Sunday, October 31, 2010

'A Vampyre in Hungary'


"We have received certain Advice of a Sort of a Prodigy lately discovered in Hungary...namely of Dead Bodies Sucking, as it were, the blood of the living" (Whitehall Evening Post, 9 March 1731-2)

This quote comes the Wellcome Library manuscript shown above (MS.2801). Noted down by its anonymous compiler are contemporary accounts from the 18th century, of “strange events, accidents and phenomena”. Many of these incidents are little remembered today, but the first case in the volume is particularly apt to relate on Halloween.

Titled ‘A Vampyre in Hungary’, it records an account from the Whitehall Evening Post which has since come to be regarded as one of the best documented accounts of vampirism.

The account is based on the report of Austrian officials, who were sent to investigate incidents in the village of Medvegia in rural Serbia (then under Austrian control) in the winter of 1731. The locals there reported that the incidents dated back to 1726 when a local man by the name of Arnold Paole - anglicised by the Whitehall Evening Post to Arnold Paul - died after falling from a hay wagon.

Before his death, Paole had revealed that during his lifetime he had been troubled by a vampire, when living near Gossowa in Turkish Serbia. To cure himself of this affliction, Paole had eaten earth from the vampire’s grave and smeared himself with the vampire's blood.

In the thirty days or so after Paole’s death, villagers reported they were being bothered by the deceased Paole and that four people had been killed by him. As a result, Paole’s body was dug up forty days after his burial. The corpse was seen to be undecayed and believing this to be evidence of Paole’s vampiric state, a stake was driven through his heart and his body burned. Believing too that the four people allegedly killed by Paole would also become vampires, these villagers were also disinterred and their bodies treated in the same way as Paole’s.

In late 1731, more deaths occurred in Medvegia, with more than 10 people dying within several weeks of each other. The locals believed this to be a recurrence of the vampirism outbreak of five years previously, explaining that the first villager to die had eaten the meat of sheep that the "previous vampires" (i.e. Paole and his victims) had killed. It was to investigate this outbreak that authorities came to the area. They investigated the deaths (learning of the case of Paole in the process), reported their findings and then the process of dissemination begun, leading eventually to our anonymous writer noting the event down in his commonplace book, from the report in the Whitehall Evening Post.

As the report notes, the officials visiting Medvegia in 1731 believed the bodies they saw – most of which had not decomposed – were in “the vampiric condition” and the bodies were treated in a similar fashion to Paole and his victims in 1726.

Viewed today, the phenomena attributed to the described in these accounts of the disinterred fit with our modern understandings of decomposition. However, many of the motifs of vampirism – victims of the vampire becoming vampires themselves; bodies not being decayed after death; stakes through hearts – are present here in the case of Arnold Paole.

(More contextualising detail on Paole can be found in a range of related books in the Wellcome Library).

New resource trial - Dissertations read to the Royal Medical Society, Edinburgh

The Wellcome Library has set up a trial for a new online database, Dissertations read to the Royal Medical Society, Edinburgh, which can be accessed via the Library catalogue.

The trial runs until the 30th November and we would appreciate any feedback about this resource, so please take a look and let us know what you think. A link to the feedback form can be found on the catalogue record.

Friday, October 29, 2010

New event: Writing about medicine


We will be hosting another Medicine in Literature event on Wednesday 17 November, 19.00-20.15. Join us to hear Dr Michael Neve, Dr Erin Sullivan and Dr Richard Barnett discuss the pleasures and pitfalls of writing about medicine.

The event is free and tickets can be booked on the Wellcome Collection website: http://www.wellcomecollection.org/whats-on/events/writing-about-medicine.aspx

Image: People living a life of fantasy as a result of being excessively influenced by reading novels (Wellcome Library No. 493414i)

Blog Carnivals

In one of Nick Poyntz's recent articles on 'Digital History' for History Today - now collected as a Blog - he explains the concept of Blog Carnivals:

"A blog carnival is a collection of posts on a particular theme or topic. History bloggers take turns to volunteer to host a particular edition. Often the posts will have been nominated by other bloggers. They are an excellent way of getting an overview of the topics and periods being discussed".

Amongst the Blog Carnivals highlighted is one focused on the history of science, 'Giant's Shoulders'. The latest Giant's Shoulders - on the theme of 'Visuals & Representations' and hosted at the blog From the Hands of Quacks - is now online and we're delighted that amongst the great links, is one to our recent post 'Tour de Francis'.

(We can also take this opportunity to flag up the last two Giant's Shoulders Blog Carnivals of 2010 - which will be on Esoteric Science and 19th century science. More details on this - including details on how to submit entries - in this Giant's Shoulders post).

Eureka!

It's always pleasing to receive praise from your peers, so we were delighted when in the most recent edition of Eureka magazine (produced by The Times), Dr Alice Bell of Imperial College picked the Wellcome Library's Blog as one of six science blogs of note.

Alice has since reposted her selections on her own blog, where you'll find us in the company of Mind Hacks, SciCurious, Gimpyblog’s posterous, Exquisite Life and Not so humble pie.

Many thanks Alice!

Recently added Blogs

Following on from our birthday post yesterday, as we've added a number of links to our 'Blog List' side bar over the last 12 months, we thought we would quickly flag up some of them.

Institutions: Curators from the Science Museum now blog at Stories from the Stores. Posts cover a wide range of the Museum's collections, including, of course, objects originally collected by Henry Wellcome. The Royal Society History of Science Centre also highlight their work on their Blog: recent posts have included such topics as "forgotten" Fellows of the Royal Society, 'Fellows in Fiction' in the Society's Library and the career of Sir William Crookes FRS.

History and Philosophy of Science: Named after the coiner of the term 'scientist', Whewell's Ghost is a collaborative blog covering a broad range of topics including debates on what makes for good, popular, histories of science. Ether Wave Propaganda covers similar ground, being a history of scienece blog, aimed at academics working in History of Science and Science and Technology Studies.

History of Medicine: The Quack Doctor features transcripts and commentaries on British and US patent medicine advertisements (mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries). From the Hands of Quacks is the work of a PhD candidate at the the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto, and whilst structured around their research, also features book reviews and commentaries. The Chirugeon's Apprentice is "dedicated to the study of early modern chirurgeons, and all the blood and gore that comes with it": so, grave-robbing, resuscitations and embalming all feature... On more recent themes, both DNA and Social Responsibility and The Pauling Blog are blogs based around archive project work: the former, the papers of Maurice Wilkins at King's College London, the later the papers of Linus Pauling at Orgeon State University Libraries.

