Monday, January 31, 2011

What’s up Doc?

Are you interested in finding up to date information on health and medicine?

Whether you require background information from dictionaries and other reference books, articles from newspapers or magazines, or research papers from peer reviewed scientific journals, Health Reference Centre Academic could help you.

This online database is available remotely to Wellcome Library card holders as well as within the Wellcome Library. It draws from a wide array of information resources many of which are available in full text.

Searches can be limited to just full text resources or the latest published research by limiting to peer reviewed journals. Results are displayed with separate tabs for different types of media including academic journals, magazines and multi-media. It is also possible to browse by subject and publication title. The advance search option also allows keyword and other searches within the chosen publication subject, and additionally searching by document type.

Those interested in the communication and portrayal of science and medicine in the popular media will find Health Reference Centre Academic useful too. It also provides online access to the full text of several hundred journals.

As with any source of medical information it is important to assess its quality. Discern has produced guidelines to help do this.

Image: A patient consulting his friendly doctor. Pen drawing by J. Ulrich (Wellcome Library no. 12131i).

Author: Simon Warburton

Friday, January 28, 2011

A moment of pain and triumph. Item of the month, January 2011

Lithograph by C. Felixmüller, ca. 1922. Wellcome Library no. 727758i
This is a home birth in the 1920s. In other times or places, the two – subsequently three – people involved might have had moral support from women friends of the mother ("gossips") or technical support from a team of obstetrical consultants and neonatologists. Here however the midwife is solely responsible: no wonder she holds up the new arrival as if she were a Grand Prix winner holding up a trophy. Her moment of triumph is not so glorious for the mother, who attempts to overcome the pain of the delivery by clenching the mattress with one hand, pushing against the bedhead with the other, and pressing her heel against the bedclothes.

The print is the work of the German artist Conrad Felixmüller (1897-1977). It was spotted recently in an auction at Pforzheim in Baden-Württemberg, and is the second of his works to enter the Wellcome Library. The other work (Wellcome Library no. 46958i) is a World War I subject: it shows a soldier who has had a mental breakdown and is incarcerated in a military asylum. It draws on Felixmüller's never-forgotten four-week service as a hospital orderly in the Arnsdorf asylum which had been taken over as a military hospital.

The picture of childbirth is listed in Söhn's catalogue of Felixmüller's graphic works. [1] However the catalogue of the most comprehensive collection of his prints -– the gift of the Felixmüller family to the Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf –- omits it. It's obviously a rarity [3], but such a striking image deserves to be accessible to a wide public, hence its acquisition by the Wellcome Library is marked by its selection as the Library's Item of this Month.

The Wellcome Library impression is inscribed by Felixmüller to "Frau Jul. Rock, with the most cordial thanks and greetings", October 1922. Was she the midwife?

[1] Gerhart Söhn, Conrad Felixmüller: das graphische Werk 1912-1974, Düsseldorf 1987, no. 243

[2] Friedrich W. Heckmanns, Conrad Felixmüller: das druckgraphische Werk 1912 bis 1976 im Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Schenkung Titus Felixmüller und Luca Felixmüller, Düsseldorf: Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, 1986

[3] Not reproduced in, for instance, Harold Speert, Obstetrics and gynecology: a history and iconography, New York and London: Parthenon Pub. Group, 2004 (rev. 3rd ed. of Iconographia gyniatrica)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Investigating responses to AIDS in the late 1980s

Two small archive collections that have just been made available provide rather different insights as to the impact of the AIDS/HIV epidemic on different populations in the UK by the end of the 1980s, the decade in which it first became perceived as a problem and pervasively associated with gay men. These collections were both received from ESDS [Economic and Social Data Service] Qualidata at the University of Essex, which acquires digital data created during the course of qualitative research across a wide range of social science disciplines, and passed on the non-digital materials generated by these projects to the Wellcome Library.

GC/252, 'AIDS-relevant cognitions in Dundee and Kirkaldy', consists of transcripts and some tapes of semi-structured anonymised interviews conducted with school children and university students in those towns, 1988-1990. These were intended to elicit their understanding of AIDS and their attitudes towards it.

GC/260, 'Project SIGMA (Socio-sexual Investigations of Gay Men and Aids)', consists of microfiche copies of anonymised diaries (only age and occupation were recorded) of sexual behaviour kept by gay and bisexual men, in connection with this longitudinal survey conducted 1987-1994, along with some associated documentation. The diaries were developed as a method within Project SIGMA (which was supported by grants from the Medical Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Department of Health) to provide unique and detailed information about gay and bisexual men's sexual activity and the contexts within which it occurred. Diary keepers were asked to keep a diary on a daily basis for the period of a month, referring not only to the partner/s involved but also to the day, time and setting in which the sexual activity occurred. The data give information on the sequence in which things happened, on the roles (solo/active/passive/mutual) taken. If ejaculation occurred, its destination (in/on a partner, into a condom) was also noted. Any use of toys, "poppers", drugs etc. were recorded in the context in which they were used. Recall biases were lessened because diaries were filled out on a daily basis. Further information of Project Sigma and the sexual diaries as a research method can be found at its website.

