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.”
Health Sep 14Would McKinley have survived an assassin’s bullet if he had a different doctor?
The man best suited to operate on the president was a legendary surgeon with extensive experience in treating abdominal wounds. He, however, was in Niagara Falls. McKinley died on Sept. 14, 1901.
Health Aug 19How Groucho Marx fell prey to elder abuse
The turmoil of Groucho's last few years are all too familiar to adult children everywhere who are concerned with the welfare of their elderly parents and other relatives.
Health Jul 14This genetic brain disorder turned Woody Guthrie’s life from songs to suffering
Huntington's disease -- which Guthrie inherited from his mother -- can lead to serious mood disorders, uncoordinated and involuntary body movements, balance problems, psychotic breaks, dementia and death.
Health Jun 21The day Judy Garland’s star burned out
A singer of remarkable power and range, Garland was one of the brightest stars. But she also suffered a lifetime of mental and physical health problems, fueled by addiction.
Arts May 17How ‘Raisin in the Sun’ author Lorraine Hansberry defined what it meant to be ‘young, gifted and black’
Before her early death of pancreatic cancer, the groundbreaking writer made history with "A Raisin in the Sun."…
Health Apr 23Why Shakespeare’s own finale remains a closed book
In "Hamlet," William Shakespeare contemplated the fact that once a person dies, no living person knows where that departed soul goes. That same uncertainty hovers around the final hours of the Bard of Stratford-upon-Avon.
Health Mar 24What caused Harry Houdini’s mysterious death?
He may have escaped his dangerous feats, yet his death has remained a source of conjecture among both magicians and surgeons.
Health Feb 28The ‘awful’ work of the real doctors who inspired M*A*S*H
The people in MASH units worked long hours and endured horrific stresses of warfare.
Health Jan 19Edgar Allan Poe’s greatest mystery was his death
A man was discovered lying in the gutter, confused, bedraggled, and under the influence. Shabbily dressed (in someone else’s clothing, as it turned out), Edgar Allan Poe was in dire need of medical assistance.
Health Dec 17How a strange rumor of Walt Disney’s death became legend
When you hear "Disney on Ice," you may think of the wildly popular ice shows featuring Mickey and Minnie Mouse and others skating in hockey arenas across the nation. But there's also the disturbing urban legend that Walt Disney’s corpse…