Of course, we can't forget our colleagues on the Wellcome Collection and the Wellcome Trust Blogs. Launched in late 2009, these two Blogs are regularly updated with news and reviews on the work of the Wellcome Trust and events and exhibitions in Wellcome Collection.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy 2nd Birthday Wellcome Library Blog!


Given a number of our posts celebrate anniversaries in one form or another, we can't leave the second birthday of the Wellcome Library Blog unannounced.

The origins of this Blog were recounted in a post on our first birthday, but over the last 12 months we've tried to maintain our range of posts and increase our variety where we can. So, archives and manuscripts cataloguing is now summarised every month; overviews are offered on the work of different Library departments and we've also started to post more details about our electronic resources and also on exhibitions to which we've loaned material from our collections.

As digitisation is such a key part of the Library's strategy over the next few years, we've even launched two new Blogs dedicated to this theme. We'll still be posting here about our digitisation work as well as on our other activities, such as new discoveries about existing items, flagging up the use of Library material in the media, and promoting events and workshops going on at the Library or involving Library staff.

Pleasingly, the last year has continued to see a high rate of visits from around the world (for the record, the bare stats are 49,000 visits and 76,000 page views over the last 12 months). Our posts have continued to be retweeted and highlighted by others and we're continually delighted by the coverage and readership the Blog has. The last year has seen those who follows us through Twitter continue to rise and also the creation of a Wellcome Library Facebook page.

So, a very big thank you to all the Wellcome Library staff who continue to contribute to the Blog and an even bigger thank you to everyone who takes the time to read what we've written: here's hoping we can keep up our efforts as we enter our third year!

Note: The word cloud at the top of this page is based on the labels we've used to tag individual posts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

George III's 250th anniversary. Wellcome Library Item of the month

On 25 October 1760, the British King George II died and his 22-year old grandson George William Frederick, previously Prince of Wales, became "His most Sacred Majesty George the IIId, King of Great Britain &c." (left). Looking back from today's vantage-point exactly 250 years later, George III's long reign, starting on that October day in 1760 and extending sixty years to his death in 1820, has left many marks on our everyday life. The defining events of his reign include American independence; long wars against France under the Ancien Régime, the Revolution and the Empire; and the decline of the power of the monarch. At home, he presided over turbulent political divisions between the Whigs personified by Charles James Fox and the Tories under William Pitt the younger; acrimonious divisions in his own family, in which his regent and successor the Prince of Wales pursued policies antagonistic to the king; and the complete transformation of the country's agriculture, sciences, industry and arts, exemplified by his founding of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1768. Policies which he declined to follow cast a long shadow: reform of the government of India, banning of the slave trade, and Catholic emancipation.

George III's accession is therefore being celebrated in a number of institutions, whether "Half Term Madness" at York Castle Museum or special lectures in the Historic Royal Palaces. In London we are constantly reminded of him through Buckingham Palace, the house which he acquired as the monarch's London residence, and through the magnificent King's Library built in 1828 to house his books, which is now the Enlightenment Gallery of the British Museum. The books themselves are displayed in a spectacular glass tower in the entrance hall of the nearby British Library, and a marble bust of him sculpted in 1812 stands in front of the tower. In South Kensington his instruments of experimental philosophy are shown in a dedicated gallery on the third floor of the Science Museum.

More parochially, his bouts of ill-health make him especially interesting to an institution such as the Wellcome Library which views the history of health as the central strand in its perspective on history. Alan Bennett's popular play (1991) and film (1994) The madness of George III was inspired in part by work at the Wellcome Institute by Roy Porter, Bill Bynum and Michael Neve (which, in George III 's case, in turn built on earlier research by Richard Hunter and Ida MacAlpine): Michael Neve suggested it would be a good subject for a play and lent Bennett some literature on the subject. [1]

There are many representations of the king in the Wellcome Library. Among several intimate portraits which focus on the king as a person, the mezzotint from a portrait by Thomas Frye shown above (top: Wellcome Library no. 25552i) portrays him in 1762, two years after his accession: squared up for transfer, it would be suitable as a model for an inn-sign of the King's Head. If we wish to test its accuracy against an independent control, we can compare it with this etching after a rapid sketch by Nathaniel Dance (1735-1811): the basic physiognomy is the same, though being drawn some thirty eventful years later, demonstrates the rejuvenation that tends to be involved in royal, but not only royal, portraiture.
Above right: soft-ground etching by William Daniell (1769-1837) after Dance. Wellcome Library no. 25553i
George's big eyes were blue, by the way.

Etching and stipple by Benjamin Smith after W. Beechey, 1 December 1804.
Wellcome Library no. 570646i
For those requiring a less intimate and more formal representation, Sir William Beechey shows him in later years as a general in military uniform, with a groom taking away his Vandyckian horse. This print shows on the right an ornate vase which is missing from the original painting of 1799-1800 in the Royal Collection: the vase associates the king with the elegance denoted in the United Kingdom by the word "Georgian".

Coloured aquatint, 1803. Wellcome Library no. 12196i
George's scientific pursuits are shown in this affectionate caricature from 1803 showing him as a chemical analyst examining the composition of Bonaparte in an alembic. Bonaparte is described as the "Corsican earthworm". Either the artist did not know that worms cannot be chemically analysed in a single vessel or he was merely using "earthworm" as a term of contempt: the OED gives one of its meanings as "a disparaging designation for a human being, esp. a mean or grovelling person". To read the king's analysis, click on the image.

King George III suffered several extended periods of illness involving mental breakdown, the first being in 1765 when he described himself as "a mind ulcer'd by the treatment it meets with from all around". Another lasted from the summer of 1788 to the spring of 1789. To celebrate his recovery in 1789 two prints shown here were published.

A mezzzotint attributed to James Parker (left: Wellcome Library no. 27217i) shows "The triumph of Hygiea [Hygieia]. From a transparency of the happy recovery of the KING, March the 10th 1789, exhibited at Lord Howard de Walden's". In a transparency, extra elements are revealed when the work is lit from behind: when lit by Lord Howard de Walden's lanterns, did the clouds disappear and a radiant sun take their place in the upper left part?

Line engraving by James Neagle after Edward Dayes, 1793.
Wellcome Library no. 42665i
Another engraving (for detail click on image above) records a royal procession in St. Paul's cathedral "on St. George's Day 1789, the day appointed for a general Thanksgiving for the king's happy recovery", led by the king himself. The future seemed to be bright.

Etching by James Gillray, 1792. Wellcome Library no. 12180i

However, George III had plenty to agitate his mind during his career. The King of France was guillotined in 1793, and in the previous year Gustaf III, King of Sweden, had been assassinated by his political opponents. In this caricature by James Gillray, the King and Queen Charlotte are disturbed at their toilet when William Pitt rushes in to bring "news from Sweeden": "Another monarch done over!". The horrified King stammers: "What? Shot? What? What? What? Shot! Shot! Shot!", showing the habit of repeating words in rapid succession which features memorably in Alan Bennett's play as a sign of the King's recovery of his personality.

