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Museum Archivist Captures Prestigious Publication Award

By: Paul Bello, National Museum of Health and Medicine

SILVER SPRING, Md.: Eric Boyle has had a successful start to 2014. His book, "Quack Medicine: A History of Combating Health Fraud in Twentieth-Century America," was recently awarded Best Print Publication from the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences. This came after his book was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 by the Association of College and Research Libraries earlier this year.

The book is an in-depth analysis of quackery and alternative medicine in the American marketplace, in addition to how government and other variables like the economy have helped shape drug marketing to the public. It was Boyle's first foray into book publishing and the experience was one he'll never forget.

"I invested so much time and was consumed with the project for so long. It's the culmination of a lot of research done over a period of several years," Boyle said. "I never thought I'd write a book, so this is certainly something I'm proud to have finished. I'm grateful to have been recognized."

Boyle, who has been working as an archivist at the National Museum of Health and Medicine (NMHM) for the past two years, began his project in 2008 before joining NMHM, when he presented a chapter from his dissertation on combating quackery during a conference held by the American Association of the History of Medicine. He was later approached by the book's editor about such a project, which he admitted piqued his interest. He signed a contract the following year and had his first publication bound and covered by 2012.

"I've always been interested in the history of medicine along the margins of what's considered orthodox and unorthodox . That's part of what led to my research on alternative medicine at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which I undertook while writing Quack Medicine." Boyle said. "The reviews have been very positive. Judges of the book prize said they were impressed with my use of material from a variety of archives and special collections, along with the way the material was presented in an engaging manner that was accessible to a variety of audiences. That's certainly nice to hear."

Boyle is already two thirds of the way through his second book, which picks up where his last book ends. It features an investigation of the more recent history of complementary and alternative medicine in late 20th century and early 21st century America, he said.

 

Caption: Eric Boyle, Archivist of the Otis Historical Archives at the National Museum of Health and Medicine, is seen holding his book "Quack Medicine: A History of Combating Health Fraud in Twentieth-Century America." Boyle was recently awarded Best Print Publication (seen being held by Boyle) from the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences (ALHHS) during their annual meeting this past May.

(Disclosure: This image has been cropped to emphasize the subject.) (National Museum of Health and Medicine photo by Matthew Breitbart)