Category Archives: Collections

Seminar 3: Fears, phobias and obsessions in the late-nineteenth century

Fears, phobias and obsessions in the late-nineteenth century

The third HSMT seminar of Hilary Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 30th January (Week 3) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street, and will be delivered by Sally Shuttleworth.

Sally Shuttleworthn moved to Oxford in 2006 to take up the post of the Head of the Humanities Division, with responsibility for the 11 faculties and units which make up the Division of Humanities within the University. She stepped down from this role in 2011 to return to research and is currently running two large research projects to extend her work on the interface of literature, science and culture: ‘Diseases of Modern Life: Nineteenth-Century Perspectives’ and ‘Constructing Scientific Communities: Citizen Science in the 19th and 21st Centuries’. She also teaches Victorian literature and culture.

Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal’s now-classic paper on ‘Agoraphobia’ of 1871 laid the foundations for the rapid development of work on phobias, fears and obsessions which sprang up in the last decades of the nineteenth century. This preoccupation with excessive states of fear, out of all proportion to any evident causes, climaxed in G. Stanley Hall’s ‘Synthetic Genetic Study of Fear’ in the American Journal of Psychology (1914), which registered no less than 138 different types of pathological fear, all with their own Greek or Latinate names, from more generalised categories such as agoraphobia, to the very specific pteronophobia (fear of feathers). In this talk, Shuttleworth will explore the intersection of medical and literary discourses of fear as they emerged in the latter half of the century, looking particularly at the ways in which psychiatry turned to literature for case studies of phobia and obsession.

G. Stanley Hall’s ‘Synthetic Genetic Study of Fear’, mentioned above, is available though SOLO in the American Journal of Psychology, Volume 25, No.3 (July 1914). The article can be accessed via this link if you’re already logged in to SOLO.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several of Shuttleworth’s published works are also available online through SOLO. The mind of the child: child development in literature, science, and medicine 1840-1900 explores issues such as childhood fears, imaginary lands, sexuality, and the relation of the child to animal life, moving between literature and science. Chapter 2 of part 1 is entitled ‘Fears, Phantasms, and Night Terrors’, which is of particular relevance to the seminar. Shuttleworth is also a co-author of Crossing boundaries: thinking through literature, along with Julie Scanlon, Amy Waste, and Terry Eagleton. Shuttleworth’s chapter is ”So Childish and So Dreadfully Un-Childlike’: Cultural Constructions of Idiocy in the Mid-Nineteenth Century’, but its following chapter may also be relevant to the topic of fears: ”Aberrant Passions and Unaccountable Antipathies’: Nervous Women, Nineteenth-Century Neurology and Literary Text’, by Jane Wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book from which Shuttleworth’s research project takes its name, Diseases of modern life by Benjamin Ward Richardson (QZ 40/Rich), is an interesting primary source text that we hold in the Unit Library, with some illuminating discussion of ‘Disease from Worry and Mental Strain’ (Part the Second, Chapter II). It covers such afflictions from mental strain as Hysteria and Broken Heart. This work approaches the effects of worry on health with the focus of the interview; a completely different angle on the topic of fear can be found in Philip Alcabes’s book Dread : how fear and fantasy have fueled epidemics from the Black Death to avian flu by (RA649 ALC 2009). This work looks at how anxieties about outbreaks of disease often stray from the facts to incorporate inflated fears about what is unknown, undesirable or misunderstood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Allan Horwitz’s Anxiety : a short history (RC531 HOR 2013 and online) is a more general work on the topic, covering melancholia, nerves, neuroses and phobias, but has a pertinent chapter entitled ‘The Nineteenth Century’s New Uncertainties’. This explores how the newly industrialized world created a wide range of uncertainties, including a discussion of phobias. Finally, The age of anxiety : a history of America’s turbulent affair with tranquilizers by Andrea Tone (RM333 TON 2009) looks at medication and anxieties, and takes a brief look at the roots of modern anxiety in Victorian neurasthenia (‘tired nerves’) in its first chapter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can read more about Shuttleworth’s research into The Stresses and Strains of Modern Life here: http://www.britac.ac.uk/blog/stresses-and-strains-modern-life.

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research. We also welcome further suggestions for reading not included in this post!

Header image: ‘A woman diagnosed as suffering from melancholia with fear, or fear of everything, and with a propensity to attempt suicide’
L0026691 Credit: Wellcome Library, London
A woman diagnosed as suffering from melancholia with fear, or fear of everything, and with a propensity to attempt suicide. Lithograph, 1892, after a drawing made for Sir Alexander Morison.
1892 after: Alexander Morison and Byrom Bramwell
Published: [s.n.],[Edinburgh] : [1892]; Printed: McLagan & Cumming Lith.)(Edin[bu]r[gh] :
Size: image 20.5 x 20 cm. ; Collection: Iconographic Collections
Library reference no.: ICV No 51428 and Iconographic Collection 38637i
Full Bibliographic Record: Link to Wellcome Library Catalogue

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Seminar 8: ‘William James and “the laws of health” in nineteenth-century America’

‘William James and “the laws of health” in nineteenth-century America’

The eighth and final HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 28th November (Week 8) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street, and will be delivered by Emma Sutton.

