extracts from academic journals. Tracing the roots of medical uses of electricity therefore yields insights from a variety of people, from those who witnessed its miraculous effects first hand and felt moved to write in, to those members of prestigious academic societies who strove to understand and explain electricityís power in curing illness.


18th Century Neuroscience Symposium -- Function in the "Long" 18th Century: The Transition from Medieval Cell Doctrine to Cortical Localization Doctrine
Saturday, 26 June 2004, 9:00 am - 6:30 pm

Ninth Annual Meeting of the International Society for the History of the Neurosciences (ISHN)

Montreal, Quebec, Canada