Digital Highlights: Letters from Harvey

By 1912, William Harvey had been dead for over 200 years but the life and work of an English physician maintained a persistent interest for historians and physicians since his death in 1657. Harvey had been a practicing physician during the period in England immediately succeeding the death of Queen Elizabeth I; the reigns of James I and his son Charles I were increasingly troubled, culminating in a coup d’etat led by Oliver Cromwell and the creation of an English Commonwealth in 1649 with no king at the head of the government.

Despite Harvey’s position as physician to King James, his most enduring medical legacy was the description of the circulatory system. With this work, Harvey established his place in medical history and became a figure of enduring interest. It was probably with this in mind that S. Weir Mitchell published his Some Recently Discovered Letters of William Harvey with Other Miscellanea in 1912 as part of the Transactions of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Continue reading