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We invite you

Examine some of the works by scientists and philosophers who sought to benefit humankind through their investigations into “the secrets of nature.”

In her novel, Mary Shelley is silent on just how Victor Frankenstein breathes life into his creation, saying only that success crowned “days and nights of incredible labor and fatigue.” Scientists and physicians of Shelley's time, tantalized by the elusive boundary between life and death, probed it through experiments with lower organisms, human anatomical studies, attempts to resuscitate drowning victims, and experiments using electricity to restore life to the recently dead.

Featured here is a selection of digitized, historical texts and images from the National Library of Medicine's collections, which offers insight into the scientific practices and theories of the era.

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