Collections of materia medica as teaching tools

  • Jemma Houghton (Discussant)

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentationResearch


During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, collections of materia medica (plants, animals and minerals used for therapeutic purposes) were employed by many as teaching tools. The collection at the Manchester Museum contains over 800 specimens that had been used by the medical school at the University of Manchester. As it is rare for whole lecture courses to survive, collections such as this provide valuable insight into medical and pharmacy pedagogy during this period. By investigating the size and scope of the collections as well as how they changed over time, it is possible to gain an understanding as to how pharmaceutical subjects were taught beyond simply the information provided in textbooks. Using material specimens is therefore a valuable approach that can be used in combination with archival sources to produce a more detailed account of pharmacy education in the nineteenth century.

This paper was given at the Knowing Things workshop, organised by the interdisciplinary research group at the University of Manchester, Knowing Things: Materiality and the Production of Knowledge
Period17 Jul 2018
Held atThe University of Manchester


  • Materia Medica
  • collections