Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipes and Remedies: an Autumn Almanac

This autumn Wellcome Collection will be holding a special series of Recipes and Remedies events exploring the connections between food, health and life.

Inspired by the intriguing collections of hand-written recipes and remedies in the Wellcome Library, we will be asking if food can cure, rooting through the history of culinary medicines and exploring contemporary scientific and cultural responses to food.

The series will gravitate around a edible experiment where, as the winter evenings draw in, we will challenge a chef to cook up a cure for melancholy, following the suggestions for food, drink and lifestyle in Robert Burton’s seminal 1621 text The Anatomy of Melancholy.

Elsewhere we will be investigating the future of food, the loaded relationships between food, class and morality, and how to navigate a healthy course between food science, social policy and the food industry in the face of ever-changing advice.

There will also be plenty of opportunity to get up close to Wellcome Collection’s unique treasures in sessions exploring topics such as localism and healthy eating then and now, how food remedies have allowed women to challenge male medical orthodoxy, and whether the bloggers of today can find counterparts in the recipe swappers of 400 years ago.

Dates for your almanac:

Gut Reactions. Thursday 15 September 2011

Bad Behaviour In The Kitchen. Thursday 29 September 2011

Packed Lunch: Breastfeeding. Wednesday 5 October 2011

Healthcare and Housewifery. Thursday 6 October 2011

Library Insight: Nourishing the Nation. Thursday 13 October 2011

Library Insight: The Cook’s Tour. Tuesday 25 October 2011 & Thursday 3 November 2011

Supper Salon: Future Food, with Stefan Gates. Wednesday 26 October 2011

A Feast to Cure Melancholy. Friday 11 November & Saturday 12 November

Reading Between the Lines. Thursday 17 November 2011

Everyone eats, so come along to share your views and delight your mental palate.

Friday, August 26, 2011

My experiences as an Intern in the Wellcome Library...

8 weeks, 80 train journeys and countless cups of tea later, my internship is coming to an end. My experience in the Library has certainly been full of surprises! Even on the first day, I was simply amazed that I had so many appointments planned on my Outlook Calendar. Having never used Outlook before, the prospect of a calendar which would send you reminders of your daily tasks was perfect for me - someone who can’t remember anything unless it’s written down. Even having my own computer and phone in an office was so unexpected (I’m not quite sure where I thought I would be working, but I definitely did not envisage having my own desk!). This excitement has certainly continued throughout my time in the Wellcome Library as a Library Liaison Exhibition Intern as I have been involved in a huge variety of work.

In the first week I observed the packing of items for a loan ready to be couriered to Dresden. I travelled in a lorry across London to transport this material going on loan to a warehouse (I hasten to add, I was merely a passenger) but it was certainly exciting all the same! I have also travelled to Leicester, to observe an exhibition of AIDS reproduction posters being installed at the New Walk Gallery. This was certainly one of my favourite days of the internship, as it was a great insight into the amount of work that is involved in collating and installing an exhibition. I travelled in a lorry for a second time, to pick up two paintings which had been sent to two external conservators for repair. I had a peek into a world of conservation and studios which was quite incredible. (I think that everybody who I’ve spoken to thinks that I’ve spent most of my time getting to know lorry drivers!) Aside from this, I have been able to observe the work of conservation and received disaster training and basic collection care training, certainly enhancing my knowledge of the paramount importance of conservation. The tour of the library was great and I will certainly be coming back to use it for my dissertation work.

Of course, I have also spent some time sitting at my desk, carrying out a range of administrative tasks; these have taught me a lot about the collection housed by the Wellcome Library. I have been developing new policy documents in order to help with the loans process; including new courier guidelines, a revised loans contract, a crate and packing specification and an exhibition display document. I have also familiarised myself with the Medicine Man gallery and have done some research into alternative ways to display the material in the gallery's planchest.

Rather than list everything that I have done in the past 8 weeks, which I’m not sure would make a terribly interesting read, I thought I would mention some of the things which I found most enjoyable since starting here. I have met some great people and have learned so much. I guess all I can say now, is a HUGE thank you to everybody at the Wellcome Trust, in particular in the Wellcome Library and Conservation for making my internship such a brilliant experience.

Author: Alice Calloway

Alice was a Summer Intern at the Wellcome Trust

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The cataloguer's conundrum

The Wellcome Library is very pleased to announce that the third and final batch of Francis Crick's scientific papers is now fully catalogued and available for research. The entire archive has recently been imaged as part of the library's Wellcome Digital Library project 'Modern Genetics and its Foundations', and from late 2012 the archive will be available both in the original and as a digital version online. In the meantime, you are very welcome to consult the archive in the library.

The newly-catalogued batch of papers largely comprises Crick’s notes, drafts and correspondence from the late 1990s until his death in 2004, notably his research papers for two major pieces of work: 'A framework for consciousness', his 2003 paper with Christof Koch, which many colleagues saw as Crick’s roadmap for the study of consciousness after his death [footnote 1]; and 'What is the function of the claustrum?' [footnote 2], again written with Koch, a paper which Crick was busy working on only hours before he died.

As Crick’s cataloguer, I have mixed feelings about the completion of his archive catalogue – pleasure that this rich collection is now fully available for researchers, tempered by sadness that I have to leave Crick behind. My own virtual relationship with him started in 2003, quite a year to come to the project, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of his co-discovery of the structure of DNA.

While some scientific archives can be dry and technical, Crick’s records were never dull to work on, his forceful and compelling personality shining out through his letters and papers. Take his refreshing approach to organisational hierarchies. When addressed as ‘Dr Crick’ in the early 1960s by a young grad student at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Crick told him to ‘stop that nonsense’ and call him by his first name on the grounds that distinctions based on rank reduce communication and are inimical to progress. [footnote 3]

Crick’s archive unsurprisingly centres around his research on DNA and consciousness, inevitably touching on such massive questions as science’s ethical responsibilities towards society as a whole, and the relationships between science and religion. For lighter relief, Crick’s fan mail reveals his impact on the non-scientific public, as in a letter from the science fiction author Jack McDevitt, who in 1994 asked permission to write Crick a cameo role in his stargate novel Ancient Shores (Crick refused, rather slyly suggesting ‘Why not ask Jim Watson?’). [footnote 4]

But it’s the fate of archive cataloguers to be serial monogamists, and after all these years I’m moving on to the next project. So now it’s over to you to explore Crick’s papers - what kind of virtual relationship with his ideas and legacy will you develop?


