Skip Navigation Bar

Digital Gallery Browse

Electricity as a medicine, and its mode of application, 1879

In this book, physician John Ives details the ways 19th-century physicians treated diseases and injuries with electrical current. He offers a general explanation of how electricity heals people—by affecting blood supply, producing heat, restoring the lost functions of impaired body parts, and soothing nerves. Also, Ives delves into the electrical treatment of several diseases of the nervous and reproductive systems. Galvanism, the contraction of muscle stimulated by electricity, was discovered in the 18th century. Electrical current was thought to have healing or invigorating properties. Mary Shelley's knowledge of galvanism and the hopes for its potential in her time are evident as Victor Frankenstein makes several references to electricity in Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus (1818).

Courtesy National Library of Medicine

Title page of a book.