These collections add to the already significant holdings in the Wellcome Library relating to AIDS/HIV and the medical and social responses. There is a substantial collection of AIDS ephemera, and a very large collection of public health posters from all over the world, most of which have been digitised and can be seen in Wellcome Images

Rabies on The ONE Show

Fears of Rabies in the UK were resurrected on BBC1 last night, in a feature on The ONE Show, as part of their 'Panic' week.

In a segment shot in the Wellcome Library, Dr Neil Pemberton, Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, University of Manchester, discussed both UK Government Public Health posters which warned against Rabies in the 1970s and 1980s, and also the sensational novels of the period which played upon contemporary fears of the disease.

The episode will be available to viewers in the UK through the BBC's iPlayer service for the next seven days. For more on the UK's relationship with rabies, an article by Pemberton and Professor Michael Worboys on the topic is available through the website of History Today.

Image: Neil Pemberton and Michael Worboys, Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Rabies in Britain, 1830-2000 (Palgrave, 2007)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wellcome Library Insight - Conservation in Action

This week's free Wellcome Library Insight session, on Thursday 27 January offers an opportunity to visit the Library’s Conservation studios.

There, you’ll have a chance to meet our Conservation team, see the material they’re currently working on and also visit one of our stores. The session will also be BSL interpreted.

This Thursday's session starts at 3.00pm, and tickets are available from the Wellcome Collection Information Desk from 1.30pm onwards. For more details, see the Wellcome Collection website.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sir Francis Bacon

He didn't discover a new element, spot a new star in the night sky nor make a major medical breakthrough, but there's little doubt Sir Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban (1561-1626), is one of the most influential figures in the History of Science.

Given this weekend marks the 450th anniversary of Bacon's birth, we thought we would mark the occasion with a blog post. One of the most prestigious politicians and lawyers of his age - he served as both Attorney General and Lord Chancellor - Bacon has been hailed as the founder of modern science, promoting in his writings notions of planned observation, experiment and reasoning which would form the basis of the 'Scientific Revolution' of the 17th century.

Amongst the range of works by and about Bacon held in the Wellcome Library, are copies of the Novum organum, the work which best illustrates Bacon's approach.

The frontispiece is illustrative of the themes of the book. It shows two trading ships sailing through the Pilars of Hercules - the mythical gateway to the Atlantic from the Mediterranean but also a symbol in this case of the limits of Classical wisdom. Bacon's Novum organum ("The New Organon"), aimed to replace Aristotle's Organon and emphasise new observational research over the received wisdom of the Ancient Greeks. The trading ships are sailing to and from the New World - "many will travel and knowledge will be increased" reads the Latin quote at the bottom. Bacon believed that systematic observation of the natural world would lead to a greater understanding of it and - eventually - to economic wellbeing.

So, knowledge, observation, economics and the invovlement of the state are all bound up in Bacon's optimistic vision: one that is still hugely influential today.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Here be tigers

In this oleograph (left: Wellcome Library no. 26596i) from Bombay, the apsara (nymph) Menakā attempts to seduce the yogi Viswāmitra. She succeeds, and a daughter Sakuntalā was born of their union.

We might notice that, in this work by the Indian academic painter Raja Ravi Varma (1848-1906) -- a member of a princely family in southern India -- the supposedly ascetic Viswāmitra is seated on a luxurious tiger-skin rug such as might be found in a princely palace. Does that mean that the sage was not so high-minded as he might wish?
Was he even as worldly as Menakā's avatar, the writer of erotic fiction Elinor Glyn (1864-1943), who is commemorated in the rhyme:
Would you like to sin
With Elinor Glyn
On a tiger skin?

Or would you prefer
To err with her
On some other fur?

But here's another picture of some yogis, this time a painting in the indigenous style of the southern Indian state of Tanjore or Thanjavur (right: Wellcome Library no. 28663i). Here too the yogi on the left is sitting on a tiger skin. (The one standing on one foot and holding up one arm is standing on a deerskin.) Is he also a target for the temptress?

The understanding of such pictures is much assisted by a visit to the exhibition The tiger in Asian art: symbol of power and protection which our colleagues at Asia House have put on in their elegant town-house in New Cavendish Street in London (details of the exhibition below).

The exhibition shows examples of each of the five principal symbolic aspects of the tiger in Asian art forms. Some of them are symbols of spiritual power: in this Chinese watercolour from the Wellcome Library, the Taoist deity Zhang Dao Ling rides a tiger to represent the taming of the mind and the mastery of nature. The tiger may also act as a messenger between the living and the dead, and tiger-skin loin cloths and mats signify the destruction of the ego or desire, as in the scenes of the yogis shown above.

Left: Wellcome Library no. 581163i

The tiger is also the representative of material power. As the exhibition shows, the soldiers of the Chinese Emperor were emblazoned with a tiger motif.

Colour woodcut by Yoshitora. Edo (Tokyo), 1855. Wellcome Library no. 36466i
In the Wellcome Library, the terrifying power of the ferocious Japanese warlord Katō Kiyomasa (1562-1611) is represented by this triptych of him fighting a great tiger with his bare hands (click on image above to enlarge). The fact that there were no tigers in Japan -- for most Japanese the tiger was a legendary beast like the elephant or the gryphon –- emphasizes its symbolic role in this and other documents.

