Treasures from the Rare Book Room: The New Gospel of Health

The New Gospel of Health: A Series of Lectures on the Value of the Urine in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Diseases is a unique book written by Pittsburgh physician John F. Shafer. It was published in the first decade of the 20th century to advertise the medical practice of Dr. Shafer, a self-styled “urine specialist,” and to guide patients in their choice of physicians.

IMG_0913aThe book includes descriptions of 100 cases illustrating Shafer’s use of urine analysis in the diagnosis and treatment of many illnesses. The catalog of cured ailments ranges from gall stones and jaundice, to ailments such as “tobacco heart.” He assembled these cases with one goal in mind: to share tributes from his patients about the benefits of his diagnostic method. He claimed that the only measurable proof of physician success is a cured patient willing to give testimony about a doctor’s effectiveness. Long before HIPAA regulations protecting patient privacy, Shafer managed to secure his patients’ permission to publish their testimonials to prove his claim. Therefore, all the described cases include detailed observations leading to diagnosis and treatment, and the patients’ testimonials with full names and addresses, so they could be contacted to verify the printed word.

Dr. Shafer advertised himself as a founder of “urinopathy,” a term he coined in 1891 to describe a new method of diagnosis and treatment by urine based on his own research and discoveries. He promoted this new technique as a more effective way of reaching diagnosis than the traditional method that looked at symptoms and not causes. His practice was based in Pittsburgh, where he offered office consultations and the services of the Shafer Pathological Laboratory. He also advertised the availability of his services to all who wanted to send their urine through the mail, and receive analysis, diagnosis and treatment of their ailment.

Because most of the cases were from Pittsburgh and vicinity, the book is also of interest to local researchers, as an interesting portrayal of health problems in this area a hundred years ago.

The Falk Library Rare Books Collections contain over 4,000 rare books in the health sciences dating back to 1496. All of the books can be located in the PITTCat for the Health Sciences by author or title.

~ Gosia Fort

HSLS Staff News

The HSLS Staff News section includes recent HSLS presentations, publications, staff changes, staff promotions, degrees earned, etc.


Jonathon Erlen, history of medicine librarian published “Dissertations Recently Completed in Related Fields” in Journal of the History of Sexuality, 19(3): 600-601, 2010 and “Disability Studies Abstracts” in The Review of Disability Studies: An International Journal, 6(2):62-63, 2010, with co-author Megan Conway.

Molecular Biology Information Service Information Specialist Carrie Iwema, along with co-authors Diego Rodriguez Gil1, Helen Treloar1, X. Zhang1, Alexandra Miller1, Aimee Two1, Stuart Firestein1, and Charles Greer1 published “Chromosomal Location-Dependent Nonstochastic Onset of Odor Receptor Expression” in Journal of Neuroscience, 30(30): 10067-75, July 28, 2010.

1Departments of Neurosurgery and Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT

Reference librarian Melissa Ratajeski, along with co-authors Amy Chatfield1, Tania Bardyn1, and John Wang2 published “Communicating with Faculty, Staff, and Students Using Library Blogs: Results from a Survey of Academic Health Sciences Libraries” in Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 15(3): 149-168, July 2010.

1Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, University of California, Los Angeles, Log Angeles, CA;
2UCLA Library Web Services, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

HSLS Schedule of Classes November-December 2010

HSLS offers classes on database searching, software applications such as Adobe Photoshop, bibliographic management, molecular biology and genetics, and library orientations.  For more information visit the online course descriptions.

Classes are held on the first floor of Falk Library (200 Scaife Hall) in classroom 1 and conference room B, and on the second floor in the Computer and Media Center classroom 2. Some classes are also held in the conference room at UPMC Shadyside Libraries. All classes are open to faculty, staff and students of the schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC.

No registration is required for any of these classes.  Seating for classes is first-come, first-served, until the class is full.  Classes marked with an asterisk (*) qualify for American Medical Association Category 2 continuing education credit.

Class schedules are subject to change.  Please consult the online class calendar for the most current information.


Introduction to HSLS Resources and Services at Falk Library
(Meet inside entrance to Library)
Offered upon request to groups or individuals. Call 412-648-8796.

Introduction to HSLS Services at UPMC Shadyside
Offered upon request to groups or individuals.  Call 412-623-2415.

Finding Full-Text Articles at UPMC Shadyside
Offered upon request to groups or individuals.  Call 412-623-2415.


PubMed Basics* (Falk Library Classroom 1)
Monday, November 22                   11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Wednesday, December 8                3-4:30 p.m.

Focus on Behavioral Medicine: Searching in PsycINFO* (Falk Library Classroom 1)
Tuesday, November 9                    10-11:30 a.m.


DNA Analysis Tools* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, November 3                 1-3 pm.

Protein Sequence Analysis* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, November 10                1-3 pm.

Lasergene* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, November 17               1-3 pm.

Gene Regulation Resources* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, December 1                 1-3 pm.

Literature Informatics* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, December 8                 1-3 pm.

Sequence Similarity Searching* (Falk Library Conference Room B)
Wednesday, December 15               1-3 p.m.


EndNote Basics (Falk Library Classroom 2)
(Note: This class is usually full.  Please arrive 15 minutes in advance to ensure seating.)
Thursday, November 11                  1-3 p.m.
Wednesday, December 8                 10 a.m.-noon

Adobe Photoshop for Beginners (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Tuesday, November 2                     10 a.m.-noon
Tuesday, December 7                     10 a.m.-noon

PowerPoint for Beginners
Wednesday, December 22               10 a.m.-noon   (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Wednesday, November 10               11 a.m.-1 p.m.  (UPMC Shadyside Libraries)

Advanced PowerPoint for Presentations (UPMC Shadyside Libraries)
Wednesday, November 10               11 a.m.-1 p.m.

PowerPoint for Beginners and Advanced PowerPoint (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Wednesday, November 17               10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The WOW Factor: PowerPoint for Posters (Falk Library Classroom 2)
Tuesday, December 14                    10 a.m.-noon

Get It To Go

Journals and More at a Glance: iGoogle or MyYahoo pages * (Falk Library Classroom 1)
Wednesday, November 3                Noon-1 p.m.

Mindmapping – Visual Brainstorming and Organization * (Falk Library Classroom 1)
Tuesday, December 7                     Noon-1 p.m.

Lunch With A Librarian

These informal, brown-bag lunches are held in Falk Library Conference Room B. Bring your own lunch. Drinks and dessert are provided. For more information visit the online descriptions.

Searching for Dollar$: Grant Resources on the Web
Friday, November 12                       Noon-1 p.m.

Medical Humanities on the WWW
Tuesday, December 7                     Noon-1 p.m.

Why use PubMed? (UPMC Shadyside Libraries)
Monday, November 1                      Noon-1 p.m.

Find it Quick (UPMC Shadyside Libraries)
Monday, December 13                     Noon-1 p.m.

Thursday @ Three HSLS UPMC Shadyside Libraries Information Series
These informal sessions are held in the Conference Room at UPMC Shadyside Libraries.

Let’s be Creative: Jazz Up Your Fliers and Presentations
Thursday, November 18                   3-4 p.m.

Exploring HSLS Databases
Thursday, December 9                     3-4 p.m.

Customized classes can be developed for your department, course, or other group.

These online tutorials provide information on getting started at HSLS, focusing on the Web site and popular resources.