Sutton’s central research interest is the history and philosophy of concepts of health. Her PhD thesis examined this topic from a biographical perspective, looking at the American philosopher and psychologist William James’s explorations of different understandings of health and their social, philosophical and religious contexts: ‘Re-writing the laws of health: William James on the politics and philosophy of disease in nineteenth-century America.’ Sutton’s post-doctoral research extends her focus further into the twentieth century and explores the links between child-rearing ideas and practices and concepts of psychological health.

The nineteenth-century American philosopher and psychologist William James is known for his writings on the physiological study of psychology, the psychology of religion, and as one of the founders of the philosophical school of pragmatism. His work, whilst well-respected by his professional colleagues, also received an extremely wide popular dissemination, and contemporary scholars have probed his writings in an attempt to discern his political message to the masses. In this seminar, Sutton argues that James’s politics do not fit easily within conventional academic concerns with the categories of class, gender and race. Instead she proposes that James was occupied with what may be characterised as a politics of invalidism and health; a response to the growing and, as he saw it, increasingly disturbing cultural authority of medical concerns, values and normative expectations. She will explore how James’s ethico-political manifesto may be read as a reaction against both the hygienic guidelines for healthy living, “the laws of health”, and also the state legislation that aimed at restricting therapeutic practices to the orthodox medical profession.

We hold two primary texts by William James at the Wellcome Unit Library: the first, a (well-loved) copy of William James : a selection from his writings on psychology (WMA/Jame/K), edited with commentary by Margaret Knight. It contains extracts from several of James’ works, including Principles of Psychology – proclaimed by the blurb as ‘one of the greatest books on the subject in any language’. James, the book says, ‘begins at the beginning, and he deals with fundamentals (…) in a way which keeps the reader in a continual state of intellectual excitement, amusement and surprise’. We also hold Psychology (BF131.J2 JAM 1920), an abridgment made by James of the Principles in order to make it more accessible to the student of psychology.

william-james-knight

psychology

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William James’ work lies within a wider narrative of psychology and psychiatry, and Edward Shorter’s A history of psychiatry : from the era of the asylum to the age of Prozac (RC438 SHO 1997) helps to give James’ work a backdrop, as well as briefly discussing him in a study of the American origins of psychoanalytics. James was a contemporary of Freud, corresponding with the Austrian neurologist and sharing some of his influences. As such, Freud’s converts by Vicki Clifford (BF51.C55 CLI 2007 and online) is another relevant title to consider, and considers the relationship psychotherapy has with religion.

history-of-psychiatry

freuds-converts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More general works on public health in America include Sickness and health in America : readings in the history of medicine and public health by Judith Walzer Leavitt and Ronald L. Numbers (R151 SIC 1985), which offers a comprehensive overview of the social history of medicine in the US. Tying into some of the themes Sutton will be examining, Faith in the Great Physician : suffering and divine healing in American culture, 1860-1900 by Heather D. Curtis (BT732.5.C88 CUR 2007) offers an examination of the politics of sickness, health and healing during the nineteenth century.

sickness-and-health-in-america

faith-in-the-great-physician

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emma Sutton has published several journal articles, and access is available for university members to one such article, ‘Interpreting “Mind-Cure”: William James and the “Chief Task…of the Science of Human Nature”’, at this URL: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jhbs.21532/full

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research. We also welcome further suggestions for reading not included in this post!

Header image: from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:William_James_b1842c.jpg (image in public domain)

Seminar 7: ‘Antibiotics as infrastructure: rehearsing a counterfactual of convalescence’

‘Antibiotics as infrastructure: rehearsing a counterfactual of convalescence’

The seventh HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 21st November (Week 7) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street, and will be delivered by Clare Chandler.

Chandler’s interests lie in the application of anthropological methods and critiques to health care and public health policies and programmes. She is interested in the implementation of technologies as ‘tools’ in global public health, for example by studying the social lives of RDTs as they meet, shift and expose patient, health care provider, health system and donor agendas. She is interested in the development of methods to design interventions which aim to improve health care and methods to understand and interpret how such interventions are enacted, absorbed, resisted and appropriated in the everyday lives of implementers and recipients. Her primary sites of research are among health care providers and care seekers (in public, private and community settings) in Tanzania and Uganda. Chandler currently holds a Seed Award from the Wellcome Trust to research how anthropological theory can be productive in conceptualising antimicrobial resistance and efforts to address this issue.

Concerns over antibiotic resistance reemphasise the centrality of antibiotics for maintaining the health of current and future populations. Since their mass production, antibiotics have been considered essential to human health care. Current apocalyptic discourses of the loss of antibiotic efficacy due to mounting resistance draw attention to the impact for future individuals who may face fatal consequences of infections now considered minor thanks to antibiotics. In this seminar, Chandler will argue that current responses to resistance allow us to see how the significance of antibiotics goes beyond health. She will explore how these substances can be considered as infrastructure socially, politically and economically, and will trace a hypothetical example of convalescence to illuminate the spaces, connections and frameworks that antibiotics currently hold together. From this perspective, more nuanced and mundane futures for living without antibiotics may become apparent.