However the most startling item in this section of the exhibition is one of the smallest: a tiny gold tiger head, encrusted with diamonds and rubies, which once formed a finial on the throne of Tipu Sultan, the "Tiger of Mysore". This is one of four surviving finials, and it is on loan from a private collection. (Two of the other examples were sold for around £400,000 each at Bonham's auctions in London in 2009 and 2010.) A video in the exhibition shows how the finials were originally displayed on Tipu's throne, and their later history.

Other sections of the exhibition illustrate the tiger's role in folklore and as an apotropaic or protective presence, whether protecting the western frontier of the Chinese Empire, guarding the door to a humble wooden house, or an item of clothing used as an amulet to protect its wearer.

Indian gouache painting. Wellcome Library no. 575299i
Finally there is the tiger hunt. Originally it was reserved for emperors and kings, as those who kill the tiger assume its power. The hunt thus glorified the bravery and dominance of the ruler. However, as a tragic photograph from the Royal Artillery Museum shows, the hunting of the tiger with guns led to its decline, exacerbated today by poaching and removal of tiger parts for medicinal purposes. As a result there are believed to be fewer than 3,500 tigers left in the wild. A video in a separate room of the exhibition shows what one campaign by members of the advertising industry is doing to persuade consumers in Asia not to purchase medicines containing tiger parts.

In addition to loans from the Wellcome Library there are items from the Victoria and Albert Museum, the British Library and the British Museum, and from private collectors such as James Ivory (of Merchant Ivory fame) and the Ephrussi Collection (Edmund De Waal). The display of items of the finest quality together in a small space has something of the compressed power of the crouching tiger itself. As you go round the exhibition finding tiger symbolism everywhere, just think how much Carl Gustav Jung would have enjoyed it!

The tiger in Asian art: symbol of power and protection is at Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London W1G 7LP. Last day 12 February 2011. Open Monday-Saturday 10.00-1800. Admission free. On Thursday 27 January 2011 Dame Jessica Rawson, Professor of Chinese Art and Archaeology, Oxford University will give a talk "Chinese Tigers - Past and Present", tracing the history of the image of the tiger in China from around 1200 BCE to modern times. Time: 18.45–19.45; tickets £10 or £6 from Asia House at .

People take pictures of each other

‘People take pictures of each other,
And the moment to last them for ever,
Of the time when they mattered to someone.’

‘People take pictures of each other’ by Ray Davies

Picture the scene:
A smiling bride and groom in a garden flanked by proud parents
A fluffy terrier on a beach gazing up at the camera lens
A chubby baby crawling across a living room carpet

All could be images from any family photo album, charting networks of love and friendship laid down over the years, and skirting around the tensions and traumas of everyday life. But read the small label stuck inside the front cover of this ordinary-looking album, and the sunny memories it captures take on an unexpected poignancy:

'Drug Addicts at Home, Work and Play'

The album appears to have been put together during the 1980s, and forms part of the archive of Dr Ann Dally, who treated drug addicts in her private medical practice. The sensitive nature of the personal information contained in the album means that the Library will not make it available to researchers until 1 January 2090, a lifetime away for the family whose identity it would otherwise reveal.

Given the Wellcome Library’s aim to document the human experience of health, from birth to reproduction to death and all stages in between, it isn’t surprising that our archive collections contain many such highly-charged records of individual people’s mental, physical or sexual lives. As an archivist I am very aware that I am in a privileged position of power over such sensitive records, and must constantly balance the access needs of researchers with a duty of care to the individuals mentioned in them.

To demonstrate our commitment to handling living people’s personal information ethically, responsibly and lawfully, the Library has recently reviewed its practice in this area in consultation with the Information Commissioner’s Office (the UK data protection watchdog) and a panel of external advisors from The National Archives, the Bodleian Library and York Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

We hope that our updated Access to Archives policy will reassure our community of researchers and archive donors that we take into account the needs of all our constituencies when making decisions about access to personal data, especially the rights of all those unsuspecting individuals who will one day become part of the historical record at the Wellcome Library.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

New event: Was Jung a mystic?

We will be hosting another Medicine and Literature event on Wednesday 2 February, 19.00-20.15. Join us to hear author Gary Lachman investigate the life of psychologist Carl Jung.

Gary's talk will chart the development of Jung's ideas, look into the reasons behind his early reticence and later advocacy of the paranormal, and finally ask, was Jung a scientist or a mystic, or perhaps something else?

The event is free and tickets can be booked on the Wellcome Collection website.

Image: The dream of a patient in Jungian analysis: a railway tunnel, a train in the distance, and three people walking along next to the right-hand track. Drawing by M.A.C.T., 1971. (Library no. 658097i)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Library survey launching soon

Here at the Library, we are getting ready to launch our latest Visitor Survey. We'll be contacting recent visitors to the Library who have told us they're happy to hear from us. We'll get in touch via email to find out what you thought about the Library and our services.

This web-based survey will deal with your experiences of using the Library in person, and should take less than ten minutes to complete. Our electronic resources will be covered in a later survey which we are currently building with our evaluation partners, Morris Hargreaves Macintyre.

The survey will be rolling across the year, and we will be in contact within a few weeks of your visit. Your views are very important to us in working towards improving the Wellcome Library and our services, and as a thank you for your time, all completed entries will be entered into a prize draw with the chance to win £100.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spring workshops

The new Spring programme of free Wellcome Library workshops begins on 8th February.

