Antiquus Morbus may sound a bit silly and even be a bit hard to remember. However, the web site of http://www.antiquusmorbus.com should be bookmarked in every genealogist's web browser.
Antiquus Morbus contains a collection of archaic medical terms and their old and modern definitions. The primary focus of this web site is to help decipher the causes of death found on mortality lists, certificates of death and church death records from the 19th century and earlier.
The site presently has thousands of old terms in English as well as hundreds of German words. In addition, the site contains a few old medical terms in Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Plautdietsch (Mennonite Low German), Polish, Portuguese, Scottish, Spanish and Swedish. The plan is to eventually collect and record old medical terms in all European languages.
I spent a bit of time looking at the Antiquus Morbus web site, looking for old medical terms that I have stored in my genealogy database. Antiquus Morbus contained every one of the English and French words that I searched for.
Here are a few examples of terms found on Antiquus Morbus:
Danbury ShakesDanbury Connecticut has always been known as "The Hat City". It was the hat making capital of the world in the 19th century. At the peak of the industry, five million hats a year were produced in 56 different factories in Danbury. A process called "carroting" was used in the production. Carroting involved washing animal furs with an orange-colored solution containing a mercury compound, mercury nitrate. The colorful solution facilitated the separation of the fur from the pelt and made it mat together smoothly. Workers would often be exposed to mercury vapors in the steamy air. Many hatters with long-term exposure, particularly those involved in carroting, got mercury poisoning. Mercury poisoning attacks the nervous system, causing drooling, hair loss, uncontrollable muscle twitching, a lurching gait, and difficulties in talking and thinking clearly. Stumbling about in a confused state with slurred speech and trembling hands, affected hatters were sometimes mistaken for drunks. The ailment became known as "The Danbury Shakes". In very severe cases, they experienced hallucinations. [Seagrant]
Painter's ColicA violent form of intestinal colic, associated with obstinate constipation, produced by chronic lead poisoning. [Webster]
A condition of the foot resembling frostbite, caused by prolonged exposure to cold and dampness and often affecting soldiers in trenches. [Heritage]
An acute malaria-like syndrome of chill, fever (sometimes) and sweat, appearing a few hours after inhalation, for a few minutes or longer, of zinc fumes, whether pure or, as is the usual rule, in the form of brass fumes, after affecting only, or mostly, those unaccustomed to such exposure; further characterized by the development of a form of temporary immunity, and absence of immediate serious or fatal consequence. Definite chronic symptoms due to the presence of zinc probably do not occur, but the morbidity and mortality rates of workmen constantly exposed to breathing of the fumes are high, with respiratory diseases especially in evidence. [Kober1916]
Notice the words or phrases that are enclosed in [square brackets]. Those are source citations as to where the original definition was found. A separate bibliography page on the site provides full details on all the sources cited.
Antiquus Morbus is an excellent resource for genealogists, historians, doctors, public health officials and others who encounter obsolete medical terms in old records. Best of all, the web site is available to all free of charge, thanks to many hours of labor by web site owner Rudolf Schmidt.
I expect to go back and look at Antiquus Morbus every time I find an old medical term that I do not recognize. You might want to do the same. Look at http://www.antiquusmorbus.com
If you are looking at old records written in German, you might also want to take note of Rudolf Schmidt's other service for genealogists: translating old German script. Details may be found near the bottom of the page at http://www.antiquusmorbus.com/Contact.htm