One of the most pertinent and interesting titles the Wellcome Unit Library holds concerning this topic is The antibiotic era : reform, resistance, and the pursuit of rational therapeutics by Scott H. Podolsky (RM267 POD 2015). This recent work contains a history of antibiotics, focusing particularly on efforts to change how they are developed and prescribed, and examining the irrational usage and overprescription that has contributed to antibiotic resistance in infectious bacterial pathogens. The Wellcome Trust in London has a seminar transcript which the library also holds, discussing changes in attitudes towards antibiotics: Post penicillin antibiotics : from acceptance to resistance?, edited by E. M. Tansey and L. A. Reynolds (R131.A2 POS 2000). It reviews the problem of antibiotic resistance, and the mechanisms that transfer this resistance.

antibiotic-erapost-penicillin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Bud’s Penicillin : triumph and tragedy (RM666.P35 BUD 2007) also looks at this problem, moving from post-war optimism about infectious diseases and their eradication to the emergence of ‘superbugs’ following antibiotic abuse. Looking at one specific disease, Magic bullets to conquer malaria : from quinine to qinghaosu by Irwin W. Sherman (RC159.A5 SHE 2011) contains one chapter of particular relevance: ‘Reversal of Fortune’, which explains resistance in more detail (though its language is quite scientific in nature).

penicillin-triumphmagic-bullets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you are unfamiliar with history of medicine from an anthropological point of view, we have titles that you may find a useful introduction. A reader in medical anthropology : theoretical trajectories, emergent realities, edited by Byron J. Good (et al.) (GN296 REA 2010) is a very broad work containing a collection of essays that represent key themes in the field of medical anthropology, examining how societies grapple with questions about the meaning of illness, suffering and death. Marcia C. Inhorn and Peter J. Brown’s The anthropology of infectious disease : international health perspectives (RA643 ANT 1997) offers a more focused anthropological perspective on the sources, consequences and treatment of infectious diseases.

reader-medical-anthropology

anthropology-of-infectious-disease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research. We also welcome further suggestions for reading not included in this post!

Header image:  L0059573 Credit: Science Museum, London, Wellcome Images
British Standard penicillin was defined as one milligram of penicillin containing 1,600 International Units. An International Unit is defined as the potency or activity of a drug. The standard was set by the National Institute for Medical Research. International Standards were set in 1944 and in 1952. Standardisation of drugs such as penicillin is important to ensure the quantity and quality produced and given to patients is consistent all over the world.

Maker: National Institute for Medical Research
Place made: London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom, 1946
Collection: Wellcome Images; Library reference no.: Science Museum 1984-1086

Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Seminar 6: “A midwife should be welcoming”

‘“A midwife should be welcoming”: personality, midwives, and shifting perceptions of healthcare in Uganda, 1918-1979’

The sixth HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 14th November (Week 6) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street, and will be delivered by Kathleen Vongsathorn.

Vongsathorn’s research project focuses on the role of gender in the perception, spread, and adaptation of biomedicine and biomedical knowledge in twentieth-century Uganda. While women rarely appear in formal medical reports generated within Uganda, biomedically trained women outnumbered men in mission medical institutions.  Much of the provision of and teaching about biomedicine in Uganda was in the hands of women missionaries, or in the hands of the Ugandan women that they trained.  The first formalised biomedical training programmes for women in Uganda were midwifery schools, and these midwives staffed a network of maternity and child welfare centres that stretched across the country.  The main goal of these centres was to reduce maternal and infant mortality, but while infant mortality has been drastically reduced over the course of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, maternal mortality rates in Uganda are still very high, in large part because even today, only 57 percent of women in Uganda have ‘skilled’ assistance in their deliveries.  There are a variety of reasons that so many women give birth without a biomedical professional attendance, but significant among them is many women’s – or their relatives’ – reluctance to deliver in health centres.

Drawing on interviews with midwives, traditional birth attendants, and community members in Uganda, and on hospital, mission, and government records, the seminar will discuss the reasons why women have chosen to engage with biomedical services while pregnant and delivering babies, why they have chosen not to, how those choices have changed (or not) over time, and why.  Specifically, it will focus on the role of the midwife’s ‘character’, or behaviour, in encouraging and discouraging women from coming to biomedical health centres for antenatal care and for deliveries.  For many Ugandans, especially in rural areas, midwives were the first point of contact with biomedicine, and this paper explores changing ideas about health and health seeking behaviour through these women and their social presence in communities.

Vongsathorn is a former doctoral student of the Wellcome Unit, and as such we hold a copy of her D.Phil. thesis in the library, shelved under her surname on the theses shelf in Library Room 1. The work is titled, ‘Things that matter’: missionaries, government, and patients in the shaping of Uganda’s leprosy settlements, 1927-1951, and the abstract can be read here in the Oxford Research Archive.