Further details can be found on the Library website at:

The workshops provide training on research and resources in the Library, and are aimed at the general public.

The programme includes:
- thematic workshops on Science in the News, Medicine and Literature and the History of Medicine

- training on specific resources such as PubMed Central, and Nineteenth Century Newspapers Online

- and introductions to the Archives & Manuscripts Collection catalogue, and the Wellcome Images database.

All workshops are free and available to library members (library membership is free and open to all).

To book a place, please use the online booking facility on the library website.

Author: Lalita Kaplish

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Released in cinemas to almost universal acclaim (and a winner at last night's Golden Globe Awards), The King's Speech dramatises the relationship between George VI and speech therapist Lionel Logue. The plot of the film is a simple one: can the maverick Logue cure the King of his stammer?

Although containing a number of works pertaining to speech therapy, a catalogue search of the Wellcome Library's collections produces no mention of Logue. However, dig a little deeper, and one work comes to light which offers an interesting perspective on speech therapy in the UK during the 1930s.

Although portrayed as an alternative therapist in the film, Logue was a founding member of the British Society of Speech Therapists. In 1935, the new society launched its own journal, understandably named Speech. Looking through the early editions of Speech held by the Wellcome Library, it's interesting to note Logue listed in the members of the Executive Committee of the Society, as Honorary Treasurer.

Unfortunately, Speech contains no articles by Logue and - understandably - no mention of a member of the royal family being treated by a member of the Society. However, in the issue of the journal from July 1937, Logue is listed with the letters M.V.O after his name - recognition of him receiving the Royal Victorian Order - the only formal recognition of Logue's service to the King (and indeed, the only initials after Logue's name, given he had no formal medical qualifications).

Given too, that The King's Speech is bookended by George VI making wireless broadcasts - beginning with his stammering speech to the Empire Exhibition in 1925 as the Duke of York; ending with his broadcast to the Commonwealth after the declaration of war with Germany in 1939 - the first sentence of the Editorial from the first edition of Speech in 1935 is oddly prescient:

"Broadcasting has stimulated a widespread interst in the properties of speech".

(From a Wellcome perspective, it's also surprising to see that during its first two years, one of the members of the General Advisory board of the journal is Sir Henry S Wellcome...).

The King's Speech can be compared with one other dramatisation of royal treatment - The Madness of King George. Both films depict royalty resorting to fringe practitioners, with 'traditional' treatments being shown as unneccesarily painful (in The King's Speech, an establishment doctor aims to cure the stammer through forcing the then Duke of York to speak through a mouthful of marbles).

Whilst the recent discovery of Logue's personal diaries offer a direct insight into his relationship with the King, the early editions of Speech shed light on the working methods of speech therapists during the 1930s and 1940s.

More details on the Logue's relationship with George VI are available on the website of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.

Online Resources: OED Online relaunched

News on an updated resource available to Wellcome Library readers.

Ten years after its original appearance the Oxford English Dictionary Online has been relaunched. The new OED Online has developed as a tool for exploring the English language and aims to be 'the start of a journey, not the end', according to Chief Editor John Simpson.

The new site has been fully redesigned and incorporates many new features, including:

- The integration of the Historical Thesaurus of the OED. Published in book form in 2009 - and hailed at the time as "one of the last great printed works of reference" - the Historical Thesaurus contains synonyms arranged in chronological order for almost every word in the OED. It's integration means users can now be used to navigate around the dictionary by topic, to find related terms and explore the lexical history of a concept.

- A new area called Aspects of English, which will feature regular commentaries on the English language, written by the dictionary's editors and external experts. So far, articles have included an overview of Old English, the influence of the King James Bible and the development of the language of scientific discovery (particularly with regard to cell biology and genetics).

- A section where you can browse the 1000 most quoted sources and find out which authors have the most influence (from the perspective of the History of Science, The Royal Society's Philosophical Transacations is at number 4; Nature at number 9 and The Lancet at number 33).

- Links to other online resources such as the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Authors: Victoria Sinclair and Ross MacFarlane

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Mental: a history of the madhouse" available again (briefly)

Mental: a history of the madhouse is "a documentary which tells the fascinating and poignant story of the closure of Britain's mental asylums". It was originally broadcast on 17 May 2010 and in July 2010 was discussed in a posting on the Wellcome Library blog.

The film is now once again available for UK viewers free of charge on the BBC iPlayer for a limited period (11-21 January 2011). The Wellcome Library offers free internet access, so anybody who does not have easy access to the internet and can visit the Wellcome Library may watch the film in the Library free of charge.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's that Eadweard Muybridge again!

Tate Britain's splendid exhibition of the works of the mighty Muybridge enters its final week: the last day is Sunday 16 January 2011 (open 10.00–18.00). It of course does full justice to his well-known photographs of things in motion which demonstrated that a trotting horse lifts all four hooves clear of the ground at the same time. These studies were originally supported from 1872 by Leland Stanford, the President of the Central Pacific Railroad, founder of Stanford University in California, and said to be the seventh richest man in America at the time. Fortunately Muybridge's results vindicated the views of his patron rather than the opposing views of his East Coast rivals.

