By Naomi Rogers
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Extra info for An alternative path: the making and remaking of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Philadelphia
Sick people relied on the advice and help of neighbors, midwives, and other wise women, and on domestic health guides, some of which were best-sellers and as valued as the family Bible. When patients did seek out a medical practitioner they faced a plethora of options, perhaps the widest choice in American history. In the decades before the founding of Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital there was no single medical profession in the United States. There were no national boards, specialty boards, government or private research institutes, or accreditation committees.
Sources for this study are drawn heavily from one archive: the Hahnemann Collection of the Archives and Special Collections of Allegheny University of the Health Sciences. I could not have completed this book without the assistance of Hahnemann archivist Barbara Williams, who shared her rich knowledge of Hahnemann's past with me, and whose commitment to the history of Hahnemann saved hundreds of documents that would otherwise have been thrown out and helped raise an awareness of the importance of the past among numerous administrators, heads of departments, librarians, and alumni.
A number of early homeopaths wrote popular health texts to attract patients, as Samuel Thomson had done. Nevertheless, although historians today lump all these groups under the category "alternative," they in fact were rarely colleagues and considered their practices distinctive and usually in competition. As homeopathy spread across the East and Midwest, relations between homeopaths and orthodox physicians began to worsen. Medical societies began to expel or ostracize outspoken homeopaths, and orthodox teachers ridiculed medical students who openly professed a commitment to homeopathy.