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When house calls were horse calls

In a box in an office at the Medical Historical Library sit a pair of leather saddlebags, stiff with age, frayed from use and still holding some of the nostrums and powders that made up a physician's pharmacopoeia in the first half of the 19th century.Small glass bottles and yellowed paper packets contain such remedies as ergot to strengthen uterine contractions during childbirth and Peruvian bark to treat fevers. They belonged to Asaph Leavitt Bissell, M.D., one of Yale's earliest medical graduates. Dr. Bissell, a member of the school's second class, practiced in Suffield, Conn., a tobacco-farming community where his parents had once lived and where his family still plays a prominent role. Charles Bissell...

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