Further episodes of mental disturbance occurred in 1801 and 1804. The king's fiftieth anniversary was celebrated on 25 October 1810 with a reception at Windsor, but it seems to have precipitated the insanity which persisted until the end of his life. After this date the king was in confinement: the portraits were presumably either speculative or based on existing portraits. Two from this period show him as a King Lear-like figure, blind, bearded and lost to the world: one by Charles Turner, the other possibly by John Jackson: the latter (right) was published as a mezzotint immediately after his death on 29 January 1820. It was "published by His Majesty's most gracious permission": that must mean George IV.
Right: mezzotint by S.W. Reynolds, 24 February 1820. Wellcome Library no. 569597i

Coloured aquatint by J.C. Stadler after Charles Rosenberg, 1812.
Wellcome Library no. 23324i
One of the last from-the-life portraits to be published must be this aquatint (above) by Charles Rosenberg, dated 1812 and showing the king standing in a pavilion at Cheltenham holding a glass of Cheltenham Spa water. It may have been drawn during an earlier visit to Cheltenham in 1788.

In the shadow to left lurks the young woman who hands out the beakers of water. The Union flag flies on the pavilion roof. The king is alert and looks vigorous. Alas, the Cheltenham water did not preserve his health, but from the nine portraits of the king shown above (selected from a much larger number in the Library), this happier portrait would be the writer's choice for the Wellcome Library's Item of the two hundred and fiftieth October since George III's accession. What what what's yours?

For a survey of the iconography of George III see John Ingamells, Mid-Georgian portraits, 1760-1790, London: National Portrait Gallery, 2004, pp. 195-203

[1] Alan Bennett, The madness of George III, London 1995, p. viii

Witness Seminars – Archival Material Newly Available

The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL has for many years been associated with a noted series of seminars held under the title of “Wellcome Witnesses to Twentieth Century Medicine”. At each seminar, significant figures in twentieth-century medicine discuss specific discoveries or events in recent medical history. The topics covered are some of the most interesting and sometimes contentious subjects in 20th century medicine and tackle issues that will be of wide interest to the general public as well as medical historians. Titles of seminars, to name but a few, include; Maternal Care; Leukaemia; Genetic testing; Cystic Fibrosis; Innovation in Pain Management; Environmental Toxicology; Superbugs and Superdrugs: A History of MRSA; and the latest volume, number 40, is titled The Medicalization of Cannabis. The transcripts for the large majority of seminars were published, and all 40 published volumes in the series are freely available to read and download from the website of The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL (copies of all the published volumes are also held by the Wellcome Library).

Previously only the material from the seminars associated with the first two published volumes have been made available but now the material associated with all 40 published volumes as well as the unpublished seminars have been catalogued and the full catalogue can be searched via the Wellcome Library online catalogue for Archives and Manuscripts. The names of the individuals associated with the seminar are all included within the catalogue and so researchers can choose to search using the name of a person of interest or by subject.

Some of the foremost scientists and healthcare professionals of their generation in their specific fields have been involved in the witness seminars and these newly released papers should form a valuable contribution to the documentary legacy of those individuals as well as the history of a particular subject.

Irvine Loudon, medical historian, has described the seminars as “oral history at its best”. Adding that, “regardless of your own areas of interest, all the volumes make compulsive reading because the participants tended to ‘let their hair down’ and talk more freely than they would have at a scientific meeting. They discuss openly the hidden realities of the evolution of medical practice and medical research. But the witness seminars are more than just fun to read. They are, primarily, important historical records.”

Whilst the seminars did not purport to be the final word on a particular topic or involve every notable contributor to the subject, they were designed to be a significant contribution to the subject history and involve a strong cross-section of the key individuals. This means that the published documents are wonderful historical commentaries written in a style that makes them very accessible to a general reader as well as a subject specialist. The extensive use of detailed footnotes and appendices in these volumes also meant that supporting material and additional material not aired at the seminars themselves could also be included in these publications.

Highlights amongst the archival material include:

· The papers and material associated with the seminars that were unpublished, and those seminars where resulting material was published but not in the witness seminar series.

· Early transcript drafts together with the correspondence with each individual contributor to the seminar debates. This correspondence involves the discussions surrounding corrections of the transcripts and often contains details of disagreements with other contributors before a final version of the transcript was agreed upon. On many occasions the letters contain reminiscences about an individuals’ involvement with the subject matter and suggestions regarding other important individuals. Not all of this material appeared in the published volumes.

· Supporting and related documents donated from the personal records of contributors. The tendency to donate supporting material to the witness seminar archives became more prevalent with later seminars and includes items such as internal organisational reports, newsletters of related interest groups and personal letters received.

· Details of the organisation of the seminars including discussions regarding the topic, the key participants, who should be the chair or an adviser and problems and issues regarding a particular volume.


Images: Front cover of Technology Transfer in Britain: The case of monoclonal antibodies; Self and Non-Self: A history of autoimmunity; Endogenous Opiates; The Committee on Safety of Drugs (Wellcome Witness Volume 1); The Medicalization of Cannabis (Wellcome Witness Volume 40)

Author: Jon Cable

Wellcome Library workshops

Our Autumn programme of free workshops kicks off this week with two old favourites.

Making the most of My Library has been updated to include tips for using some of the Library catalogue’s new features such as My Lists, which was rolled out in August. Even if you’ve already attended this workshop, you’re likely to learn something extra to make your catalogue experience more productive.

Making the most of My Library: the Wellcome Library catalogue and how to personalise it
Perplexed by the Library catalogue? Find what you're really looking for! In this workshop you will learn the most effective way of searching the Wellcome Library catalogue and the best strategies for finding the resources you need. You'll also discover how to organise and streamline your research using the features of your Library Account.
Tuesday 26th October, 2-3pm

Wellcome Images
Do you need a picture? Find what you need from the Wellcome Images catalogue: search 160,000 pictures online, covering the history of medicine and the history of human culture from the earliest periods of civilisation to the present day.
Thursday 28th October, 2-3pm

These workshops offer short practical sessions to help you discover and make use of the wealth of information available at the Wellcome Library. Book a place from the library website.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wellcome Library loans swastikas and squiggles to the Science Museum

Submarines, tanks, swastikas and squiggles are probably not the first things that come to mind when envisaging the material held in the Wellcome Library, but that’s exactly what is contained within the Melanie Klein and Donald Winncott archives that are deposited here. Now, a number of these items have gone on loan to the Science Museum’s new exhibition, ‘Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious in Everyday Life’.