However the exhibition also shows first-hand evidence for Muybridge's earlier career as a print- and book-seller in San Francisco providing edifying Hogarth and Vernon Gallery prints (left) to the Californian middle classes; his expeditions to Panama and Guatemala (one of the Wellcome Library loans records his views of the coffee workers there); his stupendous panorama of San Francisco in 1877-1878, displayed in a huge made-to-measure showcase which stretches the entire width of a gallery; and much else besides. The exhibition ends with a projection of his "zoopraxiscope" images, a sequence of still images in motion around a revolving drum, which he demonstrated in Paris and London in 1881-1882.

The well-known series Animal locomotion (1887), from which the galloping horse image above is taken, has been mentioned in a previous posting on this blog. The series consisted of 781 large collotypes made not like Muybridge's earlier studies with Stanford's support at his estate in Palo Alto, but sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania in its veterinary medicine department in Philadelphia. They were published in massive portfolios containing a hundred plates each, which are extraordinarily heavy and cumbersome. Not surprisingly, few sets were published. So how did the Wellcome Library come to have some 700 of the plates in their original brown buckram portfolios? Who crated and shipped this colossal cargo across the Atlantic?

We do not know for certain, but research carried out for the Tate exhibition has revealed their immediate provenance. The set was lot 269 in an auction on 27 January 1932 in the rooms of Hodgson & Co., the book-auctioneers at 115 Chancery Lane, London WC2. The 79 year-old Sir Henry Wellcome went though the catalogue, and on arriving at lot 269 scrawled in the margins "Very special & valuable" and "Origin of moving pictures". That was as good as a command, and one of Wellcome's curatorial assistants bought the lot for eleven guineas (eleven pounds and eleven shillings). According to the Measuring worth website, eleven guineas in 1932 are today worth about £594 using the retail price index or £2,300 using average earnings: either way a bargain, perhaps reflecting the resources needed to cart the bulky portfolios away from the auction house and store them once they had been paid for.

Who had consigned them for auction we do not know, but it is possible that they came from the estate of John Henry Clarke (1853-1931), homoeopathic physician and author of studies of William Blake. His Blake collection was sold in the same sale ("the property of the late Dr. J.H. Clarke"), but the auction catalogue is non-committal about the provenance of the many scientific books in that sale. If the Muybridge plates did come from him, they had passed their time in the hands of a man almost as eccentric as the photographer, for Clarke (left) was a very prolific author, charismatic editor of The Homoeopathic World for twenty-nine years, and leader of "The Britons", an anti-Semitic organization. Both on account of his anti-Semitic views (set out in his book England under the heel of the Jew, 1918) and on account of his estate (passing through Hodgson's rooms in 1932), we can be grateful to him at least for dying when he did, simultaneously denying the Nazis a prominent ally in England and perhaps enabling Henry S. Wellcome to purchase the plates now on display from the Wellcome Library at Tate Britain.

It is notable from Wellcome's gloss "Origin of moving pictures" that he valued Muybridge's work for its role in the evolution of documentary media rather than as research in locomotor physiology: as Wellcome's The evolution of journalism (1909) shows, the historical development of communications was central to his collecting philosophy, and it accounts for the marvellous variety of documentary types in the Wellcome Library today.

After it closes in Tate Britain, the exhibition reopens in a somewhat different form at the the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (26 February - 7 June 2011), and an exhibition of Muybridge's zoopraxiscope discs continues in his home town of Kingston upon Thames until 19 March 2011. A recent monograph by Rebecca Solnit [1] summarises Muybridge's biography and places his work in new contexts. In agreement with Wellcome's comment, she emphasizes Muybridge's role as a link in the chain of events leading to the motion picture industry, and discusses the growth of Silicon Valley around the places in which Muybridge carried out his work in California. Also discussed is the probable brain injury which Muybridge suffered in a coach accident in Texas in 1860, and which, perhaps fortunately, a later consultation in England with Sir William Withey Gull (right) was unable to cure. Solnit describes the personality change that Muybridge underwent from that point, turning him into the combative and uninhibited photographer who rose to the challenge put to him by Stanford in 1872.

Galloping horse by Muybridge: Wellcome Library no. 28218i
The discovery of Harold's body, in the Vernon Gallery: Wellcome Library no. 18575i
Hodgson & Co. catalogue: Wellcome Library (uncatalogued)
J.H. Clarke: Wikipedia (public domain)
Sir William Withey Gull. Watercolour by Ape, 1875: Wellcome Library no. 3867i

[1] Rebecca Solnit, Motion studies: time, space and Eadweard Muybridge, London: Bloomsbury, 2004

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Brain: A Secret History

Beginning last night on BBC4, The Brain: A Secret History, is a new three part documentary series which illustrates the history of attempts to understand and manipulate the brain.

In the first episode of the series, 'Mind Control', presenter Dr Michael Mosley discussed the famous experiments of Ivan Pavlov, B F Skinner and Stanley Millgram. The documentary mixed archive footage with interviews and also included Mosley visiting the Wellcome Library to look at the personal papers of controversial psychiatrist William Sargant.

The episode is available to viewers in the UK through the BBC iPlayer, where it will be joined by the other two episodes once they air, until the 27th January.

