A Cure for What Ails You: Songs from the Medical Library's Sheet Music Collection

Curated by Toby Appel, Ph.D., MLS

On view until May 2, 2014
Cushing/Whitney Medical Library Foyer
333 Cedar Street

Exhibit tour on Thursday, Feb. 13 at 11:30 a.m.

Celebrating a new collection of recently donated medically themed sheet music, this exhibit highlights music on medical providers, purveyors of remedies, ailments both real and imagined, cures for all purposes (especially for lovesickness), health songs for children, and music advertising patent medicines. 

Most of the music was written for public entertainment, whether in London music halls, Parisian theaters, or American vaudeville and early musicals. Later songs in the collection were aired on the radio, featured in movies, recorded on record labels, or served as themes for TV shows on doctors and hospitals. Songs range from “The Cork Leg,” a traditional Irish song about a self-propelling prosthetic cork leg, to Loretta Lynn singing about the advantages of “The Pill.” The engraved and lithographed covers of the music provide striking images of medicine and popular culture. 

The collection with over 1,000 items was donated to the Medical Historical Library by William H. Helfand. Discover the entire collection through the finding aid: sheet music collection