Mapping the history of medicine, one discovery at a time

Back in 1628, English physician William Harvey published what some call the most important book in the history of medicine: His epic work, De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart and Blood), was the first to describe correctly and in detail the circulation of blood in the body.

A reprint of that book is available for students and visitors to the DMU Library, thanks to Steven Humphrey, M.D. It is among the 112 leatherbound volumes in the Classics of Medicine Library series he recently donated to the University.

“I wanted them to be in a place where people have access to them, rather than just sitting on a shelf at my house,” he says.

Humphrey’s gift was inspired in part by the fact that he’s a long-time central Iowa resident and physician and by his own physician and friend, Dale Grunewald, D.O.’73. But his main motivation was sharing the vast history the volumes hold. He says it’s “cool” to read works by people who over the centuries drove medical discovery, many whose names are now attached to symptoms, diseases and other aspects of medicine.

“Those people had to rely on their eyes, ears and hands,” he says. “Many had no other modalities.”

The books are prominently displayed in the library, which is on the second floor of the Student Education Center. The library is also home to the Kendall Reed Rare Book Room, which contains some of the original works in the Classics of Medicine series.

“Dr. Humphrey’s fine collection of classic works provides a wonderful opportunity for students, faculty and visitors to experience the original thoughts of medical leaders and innovators over the written span of time,” says Larry Marquardt, M.Ed., M.L.S., library director. “The exquisitely bound copies welcome the reader to explore the classics of medicine without the concerns of handling or damaging a fragile original document.”

“The books are for anybody who’s interested in the way medicine evolved,” says donor Steven Humphrey, M.D.

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