Image credit: BBC

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Archives and Manuscripts cataloguing statistics: December 2010

In the weeks before Christmas work proceeded on various long-running projects within and outside the online database. As mentioned last month, behind the scenes retroconversion work continues on the catalogue of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (SA/CSP), completion of which will bring all our archive catalogues onto the database after ten years' work. We are also coming close to the end of a project to fine-tune the catalogue of the Royal Army Medical Corps collection (one of our most heavily-used) and make it suitable for online ordering: we hope to say more about this next month. The highlights of new cataloguing for this month, however - that is to say, cataloguing completed and made available to the public, as opposed to work proceeding on longer-term projects - all come from the manuscript collection.

The image at the head of this posting (from Wellcome Images) is of James Braid (1795-1860), the Manchester surgeon and general practitioner to whom we owe our modern understanding of hypnosis (and indeed the very word). Franz Anton Mesmer had described the phenomenon in the late 18th and early 19th century, but had ascribed it to disturbances in a “magnetic fluid” that surrounds us all, created by the mesmeric operator waving their hands, having a physical impact on the subject. Braid re-examined the phenomenon and described it in terms of a neurological state brought on by concentration, placing it in the field of psychology rather than physics. Newly visible in the database is a letter by Braid (previously part of the old Wellcome Library Autograph Letters Sequence, and thus only accessible using a card index in the reading room), in which he discusses another late 18th century concept by this stage relegated to the fringes of crankdom, namely phrenology. (MS.8756)

Turning to fiction, we made available two unpublished works of fiction (or lightly fictionalised autobiography) by Colonel Frederick Smith, CB, CMG, DSO (1858-1933) of the Royal Army Medical Corps. There are versions of a novel set in Sierra Leone - "The White Man's Grave"- in 1898 (the year of the Sierra Leone Rising against the imposition of a hut tax following declaration of British Protectorate status), and an account of service as a medical officer in France in the early months of World War I. The papers are described in more detail in a recent blog posting. (MS.8701)

Finally, we also made available some papers relating Professor Cyril Keele, FRCP (1905-1987), pharmacologist, and his research on pain. (MS.8755)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy 156th birthday, Dame Rosalind

Today’s Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Life of the Day commemorates Dame Rosalind Paget, born on 4th January 1855, died 19th August 1948, nurse and midwife.

Rosalind Paget was one of the numerous women involved in the reform of nursing and midwifery, and the improvement in the status of nurses and midwives, who were active and influential in the later nineteenth century but whose achievements have been occluded by the lengthy shadow of Florence Nightingale. Paget was indeed inspired by Nightingale, and her own career owed much to Nightingale’s establishment of nursing as a reputable profession for middle-class women, but she made significant contributions in her own right. She trained as a nurse at the Westminster Hospital under its formidable matron Eva Luckes
(herself another important but overlooked pioneer in the field), and subsequently trained as a midwife, serving some time in that capacity at the London Hospital.

However, Paget, as might be expected from a scion of families (the Pagets and the Rathbones) renowned in the annals of medical science and health reform, was particularly interested in campaigning for the improvement of midwifery: to raise its status, to instil a greater sense of professionalism and public service into midwives, and also to improve the conditions under which women gave birth. To this end she played an active role in the Midwives’ Institute and its campaigns for midwife registration and training, and founded (and edited for many decades) its journal, Nursing Notes (subsequently The Midwives Chronicle).

She also took an active part in the establishment of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Institute for Nursing (the central body for district nursing) and that of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists. She saw the success of her particular areas of activism as integrally connected to the wider struggle for women’s rights and was a strong supporter of the suffrage movement.

While Paget’s papers do not survive with the copiousness of Nightingale’s, the Wellcome Library does hold a small collection of her personal papers (GC/236), including business records of Nursing Notes and material relating to the Trust Fund she established to support midwives and their profession (these were all previously held in the office of Nursing Notes/Midwives). There is also material among the records of the Queen’s Nursing Institute (SA/QNI/Z.1) and her involvement in setting up the Society of Trained Masseuses, which became the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (SA/CSP), is reflected in its records. There is also a file of 1933 correspondence with Lady Rhys Williams among the latter's papers in the archives of the National Birthday Trust Fund (SA/NBT/U.7/1).

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New family history sources for 2011

For anyone contemplating work on their family history, January the 1st is a significant day: not merely the day on which one resolves really to get down to it this year, but also the day on which, every year, a tranche of archive material previously closed under the Data Protection Act is opened up and made accessible. The January 1st openings affect all types of material, of course, but are particularly relevant to family historians since data relating to individuals is what the family historian needs but is also precisely the sort of material controlled most tightly by legislation. (Details of the way in which the Wellcome Library regulates access in the light of this legislation can be found on our website at see the first bullet point under Access.)

Several of the Wellcome Library items opened this January have particular relevance to family historians. The fullest information can be found in MS.5161, a casebook describing female patients admitted to the Holloway Sanatorium, Egham, in the early 1920s. As is usual with records of this type, there is a detailed description of the patient and her symptoms on admission and then a record of treatment in the hospital, sometimes over the course of many years.

From Ticehurst House Hospital in Sussex, whose archive is unparalleled as a record of a private mental hospital from the late eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth, comes MS.6277, a medical journal spanning the years 1905-1910. Unlike the previous item, this does not hold detailed treatment records for individual patients, but gives a day by day log of those patients to whom special circumstances applied at a given time – who was ill, who was being kept apart from the other patients for whatever reason, and so on.