The Unit Library also holds several monographs specifically concerning the subject of healthcare in Uganda. We have a copy of a survey prepared for the Medicine and Public Health in Africa section of the Oxford Development Records project, entitled The medical services of Uganda in 1954-1955 (RA552.U33 BUL 1984) and written by Mary Bull, and this has a small section on nurses and midwives (p.42-43). The report provides a factual snapshot of the state of medical services during one particular year. A more general account on a period of difficulty in Ugandan health services can be found in Crisis in Uganda : the breakdown of health services (RA552.U4 CRI 1985), edited by Cole P. Dodge and Paul D. Wiebe. The work examines how Uganda went from having one of the most highly-developed health services delivery systems in Africa at its independence in 1962 and into the early 1970s, to being one of the world’s least developed nations following a period of troubles.

medical-services-of-uganda

crisis-in-uganda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our header image for this week’s post comes from Uganda memories, 1897-1940 (R722.32.C66 A38 COO 1945), which is a memoir by Albert R. Cook, a British-born medical missionary in Uganda who established a maternity training school in the country. The image depicts maternity students in 1921. Chapter 27 of the book, ‘Mortality and Infant Welfare’, is of particular interest, discussing midwifery and infant mortality. The Lady Coryndon Maternity Training School is pictured below.uganda-hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The professionalisation of African medicine (GN645 PRO 1986), edited by Murray Last and G. L. Chavunduka widens the study of the changes and developments in African biomedicine to a continental level. The work is a collection of articles exploring the relationship between African governments and traditional healers, never previously organised, and the associated problems of African medicine. Chapter 6 is pertinent for the themes of this week’s seminar: ‘Prospects for the Professionalisation of Indigenous Midwifery in Benin’.

professionalisation-of-african-medicine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For other titles specifically concerning midwifery, shelfmarks in the range RG940-991 cover the subject of maternal care and prenatal care services. One such title is Midwives, society, and childbirth : debates and controversies in the modern period (RG950 MID 1997 and online via SOLO), edited by Hilary Marland and Anne Marie Rafferty. The articles contained in the volume examine midwives’ lives and work in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For the study of biomedical care in another developing country – that of rural India – and of women’s experiences of birth and infant death there, Where there is no midwife : birth and loss in rural India (RG965.I4 PIN 2008) by Sarah Pinto is an interesting read. It touches upon themes of caste, emotion, domestic spaces, illicit and extra-institutional biomedicine, and household and neighbourly relations.

midwives-societywhere-there-is-no-midwife

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research. We also welcome further suggestions for reading not included in this post!

Seminar 5: ‘Traditional medicine and primary health care in Sri Lanka: policy, perceptions, and practice’

‘Traditional medicine and primary health care in Sri Lanka: policy,
perceptions, and practice’

The fifth HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 7th November (Week 5) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street, and will be delivered by Margaret Jones.

Margaret Jones is a historian of medicine and colonialism in Sri Lanka and Jamaica. She joined the History Department at York after six years here at the Wellcome Unit as a Research Officer and then as a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow. She has worked extensively on the development of public health policies and the medical services of colonial Sri Lanka and Jamaica. She is currently working on the development of primary health care services and the impact of international initiatives in Sri Lanka, 1950-2000.

Primary Health Care was launched onto the international stage by the World Health Organization’s Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 and with it came the acknowledgment that traditional medical systems could play a vital part in its delivery. The traditional medical systems of Sri Lanka (termed collectively as Ayurveda) have been part of the official medical landscape from the 1930s and at least at the level of stated government policy have been seen as participating in the government health care system: their values and holistic approach to health being particularly appropriate for the delivery of preventive medicine. Faced with a double disease burden of communicable and non-communicable disease in the twenty first century this vital role was again emphasised in the Government’s Health Master Plan of 2007-16, ‘Healthy and Shining Island in the 21st Century’. The traditional medical systems were, it stated, to ‘collectively constitute an integral part of the health sector’ and its practitioners to participate fully in delivering its services. Through the means of a purposive qualitative survey of a sample of traditional medical practitioners in and around the Colombo area this paper seeks to explore the reality as opposed to the rhetoric of government policy.

Jones has written several books on the history of medicine in Sri Lanka herself, two of which we hold at the Wellcome Unit Library. The first, Health policy in Britain’s model colony : Ceylon, 1900-1948 (RA530.2 JON 2004) discusses within the context of British Ceylon (now the nation of Sri Lanka) whether Western medicine was a positive benefit of colonialism, or one of its agents of oppression. The research for this title is underscored by a detailed analysis of public health measures in Ceylon. Her second monograph, The hospital system and health care : Sri Lanka, 1815-1960 (RA990.S72 JON 2009) specifically examines the role and development of hospitals in Sri Lanka to ascertain the nature of the contribution of Western medicine to the health of indigenous populations. Across both titles, Jones explores government, mission and philanthropic initiatives in the provision of medical services, and sets her critique against a background of human needs and rights.

