Rare Book Profile: Girolamo Mercuriale’s De Arte Gymnastica Libri Sex (2nd edition).

MercurialeGymnasticaTPGirolamo Mercuriale’s De Arte Gymnastica Libri Sex (Venetiis : Apud Juntas 1573), first published in 1569, was one of the earliest works on the therapeutic value of gymnastics and exercise, and a major history of the practices of the Greeks and Romans in exercise, diet, hygiene, and bathing, based on study of classical literature. The second edition of 1573 was the first illustrated book on gymnastics, adding drawings by Pirro Ligorio (1513-1583), Ducal Antiquarian to Duke Alfonso II d’Este of Ferrara and former Architect at the Vatican. The drawings are generally believed to have been rendered in wood blocks by German engraver Cristoforo Coriolano (born 1540)

Girolamo Mercuriale (1530-1606) was an Italian physician and philologist, the son of a physician from the city of Forlì. After studying medicine in Bologna, Padua, and Venice, he went to Rome as part of a diplomatic mission to Pope Pius IV in 1562. He spent several years in Rome in the household of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, a prominent collector of antiquities and patron of the arts. Mercuriale’s connection with the Cardinal provided him with access to extensive libraries and antiquarian scholars in Rome, including antiquarian and architect Pirro Ligorio, who was also in Rome in service at various times to Pope Pius IV, Pope Pius V, and Cardinal Ippolito d’Este.

Mercuriale’s reputation as an historian and antiquarian enhanced his medical career. The publication of De arte gymnastica in 1569 helped him obtain appointment to a chair of medicine at Padua in 1570. He later moved to distinguished and well-paid professorships at the universities of Bologna and Pisa. Members of the highest ranks of society were his patrons and patients, including the Emperor Maximilian II and Grand Duke Ferdinand of Tuscany, and he maintained correspondence with leading intellectuals of the day, including Aldrovandi and Galileo.

De arte gymnastica is divided into six books to sketch the history, settings, and equipment, and the varieties of exercise practiced in antiquity, and to examine the effect of such exercises on health. It begins with the origins of gymnastica and its relation to the origins of medicine, followed by description of Roman athletics, with some reference to Greek as well, with some references to modern cultural conditions which had caused health to deteriorate since the days of Hippocrates. Expanding on the work of Galen, Mercuriale deemed exercise a medical necessity for preventing disease, maintaining health, and building up sickly individuals. He pointed out that there was abundant contemporary literature on the other parts of preservative medicine, but not exercise.

While Mercuriale viewed exercise as basically positive, his detailed advice included limitations and warnings. He followed Galen’s assumption that changed in humoral balance, and therefore only those of cold and dry temperament should exercise vigorously, and others should limit themselves to gentler forms of movement. Convalescents and the elderly should avoid vigorous exercise altogether. The lifestyle of athletes was basically unhealthy: too much meat, too much sleep, too much sun exposure, too much physical activity, and unbalanced emotions. The right time to stop was as soon as breathing changed or the face reddened. He also lists the dangers of many specific forms of exercise, including hunting and playing pell mell (an ancestor of croquet), and pointed out that some forms of exercise, such as gymnastics and wrestling were no longer socially respectable.

Most of the illustrations of Roman athletes in action were drawn for the second edition in 1573 by artist, architect, and antiquary Pirro Ligorio, whom Mercuriale had met in Rome. Both left Rome In 1569-70, Ligorio to Ferrara and Mercuriale to Padua, but they continued to correspond and cooperate. The illustrations are carefully placed in relation to the text, and the text refers to them. Ligorio was renowned for investigating, describing, and drawing Roman antiquities, but he was also criticized by his contemporaries and by later scholars for representing his subjects with more imagination than historical accuracy. In the text, Mercuriale identified illustrations by Ligorio, often complimenting his antiquarian expertise. In addition to the illustrations by Ligorio, Mercuriale commissioned some drawings of actual sculptures for his new illustrated edition.

