Welcome to Surgery at the Edward Worth Library

The Edward Worth Library is a rare books collection, bequeathed to Dr. Steevens’ Hospital, Dublin, by Dr. Edward Worth (1676-1733), who was one of the Hospital’s earliest Trustees. This web exhibition, curated by Dr. Elizabethanne Boran (Librarian of the Edward Worth Library), Mr. Antoine Mac Gaoithín (Library Assistant at the Edward Worth Library), and Ms. Paige Blancett (third-year student in Museum studies, Arizona State University), explores Worth’s collection of books on early modern surgery. It is the twelfth in a series of websites exploring the holdings of the Worth Library. For further details please contact our website: www.edwardworthlibrary.ie.

Jean Tagault, De chirurgica institutione libri quinque. His accessit sextus liber De materia chirurgica, authore Iacobo Hollerio … (Paris, 1543), p. 144.

This online exhibition provides a representative sample of Worth’s extensive surgical collection. He had editions of the works of the great medieval surgeons such as the eleventh-century Al-Zahrawi of Cordoba and the fourteenth-century French surgeon Guy de Chauliac, but he was naturally more interested in the output of his contemporaries. A lot of Worth’s surgical books focused on instruments and their uses and we have chosen to focus on four leading commentators: the seventeenth-century surgeons Johannes Scultetus, Marco Aurelio Severino, and Paul Barbette; and the early eighteenth-century French surgeon, Pierre Dionis.

Early modern surgeons naturally also provided advice for undertaking various operations: here we explore their approaches to amputations, dislocations, fractures, hernias, lithotomy, prosthetics and trepanning. We also examine their advice on wound management and, in particular, the treatment of gunshot wounds. Needless to say, none of this should be tried at home!

Text: Dr. Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian of the Edward Worth Library, Dublin.