health-policy

hospital-system

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jones has argued that the roots of Sri Lanka’s healthcare policies and infrastructure, and its record of achieving good quality of life indicators, lie in part in its colonial period. To gain a better understanding of this backdrop, a number of titles provide a useful insight into the medical and health issues surrounding colonialism. For example, Western medicine as contested knowledge by Andrew Cunningham and Bridie Andrews (RA441.5 WES 1997) examines the range and extrent of non-Western responses to western medicine across the spectrum of Western imperalist influence, and includes a chapter on the influence of the World Health Organization: ‘Who and the developing world: the contest for ideology’. Soma Hewa’s work, Colonialism, tropical disease and imperial medicine : Rockefeller philanthropy in Sri Lanka (RA530.2 HEW 1995), looks more closely at the impact of European colonial policies on the health and disease of the population of Sri Lanka.

western-medicine-as-contested

colonialism-tropical-disease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moving closer to the present day, Decolonisation, development and disease : a social history of malaria in Sri Lanka by Kalinga Tudor Silva (RA644.M2 SIL 2014) examines the politics of the devastating malaria epidemic of 1934–35 that shaped Sri Lanka’s transition from a colony to a postcolonial state, and also looks at the shift away from indigenous knowledge.

decolonialisation-disease

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One online article of particular relevance to this topic is ‘Public Policy and Basic Needs Provision: Intervention and Achievement in Sri Lanka’ in The political economy of hunger (Vol. 3: Endemic hunger), which is available through SOLO. Ravi Kanbur studies the country’s intrinsic and directed public policies, exploring the role of the expansion of health services in mortality decline as compared with the effect of food subsidies.

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research. We also welcome further suggestions for reading not included in this post!

Header image:  International Nurses Day: President Mahinda Rajapaksa presides over a ceremony to mark International Nurses Day held at the BMICH on May 12 2014. From https://www.flickr.com/photos/presidentrajapaksa/14145702576, Flikr user Mahinda Rajapaksa. Image use permitted under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC 2.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

Seminar 4: ‘The myth of the spotted sun and the blemished moon: a biosocial ethnohistory of syphilis and related diseases’

‘The myth of the spotted sun and the blemished moon: a biosocial
ethnohistory of syphilis and related diseases’

The fourth HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 31st October (Week 4) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street, and will be delivered by Cesar Giraldo Herrera.

Dr Herrera is a biologist and an anthropologist from the Universidad de los Andes, Colombia. He received his PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Aberdeen for the dissertation Sweet Dreams Rocking Viking Boats, Biocultural Animic Perspectivism through Nordic Seamanship. Currently, he is a Victoria Maltby Junior Research Fellow at Somerville College, and he is working on the manuscript for a book entitled Microbes and other spirits: Crossroads of microbiology and Amerindian shamanism. The work traces early records of Amerindian health and environment management systems, showing their continuing strands of thought and demonstrating how they anticipated and influenced the theory of contagion, the ontological theory of disease, the notion of ecological community and antibiotics.

Syphilis, yaws and pinta are diseases that feature prominently in some of the earliest accounts of Amerindian medical knowledge and mythology. These diseases, the way they were understood by Amerindians and their treatments drew the avid attention of European missionaries, chroniclers and historians in the years that followed the first contacts. According to these records and to the oral traditions of some enduring communities, these diseases were and are starring characters of their myths origin. They are the protagonists of the earliest recorded versions of the myth of the Sun and the Moon; a myth, which albeit with profound variations, is widely distributed throughout the Americas. It narrates the events that led to the origin of the celestial bodies, of diseases that caused their spots, and of crucial cultural practices like fishing, cultivation, pottery or metallurgy. This paper examines myth and knowledge associated with it as records of a biosocial ethnohistory. It addresses the social interactions between and beyond humans portrayed by the early accounts of the myth and how these interactions could have influenced the development of these diseases. It also explores how the biological understandings of the disease may contribute to the interpretation of the meaning and symbolism of the myth.

Having blogged for Week 2’s seminar on state-supported treatment for venereal diseases, you may be concerned that the Wellcome Unit Library has exhausted its suggested reading on syphilis. Thankfully, this is not the case: we’ve plenty more where that came from! Starting with Sex, sin, and science: a history of syphilis in America by John Parascandola (RC201.5.A2 PAR 2008), which explores the spread of the ‘Great Pox’ in the U.S. from the time of Columbus and colonization to post-World War II treatment. Within the first chapter, Parascandola touches upon the mythologies Dr Herrara is interested in: the tale of the shepherd Syphilus (pictured in the header image) who blasphemed the Sun-God:

He first wore buboes dreadful to the sight,
First felt strange pains and sleepless past the night;
From him the malady received its name.1

Deborah Hayden also explores Columbus and America in Pox: genius, madness, and the mysteries of syphilis (RC201.47 HAY 2003). The first three chpaters of this title are particularly relevant: ‘Christopher Columbus: The First European Syphilitic?’, ‘The Revenge of the Americas’ and ‘A Brief History of the Spirochete’. All of the books in the RC 201 section are about syphilis, so other titles in this area may also be of interest.