Finally, of course, the Wellcome Library holds extensive records of the Wellcome Foundation, the pharmaceuticals firm through which Henry Wellcome made the money that was to endow the Library and the rest of the Wellcome Trust. Newly available this year is WF/CA/07, a series of staff index cards spanning the years from c.1898 to c.1933. These cards – formerly the contents of six wooden filing drawers – are arranged alphabetically by surname, making it easy to locate given individuals, and record name, staff number, age and date of birth, start and leave date, reasons for leaving, department and wages. They record staff overseas as well as in the UK and include staff at the Wellcome research laboratories. They are not, it appears, an absolutely complete record of all staff during those years – it seems that not all the index cards were retained – but they are an extensive and valuable resource for anyone whose family member(s) may have worked for Wellcome, whether at the London headquarters, the Beckenham research laboratories or as far afield as New South Wales.

Images, from top:
1/ Letters written to the King and Queen by a Holloway Sanatorium patient suffering from religious delusions, retained in MS.5161 next to her record.
2/ Wellcome Foundation staff cards, covering the name Burrows. Silas Burroughs, sadly, is not included.

Their finest hour: Lord Moran papers open for study

In May 1940 Sir Charles Wilson (1882-1977) received a summons from the War Cabinet: he was to become the personal physician of Winston Churchill, who had become Prime Minister just two weeks before. The health of a political leader is always important; when he is in his mid-sixties and has taken office at a time when nothing less than national survival is at stake, his every move, cough or dizzy spell is a matter of historic importance. For the next twenty-five years Wilson – who became Baron Moran of Manton in 1943 – was Churchill’s doctor, until doctor and patient were in their eighties and nineties respectively and Moran had long retired from any other practice.

Moran was thus privileged to have a front-row seat at the making of history; and we, decades later, are lucky that it was this man who filled the seat. Moran’s life was marked by an almost Puritanical commitment to honesty, to facing facts squarely (he was described, according to his DNB entry, as “a Roundhead among Cavaliers” in Churchill’s circle) and by an unwillingness to play the game of medical politics even at cost to his career. When summoned by the War Cabinet, he was Dean of the medical school at St. Mary’s Hospital, Paddington, and a Harley Street physician (counting among his patients both Brendan Bracken and Lord Beaverbrook, both Churchill confidantes: hence his appointment); he was, however, poor by Harley Street standards and had long looked forward to the establishment of some form of National Health Service, coming into conflict with his fellow-professionals over this. Like many of the men who directed the Second World War effort, he brought to it memories of the First: he had served in the front line as a member of the Royal Army Medical Corps and become fascinated by issues of morale and courage, of how it is that one man could endure shattering bombardment and pitched combat whilst another collapsed under the strain. His notes on this subject formed the basis of lectures on “The Mind in War” in the 1930s and eventually of his 1945 book The Anatomy of Courage. He was, therefore, ideally placed to study and analyse the effects on Churchill of long-term stress, and whilst he regarded his patient as the greatest Englishman since Pitt the Elder (see, again, his DNB entry) he was clear-eyed about Churchill’s character failings or lapses of behaviour.

Controversially, Moran published a book of his experiences not long after Churchill’s death: Winston Churchill: the Struggle for Survival, 1940-1965 (1966): his commitment to honesty and in this instance to capturing his observations for the historical record taking precendence over what was prudent in terms of his popularity. The manuscripts on which Moran drew for this book have remained closed for sixty years after their creation (the closure was initially a condition stipulated by Moran’s family when his papers were deposited at the Wellcome Library and of course has been sharpened subsequently by the passage of the Data Protection Act, some thirty years after Moran published his work and sixteen years after the papers were deposited). Now their closure period begins to elapse: last year one notebook was released (along with two other files relating to medical administration) and today a major batch of drafts relating to the war becomes available for study, along with other papers from Moran’s archive (full listing below). Over the next fifteen years there will be a steady flow, until, by 1st January 2026, the majority of the Moran papers will have been opened (a few papers containing detailed medical information will have longer closure periods).

In the papers released today, we read Moran’s accounts of journeys to Canada to meet Roosevelt and to Casablanca for the first big conference of the three Allied leaders, Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin. The interpersonal tensions between men stretched to the limit are clear. Stalin is particularly difficult to work with, as one would imagine:
“As for the twelve different items the Allies had in mind to put on the Agenda [for the Casablanca summit], Stalin brushed them aside: they did not interest him, he said in his rude way.” (PP/CMW/K.5/1/2)

Closer to home, another ally proves hard to take for the stressed Prime Minister:
De Gaulle is another story, for he does seem to go out of his way to be difficult. He first dawned on me in the hall at Chequers when he was about to leave for London; an improbable creature, like a human giraffe … he seemed to sniff down his nose at mortals beneath his gaze. … The P.M. is a bad hater, but in these days when he is stretched taut certain people seem to get on his nerves. De Gaulle is one of them. His cold austerity chills him. (PP/CMW/K.5/1/1)

Churchill himself is examined closely, in passages written towards the end of the conflict when Moran takes stock of the traits of character that both helped and obstructed the war effort: the supreme self-confidence that enabled Churchill to take on and hold the responsibility of wartime leadership leading also to problems in his management of his subordinates. In a particularly revealing file, PP/CMW/K.5/5/1, we read
While he could concentrate for six hours at a stretch on intricate documents and feel at the end of it that he was just beginning the night’s work … he also had grave disabilities which added to the strain. He had no gift of devolution. He liked a finger in every pie. Rowan [Leslie Rowan, Churchill’s private secretary] complained at Potsdam that he could not get the P.M. to read important papers and yet he would not hand over anything…
Perhaps Winston found that when he did choose a man to do a job of work he so often let him down. For he had no gift of picking people. It was his Achilles heel… he is always losing opportunities of learning by his desire to instruct, or at any rate by his urge to lay down some proposition. That is the secret of his inability to pick the right people, he isn’t interested in them.