1. File reference PP/CRI/L/1/8/13

2. File reference PP/CRI/L/1/8/27

3. File reference PP/CRI/J/1/8/12/1

4. File reference PP/CRI/J/1/4/12/1

Witchcraft on trial

The Wellcome Library features a wealth of material on improving health but it also contains information on those whom, some believe, may also do us harm. Many works focus on the subject of witchcraft, including a whole gallery devoted to the dark arts in Wellcome Images.

Wise women or the like were often part of a tradition of folk medicine that helped the poor with cures and remedies for illness but when things did not go well, accusations of witchcraft could often arise.

Currently available on the BBC iplayer (in the UK only, until 28 August 2011) is an intriguing tale of witch-hunting in 17th century Lancashire, featuring pictures of frogs and human dissection from Wellcome Images. The background story is also featured on the BBC news web site.

So why is our frog in the programme? It is from a manuscript of the mid-17th century and helps to illustrate how dissection was used as a tool to separate the supernatural from the natural. The frog was thought to be a witch's familiar. In the case mentioned in the programme, independent observation came to the aid of a woman accused of witchcraft.

A familiar is usually a spirit or demon controlled by a witch to do his or her bidding in the guise of an animal, for example, a frog or black cat. The programme describes how, by dissection, it was demonstrated that this particular frog was just an ordinary amphibian with no distinctive unnatural anatomy. This image of the frog, shown in the programme, is taken from a 17th Century manuscript featuring various images connected with alchemy.

A Wellcome image of dissection, printed in 1679, can also be found in the broadcast. Witch trials were often dependent on rumour, superstition and the statements of witnesses. In contrast, dissection was a method of finding physical evidence which, it could be argued, was altogether more objective.

Images: Witchcraft: a white-faced witch meeting a black-faced witch with a great beast. Woodcut, 1720 Wellcome Library no. 44115i

Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder general, with two supposed witches calling out the names of their demons, some of which are represented by animals. Etching, 1792, after an earlier woodcut Wellcome Library no. 38560i

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From the Game of Goose to Snakes and Ladders

Amongst the more surprising items in the Wellcome Library’s collections, are a small selection of board games produced across the past three centuries. While they may seem a little drab in comparison with more modern pastimes, the board games of the past can provide an important and useful insight into historical social beliefs and concerns, and even allow us to some extent gauge the amount of enjoyment derived from watching a grown man bark like a dog...

The games this brief foray into a very specific material history will focus on are by and large 'race games' derived from the Game of Goose, an Italian import from the Middle East played by rolling dice and advancing around the board in a circuit. Newe and most Pleasant Game of the Goose, translated into English for the first time John Wolfe in 1597, is widely credited as the progenitor of the particular type of board game in our collections. While not all of our games attempt to be educational, those that are attempt to address geography, morality and health, and in this respect they are fairly representative of larger thematic groups of historical board games. [1]

Given the variety of historical games in the Library it makes sense to try to address them thematically. Our oldest geographical game, Le Iev Desnations, published in the 17th century, is an educational race game featuring the spiral structure and 63 places common to games of goose. The game purports to teach the "morals, fashions and customs” of the nations of the world, which are presented to educate those "curious about history and geography". The modern player would likely find the descriptions of the depicted nations more interesting than the playing of the game itself which is a straightforward game of chance. The game describes the French as being "of advantageous size" with "beautiful head[s]", claims that French women are "charming [in] body and spirit", and states that the nation is "faithful to their king, courteous to foreigners and very Catholic". The English on the other hand are "blonde, well made", while "the mob [is] impudent, beautiful and harsh". Native Canadians receive a harsher treatment, described as being a "medium size" people "with little thought for the future" who "believe and consult often their god Cadouagny". The game is otherwise notable for its other early colonial descriptions of contemporary human cultures and for its miniature maps depicting a (to the modern eye) inaccurately large “Terre Austrelle”, and that label the Antarctic region "incognue" - unknown.

Another thematic group of games is less educational: The Game of Chance or Harlequin Takes All is a straightforward race around the board in which players try to win tokens added to a kitty, each position on the board entailing some sort of illustrated forfeit or prize, usually simply raising the stake by adding to the kitty but sometimes requiring more unusual actions. Position 9 for example requires the player to pay 6 into the game’s kitty (a relatively hefty fee in context) and for them to “look at the Turk”, a forfeit which seems to have lost its contemporary significance. Other actions include missing two turns sitting in a chair, being fined for “breaking a pitcher”, or being trapped awaiting “rescue from a wood”. Particularly interesting is the forfeit for stopping at position 23; the unfortunate player loses all stake in the game and must “bark until it is over”, like a dog. Dying though is a mere setback: players must “give way to the corps, pay 9 for ye grave and begin the game again” upon landing at 31. Strangely, the game can only be ended once a player has landed at position 13, the Harlequin, illustrated by a figure in the characteristic chequered costume leaving a house with a club and a sack, at which point they collect the kitty and end the game. The publisher, Laurie and Whittle of London, would reuse many of the images and mechanics of The Game of Chance in their later New and Entertaining Game of the Goose. This game is significant for its reintroduction of the goose motif from the game’s heritage without the punitive trappings imposed in The Game of Chance. Though some of the more mature positions have been removed or reworked, most notably the “drink to your friend” tile, the death tile remains, perhaps suggesting that the publisher recognised its value as a memento mori.

The third group of games represented are ‘morality games’ that sought to impart contemporary morality to the players through a simple system of reward and punishment. Perhaps the most elaborately named of the games discussed here is Laurie’s Instructive Moral and Entertaining Game of the Mansion of Happiness. The game’s moral tone is far from subtle; the playing board itself has the tag-line “virtue rewarded and vice punished,” and the rules admonish players in possession of “Audacity, Cruelty, Immodesty or Ingratitude” to “not even to think of Happiness, much less partake of it.” For other attributes the game has more specific and contemporaneously appropriate forfeits; “Whoever becomes a PERJURER must be put in the pillory and pay a Fine of one.” Punishments at the infamous Bridewell prison, in the stocks or at the whipping post are also instructed. Some significance might be found in the production of this exceptionally upstanding morality game from the publisher of The Game of Chance that rewarded drinking and incorporated a stronger element of gambling; Laurie, whose name the company still used and who would have overseen the production of The Game of Chance, left the business in 1815, possibly allowing for a change in direction toward more educational games, though it may be the case that the game is simply a product of the emerging market for morally educational titles. [1]

Interestingly, a second morality game held by the Library, a late 18th century Indian game titled Jnana Bagi; the Game of Heaven and Hell was one of the influences on the the western board game Snakes and Ladders. A tool for teaching ethics, the 82 hand drawn and coloured squared are inscribed with symbols denoting living creatures and moral attributes. Significantly, the longest ladder on the board is from position 17, labelled “compassionate love”, to position 69, “the world of the absolute.” Compared with the later western morality game, the Game of Heaven and Hell is much richer in symbolism; the rewards and setbacks posed by the snakes and the ladders illustrate an understanding that life is fraught with successes and challenges, perhaps a more complex lesson than the didactic moral certainties illustrated by the Mansion of Happiness.