sex-sin-and-sciencepox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Several works held in the library focus specifically on the biological repercussions of the conquest of the New World. Noble David Cook examines the effect deadly Eurasian sicknesses had on Amerindians and vice versa in Born to die : disease and New World conquest, 1492-1650 (E59.D58 COO 1998). The consequences of the introduction of the bacterial spirochete Treponema pallidum (which triggers venereal syphilis, pinta and yaws) into Europe are interspersed across this narrative of disease. Another useful text on this subject, which also discusses pintas and yaws, is the essay ‘Pre-Columbian Treponematosis in Coastal North Carolina’ by Georgieann Bogdan and David S. Weaver, which appears in Disease and demography in the Americas (E59.A5 DIS 1992), edited by John W. Verano and Douglas H. Ubelaker. The essay looks at skeletal material and what it can tell us about treponemal infections.

born-to-die

disease-and-demography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more general medical explanations of the nature of the lesser-known diseases of yaws and pinta, two websites which can provide further information are the World Health Organisation’s page Yaws: A forgotten disease  and an article by Larry M. Bush and Maria T. Perez for Merck Manual, Bejel, Pinta, and Yaws.

And finally, an early work on the sun and moon disease myths can be found in Richard Mead’s 1712 essay Of the power and influence of the sun and moon on humane bodies; and of the diseases that rise from thence, which is accessible online via SOLO.

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research. We also welcome further suggestions for reading not included in this post!

1. Fracastoro, quoted (in English translation) in Parascondona, from Rosebury, Micorbes and Morals, p.33

Header image:     L0031325 Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Hieronymus Fracastorius (Girolamo Fracastoro) shows the shepherd Syphilus and the hunter Ilceus being warned against yielding to temptation with the danger of infection with syphilis. Engraving by Jan Sadeler I after Christoph Schwartz, 1588/1595.
Engraving 1588-1595 By: Christoph Schwartz after: Jan Sadeler. Published: [s.n.],[Munich] : [1588/1595]. Size: platemark 24.1 x 30.5 cm.
Collection: Iconographic Collections. Library reference no.: ICV No 51428
Full Bibliographic Record Link to Wellcome Library Catalogue: http://catalogue.wellcomelibrary.org/record=b1524739
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

 

Seminar 3: ‘Medical expertise, professional authority and homicide in nineteenth-century Edinburgh’

‘“Upon my word, I do not see the use of having medical evidence here”: medical expertise, professional authority and homicide in nineteenth-century Edinburgh’

The third HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 24th October (Week 3) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street and will be delivered by Kelly-Ann Couzens.

Kelly-Ann’s thesis examines the changing role, impact and significance of medical testimony and medical expertise in criminal trials for violent crimes at the Edinburgh High Court of Justiciary, from the 1820s to the turn of the twentieth century. She predominantly focuses on the contributions and testimony made by those deemed forensic medical “experts” and the historical insights that can be gleaned from a detailed examination of their involvement in criminal trials in this period. In order to focus on the medical “expert”, her research investigates the cases of violent crimes which involved four individuals who held the Regius Chair of Medical Jurisprudence and Medical Police at Edinburgh University at different intervals across the period surveyed: Sir Robert Christison, Thomas S. Traill, Sir Douglas Maclagan and Sir Henry D. Littlejohn. She seeks to understand how important the evidence and contribution of the ‘medical expert’ was to major criminal cases, and in what ways the significance of the medical expert’s role was mediated by the nature of public, judicial and medical responses to criminal trials. The contribution of her thesis to the history of medico-legal relations is aided by the unique case study Edinburgh provides during this period, allowing the study of entrenched links between law, medicine and the university system, and an examination of the nature of what defines forensic medical expertise in these contexts.

A quick tour through the Wellcome Unit Library’s resources on this subject begins with works that take a broad view of forensic medicine. For an international and comparative perspective on the changing relationship between medicine, law and society, Katherine Watson’s Forensic medicine in Western society : a history (RA1022.W47 WAT 2011) is a structured examination of the growth of medico-legal ideas. In Surgeons at the Bailey : English forensic medicine to 1878 (RA1022.G7 FOR 1985), Thomas Rogers Forbes divides his study of the topic into detailed examinations of various offenses such as injuries from sharp and blunt instruments, homicides of children, and poisoning, looking at a large number of court cases from the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century.

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Works by Butler and Burney take a closer view of more narrow time frames in forensic medicine. To better understand the early role of the coroner in criminal trials, Forensic medicine and death investigation in medieval England by Sara Butler (RA1022.G3 BUT 2015 and online access from Bodleian Libraries computers) provides a good analysis of medieval medical investigation and attitudes towards inquests. Ian Burney’s focus is closer to that of Couzens: in Bodies of evidence : medicine and the politics of the English inquest, 1830-1926 (RA1053 BUR 2000), he is also interested in the role of the scientific expert in the coroner’s inquest, and the work representatives of progressive medical science did to align the inquest’s methodology with a medical model of investigation.

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Medical accounts of insanity in the Victorian era offer an interesting variation on this topic. Thomas Mayo’s 1853 lectures and essay provide in insight into contemporary thought on the relationship between the law and mental illness: Medical testimony and evidence in cases of lunacy : being the Croonian lectures delivered before the Royal College of Physicians in 1853 ; with an essay on the conditions of mental soundness (RA1151 MAY 1854). Roger Smith’s Trial by medicine : insanity and responsibility in Victorian trials (KD7897 SMI 1981) looks more closely at the insanity plea, and the contentious issue of responsibility and guilt in the case of mentally unsound defendants.