Later in the same file Moran quotes Clementine Churchill as saying that "Winston has all his life been surrounded by charlatans and quacks", with "Brendan [Bracken] and Max [Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook]" cited as examples.

When Moran published his memories in 1966 Churchill the war hero was still fresh in people’s memories and the candour of his physician was bound to be controversial. Yet the picture that emerges from the book and from these manuscripts, scribbled with corrections, jottings and fine-tunings, is a more human one and in the end – as Moran himself asserted – one that if anything adds to our admiration of the wartime leader. What we see here is a man stretched to the limit, dealing day by day with matters of global significance, driving himself on without rest and – let us remember – someone who does not have the benefit of hindsight and unlike us does not know that the story will come to a victorious conclusion. That he should be fallible is human; the character failings that Moran notes are, as he surmises, perhaps inevitable concommitants of the self-confidence and drive that made it possible to take the job on in the first place. In Moran’s papers we can see the sheer human wear and tear of life at the nerve-centre during the nation’s finest hour; catch our breath, and wonder how we might have measured up. It is our good fortune that these pivotal years in the nation’s history were recorded by this clear-eyed observer and that he captured his impressions for us.

Items from the Moran papers opened today:
Lord Moran papers
PP/CMW/D.1/2: Minutes, 2nd-4th meeting, 22 Jul, 29-30 Dec 1949 and 17-18 Jan 1950; 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.1/3: Agendas and minutes, 5th-13th meeting; Jan-Dec 1950.
PP/CMW/D.2/1: Official lists of consultants and proposed awards (papers A3-A7, A12-A16); Jan-Feb 1950; Also lists of regional hospital boards, chairmen of medical committees of teaching hospitals and notes on grading of specialists.
PP/CMW/D.2/2: Further official lists of doctors and recommended awards with associated documents (papers A21-24, A28-29, A31-33); Feb-Mar 1950.
PP/CMW/D.2/3: Review of the Committee's Work up to June 1950' (Paper A35); Jun-50.
PP/CMW/D.6/1/2: Lists for London regions, some headed 'not on photostat list', surgeons (carbon typescript) with covering letter to selectors Jan 1950, paediatricians (carbon typescript), general medicine (carbon typescript), lists of surgeons (pencil manuscript, not Moran); c.1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2: Schedules of consultants listed by speciality for Professional Assessment Committee; c.1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2/1: South East metropolitan region, with recommendations; c.1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2/2: South West metropolitan region, annotated by Moran with recommended grades; 1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/2/3: North West metropolitan region, Supplementary list, annotated by Moran with recommended grades; 1950. .
PP/CMW/D.6/3: 'Results of 1950 Voting'. Manuscript lists, annotated by Moran, for Birmingham, Bristol, East Anglia, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, Wales and London regions; 1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/4: Surgeons. Lists of recommendations by Association of Surgeons and Royal College of Surgeons; 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.6/5: Whole-time clinical teachers. Lists and manuscript notes by Moran; 1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1: 1950 (?) Awards; 1945-1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1/1: Bristol, Sheffield, North East, North West, South East Metropolitan Regions, Association of Surgeons (with partial index); 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1/2: London Teaching Hospitals (with index); 1949-1950.
PP/CMW/D.13/1/3: 'Faculties', Anaesthetics, ENT, Orthopaedics, Radiology, Ophthalmology, Royal College of Surgeons and Royal College of Physicians recommendations. All areas; 1945-1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/1/1: Casablanca (1st Version, with Sir Desmond MacCarthy's comments), covering Jan-Feb 1943; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/1/2: Untitled typescript, with Desmond MacCarthy's comments, covering Feb-Oct 1943; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/1/3: Red Twinlock, revised version of Casablanca by CMW with comments and annotations by CMW, John Wilson and others. Covering Dec 1941-Feb 1945; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.5/5/1: Mr Churchill's fall from Power, '1st typing, with Sir Desmond MacCarthy's comments'. Period covered Feb 1945-Dec 1947; c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.6/1/1: 'Mr Churchill's Fall from Power' (1945 period); c.1950.
PP/CMW/K.6/2: Early revisions of war-time volumes; c.1949-1950.

Images, from top:
1/ Lord Moran, PP/CMW/P.61 (available via Wellcome Images).
2/ Jottings from file PP/CMW/K.6/1/1,'Mr Churchill's Fall from Power', written c.1950, in which Moran analyses Churchill's defeat in the 1945 General Election.
3/ From file PP/CMW/K.5/5/1, discussion of Churchill's difficulty in picking subordinates.

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