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What did doctors carry in their travel bags in 1916?

weihanbag  July 20, 2022

What did doctors carry in their travel bags in 1916? That's the question I have been seeking to answer for several months now. As a medical student who is interested in the history of medicine, this topic has piqued my curiosity.


Thermometers are used to measure the temperature of a patient's body.

The most common type of thermometer is a glass thermometer, which consists of a glass tube containing alcohol and mercury. The liquid inside the tube is at room temperature and below, but as it approaches body temperature (98 degrees), it expands and rises in the tube.

Though they're not as common today, mercury thermometers were used prior to World War II because they could withstand higher temperatures than other types of thermometers could handle.

They were also easier to calibrate than other types of thermometers and more precise; however, mercury has been banned from medical use since the 1970s because it can be toxic if swallowed or inhaled by patients or healthcare providers who work with these devices regularly.

Small lamp

A small lamp was another piece of equipment that doctors carried in their bags. The use of a small lamp enabled them to check for signs of infection, such as redness or swelling around an injury or wound. They could also use it to look for signs of shock (low blood pressure), fever, dehydration, hypothermia and other conditions.


You can use the compass to navigate, find direction, and determine latitude and longitude.

First, position the needle so that it points north (the northern hemisphere). Then wrap a cloth around it to create a friction device that will keep it from moving around as you move around with your kit. You can also use this method with a pencil if you don't have any cloth available.

Dry food

Doctors used to carry a lot of dry food with them on their travels. This was because it lasted longer than other foods, and it also made it easier for doctors to travel light. They could store some of this dry food in their bags, and it wouldn't spoil if they didn't eat it for a long time.

The most common type of dry food that doctors carried was oatmeal—it's cheap, easy to prepare, and full of nutrients! There were also dried meats like beef jerky or chicken legs which were also good sources of protein; these foods didn't need refrigeration either! Doctors would store these items inside special waterproof containers that kept out moisture so nothing got moldy (gross).

Another advantage about carrying dried goods is that they are portable: all you need is some hot water from any source at all (like boiling water), stir everything together until the consistency looks right then eat up!

Writing materials

You may be surprised to learn that many of the doctors who traveled in 1916 carried writing materials. The most popular was the pencil, which was used for writing and signing documents. Pencils were inexpensive and easy to carry in one's pocket or bag. People wrote with them on paper, not on tablets like we do today. Pens were more expensive than pencils and reserved for signatures only since they required more care and maintenance than a basic writing instrument like a pencil did.

Pens were made from metal or hard rubber (which was once commonly used in early tools) and held ink inside through an internal reservoir system called the filler mechanism—no need to dip! Fountain pens require more care than rollerballs or ballpoints because they're more susceptible to damage by sitting upright too long without being capped properly; however, if you're very careful about how you use them, fountain pens will last longer than any other type of pen on the market today!

Blank labels for medicines

  • Labels were used to identify the contents of the bag, bottles and syringes.
  • Blank labels for medicines were also carried in case a doctor needed to write-on an existing label.



A syringe is a device for injecting liquid into or withdrawing liquid from a container. Syringes are commonly used in medical applications to inject drugs and in food preparation to transfer liquids.

  • To inject fluid directly into the body, an intravenous (IV) or intramuscular (IM) needle is used to inject solutions into the bloodstream (e.g., saline solutions, medicines). IVs are often given for pain relief at hospitals and other health care facilities; IM injections are given by physicians when treating muscle injuries or illnesses.
  • For blood samples, heparinized syringes can be used because they prevent clotting of blood samples until they reach their destination where they can be centrifuged so that any clotted components will fall out while leaving undissolved solids behind in the syringe tip.* A nurse might use a butterfly needle instead of an ordinary luer lock type connection if there is concern about contamination of equipment with patient fluids due to risk of infection transmission through accidental needle stick injury.* Sometimes people will use special plastic bags filled with water as makeshift IV bags since they're easier than real IV bags—this method has been known since ancient times but was abandoned centuries ago due to concerns over sterility issues such as bacterial growth inside these impromptu containers."

Instruments needed for minor surgery

The following instruments were needed for minor surgery:

  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Forceps (levers) with short handles and long tips, used to remove foreign objects from the eye or nasal cavity. The ends of the forceps were often bent away from each other at a right angle.
  • Needles, which were used to sew up surgical wounds; although modern needles are made of steel, needles used in 1916 were typically made of bone or silver. Silver was not only more durable than bone but also easier to sterilize because it did not rust as readily as iron or steel would have done when exposed to moisture.[14] It is uncertain whether doctors carried their own personal needle cases like today's professionals do; however, they were certainly expected to maintain their own medical instruments and accessories properly so that they remained sterile until use.[15] Some doctors' bags even included a small container for disinfectant solution inside them so that everything could be kept clean before treatment began.[16]

Medicines for first aid, such as nitro-glycerine for heart attacks and ipecac for poisoning

The doctors of 1916 carried a number of medicines in their travel bags. They had nitro-glycerine to treat heart attacks and ipecac for poisoning. Ipecac is an expectorant which induces vomiting. It was once used as a treatment for some kinds of poisoning, including cyanide and strychnine. However, it has since been replaced by better treatments such as activated charcoal or atropine sulfate.

In addition to these two drugs, the doctors also carried other medicines with them in their bags for various ailments: chloroform for pain relief; morphine sulfate (a narcotic) to relieve pain when needed; potassium iodide pills that prevent radiation sickness after exposure to nuclear fallout; quinine sulfate (an anti-malarial drug) to treat malaria if necessary

Bandages and cotton

Cotton bandages are a natural product and can be used to cover wounds or make a sling to support a broken arm. They are also easy to carry, cheap, and absorbent. What’s not to love?

It's amazing how much medicine has progressed since 1916.

With all the advances in medicine since 1916, it's amazing to think of how much more advanced the field has become. No longer do you need to travel with your own doctor or bring your own medicine; instead, modern doctors have access to a wide range of high-quality medications that are accessible and affordable. This means they can treat you any time, anywhere—even if you're far away from home!

The best part is that because doctors can now get their patients the medical care they need so easily without having to worry about traveling long distances, their treatment options are wider than ever before.

The 1916 medical bag is a fascinating look at the tools that doctors carried in their day-to-day lives. It's easy to think of them as relics of another time, but they had many features that we would find useful today! With the right supplies, even an inexperienced person could save someone's life in an emergency situation.

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