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Two of the physicans Couzens has examined as part of her research, were well-known for their practice of forensic medicine and popular courtroom appearances, have writings available online through SOLO: A treatise on poisons in relation to medical jurisprudence, physiology, and the practice of physic by Robert Christison, and Outlines of a course of lectures on medical jurisprudence by Thomas Stewart Traill.

Another electronic resource which may be of interest is the Proceedings of the Old Bailey, London 1674-1913, containing proceedings from 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court. The database is fully searchable, and the search form offers the ability to select trials for particular offense – for example ‘killing > murder’, which may yield more relevant results for a focus within this field.

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research. We also welcome further suggestions for reading not included in this post!

Header image:
L0077977    Credit: Wellcome Library, London
Plate 15, Figure 101. Murder the Result of Various Injuries Inflicted with Different Instruments. Illustration, Tab. 15.
From: Atlas of legal medicine / von E. von Hofmann ; authorized translation from the German, edited by Frederick Peterson, assisted by Aloysius O.J. Kelly. 1898. Published: W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia: 1898. Plate 15. Size: 19 cm. Collection: General Collections
Full Bibliographic Record Link to Wellcome Library Catalogue: http://catalogue.wellcomelibrary.org/record=b1320307
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence – image modified (rotated and text moved) in accordance with copyright terms: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ 

Seminar 2: ‘Sex, health and state-supported treatment for venereal diseases in England, 1918–39’

‘Sex, health and state-supported treatment for venereal diseases in
England, 1918–39’

The second HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 17th October (Week 2) in the Lecture Theatre of the History Faculty on George Street and will be delivered by Anne Hanley.

venereal-diseaseAnne Hanley is a Junior Research Fellow of New College, Oxford. Her research interests are in healthcare and welfare during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, along with closely related themes in gender, political and economic history. She has written a soon-to-be-published monograph, Medicine, Knowledge and Venereal Diseases in England, 1886–1916, which contributes to broader debates in the social history of medicine and the sociology of scientific knowledge. The book focuses on an age before penicillin and the NHS, when developments in pathology, symptomology and aetiology were transforming clinical practice, and systematically examines how doctors, nurses and midwives grappled with new knowledge and laboratory-based technologies in their fight against venereal diseases in voluntary hospitals, general practice and Poor Law institutions.

In 1916 the Royal Commission on Venereal Diseases laid down a comprehensive series of recommendations, representing the first systematised state intervention for three decades to prevent the spread of infection among civilians. What followed were free, universal healthcare provisions for persons suffering from syphilis and gonorrhoea. At the heart of this new scheme was a nation-wide network of clinics, which offered unprecedented diagnostic and therapeutic services while also promising confidentiality for infected persons. Anyone could access any clinic in any part of the country. Patients could walk in off the street or they could be referred by a GP for treatment. Between 1918 and 1939, these clinics saw thousands of patients, many of whom had previously fallen through the cracks of an over-stretched and under-resourced healthcare system. This seminar considers the organisation, objectives and accessibility of the new clinics. It charts some of the many ideological, political, institutional, administrative and infrastructural stumbling blocks faced during their early years—from their initially fraught relationship with hospitals, to the lack of adequately trained medical officers to staff the clinics. Importantly, the seminar also attempts to understand the experiences of patients who, although suffering from diseases that carried significant moral and social stigma, sought out these new state-supported services.

At the Wellcome Unit Library, we hold a range of material relating to venereal disease and its surrounding topics. For a wide-ranging history of venerealogy, J.D. Oriel’s The Scars of Venus: a history of venereology (RC201.4 ORI 1994) is a helpful starting point. Claude Quétel’s The History of Syphilis (RC201.4 QUE 1992) specifically tracks the progress of one disease in history, and Quétel (translated by Braddock and Pike) here ‘chronicles five centuries of medical detective work and official management of a virulent disease that quickly became a cultural phenomenon’.

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Allan M. Brandt’s No Magic Bullet: a social history of venereal disease in the United States since 1880 (RC201.47 BRA 1987) focuses the study of this area of history of medicine on America, moving ‘From Victorian anxieties about syphilis to the (…) hysteria over AIDS’. As with Oriel’s work, Brandt’s endpoint is the reawakening of panic over sexually transmitted disease in a post-HIV climate, despite advances in modern medicine seemingly giving an optimistic outlook by the middle of the 20th century,

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For an exploration of the moral and ethical stances surrounding venereal disease, including attempts to ‘police’ the spread of the diseases, two monographs are of particular use: Dangerous Sexualities: medico-moral politics in England since 1830 by Frank Mort (HQ32 MOR 2000, and also available online), and Prostitution, Race & Politics: policing venereal disease in the British Empire (HQ185.A5 LEV 2003) by Philippa Levine. Mort examines attitudes towards sex and sexual choices with relation to venereal disease, while Levine gives an account of the blame laid on prostitutes for spreading infection among soldiers and sailors in colonial sites.