Melanie Klein was an Austrian-born British psychoanalyst who had a significant impact on child psychology and contemporary psychoanalysis. The material on loan to the Science Museum consists of a series of drawings by 'Richard', a boy of eight who had many sessions with Klein and is one of her most famous case studies.

Dating from the early years of World War II, the drawings depict Nazi submarines surrounded by schools of large yellow fish, tanks, numerous explosions, and dogfights between British and German planes.

Even for the untrained eye, it is easy to deduce that this young boy was deeply affected by the events occurring on the world stage at that time. Indeed, on reading more on the subject, one is told that 'Richard's psychopathology centred on the Oedipus complex and projected the figure of Adolf Hitler onto his father'.

The naivety of the drawings - some in grey pencil, others more vividly coloured in - coupled with their small size (similar to a postcard) and the flimsy paper they are drawn on contributes to the feelings of poignancy and fragility surrounding them.

Donald Winnicott was another British psychoanalyst who worked extensively with troubled young people. He believed in using the idea of play during his consultations with patients; his 'Squiggle drawings' are an example of this. He would draw a shape and ask the child to add to it and make something out of it. Two of these 'squiggles', along with two other drawings by Winnicott called 'Stella' and 'Tak', have also been lent to the exhibition.

Psychoanalysis: The Unconscious in Everyday Life’ runs from 13 October 2010 to 2 April 2011 at the Science Museum, London.

Author: Rowan de Saulles

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wellcome Trust and “One & Other”

What do the Wellcome Trust and Antony Gormley have in common?

Gormley has long been a supporter of Wellcome Collection, referring to our exhibitions and library as a “laboratory of possibility”. There is a also a characteristic sculpture by Gormley suspended from the ceiling in the foyer of the Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, welcoming visitors. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Wellcome Collection was asked to be the official ‘record keeper’ and ultimate repository for the interviews which were captured in 2009 of all the participants in his large scale live public art work project, One & Other.

One & Other was commissioned by the Mayor of London, between 6th July and 14th October 2009, occupying the empty Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, Central London. Running 24/7, over the course of 100 days and nights, participants occupied the plinth in one hour time slots. In total there were 2,400 participants who were quickly dubbed “plinthers”. Over the course of the summer the word entered rapidly into common parlance. Footage of all the plinthers was streamed live over the internet by Sky Arts with further coverage in traditional media as well as out in the blogosphere. After the project closed, the project website with all the footage was archived by the British Library. A whole year later, a book featuring some of the plinthers has recently been published by Random House.

Wellcome Collection’s involvement stemmed from the desire to capture the thoughts and feelings of the participants in relation to medical humanities and wellbeing, in the broadest sense of the term, before they ascended to the Plinth. 15 to 30 minutes of audio was captured from each plinther by a team of interviewers led by the project manager, Verusca Calabria. Calabria herself features as one of the plinthers – occupying an early morning slot – using her time to celebrate oral history. The audio was captured on state-of-the-art solid state audio recorders straight to .wav audio files. The location of the tiny booth at the base of the plinth meant environmental noise and on occasion, the intrusion of sirens and other traffic noise, which very much places the audio in a specific time and place but despite this the vast majority of the interviews were usable and have been retained.

All the plinthers agreed to making their audio widely available under the terms of a Creative Commons licence (which permits the re-use and re-mixing of the audio for non-commercial purposes) and the race has been on to make the material available as soon as possible. Over the course of the last few months, the master audio files have been transcoded to .mp3 audio files for ease of access and they are now audible online via the Wellcome Library’s Archives and Manuscripts catalogue. The public can either search for a particular plinther’s name to go direct to that record (using either the surname alone, or the full name in the order Last Name, First Name), or go to the collection level record and click on “see this in context” to display the collection as a browsable “tree”. There is also a third level of access via the Wellcome Collection’s website, where the focus is placed upon a sub-group of 20 plinthers who were considered of particular interest to the Wellcome Trust as they were closer to the ‘coal-face’ of biomedicine (for example, one participant, Anjuli Pandavar, discusses gender reassignment treatment). This group was selected by the Wellcome Trust for follow-up interviews in 2010. Each of these plinthers is represented by a photograph and edited highlights of their pre- and post-plinth interviews. For further discovery, these records link through to the Library catalogue where the entire pre- and post-plinth interviews can be heard, as well as downloaded. There are also transcriptions of the full interviews available.

For one hundred days Britain talked about the issues that were on its mind: this artwork records an audio snapshot of the nation in 2009, and we are proud to make it available.

Image: view from the plinth, taken by Philip Blackwood, who was the plinther between 1:00 and 2:00 pm on 23 August 2009. In the background, the portable cabins housing the One & Other project. This is one of a number of photographs of the Fourth Plinth that can be found at the UK Geograph website.
© This image is copyright Philip Blackwood and is licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons licence.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Wellcome Library Insight: Henry Wellcome - His Life & Work

This week's free Wellcome Library Insight session - on Thursday 21st October - focuses on our founder, Henry Wellcome.

Who was Wellcome and what drove him to collect over a million objects during his lifetime? We will examine his personal life and business career through material preserved in the Wellcome Library.

Our Insight sessions offer visitors to the Wellcome Library an opportunity to explore the variety of our holdings. Sessions are thematic in style, last around an hour and offer a chance to learn about our collections.

This Thursday's session starts at 3pm, and tickets are available from the Wellcome Collection Information Desk from 1.30pm onwards. For more details, see the Wellcome Collection website.

Go ask Alice


During the final decades of the twentieth century, a leading go-to person for evidence on the deleterious effects of low-dose radiation was Alice Stewart, FRCP (1906-2002), then well past retirement age. Throughout her eighties and well into her nineties she remained active in her research into the effects of lose-dose radiation, in spite of establishment resistance to her findings and inadequate facilities and funding, and travelled extensively all over the world to speak at conferences, at hearings and inquiries on the implications of her work for environmental issues and occupational hazards, and in legal cases for compensation.

Stewart’s copious papers were presented to the Wellcome Library shortly after her death and have now been catalogued and are available, subject to issues of Data Protection for some material, under the usual conditions of access to material in Archives and Manuscripts.

This is an important and wide-ranging collection, and a major addition to our holdings concerning radiation, among many other topics. Although the majority of the material dates from after Stewart’s retirement from the University of Oxford, when she became an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, the papers do include material on her earlier career, as well as some personal and family material, including correspondence with the poet and literary critic William Empson, with whom she had a relationship enduring over decades.

