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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/67

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59
MEASUREMENTS OF MEN.

laboratories where certificates of observed facts should be furnished to any applicant for stated fees. These would contain as exact and complete a report of the physiological status of a person as is feasible in the present state of science, by the help of the microscope, chemical tests, and physiological apparatus. Laboratories of this description ought to be welcome to practicing physicians, who, being unable to keep the necessary apparatus in their consulting-rooms, could send their patients to be examined in any way they wished, whenever they though it desirable to do so. The laboratories would be of the same convenience to them that the Kew Observatory is to physicists, who can send their delicate instruments there to have their errors ascertained.

The data for the medical history of a man's life are the observations made by his physician in his successive illnesses, and I would dwell on the importance of gradually establishing a custom that the medical attendant of each patient should as a matter of course write down such clinical notes of his case as are written at the bedsides of public patients at hospitals. These papers would be for the private and future use of the patient, and would be preserved by him, together with the prescriptions. They would accumulate as the years went by, and would form the materials for a medical life-history of very great value to the patient himself in the illnesses of his later life. The records might be epitomized by his physician from time to time, and they would in that form be an heirloom to the children of the patient, warning their medical attendants in future years by throwing light on hereditary peculiarities.

The popular object of this and the previous memoir is to further the accumulation of materials for life-histories in the form of adequate photographs, anthropometric measurements, and medical facts. No doubt it would be contrary to the inclinations of most people to take much trouble of the kind about themselves, but I would urge them do so for their children so far as they have opportunities, and to establish a family register for the purpose, filling it up periodically as well as they can. It will have been seen that much may be effected without special apparatus, and on the other hand that much more could be effected, and with increased ease and precision, if anthropometric laboratories existed. Should a demand arise for such establishments, it would not be difficult to form them in connection with various existing scientific institutions. A few shelves would hold the necessary apparatus. Something useful of the kind could be set on foot at a moment's notice, but it would require much practice and consideration by capable men before a standard outfit could be decided on.

The motives that might induce a person to take the trouble of getting himself accurately measured and appraised from time to time, and of recording the results, are briefly as follows: 1. Their biographical interest to the person himself, to his family, and descendants. 2.