Tag Archives: history of psychiatry

Seminars in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology- Week 3, 23rd October

Next week’s Seminar in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology will be delivered by Dr Emese Lafferton, on the topic Sciences and cults of the mind: hypnosis, psychiatry and modernity in Austro-Hungary.

Dr Lafferton is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Central European University, Budapest. Her general research interests include the history of life sciences, psychiatry, eugenics, racial thinking, evolutionary theories, hereditary theories, physical anthropology and ethnography;  the history of science, empire, and nationalism; the history and sociology of medicine.

In this talk Dr Lafferton will first briefly present the outline of her book project which studies the 19th century fascination with the mind and weaves compelling case studies from urban and rural Hungary and Austria into a sustained analysis of the psychiatric and popular cultures of the psyche. This provides the wider context for her research on medical hypnosis between 1880 and 1920 in the Hungarian Kingdom. She is interested in how the boundaries of science were questioned, blurred, negotiated or maintained in the face of potentially subversive explorations into elusive psychic phenomena, and will try to show what new insights the Central-Eastern European material and perspective may offer to our understanding of the emergence of the modern European mind.

When?: Monday 23rd October at 16.00. Tea and coffee will be available from 15.30 in the Common Room.

Where?: History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford

Seminars convened by Professor Rob Iliffe, Dr Sloan Mahone, Dr Erica Charter, Dr Roderick Bailey and Dr Atsuko Naono of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, Oxford.
More information about this term’s seminars can be found here.

New website and article on mental health institutions

Devon County Mental Hospital website

The Devon Country Mental Hospital website takes you on a fascinating journey through the history of the Devon County Lunatic Asylum at Exminster. Based on archival case notes and supplemented by Medical Superintendents’ and Commissioners of Lunacy’s reports as well as interviews with former staff, the website tells the stories of real patients and their journey into, and life within, the asylum, hoping to highlight changes in the legislation and care of people suffering from mental health problems.

Hosted by Exeter University, the site is based on a series of Wellcome Trust funded projects carried out since 2007 by Dr Nicole Baur and Prof Jo Melling (Centre for Medical History, University of Exeter), in collaboration with John Draisey from the Devon Heritage Centre (DHC).

Devon County Mental Hospital homepage

Collectors Weekly article on Willard Asylum

Another interesting article this week (discovered on Twitter from @KarenAbbott via @2nerdyhistgirls) was published in Collectors Weekly on the suitcases of patients the Willard Asylum.  Hunter Oatman-Stanford’s article, entitled ‘Abandoned Suitcases Reveal Private Lives of Insane Asylum Patients examines Jon Crispin’s project to photograph the suitcases that patients at the Willard Asylum in New York State brought with them when entering the institution.  The suitcases that were left in the institution, often when patients died and no one claimed their belongings, were kept by staff even after the asylum closed.  The collection has been photographed by Crispin in added to the New York State Museum.

(c) Market Street Media

Related Links


New books in the library

Today we added two new books to the Wellcome Unit Library’s shelves:

Foucault’s History of Madness RC 438 FOU 2009

Weisz’s The Medical Mandarins: the French Academy in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries R504 WEI 1995

Both the books are on reading lists for advanced papers in the MSc History of Science, Medicine and Technology at the University of Oxford.

Related links: Wellcome Unit Library website | SOLO Library Catalogue | More about the HSMT MSc course

Maison Francaise talk on starvation in French asylums on Thursday 31 May

The Maison Française d’Oxford is running the following lecture:

“Starvation in French asylums during the German occupation: Misinterpretations and instrumentalisation since 1945” Thursday 31 May, at 5.00pm, Mordan Hall, St Hugh’s College

Lecture by Isabelle Von Bueltzingsloewen,
Université de Lyon II – A member of LARHRA (Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes)

Isabelle von Bueltzingsloewen, Professor of History and Sociology of Health at the University of Lyon 2, is specialised in the history of public health and of contemporary psychiatry. She published L’hécatombe des fous : la famine dans les hôpitaux psychiatriques français sous l’occupation (Aubier, 2007 and Champs Flammarion, 2009). She is currently studying the failure of the renewal movement called « assistance psychiatrique » during the interwar years and the projects of psychiatric reform of the 1945-1960 period.

Chair: Ruth Harris, New College Conveners: Laurent Douzou, IEP Lyon-MFO and Anna-Magdalena Elsner, St Hugh’s College.