She was the daughter of two doctors, Arthur and Lucy Naish, who worked in Sheffield and were particularly concerned with issues of child health and welfare. An unpublished lightly fictionalised biography of Lucy Naish by her daughter-in-law, the novelist Nora Naish, ‘Dr Lucy’ is held in Archives and Manuscripts. As one of four medical students at Cambridge in her year, Alice was the target of hostility from her male peers, but made friends in other fields. She continued her clinical training at the Royal Free Hospital, qualifying in 1932.

After some years in practice in London, she was invited to Oxford by Professor L J Witts, and it was there that she joined John Ryle’s Institute of Social Medicine. She undertook various important surveys into occupational health during the Second World War, and in 1946 became only the ninth woman (and the only one under 40) to be elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. Following Ryle’s early death, she succeeded him as Director of the Institute of Social Medicine, but the post was downgraded from a professorship to a readership, on account of her gender.

She devised better ways of recording and interpreting data in an era during which computers were still not common, in a method she called ‘visible tape’ which enabled the data to be read in several different ways.

In 1955 the Institute commenced the Oxford Childhood Cancer Survey. One of the early findings that came out of this study (which went on for many years) was Stewart’s discovery of the role of x-rays in pregnancy to the development of leukaemia in the offspring, which although initially derided, led fairly quickly to the development of stricter protocols for the x-raying of women either pregnant or likely to be so and the move towards other forms of imaging.

In 1974, on her retirement, finding the ambience in Oxford deeply uncongenial to her and the work she was doing, she moved to Birmingham, expecting to finish off the work on Childhood Cancer Survey. However, a few months later, Thomas Mancuso, an American epidemiologist who had been commissioned by the Atomic Energy Commission to undertake research on the effects of low-level radiation on workers in nuclear facilities, contacted her about some anomalous findings in his study of workers at Hanford, which manufactured plutonium for the Manhattan Project.

This led her into a second, late-blossoming career of research into and activism around the effects of low-dose radiation, i.e. at levels below those which had been deemed harmful in setting guidelines for practice within nuclear facilities or in considering wider environmental impacts. In spite of the hostility her findings evoked in many places, she also gained recognition and honours, including the ‘Alternative Nobel’, the Right Livelihood Award, in 1986.

The collection includes substantial amounts of correspondence between Stewart and colleagues and institutions worldwide, as well as 36 boxes of research materials. There are files relating to the numerous legal cases in which she was approached to give evidence. Her involvement with anti-nuclear and environmental activists is well-documented, including her support for the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, which extended to (well into her 80s) helping to organise a Women’s Rock Concert to raise funds. As well as material relating to disseminating her findings through the usual academic channels of conferences and learned journals, the papers also reveal her assisting broadcasters and journalists in more popular media.

A biography of Stewart, The woman who knew too much : Alice Stewart and the secrets of radiation was published by Gayle Greene in 1999. Further unpublished biographical accounts can be found in the collection at PP/AMS/A.5. There were many obituaries on her death in 2002, including in The Guardian, The Independent and the Journal of Radiological Protection. The entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography was, rather oddly, compiled by her long-time adversary, Sir Richard Doll (whose papers are also held in the Wellcome Library). A video interview of her by Max Blythe in 1985 is held in the Wellcome Moving Image and Sound collection along with other audiovisual records of her.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy birth [control] day, Marie!

One of the first collections acquired by the former Contemporary Medical Archives Centre (now subsumed into Archives and Manuscripts) was a mass of papers of Marie Stopes (1882-1958) which had been rejected by the British Museum Reading Room to which she had left her personal archive, and returned by them to her son, Harry Stopes-Roe, who eventually presented it to us. Over the years this has been one of the most popular and heavily-used collection in the archives.


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The bulk of these papers consisted of thousands of letters to Stopes from members of the general public. Many of them wrote in passionate gratitude for the advice given in her pioneering marriage manual, Married Love, published in the last months of the Great War and becoming an immediate best-seller, even though the publisher had been so dubious of its success that they had asked Stopes for a contribution towards publication costs. Others were written by those who had come across Stopes’s name through the press or word of mouth as someone who could help them with the prevention of pregnancy or their anxieties about sexual matters. In numerous instances a carbon copy of Stopes’s response or at least of a personalised PS to a form letter also survives.


This forms a unique source for attitudes to and beliefs about sexuality and reproduction and other matters to do with health during a period when social attitudes more generally were in flux but ignorance remained widespread, and has been drawn on by many historians.


Although Stopes herself was not a medical doctor – she was entitled to style herself ‘Dr’ because she held a PhD in palaeobotany, the study of fossil plants – she had made herself more knowledgeable about sexual functioning and about the practicalities of contraception than the vast majority of the medical profession. Up until very recently such matters were not routinely incorporated into the medical curriculum and doctors who wished to inform themselves were obliged to seek training at Stopes’s clinics or those established by the other organisations which eventually amalgamated to become the National Birth Control Association, later the Family Planning Association.



Stopes remains a fascinating and controversial figure of many contradictions. Like so many of her contemporaries, she had a considerable sympathy with the eugenics movement, although in her case, she believed that much of the problem of the ‘C3’ [unfit for active military service] population could readily be dealt with by enabling women to space their pregnancies and limit their families. This would lead both to healthier offspring and women themselves with more energy for active motherhood.



A second generation feminist (her mother Charlotte Carmichael Stopes had been an earlier campaigner for female higher education, wrote several important feminist texts, and was a militant suffragette), Marie Stopes’s work was profoundly inflected by these beliefs and her desire to empower women. However, in spite of this ideological commitment, she does not come over as entirely ‘sisterly’ in her relations with other women: she clearly found it impossible to work with other birth control campaigners as her equals rather than as her disciples, leading to her schism with the NBCA in the early 1930s.



Besides the copious correspondence from the public, the Stopes papers here at the Wellcome include a little general correspondence pertaining to birth control, a certain amount of material about the Mothers’ Clinics she set up and the Society for Constructive Birth Control that she founded, meetings she held and lectures she gave, her relations with the press and media, and some legal papers, including transcripts of the proceedings in her high profile libel case against the Roman Catholic medic Dr Halliday Sutherland. There is also a little Stopes material among the archives of the Eugenics Society, to which she bequeathed her clinics.



Some of the extensive secondary literature on Stopes and her career is listed in this Birth Control and Eugenics bibliography (pdf). Other collections in the Wellcome Library on birth control include material reflecting her often fraught relationship with other individuals and organisations in the movement.



Stopes's first clinic was located in Upper Holloway (near Archway), but it soon moved to a more central location in Whitfield Street, a short walk from the Wellcome Library. This building is now the headquarters of the reproductive health charity, Marie Stopes International.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Montezuma's gift

How many words of Nahuatl do you know – the language of the Aztecs?