The final category of games is that of the ‘health game’. Building on the historical precedent of games as vectors for educational ideas, health games have been produced at various times to support campaigns confronting contemporary health concerns. See how they won: the game of good health, is a departure from the previous games discussed so far, in that it isn’t strictly a board game, though remains worthy of consideration through its value as a record of contemporary concerns.

A ball and maze puzzle with hazards, dating from the 1930s, the game charts the player’s progress from “slumdom”, highlighting contemporary fears of urban degradation, past the many health risks threatening young people in the early twentieth century urban environment; lack of sunlight, rickets and pneumonia, amongst others, toward “The Great Goal, Good Health”. Given its context the game’s subject matter is not at all surprising; it was produced to raise funds for the Vincent Square Infant’s Hospital in London, a charitable children’s hospital that would have directly confronted the problems created by poor living conditions in the city.

Sixty years later, another health game confronts a later public health concern: the spread of HIV/AIDS in modern America. TrianguAIDS, a book cover designed as a board game played in much the same way as the other ‘race games’ in the collection; players move around the triangular board by rolling dice, trying to avoid the hazards (in this case a “Hooker”, “Pusher” or “Little Action”) which somewhat morbidly increase the player’s chance of contracting HIV. Once a player becomes a carrier a second area of the board is opened up to chart their swift progression with the virus to an inevitable death, and the ability to spread the condition to other players creates an escalating sense of paranoia. In some respects the game owes more to historical morality games than to health games; the instructions’ didactic tone and the penalisation of players for finding themselves in morally questionable positions is characteristic of this particular genre of pedagogical pastime.


[1] Caroline G. Goodfellow, ‘The Development of the English Board Game,

1770-1850’, Board Game Studies,1998, 1: 70-80.



- A game involving many of the countries in the world. Engraving by Antoine de Fer after Louis Richer (Wellcome Library no. 35129i)

- A board game with various forfeits, penalties and rewards. Etching. 1794 (Wellcome Library no. 33448i)

- A large goose, with three golden eggs: numbered circles printed on the body of the goose for playing a counter game. Coloured engraving. 1848 (Wellcome Library no. 35130i)

- A layout for a board game, with the rules of the game. Engraving. 1851 (Wellcome Library no. 37628i).

- Game of Heaven and Hell (Jnana Bagi) (Sanskrit Alpha 276)

- See how they won: the game of good health (Oversize ephemera. EPH+13)

- A book cover designed as a board game about safer sex risks by the Walraven Book Cover Company. Colour lithograph, 1992. (Wellcome Libary no. 668792i)

Author Simon Wilson

Friday, August 19, 2011

A tribute to Vivian Nutton

Vivian Nutton at the Wellcome Institute (image: Wellcome Library)

The latest issue of Wellcome History (issue 46, 2011) includes a series of articles in tribute to Professor Vivian Nutton, preceded by an article by Nutton himself describing how his field of study has changed over the course of his career. His field of study has been a large one: the classical tradition in medicine and related subjects from the 6th century BC in ancient Greece, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the Latin-reading medical men of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Formerly neglected by classical scholars, the study of ancient medicine is now flourishing, a development due in part to Vivian Nutton's own teaching, publications, lectures, and encouragement to others. Fortunately he is still actively engaged in new research projects, some of which are described in the articles.

Copies of Wellcome History are available free of charge in the Wellcome Library. This issue is also available online as a PDF file (as are previous issues), and free subscriptions to Wellcome History are available through the Wellcome Trust website.

Elvis spotted in the Houses of Parliament

How would you like to enter a world to which only the rare few are invited? Where views are vigorously challenged and equivocations pounced upon by the powerful? Perhaps you would rather be a 'fly on the wall', able to eavesdrop without being discovered. In that case this suggestion could be for you. The Medicine and Society Collection contains reports which faithfully record the conversations of highly regarded experts. These experts are encouraged to express their opinions but also subjected to searching questions. These exchanges can be found in the Houses of Parliament Select Committee reports.

Lurking behind such profoundly undramatic titles as 'Further Education (FE) Fourth Report of Session 2005-6' and sandwiched between the formal minutes and written evidence, is the section called oral evidence. It is here that some engaging dialogue between Members of Parliament and their guests occur:

Mr Marsden: I will not pursue your analogy and ask you to name 10 famous people in FE, but what I will do- Sir Andrew Foster: Stephen Fry is one! Darren Campbell is a second. Chairman: Paul MacCartney, Jamie Oliver Mr Marsden: Okay I stand corrected..

or even:

Dr Chilton: Let me share with you an analogy which we did not use... FE is like Belgium Chairman: Why, because nobody knows anything about it?

But it is not all light-hearted banter and attempts at humour. Important and significant considerations affecting government strategy are brought to light in these processes. These inform decision-making and have an impact on how health and education services develop.

The Medicine and Society Collection contains information about how scientists start and progress in their careers, including the institutions and funding bodies that support them. This is why reports that deal with issues of higher and further education can be found here. This is just one of some 500 select committee reports dating back to 1990, covering topics like diabetes and driving, climate change and the safety of MRI scanners (featuring a memorandum from the Wellcome Trust). Whoever titled this last MRI report (possibly an Elvis Costello fan) couldn't resist a pun despite the weighty subject matter. It is named 'Watching the directives'. Who would have thought politics could be so wry?

Images: 1.
Justus von Liebig and eight others seated in a committee, c 1870 2. The Information Committee listens to the Hansard Society during the first evidence session of the People and Parliament inquiry. Committee photograph courtesy of UK Parliament .

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dr Eady--from Soho to Beverly Hills

Watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson, ca. 1825. Wellcome Library no. 726498i
The Wellcome Library in London has acquired a watercolour by Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827). Yes, without apology, yet another work by Rowlandson has been added to the large number of prints and drawings by him already in the Wellcome Library.

This one is signed by Rowlandson and inscribed "Dr Eady and his patients" (click on image above for larger view). The bespectacled Dr Eady is having a good look at the prominently exposed breasts of the woman in front of him, while another woman in the background pours liquor from a bottle into a glass, with an expression suggesting that she has drunk enough already. So who was Dr Eady, and who were these women patients of his?

