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Founded in 1980

he first state-level medical history society to have a website.  Our goal is to promote interest, research, and writing in medical history, and we are dedicated to the discussion and enjoyment of the history of medicine and allied fields.

Karen Reeds: "The Sniff Test: Making Sense of Medicinal Plants in Colonial North America."

  • Tuesday, December 21, 2021
  • 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Zoom

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The MHSNJ's next monthly Zoom will be on Tuesday, December 21 at 7:00pm EST, with MHSNJ past president Karen Reeds presenting "The Sniff Test: Making Sense of Medicinal Plants in Colonial North America."

The fact that a common symptom of COVID-19 infection is loss of the sense of smell has made us realize how much we depend on our ability to smell. How did early European colonists in North America — surrounded by plants they had never seen before — decide what was safe to eat or take as medicines? They applied the sniff test.

Karen Reeds earned her Ph.D. in the History of Science from Harvard University with a dissertation entitled "Botany in Medieval and Renaissance Universities." She continues to publish in the history of botany and medicine. In addition to her service to the MHSNJ, she is a member of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars and also the Princeton Research Forum. She is also the author of A State of Health: New Jersey's Medical Heritage (Rutgers University Press, 2002), a central text in the history of medicine in New Jersey.


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