And how many words of this complex, agglutinative language (spoken in various modern forms by about 1.5 million people across Central America today) do you think have made it into English?

Well, you know one at least, although you may not have known its source. When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico, like explorers throughout history they encountered plants, animals and products that they had never seen before, and the simplest way to refer to them was to borrow the native name for them. Among these products was a dark, bitter drink made by fermenting the fruit pods of a small tree, Theobroma Cacao. This they named “chocolata”: according to the most common theory, a rendering in Spanish of the Nahuatl word Xocolatl, “bitter water”. (There are other theories: one derives it from chicolatl, “beaten drink”, describing the way that it was beaten to a froth before drinking. However, its Mesoamerican roots are not in dispute.)

The original Xocolatl was a bitter, spicy drink, flavoured with vanilla, chilli and other spices such as achiote (a natural red food colourant). From that to today’s sweet chocolate bar is a long way, but the basic ingredient and its preparation remain the same. The cacao pods (now mostly grown in West Africa) are fermented, then roasted, and the resulting product liquidised to form cocoa butter. From this basic substance, the world makes food or drinks, dark or milky, sweet or bitter, according to what is added to it and the processes through which the mixture goes. In the UK this week, National Chocolate Week celebrates this variety. In the Wellcome Library, needless to say, we hold numerous relevant items that can contribute to the festival…

As we said above, the first Europeans to encounter chocolate were the Spanish conquerors of Mexico, and it is thus through Spain that chocolate enters the European diet and other European languages. Unsurprisingly, then, one of the earliest mentions of it in our manuscript holdings comes from someone based in Spain. Lady Ann Fanshawe, whose husband was posted by Charles II as ambassador to Madrid as a reward for his loyalty during the Civil Wars, compiled a book of recipes which is now held here as MS.7113: many of the recipes are annotated to record that she learned them in Spain. On August 10th 1665, according to the marginal note, she transcribed a recipe for chocolate. The recipe is crossed out, perhaps indicating that it was unsatisfactory, but pinned to the page is a little sketch of “the same chocolaty pottes that are mayd in the Indes”, a little round-based pot with a long handle to take in one hand whilst one whips the mixture with the whisk shown next to it. Other chocolate recipes, which the compilers seem to have found more satisfactory, occur in the recipe books of Philip Stanhope, 1st Earl of Chesterfield (1584-1656) (MS.761), compiled from the 1630s onwards, and an anonymous recipe book compiled from 1650 onwards (MS.6812). As is so often the case, our digitised seventeenth century recipe books are a fertile source of recipes.

There are good physiological reasons for chocolate’s popularity. It contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have been linked to increased serotonin levels in the brain: the Aztecs believed it to fight fatigue, doubtless for this reason. The feelgood effect of a chocolate hit is no illusion. Like most foreign substances that become a craze, however, it has been the subject of considerable suspicion over the years. We know that over-indulgence in our modern solid chocolate can lead to obesity, due to the sugar that is added in the manufacturing process. However, the core ingredient itself, the cocoa butter, has also been suspected (and indeed the theobromine in it does make it toxic to some animals, cats and dogs in particular). In our rare books collection, we hold a 1662 publication by Henry Stubbe, The Indian nectar, or, A discourse concerning chocolata, in which, as Stubbe says, the nature of the cacao-nut, and the other ingredients of that composition, is examined, and stated according to the judgment and experience of the Indians, and Spanish writers, who lived in the Indies, and others. Stubbe is particularly exercised by the fattiness of the nut, and also by its heat-producing qualities, discussing in detail whether it should be drunk hot or cold (“I found it [when cold] to offend my stomach” – p.113) and the correct time of day to take it:
As to the time of taking it, it is held (by the Spaniards) the most fit time to take it in the Morning, and Supper being digested, and the Body fresh, and the Stomach empty to receive it. (p.114)

A cup of chocolate is no light matter, it is clear, and due precautions must be taken: the Spanish, he notes, say that
after [they] have drunk Chocolata, they strictly prohibit all manner of Drink; for when Beer or Wine be drunk after it, there do frequently ensue very dangerous Diseases, and Symptomes. (p.117)


A similar caution is expressed in a work by M. Duncan published in Leipzig in 1707, Von dem Missbrauch heisser und hitziger Speisen und Geträncke, sonderlich aber des Caffes, Schockolate, und Thees (stated to be a translation of a French work). Chocolate and other hot drinks are seen as unhealthy fads, which fashion-victims indulge in only to their long-term detriment: the frontespiece shows young women gathering to drink these fashionable beverages even though, as the alarmist verse beneath claims, they are coming close to death by doing so.

Who would have thought that the humble cup of cocoa could be such a walk on the wild side? We seem, as a culture, to have overcome any scruples about the dangerous American bean pretty thoroughly by now. Indeed, by the late nineteenth century chocolate is being used as a vehicle to make medicines palatable. In the archives of Henry Wellcome’s drugs company we find a large certificate of merit (WF/M/C/13) awarded by the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain for various Burroughs Wellcome products involving extract of malt. Anyone who has read Winnie the Pooh knows how unpalatable that could be, so it is no surprise that one of the mixtures involves chocolate. If Milne had made Kanga offer Roo his extract of malt in this form, it might well have gone down more easily (and Tigger might have been poisoned by the theobromine rather than finding he liked extract of malt: so, a narrow escape).

From dangerous drug to emotional crutch for anyone having a Bridget Jones day, the European encounter with chocolate has taken some strange turns: a changing relationship that can be tracked in the Library’s collections. As a bonus Nahuatl fact, we can add that other words to make it into English from the language of the Aztecs include chilli, avocado and tomato. It will be no surprise to our readers, we suspect, that whenever National Chilli Week or British Avocado Month take place, we will have items from the collection to illustrate both…

Images, from top:
1/ Chocolate, from Wikimedia Commons.
2/ Lady Ann Fanshawe's recipe book, MS.7113: detail, MS.7113/87.
3/ The Indian Nectar... by Henry Stubbe, title page.
4/ Von dem Missbrauch heisser und hitziger Speisen und Geträncke, sonderlich aber des Caffes, Schockolate, und Thees, frontespiece.

Tour de Francis

The preparation and photography of the Francis Crick archive have provided the digitisation team with a rare and intimate glimpse into the life and thoughts of the Nobel-prize winning scientist. What prevails is a pragmatist, a prolific correspondent, a man of passion for science, of wit and humour and of cutting sarcasm. This thought provoking archive inspired a visit to Cambridge to take a closer look at lasting remains of Crick and Watson’s time there.

