Dr. Brinkley’s Doctor Book


A couple of year ago I had the pleasure of writing a “This Month in North Carolina” feature on Dr. John R. Brinkley, a famous or maybe infamous, son of Jackson County, North Carolina. Brinkley made himself a millionaire, in the teeth of the Great Depression, performing an operation which he claimed transplanted goat glands into men to restore virility. I noticed the other day that our copy of Dr. Brinkley’s Doctor Book was being sent to the Library’s Conservation Laboratory for restoration work. Published by Brinkley around 1933, the Doctor Book described and promoted his practice and hospital in Del Rio, Texas. Del Rio is on the Rio Grande, and I have always wondered if Brinkley located there, at least in part, because it was so handy for sudden trips out of the country. At any rate, the Doctor Book is a good example of an item to which no importance was attached when it was published because it was little more than a piece of advertising. As a consequence, our copy is one of the very few left, and it has become very important because of its connection with the history of medicine, or perhaps medical fraud, in the United States. I am pleased to report that our copy is in pretty good shape. The paper has held up well, but the cover has become detached. In my brief study of the life and times of Dr. Brinkley, I enjoyed looking through the Doctor Book. I particularly remember the advice to prospective patients to “bring cash, the Doctor does not take checks.”

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