Eady is not in the Oxford dictionary of national biography, and most of what we know about him is derived from an advertising pamphlet (left) which he issued touting his treatment for "those who are unhappily afflicted with diseases of the generative system", meaning syphilis. He is named as Samuel Phillips Eady and writes from 38 Dean Street, Soho. He agrees with the use of mercury treatment, but not indiscriminately: its effectiveness depends on how it is used. His literary style is high-flown: a quotation from the Roman poet Horace stands at the beginning of the text, there is much reference to ancient and learned authorities, and an allegorical woodcut on the front cover shows Eady dispersing the clouds of Prejudice and triumphing over Calumny and Detraction. It is a characteristic puffing pamphlet issued by a quackdoctor or commercial medicine vendor in late Georgian London.

A caricature etching from 1821 purporting to be by "Dr ED" (Eady) but probably by George Cruikshank shows a man with two prostitutes. "Dr to Mrs Wood" is the name on the long bill on the right. Mrs ("Mother") Wood was apparently a brothel-owner and supplier of the two women shown in the etching. The goods supplied by the doctor are piled up on the table: they include a good deal of liquor and a statue of Mercury, representing mercury treatment for syphilis. (Above right: detail of 'The commercial dandy & his sleeping partners', 1821, British Museum Catalogue of satires no. 14273; image from the British Museum online catalogue).

Eady is portrayed in a second caricature by George Cruikshank, an aquatint dated 1824 (above). [1] This shows, on the left seen from behind, Richard Martin, the campaigner against cruelty to animals and originator of one of the earliest laws on that subject, named after him "Martin's Act". He is bringing a parish constable in to a room to arrest two miscreants who are committing cruelty to animals. The miscreants, seated at table, are Dr William Kitchiner (an eccentric eye-doctor, musician and gastronome who lived in Warren Street) and our friend Dr Eady, and they are committing the crime of causing cruelty to oysters by eating them alive: this was a notorious reductio ad absurdum example used by opponents of Martin's Bill. Eady, wearing a plaid greatcoat (image left), appears here a few years younger than the man depicted by Rowlandson, though the basic physiognomy is the same in both portraits.

There are further comments on Dr Eady in a series of articles entitled 'Annals of quackery', in The medical adviser which were brought together by our late colleague at the Wellcome Library, John Symons. The first ('Eady the wall-chalker', 1823-1824, 1: 40-42) states that he had previously been a haberdasher, and refers to him as a dealer in threads and thimbles. The second (ibid., pp. 249-250) is a general attack on his medical pretensions. The third ('Caution to the public. Eady's escape from St Luke's', 1824, 2: 77-79) avers that Eady was involved in litigation in the King's Bench which disturbed the balance of his mind, as a result of which he was restrained in St Luke's lunatic asylum in Old Street, London. However it is not completely clear whether this is reportage, satire, or fantasy.

Several pieces of new evidence about him were published in 2010 by the contributor to a numismatic website. [2] First, Eady issued metal tokens advertising his name and his cures: several of these metal pieces exist today. Second, a comic song about him was recorded in 1826, including these verses:

Doctor Eady!

For every ill he had a pill, a powder or bolus,

And patients plenty flock’d around and never left him solus;

He gave advice for nothing,

And to prove he was not greedy,

He charged only for physic

- what a generous Doctor Eady!

Old Galen's rules he left for fools,

He had no time for study,

Reading tries the best of eyes,

And makes men’s brains more muddy,

His pills he tried on patients,

That is if they were not needy,

Th’ regulars either kill or cure,

And so did Doctor Eady.

Young men would go, all in a glow,

And to him make confessions,

Sad relate how hard their fate,

Thro' youthful indiscretions;

With kind commiseration then he'd vow to cure them speedy,

For for promises of cure there was none like Doctor Eady.

Thirdly he was recorded in 1821 as advertising his services by chalking his name on walls all over London, to such an extent that, according to one witness, "it is scarcely possible to travel ten miles round the metropolis without meeting with his name, which naturally excites enquiry into the object and pretensions of the chalked up Hero."

From these scraps of evidence we deduce that Dr Eady was a bon viveur who practised as a physician (probably without paper qualifications) in London during the reign of King George IV (1820-1830). It is likely that he was associated with William Kitchiner and others in popularising healthy ways of life and deprecating the over-use of potentially toxic drugs. He also acted as a syphilis expert in Soho, where his patients included prostitutes, notably those under the protection of Mother Wood. He advertised his services lavishly, provoking opposition from rivals.

The Rowlandson watercolour describes his louche character and vividly illustrates his specialisation as a Soho pox-doctor. Is one of the two women in Rowlandson's watercolour Mrs Wood? A documented portrait of her does not seem to be available from the obvious places, but if Cruikshank knew of Eady's association with Wood, presumably Rowlandson would have known as well. One of the articles in The medical adviser mentions that Eady was visited in St Luke's by "Mrs Woods of Lisle Street": Lisle street is a street in Soho that is very close to Dean Street, and this Mrs Woods is presumably the same as Mrs Wood the brothel-keeper.

It must have been in London that Rowlandson painted the watercolour in the 1820s, and it was in London also that the Wellcome Library acquired it in 2010, but between those two dates the watercolour had travelled nearly half way round the Earth. It has on the reverse two inscriptions recording its previous owner. One gives his name and address: Stephen Longstreet, of 610 N. Elm Drive, Beverly Hills, Calif. The other gives his name and the date on which he acquired it: 24 April 1954 (above).

Stephen Longstreet (1907-2002: image left) was a versatile American who was himself a watercolour artist. His original name was Chauncey Weiner [or Wiener]-Langstrasse. He worked as a cartoonist and illustrator under the name Henri, and, with the encouragement of William Faulkner, became a writer as well. In 1940 his publisher, Bennet Cerf of Random House, suggested he use the pen-name Longstreet: as Stephen Longstreet he was the writer of numerous novels, television programmes, movies, books on jazz, and ghosted autobiographies such as that of Hoagy Carmichael.

Longstreet was also a prolific watercolour artist on various themes, including jazz, show business, political cartoons, Hollywood artistes such as Greta Garbo, and a British portrait-subject: Winston Churchill (right). Longstreet's ownership of Thomas Rowlandson's watercolour of Dr Eady, hanging for many years in his Beverly Hills residence, united one watercolourist with another across a continent, an ocean, and more than a century.

[1] William Schupbach, 'Iconography of Dr William Kitchiner (1775?-1827)', Medical history, 1984, 28: 202-209. Online here.

