Barber-Surgeons, Nurses, Midwives: Cupping and the “Violet Ray” in the Everyday Practice of Non-Medical Healing Professions
This article examines the historical background of a chance find in the attic of a family among whose ancestors were a midwife and a nurse. The objects from the everyday practice of these two women are a set of cupping glasses and a so-called high-frequency radiation device (“violet ray”). The latter has so far been presented in research mainly as a lifestyle product of the first half of the 20th century and its desire for health self-care. The article now shows, based on statements from the practitioners' families, that treatment with cupping glasses as well as with the HFR device was part of (medically prescribed) physical therapy until the 1950s. It becomes apparent that the boundaries between the treatment practices of non-medical healers such as midwives, nurses and barber-surgeons cannot be sharply drawn. For future research on objects in the history of medicine, this result provides the methodological impetus not to hastily make restrictive classifications of individual healing professions and their respective practices when working with sources.
European Journal for Nursing History and Ethics