Crick moved to Cambridge in 1947 after his stint as a scientist at the British Admiralty. With practically no experience of biology, chemistry or crystallography, he worked at the Strangeways Research Laboratory on the physical properties of cytoplasm in cultured fibroblast cells. He later worked on the x-ray analysis of haemoglobin with first Max Perutz and later Lawrence Bragg at the nearby Cavendish Laboratory under the Medical Research Council.





Our second port of call was Caius College where in 1950 Crick became a PhD research student working on the general theory of X-ray diffraction by a helix. Sadly we were unable to access the dining hall where the commemorative stained glass window (pictured) dedicated to Crick is situated. Efforts to view the window from outside were futile but we were reassured by Crick’s typically modest response to the commemoration in a letter dated February 27 1991 to Dr A Edwards of the College (File ref: PP/CRI/L/1/4/4)

“I was surprised, flattered and delighted to learn that you are considering putting up a window in Hall to commemorate me and the double helix. The main difficulty I see is that Jim Watson was also involved. In fact he was the senior author. I feel that it is essential that he should give his blessing to the project ... There is one very minor point about the design. The double helix is right-handed. A stained glass window will look right-handed from one side and left-handed from the other. However I doubt if this will matter much since the details of the window would probably not be very visible from outside!” (Feb 27 1991)

We did not visit Churchill College on the outskirts of Cambridge since there are no mementoes of note relating to Crick, perhaps due to his resignation just a year after his nomination as a Fellow. Crick, an atheist, had agreed to become a Fellow on the condition that no chapel would be placed there but the College went against this clause and placed a chapel there regardless of the views of Crick and other dissenters. It was not the only time he caused a stir at the college. In a letter dated June 14 2000, Crick recalls another point of contention: one objection was that some of the women guests might be unsuitable. I pointed out that all clubs expected members not to bring in unsuitable guests, and that several of my uncles would be out of place at High Table. Partly as a result of my arguments it was agreed that women should be allowed to dine. It seemed to me a very C. P. Snow sort of situation”

Crick met James Watson in 1951. He had come from America in search of a like-minded brain to help him solve the mystery of DNA, and hopefully the secret of life. It was an instant meeting of minds. Though self-confessed ‘amateurs’, Crick admitted it was "a great help being two of us" and that their discovery of the double-helix was "not a typical bit of science" (extract from Crick's notes on the DNA revolution given to the San Bernardino County Medical Society's General Membership Meeting, 1 April 1986, file Ref:
PP/CRI/K/5/9)

Though ebullient and immodest to his colleagues, Crick was uncomfortable with the attention he received for his achievements and as we saw above, he was always anxious to include Watson in any praise received. He said of the 1993 40th anniversary of the double helix discovery “Why anyone should want to celebrate the 40th anniversary of anything is beyond me but I assume they feared that by the 50th anniversary most of those involved might be dead'”. Though he survived the 50th anniversary in 2003, sadly he died of colon cancer the following year. Following his death, a sculpture by the American sculptor Charles Jencks commemorating Crick and Watson’s achievements was donated by Watson to Clare College Gardens in 2005 where Watson was a former alumnus.



The wording on the sculpture explains their discovery simply:

"These strands unravel during cell reproduction. Genes are encoded in the sequence of bases."

• "The double helix model was supported by the work of Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins."

• "The structure of DNA was discovered in 1953 by Francis Crick and James Watson while Watson lived here at Clare."

• "The molecule of DNA has two helical strands that are linked by base pairs Adenine - Thymine or Guanine - Cytosine."

So consumed was Crick with his work on the helix structure of DNA that he had a model of it displayed outside his house on 19-20 Portugal Place also referred to as ‘The Golden Helix’ where he lived with his wife Odile from Autumn 1952.


The helix is not double but single here, a simple symbol of Crick’s momentous discovery the previous year. It was here on 18th October 1962 that Cambridge police were allegedly called to a disturbance involving exploding firecrackers being thrown down to the street. The owners had thrown an extravagant party to celebrate being awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. (p. 1-2, Francis Crick, Hunter of Life’s Secrets by Robert Olby, Cold Spring Harbour Press, 2009). Crick’s partying spirit made him stand out as Matt Ridley points out in his book (Francis Crick, Discoverer of the Genetic Code, 2006): “Crick stands out among the great scientists of history precisely because he was not eccentric, silent, shy or obsessive. He was gregarious and an extrovert.” Allegedly he was a "dandyish feature on the Cambridge scene” and one of the few academics to have a “subscription to Vogue” (p.63, M. Ridley 2006).

Back in February 28 1953, their discovery was first announced by Crick and Watson in the now famous RAF bar of The Eagle pub, a location which just had to be visited. Within a 2-minute walk from the old Cavendish laboratory the pub's many features include a plaque commemorating the announcement as well as a quote by Watson painted on the adjacent door (table 12 for those whom might wish to visit).






Here, beneath the graffiti covered ceiling (created by the cigarette lighters of RAF and American airmen during World War 2) the two scientists regularly lunched 6 days a week to fuel their work. It is tempting to think they were furiously at work all day and every day but, it seems, life was a little more relaxed: in a speech entitled ‘The Way We Were’ given in 1993 at a Cold Spring Harbour event, Crick talks also about the slower pace of life in the late 50's and how on occasions "if it was a nice afternoon", he and Watson would "go punting up the river" ..."time has shown that none of the great scientists in our time were punters"(File ref: PP/CRI/K/12/2)


And thus concluded our tour of Cambridge …

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Last chance to see ...

… the National Gallery's spacious display of the Wellcome Library's four paintings by Frederick Cayley Robinson, Acts of mercy. The exhibition is open free of charge at the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square until Sunday 17 October (open every day 10am–6pm, Friday 10am–9pm). As Andrew Lambirth wrote in his review of the exhibition in the Spectator (11 September 2010, pp. 51-52), "the paintings look immensely impressive and repay time spent in their company".

A study day at the National Gallery on 2 October 2010 aired various of the many themes associated with these paintings: among others, the architecture of the Ospedale degli Innocenti in Florence; Mantegna's frescoes in Padua (destroyed in World War II); Cayley Robinson and contemporary mysticism; Cayley Robinson's murals at the former Heanor Grammar School in Derbyshire (now apparently the Mundy Street campus of Derby College); fundraising for hospitals in Victorian and Edwardian London, and the business activities in Rhodesia of Cayley Robinson's patron Edmund Davis (right, enjoying the fruits of his labours).

