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The Quack Doctor

In the 1880s, long before one could purchase a treadmill, a New York company promoted a "health jolting chair" for "ALL PERSONS...whose sedentary habits have caused or may cause disease." Meanwhile, in 1896, a Fort Wayne, Indiana pharmacy placed an advertisement in the local newspaper for "ambition pills for weak and nervous men." Caroline Rance, a writer who holds a master's degree in the history of science, is the author of The Quack Doctor, a blog dedicated to nineteenth and early-twentieth century medical advertisements. Readers can explore these advertisements by categories including Digestive Issues, General Health & Panaceas, Rheumatism, and Women's Complaints. These advertisements are accompanied by Rance's thoughtful commentary, which places these advertisements in historical context (and, on occasion, calls attention to false "Victorian advertisements" that have been created by contemporary humorists). Rance clarifies that while her blog may be called The Quack Doctor, she includes all medical advertisements, from hucksters and from legitimate health professionals alike. And while some of these products and remedies have been debunked by more recent research, others make good medical sense. Not always for the squeamish, The Quack Doctor provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of medicine and healthcare.
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