 The Health Sciences Library’s copy of the second edition of De Arte Gymnastica is bound in white vellum over pasteboard with raised bands and a gilt-tooled red morocco spine label. It was given to the Health Sciences Library by the Denver Medical Society in 1982. It was at one time owned by Docteur Flandrin, whose bookplate, dated 1902, is inside the front cover.

Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]

Spring Picks from the Strauss Library Staff

This spring, we asked the employees of the Strauss Health Sciences Library about some of their favorite springtime books, movies, podcasts, and other media. Here’s the collected list from our staff and faculty. If any of these catch your eye, you can request them via Prospector—the regional catalog connecting you to a wide range of libraries throughout Colorado and Wyoming—a free service for CU Anschutz students, staff, and faculty. Order your item on Prospector today, and we’ll let you know when it arrives! For more information, and to start using Prospector, visit: https://hslibrary.ucdenver.edu/prospector

Four books displayed on a counter with a bookmark: Lovecraft Country, Into Thin Air, Slaughterhouse 90210, Consider Phlebas


  • American Hippo by Sarah Gailey – Jason, Access Services
  • Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman – Danielle, Collection Management
  • Garden books – Shelley, Collection Management
  • Harry Potter (Books & Movies) – Kristin, IT
  • Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer – Lynn S., Access Services
  • Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff – Wlad, Education & Reference
  • Once Upon a River by Dianne Setterfield – Jessica, Collection Management
  • PG Wodehouse, the Culture Series by Iain Banks, Philip Pullman – Paul, Collection Management
  • Slaughterhouse 90210 by Maris Kreizman – Yumin, Collection Management
  • What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear by Danielle Ofri, MD – Lisa, Deputy Director


  • Billions – Lisa, Deputy Director
  • Dumb & Dumber – Lynn T., Access Services
  • Game of Thrones – Jeff, IT (and several other people, too!)
  • Harry Potter! – Kristin, IT
  • Inconceivable – Mike, IT
  • The Americans – Melissa, Director
  • The Entire James Bond Collection – Rob, IT
  • The Passion of the Christ – Thinh, IT
  • The Sandlot – Brittany, Access Services
  • Weekend at Bernie’s – Douglas, Access Services



  • Men’s Health – Kevin, IT
  • Rock & Gem – Emily, Collection Management

Rare Book Profile: James Parton’s Eminent Women of the Age; being narratives of the lives and deeds of the most prominent women of the present generation


CoverEminent Women of the Age: Being Narratives of the Lives and Deeds of the Most Prominent Women of the Present Generation (Hartford, Conn.: S.M. Betts & Co., 1868) was compiled by popular biographer James Parton. In the preface, he explained that while many works dealt with the lives and deeds of men, “in respect to eminent women of our age, there is not in existence, so far as the publishers are aware, any work, or series of works, which supplies the information contained in this volume.” The biographical sketches in the volume were written by Parton and his wife Sara (a popular novelist who used the pen-name Fanny Fern), and sixteen others, including Horace Greeley and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Grace Greenwod. Stanton Fern, and Greenwood were also among the biographees.

James Parton (1822-1891) was a popular American biographer best known for books on the lives of prominent men, including Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Greeley, General Benjamin Butler, and Voltaire, biographical collections, such as Captains of Industry (1884) and Revolutionary Heroes (1890), and nonfiction works on a variety of topics ranging from taxation of churches to humorous poetry. He was born in Canterbury, England, but came to the United States with his family at the age of 5. After completing his education in New York City and White Plains, New York, he taught school, first in Philadelphia and later in New York City. In 1875, three years after his wife’s death, he moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he lived until he died in 1891.

Most of the biographees are American, with some notable exceptions, such as Florence Nightingale, Queen Victoria, and Empress Eugenie, and a number of artists and actresses. A section devoted to women as physicians was written by Henry Bond Elliot, a Congregational minister. It begins with an historical overview of medical education for women, especially in the United States, followed by biographical sketches of five American physicians: Clemence S. Lozier (Syracuse Eclectic College, 1853), Elizabeth Blackwell (Geneva Medical College, 1849), Harriot Kezia Hunt (studied privately with Dr. Richard Dixon Mott and his wife), Hannah E. Myers Longshore (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1850), and Ann Preston (Female Medical College of Pennsylvania, 1866). The only subject whose portrait is included is Dr. Lozier.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy of Eminent Women of the Age was recased in its original publisher’s green cloth with gilt-stamped spine and upper board by Frank B. Roger, M.D. It is illustrated with steel-engraved portraits.

Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]

Featured book for October


Story by Philippa Perry

“Ever wanted an insight into counselling?  Or wished you could be a ‘fly-on-the-wall’ in a psychotherapy session?  Couch Fiction allows you to peep through the keyhole of the therapy room door and, more than that, read the minds of the protagonists…

Based on a case study of Pat (our sandal-wearing, cat-loving psychotherapist) and her new client, James (an ambitious barrister with a potentially harmful habit he can’t stop), this graphic novel follows the anxieties, frustrations, mind-wanderings and break-throughs of each, through a year of therapy sessions together. Beautifully illustrated and accompanied by succinct and illuminating footnotes, this book offers a witty and thought-provoking exploration of the therapeutic journey, considering a range of skills, insights and techniques along the way.”

Medical Humanities 3rd floor
WM 420 P464c 2010

New Acquisition: The Fabric of the Human Body, a new translation of Vesalius’ masterwork

2014 marks the 500th anniversary of the birth of physician and anatomist Andreas Vesalius.  Vesalius was a lecturer in anatomy and surgery at the University of Padua. He was an advocate for the study of human anatomy through dissection of human bodies, rather than animals. His great work, De Humani Corporis Fabrica, published in 1543 when he was 28 years old, was not only scientifically revolutionary, but a landmark in printing and art as well.

The Health Sciences Library’s Rare Materials Collection has both the first edition of 1543 and the second edition of 1555. The Fabric of the Human Body, a new annotated translation and facsimile of both editions was recently added to the collection. The two-volume set was purchased with funds from the Charley Smyth Library Endowment, established with the Library by the Anschutz Medical Campus Retired Faculty Association, in memory of colleague and friend Dr. Charley Smyth, former Head of the School of Medicine Division of Rheumatology.

Northwestern University Professors Emeritus Daniel H. Garrison and Malcolm H. Hast spent more than twenty years translating the texts of both the 1543 and the 1555 editions from Latin into English. It is the first translation to include both editions. Modern anatomical terms have been added parenthetically to clarify the sixteenth-century text. Extensive footnotes provide further explanation for modern readers, with highlighting to denote differences between editions. The annotations also incorporate newly discovered notes in Vesalius’ handwriting for a planned but unpublished third edition.

A new font based on the beautiful typeface used in the original publication, Basel Antiqua, was designed specifically for this translation. The illustrations and decorated initials were reproduced using high resolution digital scans, with thumbnails inserted in the margins of the text to help orient the reader.


The Health Sciences Library will celebrate the birth of Andreas Vesalius on Wednesday, November 19th from 12 to 2 p.m.  in the Library’s Reading Room.  Dr. Gabriel Finkelstein, Associate Professor of history at the University of Colorado Denver will give a lecture, “Vesalius at 500.” The 1543 and 1555 editions of De Humani Corporis Fabrica and The Fabric of the Human Body will be on display, and light refreshments will be served.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]


Book Review: The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber

The Marlowe Papers by Ros Barber is available via Prospector, Colorado’s cooperative lending library catalog.

marlowe papers

Of all the possible candidates in the “who really wrote Shakespeare’s works?” debate, Christopher “Kit” Marlowe is often quickly dismissed. After all, he died at age 29 during a dispute over debts. His contemporaries probably saw it coming – his quick temper, heretical views, or his tendency to get romantically involved with the wrong men or women conspired to predict an early end.

And yet, hundreds of years later, a dedicated group of scholars persists in the theory that his death was faked to escape legal and other troubles and he survived to funnel work through associates to be passed off by Shakespeare as his own.