[2] 'Dr. Samuel Phillips Eady - farthing token', Numismatic Society 12 November 2010. Online

Images of Stephen Longstreet and his works are reproduced by kind permission of Larry and Lisa Hupman.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spearman and Intelligence

The papers of influential British psychologist Charles Edward Spearman (1863-1945) were deposited in the Wellcome Library by the British Psychological Society in 2008. They are once more available to the public, now accompanied by a new expanded catalogue (PSY/SPE).

Charles Spearman is known for his seminal work on the testing and measuring of human intelligence. In 1904 he posited, in the prestigious American Journal of Psychology, his famous two-factor theory of intelligence. Its components were soon abbreviated to g to represent general intelligence and s for specific ability. It can be said that Spearman spent much of his academic career developing, explicating and defending his theory of the g factor (general factor) as well as devising the necessary mathematical tools for reliably interpreting test data, pioneering the use of Factor Analysis and developing what is now known as Spearman’s Rank Correlation measure (or Spearman’s Rank Correlation Coefficient).

Following a prolonged stint in the British Army, Spearman, much influenced by German psychology of the late 19th century, headed to Germany in 1897 to work in Wilhelm Wundt’s psychology laboratory in Leipzig. On permanent return to England in 1907 he headed up a psychological laboratory at University College London and went on to help create the ‘London School’ of psychology which was characterized by its emphasis on statistical and psychometric methodologies for studying human ability.

Spearman’s The Abilities of Man: Their Nature and Measurement (London: Macmillan, 1927) represented an accumulation of his experimental and philosophical evidence in support of his theory of human intelligence.

(For a detailed exposition of Spearman’s work and achievements in experimental psychology and psychometrics, as very much a layman on this topic, I strongly advise the reader to scrutinize Spearman’s own works and the numerous published biographical sources).

The Spearman papers provide a fascinating insight into Spearman’s work from the turn of the twentieth century through to the early 1940s.

Material relating to actual intelligence test data and test design in the 1930s in the UK and USA is present throughout the collection. Of notable interest will be the material in section PSY/SPE/3 containing material relating to the so-called 'Chicago experiments' on school children conducted by Karl J. Holzinger and Frances Swineford in the 1930s to which Spearman contributed. Their studies resulted in the Preliminary Report of Spearman-Holzinger Unitary Traits (Chicago University, 1934) and, after further studies conducted in Chicago, A Study in Factor Analysis by Holzinger and Swineford (Chicago University, 1939).

Important to students of the history of psychometrics, the material also amply illustrates varied socio-economic and cultural constructs during this period on the origins, nature and cause of intelligence and contemporary motivations behind the development of aptitude testing, cognitive ability rating and problem solving exercises which became popular as access to education broadened in the late 19th and early 20th century.

In series PSY/SPE/1/4-6 there is a significant amount of Spearman’s correspondence with the great and good operating in his fields of interest at the time. Notable correspondents include William Stephenson (1902-1989), Joseph Zubin (1900-1990), Karl J. Holzinger (1892-1954), Edwin B. Wilson (1879-1964), Arthur Bowley (1869-1957), Ronald A. Fisher (1890-1962), Truman L. Kelley (1884-1961), Louise L Thurstone (1887-1955) and Cyril Burt (1883-1971). Much of the correspondence discusses Spearman’s two-factor theory and g, intelligence testing methods, statistical analysis formulae and the variables involved in causing and assessing intelligence.

Spearman’s papers also contain much fascinating material on sensation analysis and spatial, visual and auditory perception. These are mainly in the form of his notes and lecture notes (PSY/SPE/1/3).

Section PSY/SPE/2 comprises a large grouping of reference material gathered by Spearman over many years, alphabetized by author or terminology. Both psychological and philosophical concepts are covered, notably theories of intelligence, perception, cognition, sense memory and their development, testing and measurement; notions of understanding, assimilation, association, unity and conation; memory; concepts; mental fatigue; child development; the nervous system; reasoning capabilities; mind training and learning ability; attention and attention span; images and thought; Gestalt theory; psychopathology.

A Note on Provenance:

The Spearman collection was originally held by the Charles Myers Library, London, and given to the British Psychological Society in 1974.

The Charles Myers Library had its origins in the National Institute for Industrial Psychology (NIIP), co-founded by Myers and Henry J. Welch in 1921. By 1930 the NIIP employed about 50 people and a librarian had been appointed to look after its reference collections. Spearman contributed his papers to the library, who received it on his death in 1945. After Myers himself died a year later the Council of the NIIP renamed the library the Charles Myers Library in his honour. In the 1960s the NIIP faced a number of problems and its financial situation had gravely worsened by the 1970s. It was at this point that collections were dispersed to other libraries and institutions. In 1977 it was wound up permanently.

Further reading:

A. R. Jensen, 'Charles Spearman: Founder of the London School', Galton Institute Newsletter, March 2000

P. Lovie and A. D. Lovie, 'Charles Edward Spearman FRS (1863-1945)', Notes and Records of the Royal Society 1996, 50 (1), pp75-88


- Charles Spearman, from Portraits of Statisticians

- Learning to solve problems: Illustration depicting a child's development of problem solving skills through the use of games and puzzles (Bill McConkey, Wellcome Images, 2004)

Author: Amanda Engineer

Monday, August 15, 2011

Population Investigation Committee Podcasts now available

In February, the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre hosted an afternoon symposium, to celebrate the launch of the historical archives of the Population Investigation Committee (PIC), held in the Wellcome Library.

Podcasts of all the presentations from the symposium are now available from the PIC website. Speakers included Dr Edmund Ramsden (University of Exeter) on the early history of the PIC, Dr Lesley Hall (Wellcome Library), on the PIC archive and other similar collections held by the Wellcome Library, Prof Michael Wadsworth (MRC Unit for Life Long Health and Ageing) on setting up the 1946 National Birth Cohort study, and Prof Ian Deary (University of Edinburgh) on the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1932 and 1947.

Prof Deary's presentation is particularly timely, given that the surveys he describes are the inspiration for a play, Still Life Dreaming, which is co-produced by the Wellcome Trust and premieres this week at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Death to bad handwriting!

