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Baruch Professor Bert Hansen Contributes to History Now

Bert Hanson, Professor of History at Baruch College and a specialist in the history of science and medicine, has contributed an essay to “Nineteenth-Century Technology,” the latest issue of History Now ( a quarterly on-line journal produced by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Professor Hansen’s article, “Medical Advances in Nineteenth-Century America,” points to the two milestones which changed the old paradigm of medicine from trial-and-error intervention (and considerable quackery) to laboratory-based scientific research. The first, introduced in 1846, was the use of ether in surgery; the second, was Louis Pasteur’s “rabies shots,” perfected in 1885. Despite the enormous importance of anesthesia, which revolutionized surgical practice, Hansen argues convincingly that it was Pasteur’s discovery that caught the popular imagination and was first accorded the status of medical “breakthrough.”

Created in September 2004, History Now has devoted prior issues to such over-arching themes as “Abolition,” “Women’s Suffrage,” “The American West,” and “The Civil Rights Movement.” In addition to a group of essays by prominent scholars, each issue also includes lesson plans for teachers. The editor of History Now, since its inception, has been Baruch College Professor Carol Berkin.

The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, founded in 1994, promotes the study and love of American history, targeting “audiences ranging from students to scholars to the general public.” The institute also funds several awards and offers fellowships for scholars to work on history archives.

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