Chemistry in the 17th/18th-century

Elizabeth Root Discussion

While doing research for my thesis I have become interested in the relationship between chemistry and medicine in the 17th/18th century, but I don't know enough about the field of chemistry during this period of time. I am looking for any recommendations for books, articles, etc. that would give me a better understanding of this field of study in the 17th/18th century. I greatly appreciate any help or suggestions. 

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While I'm not a content specialist in the history of chemistry, I do know some of the broad brushstrokes that might help you get started. Paracelsus' iatrochemical work in the 16th century had long-reaching impacts on both medicine and what would become chemistry, and there is a lot of easily accessible literature covering that (maybe start with Ben Breen's The Age of Intoxication). Then there's Boyle's work with vacuums, gases, etc (there should be a lot on this too, but you could start with Shapin and Schaffer's landmark Leviathan and the Air-Pump if you're struggling for leads). The next place you could turn is Lavoisier, the so-called "phlogiston controversy," and concepts of the Chemical Revolution. While again, I am no specialist, a good jumping-off point for this literature might be ( I hope this helps, and happy reading!

Check out Sharon Ruston's work.

--Works by Allen Debus including "The Chemical Philosophy: Paracelsian Science and Medicine in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,""Chemistry and Medical Debate: Van Helmont to Boerhaave," and "Medicine in 17th. century England",
-- Work by Antonio Clericuzio including (with PM Rattansi) Alchemy and chemistry in the 16th. and 17th. centuries
--Work by William R. Newman and Lawrence M. Principe including "Alchemy Tried in the Fire: Starkey, Boyle, and the Fate of Helmontian Chemistry;"
--Andrew Wea, "Knowledge and Practice in English Medicine, 1550-1680"
--Work by Bruce T. Moran including the collection "Patronage and Institutions: Science, Technology and Medicine at the European Court, 1500-1750." ,
--Andreas-Holger Maehle, Drugs on Trial: Experimental Pharmacology and Therapeutic Innovation in the Eighteenth Century,
--F.N.L. Poynter ed. "Chemistry in the Service of Medicine"
--Barbara Kaplan, "Divulging of Useful Truths in Physick: the Medical Agenda of Robert Boyle:
I could go on but this offers a start. I have more in the bibliographies to my two books on British contagionism.

Thank you for the recommendations. I really appreciate.

Hi Margaret,

I've published quite a bit on the relationship between chemistry and medicine during the 18th century. See my book on John Walker and the Edinburgh Medical School. See also John Powers' book on Boerhaave. There's also a lot of medicine in the books that I've edited with Bill Newman and Sy Mauskopt and in the new book I've edited with Ursula Klein about 18th century chemistry. Details here:

Best Wishes,