New online exhibit: “Stocking the Early Modern Medicine Cabinet”

What do you do when you come down with a cold or an upset stomach? Most of us probably go to the nearest pharmacy to pick up an assortment of pills, syrups or sprays; or if it’s a mild case, we might just make tea with plenty of honey. But no matter what route we choose, we know there are a number of options to help us feel better.

Early modern Europeans existed within a similar medical landscape. Although modern inventions such as antibiotics and pseudoephedrine were completely unknown to them, they still had a variety of treatment options. They could rub ointments on bruises and sore joints, drink herb-infused cordials, or even eat medicinal jams smeared onto toast. Our new online exhibit “Cordials, Unguents, and Plasters: Stocking the Early Modern Medicine Cabinet” uses Becker Library’s rare book collections to examine some of the everyday medicines that people living in the early modern period would have used.

Check out the exhibit at