McKenzie graduated from UW-Madison in May of 2014 with majors in Biology and History and will be attending UW School of Medicine and Public Health in the fall of 2015. She enjoyed working on the History of Wisconsin in 100 Objects Projects as an undergraduate and hopes to always keep history as a passion.

By This Author

Cupping Kit


This particular cupping kit belonged to Dr. James T. Reeve a physician from Appleton, WI and was donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1952 by his son, J.S. Reeve.

image showing three men in a bathhouse with one administering humoral medicine through cupping to another man.

What is Cupping?

Until the late nineteenth century, cupping was widely used for the treatment of inflammation and deep-seated pain believed to be due to an imbalance of the humors.

An illustration from the files of Louis Pasteur showing his theories of atmospheric germs as observed in gun-cotton.

The Decline of Humoral Theory

Cupping (as well as general bloodletting) declined in the late nineteenth century. Louis Pasteur and Robert Koch’s experiments in pathology demonstrated the existence of foreign bodies and their role disease, called in to question humoral theory.

a diagram showing four color-coded squares representing the four humors of humoral medicine: a yellow square for fire, a black square for earth, a blue square for water, and a red square for air.

Humoral Medicine and Cupping

Humoral medicine began in Ancient Greece and continued in popularity until the late nineteenth century. This theory developed out of ancient people’s close relationship to agriculture and the idea of the environment’s influence on them.

A black and white portrait of Dr. James T. Reeve in the uniform of a Civil War surgeon.

Dr. James T. Reeve

The owner of this particular cupping kit was Dr. James T. Reeve. Reeve became a prominent medical figure in the state of Wisconsin and was a strong proponent for public health.