The Marlowe obsessed writer Ros Barber weaves together the threads of scholarly evidence into an entertaining tale of Marlowe’s post 1593 life, full of escape, danger, proverty, love, and of course, writing. The story is presented as Marlowe’s autobiography, in Elizabethan style blank verse. If I’ve lost you at the mention of verse, be reassured that Barber’s talent as a writer shines through, making the verse accessible and engaging  even as she takes care to preserve the authenticity of Marlowe’s Elizabethan era “voice”.

CSFOnce you’ve read the Marlowe Papers, you may want attend the Colorado Shakespeare Festival performances of Richard II, Macbeth, and Midsummers Night’s Dream to experience one of the world’s premiere outdoor performances of the Bard (or Marlowe’s?) works.  You’ll recognize Richard’s description of England as “this sceptred isle”, hear Malcolm quip that “Nothing in his life Became him like leaving it”, and who can’t relate to Titania’s “metthought I was enamored of an ass?” The repertory company performs in University of Colorado’s Mary Rippon Theatre from June 7 to August 11, with some matinee performances.

The Marlowe Papers is available by request via Prospector, a library lending cooperative based in Colorado.


The combined collections of over 40 academic, public and special libraries in Colorado and Wyoming are available to Univerity of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus library users. Materials include print and multimedia materials. Electronic request delivers dvds, cds, and books for research or entertainment to the Health Sciences Library where you can pick up your materials after receiving email notification of their arrival.

Although electronic and journal resources are listed in Prospector, licensing prevents download or use by users not affiliated with the owning library. However, you may travel to a Prospector member library to use materials. Check the websites of the member libraries before visiting the library.

Need help with Prospector requests?  Call 303-724-2121 or stop by the Library desk, or use our Ask Us service.

[Lynne M. Fox, Education Librarian]

Rare Book Profile: John Elliotson’s Numerous Cases of Surgical Operations Without Pain in the Mesmeric State.

John Elliotson’s Numerous Cases of Surgical Operations Without Pain in the Mesmeric State: With Remarks Upon the Opposition of Many Members of the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society and Others to the Reception of the Inestimable Blessings of Mesmerism (Philadelphia: Lea and Blanchard, 1843) is one of the earliest works on the use of hypnosis as surgical anesthesia.  Physicians at the time were experimenting with a number of substances, seeking to dull pain without killing the patient. The use of ether as an anesthetic was introduced in 1846.

John Elliotson (1791-1868) was a prominent London physician.  After studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh, Cambridge University, and St. Thomas and Guy’s hospitals in London, he became a professor of medicine at London University in 1831, and physician to University College Hospital in 1834.  He was one of the first in London to emphasize clinical lecturing and one of the earliest British physicians to advocate use of the stethoscope. He was a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal Medical and Chirurgical Society, served as president of the Medico-Chirurgical Society, and was a founding member of the Phrenological Society.  Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, and Wilkie Collins were among his admirers.

At the time that Elliotson was beginning his career, there was a resurgence of popular interest in mesmerism, which had been considered discredited 50 years earlier by a French commission of prominent scientists, including Benjamin Franklin. While some later inquiries were not as dismissive, Mesmerism was considered scientifically questionable.

Elliotson witnessed public demonstrations of mesmeric trance by French practitioners in 1837, and began using it in his practice.  Elliotson’s advocacy of mesmerism and public demonstrations he gave at University College Hospital drew criticism from the medical profession. One of his harshest critics was Thomas Wakley, editor of The Lancet, who had at first supported him. Opposition from the Council of University College and the Hospital Committee forced him to resign his posts in 1838, but he continued in private practice. In 1843 Elliotson established The Zoist, a mesmerist magazine in which he continued experimental and scientific investigation of mesmeric phenomena, and he founded a mesmeric hospital in 1849.

In Numerous Cases of Surgical Operations Without Pain in the Mesmeric State, Elliotson describes procedures performed by himself and others, especially an amputation by W. Squire Ward and mesmerist W. Topham. He describes the controversy that broke this case was reported and addresses his critics’ arguments. It is a slim, inexpensively produced volume, with small type, narrow margins, and no illustrations.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy is the first American edition, published in the same year as the British edition. It is bound in green ribbed cloth with the title stamped in gilt on the front cover. It came to the library as a gift from James J. Waring.


Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119.

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]

Rare Book Profile: S. Weir Mitchell’s Gunshot Wounds and Other Injuries of Nerves

S. Weir Mitchell’s Gunshot Wounds and Other Injuries of Nerves (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1864) was the first exhaustive study of traumatic nerve injuries.

Silas Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) was a Philadelphia physician, writer, and art patron.  He received his medical degree from Jefferson College in 1850, studied in Europe under Claude Bernard and others for a year, then returned to Philadelphia to join his father’s medical practice.  He became a civilian contract surgeon at a Philadelphia army hospital in 1861, and in 1862 became head of a 400-bed hospital for nervous injuries and illnesses in Turner’s Lane.  Mitchell returned to private practice after the war, specializing in neurology.  He was appointed to the Philadelphia Orthopaedic Hospital and Infirmary for Nervous Diseases in 1870, and continued research and teaching there for over 40 years. He founded the American Neurological Society, and served as an officer in many other organizations.

Mitchell was a prolific researcher. Between 1852 and his death in 1914 he published well over 100 articles and books on neurological subjects, as well as other topics ranging from rattlesnake venom to doctor-patient relations.  As a patron of the arts, he commissioned works by Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent,  and others. He also wrote fiction and poetry.  His first book was The Children’s Hour, published in 1864 to raise funds for the Sanitary Commission. His first short story, “The Case of George Dedlow” (Atlantic Monthly, 1866), dealt with phantom limb pain. Only 4 of his stories were published before 1880, but 19 novels and approximately 150 poems were published after that. His historical fiction was especially popular.

Mitchell and his colleagues William Williams Keen and George Read Morehouse wrote Gunshot Wounds and Other Injuries of Nerves in 1864, based on their work at the Turner’s Lane Hospital. The book contained the first description of causalgia and its treatment.  It helped establish Mitchell as a leader in American neurology, and remained relevant to surgeons through the First and Second World Wars.

The Health Sciences Library’s copy is bound in its original textured brown cloth with the title in gilt on the spine, and publisher’s advertisements printed on the endpapers.


Rare materials are available to individuals or groups by appointment on Wednesday mornings and Thursday afternoons, or at other times by arrangement. To schedule an appointment, contact Emily Epstein, emily.epstein@ucdenver.edu or 303-724-2119. 

[Emily Epstein, Cataloging Librarian]

Amesse Memorial Collection Moves into the Information Commons at HSL

The Amesse Collection in the Health Science Library provides a leisure reading collection of novels, biographies, and nonfiction, as well as the Denver Post and a selection of popular magazines and newspapers. A small collection of movies on DVD is also part of the collection. Because of the Amesse family love of books, the reading area and collection is dedicated to three generations of Amesse family physicians. The collection has been moved to a central spot on the first floor of the library within the Information Commons.

amesse collection icon

Tradition, Reading, and Memorial: Amesse

The collection was originally established with books from John C. Amesse’s personal collection. Additional items are purchased from the Amesse Memorial Fund. The new dedicated space in the Information Commons on the 1st floor of HSL continues the tradition and resonates with the memory of John, his love of reading and the pleasures of a nook in a library. Each book in the collection bears a bookplate designed by Eleanor Benson and printed by Frederic Pannebaker, friends of the Amesse family. We hope this leisure hub provides a serene retreat from the hectic world of medicine, and, in so doing, keeps alive the memory and spirit of the Amesse family physicians. HSL proudly unveils the collection in a new location, a new space in the midst of the busy lives of our medical and health science students.

Every day hundreds of students work, study, collaborate, meet in groups, attend classes and learn in the information commons on the first floor of the library. With the Amesse collection in the heart of this fabulous first floor space, students will have opportunity to appreciate relaxation and browsing of a popular collection. Nearby in the new materials corner is an honor paperback collection — take one and go, no check out necessary. Materials from the main Amesse collection can be checked out at the service desk. The magazines of the collection do not circulate and are for in-house use only.

If you’d like to make a recommendation for the Amesse collection, please let us know. Take a break and visit the leisure hub in the Commons of HSL soon. first floor, room space 1304.