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Science and Medicine

The scientific questions of most importance to residents of the Caribbean were those relating to the diseases that thrived in the warm, tropical climate. This collection highlights the contemporary perception of and prescriptions for disease.

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An early example of printing in Jamaica, this 1750 essay was intended to "explain to the public the nature and causes of this fatal bilious, or yellow Fever of Jamaica." It contains outdated but illuminating insights such as "this disorder is generally brought on by suddenly cooling the body and checking perspiration after hard exercise in the sun." The author described observed symptoms of the fever, from its effect on the pulse (full and frequent "to the very last") to "stagnation of the blood." It is demonstrative of a medicinal and anatomical understanding of disease and treatments that shaped yellow fever treatment from Jamaica to Pennsylvania.

Printed in Jamaica in 1797 for use by British regiments there, these regulations for army hospitals cover the conduct of the attending surgeon, independence from the ordinary chain of command, mandatory quarantine, and full, middle, and lowdiets for patients. Interestingly, AASs copy contains extensive handwritten annotations. 

An encyclopedia of the most common diseases and medical conditions on the island of Jamaica, they range from fevers to lockjaw to pregnancy to hydrocephalus. The author describes the course of the diseases and how to treat them, using the science of the time, but he also examines the commonly used remedies and medicines of the island and evaluates their effectiveness, as well as including a dosing guide for adult medicines. Included is a really stomach-churning section on worms. 

(In Spanish) Printed in Cuba in 1821 in direct response to a ravaging outbreak of yellow fever, this essay keyed in on the vomito prieto that was a visible symptom of the yellow fever. The author describes and then reveals his journey toward discovering a method of curing the disease, very different from the usual one. The volume could be studied for its descriptions of disease, its approach to medicine, or its impact as part of an epidemiological response to disease outbreaks in the Caribbean. 

(In Spanish) Printed in Havana, Cuba, in 1859, and still mostly uncut, this book is a guide to basic chemistry experiments that can be used to explain and demonstrate scientific concepts. It covers ideas from the properties of gases to the conduction of heat to the porousness of the earth, providing incredible insight into both scientific method and scientific insight in mid-nineteenth-century Cuba.