This text is a slightly edited version of a lecture given when the author was installed as professor of environmental history at Umeå University on October 9, 1993. The author sketches tendencies in historical research--the Annales-school and the historiography of the West in the United States--leading up to the formation of environmental history as an independent field of research during the last quarter century. He comments on some recent examples of excellent scholarship--works by Alfred Crosby, Carolyn Merchant, Donald Worster--before turning to an older tradition of environmental description in 19th century geography, geology and the life sciences. He then puts environmental investigations into the framework of a general history of science starting with John Evelyn's study of the quality of the London air, published in 1661, but also mentioning major naturalists and thinkers such as Pascal, Linnaeus, Haeckel, and Humboldt. The author finally takes up the theme of biodiversity, indicating that a history of the environment and of the environmental sciences also has implications for how nature is treated today and how it will be treated in the future.
The author traces the history of appendicitis through the successive stages of its evolution--from the early anatomic descriptions of the appendix by Leonardo da Vinci and Vesalius to Louyer-Villermay's recognition of the fatal course that appendiceal inflammation may take; through the confusion of typhlitis and perityphlitis, until Reginald Fitz at the end of the last century classified its pathology and the disease appendicitis was born. The author has described the efforts of the early surgeons as they grew to understand the symptomatology of appendicitis and to realize that only by early operation could the tragic outcome of delay be averted. Credit is given to those whose contributions have advanced the frontiers of surgery-- Lawson Tait was the first to diagnose and remove a diseased appendix in 1880 in England and Abraham Groves the first on the North American continent, in 1883, in Ontario. Within a decade, the early surgical treatment of appendicitis became established. The writings of men like Charles McBurney and John B. Murphy are shown to be as pertinent today as they were at the turn of the century.