Dr. Howard Markel writes a monthly column for the PBS NewsHour, highlighting the anniversary of a momentous event that continues to shape modern medicine. He is the director of the Center for the History of Medicine and the George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan.
He is the author or editor of 10 books, including “Quarantine! East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892,” “When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed” and “An Anatomy of Addiction: Sigmund Freud, William Halsted, and the Miracle Drug Cocaine.”
Nation Mar 31How the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire transformed labor laws and protected workers’ health
The fire and its aftermath is a big reason American factories and offices are now far safer than they once were only a century ago.
Health Feb 27How a medical student helped discover lifesaving insulin
Dr. Charles H. Best made his most important discovery before he turned 23.
Science Jan 23The day Marie Curie got snubbed by the French science world
One hundred and ten years ago, Marie Sklodowska Curie was formally rejected for membership by the French Academy of Sciences.
Health Dec 08A childhood accident didn’t impair James Thurber’s comic vision
This minor genius of mirth lost his left eye at the age of 6.
Health Nov 07How a mysterious ailment ended Eleanor Roosevelt’s life
None of her doctors knew what was causing her rare blood disorder. And given this was more than 50 years ago, the treatment options were rather limited.
Health Sep 09The sexual assault case that shocked Hollywood almost a century ago
On Sept. 9, 1921, a young actress named Virginia Rappe died of a ruptured urinary bladder, days after a Labor Day party where she alleged that silent movie star Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle had assaulted her.
Health Aug 28Why you can thank Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. for doctors washing their hands
In the mid-19th century, doctors in elite teaching hospitals would unknowingly spread deadly bacteria to expectant mothers. Here's how Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. helped change that.
Health Jul 21How mental health struggles wrote Ernest Hemingway’s final chapter
On a Sunday morning, the famed writer awoke early in a discombobulated and distressed mood. The rest is literary history -- and part of a family’s legacy of pain.
Health Jul 13Analysis: Why some schools stayed open during the 1918 flu pandemic
During the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, when an estimated 675,000 people died in the U.S. alone, the majority of public schools were closed for weeks to months on end. But three major cities kept their schools open amid valid questions and…
Health Jun 12‘One day they simply weren’t there.’ How researchers reconstructed Anne Frank’s last months
Today would have been the 91st birthday of Anne Frank, the girl who left behind a tattered, hidden diary, now known as the gem-like book that's treasured by many millions. But the exact date of her death is unknown, and…