Back in 2007 Time Health reported that doctors’ badhandwriting was killing more than 7,000 people each year in the U.S. Thisreport certainly rings a bell with us: one of the reasons we really wanted tointroduce our online photography ordering service last year was to replace thehandwritten forms that staff sometimes struggled to read. Whilst not exactly amatter of life-or-death, we still want to get these orders processed for you asquickly as possible.
Our online service certainly helps our staff understandimmediately which items you want photographed, meaning we can fulfil ordersmore quickly. We were able to go from this:
to this:
Here’s hoping that the e-prescribing described in Times Health has helped U.S.doctors give a better service to their patients too.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Object of the Month, August 2011 : Jan Wandelaar, Human Skeleton and young Rhinoceros

Of the many joys that accompany a stroll around the Wellcome Library’s stores, an unexpected encounter with a rhinoceros must rank as one of the more novel. The beast in question is Clara, an Indian Rhino who became in international superstar after arriving at the port of Rotterdam in 1741, at the tender age of two years old. Clara had been raised in the Bengal home of the director of the East India Company, who adopted her after her mother was killed by hunters. Evidently Clara was quite fond of human company as in Bengal she was allowed to meet visitors and even eat from the meal table ‘like a lap dog’. But on arrival in Rotterdam, to say that Clara was a novelty was an understatement. Her new owner, the ship's captain Douwe Mout van der Meer put Clara on public exhibition almost immediately and found the enterprise so profitable that he was soon able to give up his job and travel Europe with her full-time.

Over the course of the next seventeen years Clara was seen by many thousands of paying tourists, across the low countries, France, Germany, Austria, Italy and England. Rhinoceros fever hit Europe; medals were cast in her honour, poems addressed to her and during an especially triumphant stay in Paris in 1750 a hairstyle á la rhinoceros was named after her. Even Casanova wasn’t immune to Clara’s charms - although in his memoirs he reports that his mistress mistook the burly chap taking her entrance fee for the exhibit itself.

But Clara’s really lasting significance lay in zoological illustration. Until her arrival, artists and illustrators looking for an image of a rhinoceros were still slavishly copying Dürer’s famous woodcut of 1515, the manifest inaccuracy of which hadn’t detracted from the grip it held on the popular imagination. For artists and illustrators, therefore, Clara’s arrival was an opportunity not to be missed. One of the first to depict Clara was the artist and engraver Jan Wandelaar (1690-1759) who was at that time completing a commission to illustrate Bernard Siegfried Albinus’s magnificent Tabulae Sceleti et musculorum corporis humani, an anatomical atlas that promised to be the most accurate ever made. To enhance his figures, Wandelaar chose grandiose and whimsical naturalistic backgrounds which deepened the perspective and gave his figures a greater sense of volume. For his two plates illustrating the bones and the fourth order of muscles, he included Clara grazing in the background, her bulk and armour giving a pronounced contrast to the human form in front. The novelty of Clara’s appearance can’t have harmed Albinus’ enterprise either, as the London edition of the prints makes clear: “we thought the rarity of the beast would render these figures...more agreeable than any other ornament resulting in mere fancy.” Whatever the reason for her inclusion, these two prints are certainly amongst the earliest illustrations by a western artist to represent a rhinoceros with any degree of accuracy.

It wasn’t long before Clara was the darling of the art scene, having her portrait painted by some of the finest animal painters of the age. In 1748 the engraver Johann Elias Ridinger, (1658-1767), already famous for his sets of animal prints, made a series of six drawings of Clara in various poses, which he engraved as prints and used in the background of his other works. Clara appears to have aged considerably in the six years between the two engravings and makes quite a pathetic figure (although, interestingly, in the preliminary sketches she appears relaxed and rather less ‘droopy’). Early the next year the artist Jean-Baptiste Oudry (1686-1755) painted a life-size portrait of Clara at the fair of St Germain on a canvas 15 feet long and ten feet high, which was exhibited at the Paris Salon. And in 1751, while in Venice, Clara was the subject of two famous paintings by Pietro Longhi (1701?-1785), one of which is held in the National Gallery.

Clara died in London on 14th April 1758. In spite of her peripatetic existence, Clara’s life in Europe had been longer and considerably less brutal than her few forebears - Dürer’s rhinoceros, bound in a velvet collar and gilt chains, drowned in a shipwreck off the coast of Italy. Her successor, the so-called ‘Madrid’ rhinoceros of 1579, fared little better - after she overturned a chariot full of nobles the King of Spain ordered the removal of her eyes and her horn. Clara had led quite an extraordinary travelling life and enjoyed a diet that included “a good quantity of wine and spirituous liquors” as well as beer, oranges, and tobacco smoke blown up her nose. What’s more, it was her image which finally supplanted Dürer’s rhinoceros in the popular imagination and ensured that her likeness can be found in numerous natural histories from the eighteenth century to today.

The rhino is a homely beast,

For human eyes he's not a feast.

Farwell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,

I'll stare at something less prepoceros.

(Ogden Nash, The Rhinoceros)

Images : 1. An écorché figure, front view, with left arm extended, showing the bones and the fourth order of muscles, with a grazing rhinoceros in the background. Line engraving by J. Wandelaar, 1742 (Wellcome Library no. 565796i)

2. An écorché figure, back view, with left arm extended, showing the bones and the fourth order of muscles, with a rhinoceros seen in the background. Line engraving by J. Wandelaar, 1742 (Wellcome Library no. 565802i)

3. A rhinoceros. Woodcut after C. Gessner, 1551. (Wellcome Library no. 41009i)

4. A rhinoceros, also known as Miss Clara, shown with a lake and palm trees in the background. Etching by J. E. Ridinger, ca.1748 (Wellcome Library no. 39300i)

Author: Jo Maddocks

Notes on Plants: Echinacea

Known to many as the Coneflower, others as the Samson root or Missouri Snakeroot, this native of the North American prairies is found in many a British garden’s late summer border or wildlife garden. Despite its popularity as an ornamental plant it has a history of medicinal uses by the native American population dating back many centuries, who used it as an all purpose antiseptic. The Sioux used it as a cure for snake bite, the Cheyenne chewed the root to quench their thirst. As Europeans colonised North America, they learnt the plants medicinal uses. Echinacea based remedies were commercially produced by pharmaceutical companies being particularly popular in the 1930's until antibiotics became widely available.

The bristly seed head or cone at the centre of the flower inspired its botanical name, from the Greek for hedgehog, echinos. Three varieties are recognised to have medicinal properties: Echinacea augustifolia, Echinacea purpurea and Echinacea pallida. The extract of the root is most commonly sold, to reduce the severity and duration of colds and flu. Claims for Echinacea treating boils, wounding healing, fevers, upper respiratory infections, urinary infections such as Candida albicans, and protecting the immune system during chemotherapy, are being researched. However the results can be contradictory from different research papers, even into Echinacea's use to treat colds. References to recent studies can be found through the Wellcome Library's subscription to AMED (Allied & Complementary Medicine), available remotely to Wellcome Library card holders. More information on Echinacea from a wide variety of resources, often available in full text can be found on Health Reference Centre Academic, also available remotely.

Author: Simon Warburton

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hello users, we're listening...

