Today my Patriarchy, Sex, and Gender in Early Modern Europe seminar visited the Glasgow Uni Special Collections to take a look at some of the amazing primary sources they have stored there. Specifically, we were looking at 17th-18th century books and articles about female anatomy, pregnancy, and birth. When we got into the room the Special Collections representative told us to sit down next to a book that caught our eye. First one in the room as usual*, I made a beeline for the first thing I saw:
This book is The Anatomy of the Human Gravid Uterus, Exhibited in Figures by William Hunter and was published in 1774. It was made as a luxury present to the king and has amazingly detailed anatomical etchings and it is, as you can see, quite a large book. The vast majority of the etchings follow a woman being dissected after she died in childbirth, although there are other related etchings from other cases (all conveniently labeled in both Latin and English for your viewing pleasure.)
Now, the text is gruesome to say the least, but I just can’t get over how excited I am to be getting back to working with physical objects. There’s nothing quite like getting your hands on a piece of real history, and it made me miss my internship at MHCAM even more. Before I left I was chatting to the representative (he gave me permission for these photos) and he told me I’d be able to come and visit more resources if I’d like to. Score.
*An aside: Scottish people don’t seem to be too fussed about showing up for things early. Now, I have anxiety about being late for things and tend to show up for my classes up to 20 minutes early just to be sure, but this strikes me as really weird that people are showing up to the door right as class starts, and not a moment before. Hm.