The 1912 exhibition of mural designs at Crosby Hall in Chelsea was described by Professor Alan Powers (Greenwich University), who noted Walter Sickert's characteristically damning review, which, however, reserved kind words for Cayley Robinson's entries ("the ordered designs of Mr Cayley Robinson").

One interesting point that emerged in discussion was the question whether the settings of the orphanage (in the pair of Orphans) and the hospital (in the pair of The Doctor) are not presented objectively but as seen though the eyes of the people within them—the orphans, veterans, and waiting patients. As shown in another painting by Cayley Robinson lent to the exhibition, people "lost in thought" form one of his favourite subjects: for an artist so focused on thinking and thought processes, this seems an attractive interpretation. It puts the viewer into a state of aporia between solipsism and realism such as is found in works with unreliable narrators: at one extreme the described world could simply reflect the state of mind of the characters, while at the other they are mere staffage created to play a pre-ordained part within that world.

From the former point of view, the vacuity and routine of the orphans' lives are their perception, not an objective criticism by Cayley Robinson of institutions such as The Middlesex Hospital, while the grandeur and antiquity of the veterans' hospital represents a contrast in the soldiers' minds between their present accommodation and the make-do-and-mend of trenches roofed with corrugated iron.

For those who wish to pursue this conundrum further, the paintings will return to the Wellcome Library and go back on public display there at the beginning of November, if not earlier.

Images: details of Acts of Mercy by Frederick Cayley Robinson, Wellcome Library no. 672507i (set of four paintings). Mary and Edmund Davis: photograph of lost watercolour by Edmund Dulac, 1912, from Colin White, Edmund Dulac, London: Studio Vista, 1975 (copyright holder untraced)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Archives and Manuscripts cataloguing - September 2010

The archives and manuscripts cataloguing highlights from September bring together a rich mix of brand-new cataloguing and expansions of old listings, of twentieth-century material and older, and - for the first time - of paper and born-digital material.

Professor Hans Grüneberg (1907-1982), geneticist: As was noted in earlier cataloguing bulletins, work has been proceeding behind the scenes on a radical expansion of the catalogue of the papers of the geneticist Hans Grüneberg (PP/GRU) which made available much more detailed information about his individual correspondents. This work is now released to the public: a cursory list comprising 18 items has expanded to 136 database records, with detailed listing of names of correspondents, and access status set out in detail where the Data Protection Act applies (where necessary, closed material has been segregated out from the main series so that one sensitive item does not result in the closure of an entire file). More details are available in this blog post. (PP/GRU)

Wellcome Witness Seminars: also subject to a major expansion was the catalogue of material documenting the Wellcome Witness Seminars held over the past twenty years: recent seminars were added to the catalogue - which includes original audio tapes of the seminars (in some cases, master plus copy), photographs of witnesses and other participants, correspondence, and programmes and lists of participants – completely recasting the arrangment of the catalogue and doubling its size. This new material was made visible in early October, but the cataloguing was completed in September and thus earns its place in this month’s roundup. (GC/253)

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), teacher of the deaf and inventor of the telephone: a letter by Bell in which he mentions giving a demonstration of his new invention to Queen Victoria was added to the database, having previously been filed in the old Autograph Letters collection and only described in a card-index. (MS.8748) It should be noted that Bell's priority as inventor of the telephone is disputed, and we already hold documentation in the database relating to his rival Antonio Meucci (MS.7323).

Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), clergyman, writer and collector of folklore: two items of correspondence by the prolific writer Sabine Baring-Gould (author of, among many other works in poetry and prose, the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers”) were added to the database, having previously been filed in the old Autograph Letters collection and only described in a card-index. (MS.8749)

Digital material: increasingly, the Library is receiving archives that are hybrid in their nature, mingling paper with born-digital material. This month has seen several digital components to hybrid accessions added to the catalogue. For the moment they are not accessible to readers, pending the construction of a delivery system for digital material, but the information about them can now be seen online:
'Understanding Health Variations and Policy Variations' survey, carried out 1998-2001: this survey, conducted under the Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC) Health Variations Programme, consists of in-depth interviews with key health service personnel to examine the policy process in three areas ('rural', 'urban', and 'mixed', ie suburban). In addition to paper interview transcripts, the catalogue now includes entries for three born-digital transcripts. (GC/280/2/12a, GC/280/27a and GC/280/45a)

Margaret Lowenfeld (1890-1973), child psychologist: some photographs of Thérèse Woodcock, who continued Margaret Lowenfeld’s work after the latter’s death. (PP/LOW/T/19)

Wellcome Foundation, oral history project: various former Foundation employees were interviewed for this project around the turn of the Millennium and one, Alan L A Boura (1927-), provided for the project some copies on disc of of chapters from his autobiography “A Golden Journey”. It covers his medical training, his joining the Wellcome Research Laboratories, development of an antihypertensive drug, discoveries of Bretylium, Bethanidine, Etorphine and Dipenorphine, collaboration with the Lederle Laboratorie, M-Compounds, non addictive analgeiscs, discovery of partial agonists or Antagnoist-Analgesics, Ian MacFarlane’s discovery of Bupronorphine, nervous transmission modulating mechanisms, and finally Boura’s emigration to Australia. (WF/M/AV/O/03/02a)

Walter Terry (1896-1923), First World War soldier: in 2007 the Library was presented with some 1915 copies of The Lead-Swinger: The Bivouac Journal of the 1/3 West Riding Field Ambulance by the grand-daughter of Walter Terry, who served with the unit and died in 1923 as a belated result of his wartime exposure to poison gas. A group photograph including Walter Terry is held in digital form and has now been catalogued. (MS.8095/1)

One & Other project: another hybrid archive to appear in the database this month concerns the Wellcome-Trust-funded One & Other project, in which participants in the recent Trafalgar Square “fourth plinth” project – when members of the public mounted the plinth to do precisely what they wanted or felt significant, for one hour – were interviewed about their feelings and motives. Paper records will appear in the archive in due course; already present are records that enable readers to link to nearly 2400 sound files held in the Library’s Moving Image and Sound Collections. (TP1) A future blog-post will expand on this project.

Behind the scenes, work continues on various projects, of course: we will mention only two in this posting. In new cataloguing, work continues on the papers of the psychiatrist Henry Dicks, which include material on Nazi war criminals and sex therapy, surely the dream combination to generate hits via Google. In retroconversion of old catalogues, we grow ever closer to the end of the project, with the papers of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy perhaps scheduled to be completed last of all (SA/CSP). We hope to bring more news of both of these shortly.

Images:
1/ Conceptual artwork by Oliver Burston illustrating memory retrieval (Digital artwork/Computer graphic 2007): from Wellcome Images, image B0006861.
2/ Sabine Baring-Gould, from Wikimedia Commons.

 
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