Thanks to all of you who have contributed to our Library User Survey. We've just received our first formal report back from Morris Hargreaves Macintyre who are helping to collate and analyse the results.

So far we've been sending out questionnaires to visitors via email following your visit. This week, we will have the survey forms available at the Library Admissions Desk, so if you can spare a few minutes we'd love to have your thoughts, particularly if it's your first visit to our Library.

If you have already filled in a survey, please feel free to complete another one. We are keen to hear if your views change across the survey period as we act on your comments and suggestions.

Monday, August 8, 2011

At the Conversazione

'Some of the Guests at the Conversazione' runs the title of this photograph, but what is the occasion has been captured for posterity? Who are these ladies and gentlemen, dressed impeccably in their best evening wear?

Let's zoom in a little closer, to some figures in the front row:

The gentleman with the drooping moustache - and seemingly drooping features - is William Bateson, born on this day in 1861. He's seated between his wife Beatrice and the Rev. William Wilks, Secretary of the Royal Horticultural Society.

The date is the 30th July 1906 and the occasion is the opening Conversazione of the third international conference on hybridization and plant breeding. Like the first of these Conferences in 1899, it was held in London and organised through the Royal Horticultural Society.

Our focus on Bateson is due to the Inaugural Lecture he delievered to the Conference the morning after this photograph was taken. Bateson began his Lecture by recalling the first Conference in 1899, then considering the work of Gregor Mendel which had been re-discovered in Western Europe around the turn of the century, and how this research was turning the study of hybridisation and plant-breeding into a "developed science" (indeed, Bateson was carrying out reseach along these lines in Cambridge, with the aid of ladies from Newnham College). Bateson's next paragraph, however, is worth quoting in full:

"Like other new crafts, we have been compelled to adopt a terminology, which, if somewhat deterrent to the novice, is so necessary a tool to the craftsman that it must be endured. But though these attributes of scientific activity are in evidence, the science itself is still nameless, and we can only describe our pursuit by cumbrous and often misleading periphrasis. To meet this difficulty I suggest for the consideration of this Congress the term Genetics, which sufficiently indicates that our labours are devoted to the elucidation of the phenomena of heredity and variation: in other words, to the physiology of Descent, with implied bearing on the theoretical problems of the evolutionist and the systematist, and application to the practical problems of breeders, whether of animals or plants. After more or less undirected wanderings we have thus a definite aim in view" [1].

It's fair to say then, that the term Bateson suggested to his audience succeeded in its aim. It certainly replaced the need for "cumbrous and often misleading periphrasis" - so much so that the published proceedings were titled Report of the Third International Conference on Genetics: hybridisation (the cross-breeding of genera or species), the cross-breeding of varieties, and general plant-breeding.

The next time then, you hear the word 'genetics' ponder not just the modern imagery associated with the term, nor the scientists of the twenty first century unravelling the secrets of the human body, but the term's creator William Bateson - captured by the camera, attired in the formal evening wear of Edwardian England.

[1] Report of the Third International Conference 1906 on Genetics : hybridisation (the cross-breeding of genera or species), the cross-breeding of varieties, and general plant-breeding (ed. W. Wilks), p91. Whilst Bateson had used the word 'genetics' in a personal letter in 1905, this was a public outing for his new term.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Wellcome Library Insight - Dirty London

This week's free Wellcome Library Insight session - on Thursday 4th August - ties in with Wellcome Collection's current Dirt exhibition.

The session will show how doctors, governments and ordinary citizens in London have struggled against poor hygiene, pollution and dreadful epidemics.

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 from a member of Library staff.

This Thursday's session starts at 6pm. For more details on attending, see the Wellcome Collection website.

Image: 'The Sewer Hunter' from Henry Mayhew, London labour and the London poor (London, 1851)

Yorkshire Day

1st August is Yorkshire Day - inaugurated 1974: the date alludes both to the battle of Minden, 1759, historically commemorated by the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, and the anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire in 1834, in which Yorkshire MP William Wilberforce was so instrumental a figure.

It thus seems appropriate to draw attention to the resources the Library has to offer to the local historian for that area.

The Library holds an extensive collection of reports of Medical Officers of Health which contain substantial amounts of material of general social history, as well as medical and sanitation, interest. The Iconographic Collections include a significant number of images of Yorkshire institutions, from hospitals and schools for the blind to spas and healing wells.

The Archives and Manuscripts sources guide for UK local history includes a very wide range of material relating to Yorkshire: from measures imposing quarantine at Hull at the time of plague in the 1660s to Alice Stewart's (Stewart herself was a Yorkshire girl) files relating to her involvement with environmental groups concerned about radiation issues in the 1990s. In between there are numerous items reflecting both professional and informal household medical practice, local societies and institutions and local branches of national organisations, and such one-off events as the case of the arson attack on Marie Stopes' birth control caravan when it visited Leeds.

Swiss National Day

Every country has its own day for fireworks, it seems: November 5th in the UK, July 4th in the USA, July 14th in France. In Switzerland it’s today, 1st August, and anyone standing on the southern shore of Lac Léman tonight, in France, will look across to see firework displays taking place all down the long sweep of the Swiss shore. Today is the Swiss National Day*, when communities gather all over the country (and beyond, in the so-called “Fifth Switzerland” made up of expatriates) to celebrate their Swissness and the survival of their country despite all the obstacles that geography, language, religion and sometimes-aggressive neighbours have placed in the way of its unity. Here we look at some Swiss items in the Wellcome Library collections, and the links between Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

[*Of course, as a multi-lingual country Switzerland has not one but four names for the celebration, calling it the Bundesfeier (German), Fête nationale (French), Festa nazionale (Italian) or Fiasta naziunala (Romansch).]

The date of the National Day commemorates the first Federal Charter, dated “early August” 1291, although it has become conflated also with the slightly later Oath of the Rütli sworn between the representatives of the three original cantons, an event dramatised by Schiller in his play Wilhelm Tell (and re-enacted at a crucial moment in the country’s history, in 1941, when the 650th anniversary of the confederation was used to reaffirm a commitment to democracy and independence). Needless to say, history does not really provide a neat date and time at which the country was founded. Rather, the origins of Switzerland lie in a gradual coalescence of various communities, mostly of their free will, for mutual protection and self-determination. As the Middle Ages progressed, the original three “forest cantons” of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden, clustered in the mountainous area around the Vierwaldstättersee, were joined by other similar areas, by imperial cities such as Zürich, Bern and Basel, by their subject areas, and by other loose confederations of mountain communities such as those that now make up the cantons of Valais and Graubünden, until by the early modern period the country had essentially the shape that it has today.

