Benjamin Franklin was a surprising and even unlikely founder of the Pennsylvania Hospital. As his famous mock epitaph of 1728 indicated, he had long been fascinated by his own body, “the Body of B Franklin,” but he did not often entrust it to medically-trained professionals. Instead, he read, reprinted, and endorsed a rich tradition of medical self-help literature, a tradition that even included some daring forms of auto-experimentation.
Only later in life, when he aspired to gentility, did Franklin move away from this reliance on self-help. Once he had a reputation in natural science, he became friends with physicians and became a public benefactor, eventually co-founding Pennsylvania Hospital. What can Franklin’s turn from self-help to institutionalized medicine tell us about medical practices in his era—or indeed in ours?
Join Joyce Elizabeth Chaplin, PhD, Professor in the Department of History at Harvard University, on Thursday, April 6, 2006 at 5pm in the Zubrow Auditorium for a thought-provoking lecture on this topic.
The lecture is part of Pennsylvania Hospital’s 26th Annual Molly and Sidney N. Zubrow Award Program, formed in 1981 to highlight humanism in medicine.
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