19th Century Electrical Medical Device


Electricity was a strange new phenomenon in the early 19th Century.  Medicine was quick to see in it an almost miraculous way to cure disease or alleviate pain.  The Davis’ & Kidder’s Patent Magneto-Electric Machine was one of hundreds of devices that were produced and sold to doctors. 

The Davis’ & Kidder’s device dates from the mid- to late 19th Century.  The machine was patented in 1854 and made in New York City by W.H. Burnap.  Burnap claimed the device would use static electricity created by turning the handle to cure heart disease, lockjaw (tetanus), consumption (tuberculosis) even spinal deformities. 

This machine was one of thousands of “patented” devices that used electricity, magnetism, heat, light and other natural phenomenons.  These were known, but little understood.  It is likely none of them actually did help patients, but probably didn’t hurt them either.  Today, electrical stimulation is used in various treatments especially for chronic pain by skilled and knowledgeable doctors.

Location in Museum

Medicine in the New South case


circa 1854-1900


Dr. Daniel Moller.
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