There have long been strong links between Switzerland and the United Kingdom, with the nineteenth century particularly important for these. The Romantics’ appreciation of Switzerland’s scenery – prior to the Romantic movement it had been more usual to see mountains as a nuisance – forged a trail that tourists followed, with an ever-expanding railway network (and travel agents like Thomas Cook) making it ever easier to get there. The names of hotels in holiday centres such as Interlaken are a testament to the British influence on Switzerland’s tourist industry. Politically, too, Switzerland was appealing to the nineteenth-century Briton. At a time when much of Europe was controlled by empires and other undemocratic régimes, this was a country whose foundation myths, of sturdy independent peasants banding together to resist oppression and decide their policies by democratic means, chimed well with Victorian ideas of ancestral Anglo-Saxon liberties and the evolution of the Mother of Parliaments. (In each case, of course, the foundation myth ignored many less democratic elements such as the unequal weighting that wealth gave certain citizens’ voices, and the complete absence of any voice for women.) The robust Protestantism of many Swiss would have been congenial, too. Here, a Victorian Englishman could have enjoyed foreign travel whilst feeling that the people around him were almost British themselves: sensible, sober people not given to continental vices such as riots, revolutions or too much gesticulation. One of the strangest survivors of this nineteenth-century kinship stands in the London district of Brixton, one of the capital’s poorer neighbourhoods: in the midst of a 1960s housing estate is a pub called “The Hero of Switzerland”, the sign showing the iconic scene in which William Tell aims his crossbow at an apple on his son’s head. The building is modern but stands on a site used for a pub of that name since at least 1901.

As one might expect, many of the Swiss items in the Wellcome Library relate to British travellers. In 1817 Joseph Jackson Lister (1786-1869), wine merchant, microscopist and later to be father to the founder of antiseptic surgery, was one of the British subjects flocking across the Channel to see the European sights that had been off-limits for a generation and were now finally opened to them by the victory over Napoleon. His travels are recorded in a tiny, neat diary, illustrated with pencil sketches and watercolours that track his journey across France to the Alps and then back to Britain down the Rhine (MS.6962).

Lister's journeys took him to the foot of the Gotthard Pass, into territory that was still quite wild and woolly for the average traveller. Later in the nineteenth century an expanding tourist industry had made the mountains more accessible, with mountain railways making it possible for ordinary tourists to reach summits previously thought of as the haunt only of ghosts and dragons. The surgeon Charles Brodie Sewell (1817-1900) visited Switzerland repeatedly from the 1860s to the 1890s and his detailed travel journals give an indication of how domesticated, comparatively, the Alps were becoming: photographs show us the rack-railway climbing to the summit of the Rigi, one of two that were built to this peak. Many other papers in the Library collections document similar holidays, up to the mid-twentieth century. The diary of Dr Forrest Leon Loveland, a general practitioner from Topeka, Kansas, documenting a trip to Europe in 1931, is particularly colourful, with photographs, cuttings and ephemera pasted into a large diary-cum-scrapbook (MS.7974). Shadows are cast on this tourist idyll, however, by one item Loveland includes: next to a painting of Zürich and photographs of the railway up the Pilatus is a monochrome newspaper cutting whose title declares "Germany's 100,000 on fighting edge", next to which a member of the Wehrmacht blows a purposeful bugle. Particularly poignant reminders of the world beyond the Alps come in the papers of the psychoanalysts Siegmund Heinrich Foulkes (originally Fuchs) (1898-1976) and Elizabeth Therese Fanny Foulkes (née Marx) (1918-2004). The couple collected postcards when on holiday, and their papers include blank undated cards from all over the world, Switzerland included. The Swiss cards appear to date from between the wars and it is probable that whichever of the Foulkes collected these (they were not married to each other at that time) would still have been a German citizen, since each was born German but was forced to emigrate to the U.K. by Nazi persecution of Jews.

We have focussed so far chiefly upon foreign visitors to Switzerland, but of course Swiss material is also present in the collection. Our manuscript medical recipe books include Swiss items such as MS.7908, a collection of medical recipes originally put together by a priest in Birmensdorf (canton Zürich) in the early seventeenth century. Perhaps the most striking of our Swiss holdings, however, are among the most recent. The Library's Iconographic Collections include a large number of Swiss public health posters, warning against AIDS and counselling condom use (as ill-luck would have it, AIDS arrived at about the same time that Switzerland underwent a large increase in intravenous drug use, making the problem even more pressing). The posters - available, of course, in various languages including those of immigrant communities such as Turkish, as well as the country's official languages - come in various styles, from the oblique to the downright startling and explicit. Backgrounds to the messages vary from nightclubs in, presumably, the grittier city neighbourhoods, to the chocolate-box Switzerland of Alps and meadows, in which a Heidi-milkmaid brandishes a condom and proclaims "Ohne? Ohne mich." (An idiomatic translation might be "Doing without [a condom]? Do without me."). In one particularly pretty series, the instantly-recognisable skylines of various Swiss cities are shown at night, lit only by the stars and a strange, pink moon that turns out on closer inspection to be a condom.

August 1st has provided us with a reason to dig out some of our Swiss holdings: but, of course, there are many more and they are available all the year round. All these and more can be consulted in the Library (and images of many Swiss-related items can be found on Wellcome Images). You are invited to come and explore, whether it that takes the form of rambling over Alpine meadows or looking at the many inventive uses graphic designers can find for the humble condom.

Aerial illustration of the Vierwaldstättersee (also known in Britain as Lake Lucerne), from the diaries of Dr Forrest Leon Loveland, general practitioner of Topeka, Kansas, documenting a trip he made to Europe with his wife Helen in 1931 (MS.7974).
Postcards collected on Swiss holidays, mostly showing the Berner Oberland, in the papers of S.H. Foulkes (PP/SHF/A/C/7).
Title page, MS.7908: 17th century recipe compilation.
"The Hero of Switzerland" pub, Loughborough Road, London SW9: image copyright Christopher Hilton, made available under Creative Commons via the Geograph website.
A square and fountain in Zürich, drawn by Joseph Jackson Lister in MS.6962.
The Vitznau-Rigi railway, from the 1885 travel diary of Charles Brodie Sewell (MS.4509).
AIDS-Hilfe Schweiz and Swiss Federal Office of Public Health: poster warning of the importance of condom use, 1990s.
AIDS-Hilfe Schweiz and Swiss Federal Office of Public Health: poster warning of the importance of condom use, 1990s.
Swiss Federal Office of Public Health: poster warning of the importance of condom use, 1990s, showing Luzern by night.

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