Larry Reynolds, University Distinguished Professor of animal sciences, has co-published a book titled "Wombs with a View: Illustrations of the Gravid from the Renaissance through the Nineteenth Century." His co-publisher and colleague was Lawrence D. Longo from Loma Linda University, who died recently at age 89.
The book is published by Springer Publishing Co. and pre-order is available on amazon.com.
The book presents more than 200 historical illustrations of the pregnant uterus, which includes the fetus and placenta, and describes the background of each of the 127 authors and their contributions.
“The goal of the project was to put these illustrations into historical context and highlight their important contributions to advances in obstetrics and gynecology through the centuries,” said Reynolds. “The initial impetus was that both of us realized, independently, that the vast majority of these illustrations of the fetus (Longo’s area of specialization) and placenta (Reynolds’ expertise) were ‘lost.’ That is, few copies of the books containing these illustrations exist, and therefore few people have ever seen them. Even those more famous illustrations that are reproduced are almost always second-generation copies, and therefore are of poor quality.”
Another goal of the project was to obtain high quality, digital photographs of the illustrations. “Ninety-five percent of the several hundred images were taken by photographer Dominic Budicin of Riverside, California, and are of very high quality,” said Reynolds. “We plan to place our images in the Images of the History of Medicine archive of the U.S. National Library of Medicine so that anyone anywhere can download and use them.”
The book took the pair 10 years to complete. “The book took so long partly because we had to track down and photograph the historical illustrations, and partly because the list of authors just kept growing as we investigated the area further,” said Reynolds.
Although Reynolds is not a historian, Longo published numerous articles and several books on fetal and postnatal development as well as the history of investigation in obstetrics and gynecology, most recently "Stress and Developmental Programming of Health and Disease: Beyond Phenomenology" and "The Rise of Fetal and Neonatal Physiology: Basic Science to Clinical Care."
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