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William S. Playfair portraits of cases of rest treatment

Identifier: MSS 2/001

Scope and Contents

Before-and-after photographs of six female patients of W. S. Playfair who had undergone rest-cure treatment for hysteria and neurasthenia. Treatment included seclusion and rest, massage, electricity, and regimented diet. According to donor, S. Weir Mitchell, Playfair exhibited either the cases or, more probably, the photographs to British Medical Association. Playfair did describe four cases of this type to the Medical Section of British Medical Association, Worcester, England, 9 Aug. 1882. Includes ALS of S. Weir Mitchell, Philadelphia, Pa., [1889 Nov. 6?]


  • circa 1880s


Biographical / Historical

W. S. Playfair, English obstetrician, was born in either Munovin, East India, or St. Andrews, Scotland, on 27 July 1836. He married Emily Kitson in 1864; they had five children. Playfair died at St. Andrews on 13 Aug. 1903. After receiving his M.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1856, Playfair enlisted in the Bengal Medical Service; from 1859 to 1860, he was Professor of Surgery at Calcutta Medical College. He returned to London in 1863 and became Assistant Physician for the Diseases of Women and Children at King’s College Hospital. He later became full Physician at the hospital and was Professor of Obstetric Medicine at King’s College from 1872 to 1898. Playfair was president of the Obstetrical Society of London (1879-1880), and Physician-Accoucheur to the Duchess of Edinburgh and the Duchess of Connaught. In the 1880s, he introduced S. Weir Mitchell’s rest-cure methods into England.


12 items

Language of Materials


Physical Location

Small collections
William S. Playfair portraits of cases of rest treatment
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Repository

19 S. 22nd Street
Philadelphia PA 19103 United States