Related Links: Maison Francaise d’Oxford

WUHMO Seminar Monday 21 May

Trinity Term 2012 Seminar Series

At: The Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine
Seminar Room, 47 Banbury Road, Oxford

Medicine, Leisure and the Arts
Convener: Dr Elise Smith

Week 5- 21 May
Nick Tromans, Kingston University
‘Richard Dadd: Sketches to Illustrate the History of Psychiatry’

About the speaker
Nick Tromans is a senior lecturer at Kingston University’s Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture.  He has published widely on many aspects of nineteenth-century art. His most recent projects have been an exhibition exploring British Orientalist painting and a book on the Victorian asylum artist Richard Dadd.

Dr Troman’s publications include:

  • Richard Dadd: the Artist and the Asylum (2011) – Available to consult in Sackler Library
  • David Wilkie: the people’s painter (2007) –Available to consult in Sackler Library
  • The Psychiatric Sublime (2010, Tate Papers Issue 13) – Available online

Coffee is available from 2.00pm – Seminars begin at 2.15pm prompt.  All are welcome to join the speaker for lunch beforehand.  Please contact Elise Smith (elise.smith@wuhmo.ox.ac.uk) for more details.

The complete list of seminars for Trinity Term 2012 can be found at

Related Links: Nick Troman’s academic profile | WUHMO Events page | About Richard Dadd (Tate website)

Oxford HSMT Postgraduate Conference 2012

History of Science, Medicine and Technology Postgraduate Conference 2012

Date: Friday 8 June 2012
Location: History Faculty Lecture Theatre, George Street, Oxford
(Please see http://www.ox.ac.uk/visitors_friends/maps_and_directions/index.html for a selection of maps with pdf versions to download and print)

Topics include:

  • Health on Distant Shores: The Impact of American Imperial Politics on Puerto Rican Public Health and Medicine, 1890-1920
  • Living with London’s Mad: Metropolitan Communities and the Insane 1740-1800
  • “O, Brave New World”: The Huxley Brothers and Social Concerns of the Early Twentieth-century Britain
  • History of Algal Derived Biofuels

The full programme and abstracts are available online at http://www.wuhmo.ox.ac.uk/events/index.htm

A buffet lunch is included in the programme so please RSVP to belinda.michaelides@wuhmo.ox.ac.uk if you plan to attend.

New sites saved on our delicious page

Medicine in the Americas, 1619-1914: A Digital Library

Medicine in the Americas is a digital library project that makes freely available original works demonstrating the evolution of American medicine from colonial frontier outposts of the 17th century to research hospitals of the 20th century.

Drawing on the collections of NLM’s History of Medicine Division and including works from the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, this initial release of Medicine in the Americas encompasses monographs dating from 1610 to 1865. Additional titles, dating up to 1920 and drawing further upon NLM’s comprehensive collection of early American printed books and journals, will be available on an ongoing basis in the future.

Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives & Museum Services

The Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives and Museum was established in 1967 as the Archives Department of the Bethlem Royal Hospital and the Maudsley Hospital.  It now houses art and historical collections spanning many centuries which are of unique interest and importance in the field of mental health.  These include the archives of Bethlem Hospital (the original ‘Bedlam’, founded in 1247) and the Maudsley and Warlingham Park Hospitals; an outstanding collection of paintings and drawings, including works by Richard Dadd, Louis Wain, Jonathan Martin, and William Kurelek; the statues of ‘Raving and Melancholy Madness’ from the gates of 17th century Bethlem; and many other documents and artefacts of historic and artistic significance.

The website is under continuous development.  Its aim is to make the collections more accessible, and to provide accurate information to help in their interpretation.

See our delicious page for more useful websites.

Mental Hygiene, Social Hygiene collection on Scientifica

The Scientifica project places online, French language works from the Old Books Collection of the Library for Science and Industry, published from the end of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th.
The most recently digitised collection on Scientifica is:

“Mental Hygiene, Social Hygiene”
One hundred and twenty-six holdings – this selection expands online materials in the fields of psychology and psychiatry in the following categories: “Phrenology,” “The Theory of Degenerescene” and “Women and Sexuality in the 19th century.”

Scientifica also prospectively announces: “The Children’s Corner” scientific books and albums for children, and “The Curiosity Cabinet” a representative anthology of the library’s diverse sources on science and technology.