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For source material concerning the enactment of post-war governmental efforts to fight venereal disease, we hold a pamphlet produced by the Office of Health Economics in 1963, entitled The Venereal Diseases (RC200 OFF 1963), which is intended to inform the public, and contains attendance statistics on the clinics Anne Hanley will be exploring the role of in her seminar. The header image of this blog post is its cover image: the fifth picture from Hogarth’s series ‘The Harlot’s Progress’. Social Service in the Clinic for Venereal Diseases by Dorothy Manchée (HV687 MAN 1943) also looks at these clinics, and is targeted at social workers.

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Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research.

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UPDATE: A late addition to the list – we always welcome further suggestions, in this case via Twitter! Roger Davidson and Lesley Hall’s  Sex, sin and suffering : venereal disease and European society since 1870  is a series of studies on the social history of venereal disease in modern Europe and its former colonies, and can be found at RA644.V4 SEX 2001.

Seminar 1: ‘Immunocapital: yellow fever, citizenship, and power in New Orleans, 1803 to 1860’.

‘Immunocapital: yellow fever, citizenship, and power in New Orleans, 1803 to 1860’.

This first HSMT seminar of Michaelmas Term will take place at 16.00 on Monday 10th October (Week 1) at 47 Banbury Road, and will be delivered by Kathryn Olivarius.

Olivarius studies the impact of the environment on the development of American slavery in the Deep South after the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. In particular, she studies the determinative aspects of two highly lethal diseases—malaria and yellow fever—and how they influenced slave labour systems, pro-slavery ideology, and regional identity. Though not unknown in other parts of the United States, yellow fever visited the Deep South at epidemic levels every two or three years, sometimes killing off as much as ten per cent of the white populations of New Orleans, Mobile, and Natchez. The fear of death cast a long shadow: thousands fled cities in panic, grinding commerce, government, and social life to a complete halt during the autumn. Until white Orleanians could prove that they had survived yellow fever, they struggled to find steady, well-paid employment, safe housing, and a political voice. Once they passed the yellow fever threshold and leveraged their “immunocapital,” whites could access higher echelons of political, social, and economic power within cotton and slave capitalism. For black people—widely held to be naturally resistant to yellow fever—immunity was not a springboard to citizenship or social mobility. Rather, it became the chief justification for why black people should remain permanent enslaved labourers.

In the Unit Library, we have a number of resources to support wider reading around the topics the seminar will examine. For an overview of the history and epidemiology of yellow fever, François Delaporte’s The History of Yellow Fever (RC210 DEL 1991) and George K. Strode’s Yellow Fever (RC210 DEL 1991) are a good place to start.

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A number of titles focus on a specific area affected by particular epidemics. Yellow Fever in the North : the Methods of Early Epidemiology (RA649 COL 1987) by William Coleman looks at three small but controversial yellow fever outbreaks in Gibraltar (1828), St. Nazaire (1861) and Swansea (1865). Ashbel Smith provides us with a contemporary account of a city which suffered with the disease in Yellow fever in Galveston, Republic of Texas, 1839 : an account of the great epidemic (RC211.T42 G37 SMI 1951). The symptoms and visible signs of yellow fever are described in great detail – “The eyes are bloodshotten, and have a peculiar shining, drunken appearance – the face is flushed and bloated – the skin hot and generally dry, sometimes moist and warm” – alongside stories of men who survived the experience.

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Sir Rubert W. Boyce’s Yellow fever prophylaxis in New Orleans, 1905 is another contemporary text which tells of a later yellow fever epidemic in the city that Kathryn Olivarius will be focusing on in her seminar, and the publication includes many interesting and illustrative maps and photographs.

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Finally, José Amador’s study of colonial medicine and medicine-and-nation-buildingrace relations ties well into Kathryn’s focus on racial identity and segregation, and includes a discussion on Cuban reformers invoked the yellow fever campaign to exclude nonwhite immigrants. Medicine and nation building in the Americas, 1890-1940 is found at R464.5 AMA 2015.

Please come and ask library staff if you would like any help with locating resources, or conducting further research.

 

 

Wellcome Library and Jisc announce partners in 19th century medical collections digitisation project

The Wellcome Library and Jisc have announced nine partner institutions whose 19th-century book collections will be digitised and added to the UK Medical Heritage Library (UK MHL), an online resource for the study of the history of medicine and related sciences.

Six university libraries have joined the partnership – University College London, University of Leeds, University of Glasgow, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Kings College London and University of Bristol – along with the libraries of the Royal College of Physicians of London, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

The project’s focus is on books and pamphlets from the 19th century that are on the subject of medicine or its related disciplines. This will include works relating to the medical sciences, consumer health, sport and fitness, as well as different kinds of medical practice, from phrenology to hydrotherapy.

Approximately 15 million pages of printed books and pamphlets from all ten partners will be digitised over a period of two years and will be made freely available to researchers and the public under an open licence. The content will be available on multiple platforms to broaden access, including the Internet Archive, the Wellcome Library and Jisc Historic Books.

This is an exciting development for those interested in the history of medicine, and for the Wellcome Library forms part of a larger ambition to digitise and make freely available over 50 million pages of historical medical books, archives, manuscripts and journals by 2020.