Thursday, December 29, 2011

Item of the Month, December 2011: Sun Yat-sen and Sir James Cantlie

In March 1912 the provisional president of the newly created Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen, sent this letter to Mrs Mabel Cantlie, wife of the British tropical medicine specialist Dr James Cantlie. In it he surveys the enormous challenge the young republic faced less than three months into its existence. In fact Dr Sun was to play little further part in the immediate consolidation of the Chinese republic, as by the following year he was on the run from the military government of General Yuan Shikai, Sun’s successor as president, and self-appointed ‘Great Emperor of China’.

Dr James Cantlie (1851-1926), an Aberdeen trained physician, went to Hong Kong in 1887 at the invitation of Patrick Manson, whose medical practice he inherited. One of his earliest achievements was to assist Manson in establishing a medical training college for native students, one of the first of whom was the future president of China.

After graduating Sun Yat-sen remained in contact with the Cantlies, periodically appealing to the British government and public for support for democratic China through their good offices. The record of this involvement is reflected in Cantlie’s papers which were later donated to the Wellcome Library by his descendants.

Sun Yat-sen was already a well-known revolutionary agitator as a student, although still an assiduous enough scholar to graduate top of his class in 1892.

In 1895 he was part of small group of revolutionaries who planned to engineer an uprising in Guangzhou (Canton), only for their plot to be betrayed. Not for the last time Sun found himself a wanted man, escaping via Hong Kong to the United States, pursued by a banning order from the Hong Kong authorities. When the Cantlies returned to London the following year Sun Yat-sen moved to England, partly to benefit from the help and protection of his mentor. This was soon called in aid when Sun was kidnapped and imprisoned in the Chinese legation on Portland Place.

A high profile campaign in government and press was orchestrated by Cantlie to secure Sun’s release. The episode marked a turning point in Sun Yat-sen’s career, as it turned him into a celebrity, much in demand on the British lecture circuit, as this show card suggests.

His popularity in the UK was not reflected in Hong Kong, where the colonial authorities, anxious to maintain good relations with Imperial China, continued to warn Sun to stay away.

During the first decade of the twentieth century Sun Yat-sen was based mainly in Japan, one of the main centres of expatriate Chinese revolutionary activity, and Hawaii. There is little evidence of his activities during this period in Cantlie’s papers. In Tokyo Sun founded the party later known as the Kuomintang – the first political party of republican China. When a general insurrection spread across China during 1911 the Kuomintang was able to take power in Guangzhou in a bloodless coup in November.

Following events at a distance Cantlie was moved to upbraid The Times’s correspondent in Beijing, who was slow to comprehend the revolutionary moment.

Sun himself arrived in Shanghai on the 25th of December, setting foot in his homeland for the first time in sixteen years. He was elected provisional president four days later - so, one hundred years ago to this day - and sworn in on New Year’s Day 1912.

Sun Yat-sen, aware that he and his party had ridden to power on the coat tails of a military uprising, ceded the presidency to the military strongman Yuan Shikai, pending elections. When held in late 1912 these returned the Kuomintang as the largest party. Relations between the autocratic Yuan and his democratic opponents deteriorated rapidly; the parliamentary leader of the Kuomintang was assassinated at Shanghai railway station on Yuan’s orders in March 1913, one of the events that precipitated a lengthy, despairing telegram from Sun to Cantlie that was circulated in the press, and which is preserved in his papers.

By late 1913 Sun Yat-sen was again on the run, his party proscribed by Yuan.

Sun Yat-sen’s political career was far from over but the Cantlies had played their part. Their intervention to free him from the Chinese Legation in 1896 had no doubt saved his life. For this reason both Cantlie and London hold an honoured place in the foundation mythology of modern China, and during this centenary year the papers documenting Sun’s connection with his old tutor have been much in demand. They died within barely a year of each other, two lives that came together to change the world.

- Letter from Sun Yat Sen to Mrs Mabel Cantlie, 12th March 1912 (MS.7934)
- Hong Kong: College of Medicine for Chinese. Examination Papers in Anatomy: answered by Chinese Students. 1887. Page from Sun Yat Sen's examination paper, with
diagrams. (MS.2934)
- Excerpt from letter from Dr James Cantlie concerning Sun Yat Sen's imprisonment by the Chinese Legation in London, dated October 22nd 1886 (MS.7937/13)
- An episode in the revolutionary war in China, 1911: the march of the revolutionary army on Wuhan with two portraits of revolutionary leaders in roundels at top; the right one resembles Sun Yat Sen (Welcome Library no. 645607i)
- Telegram from Sun Yat Sen concerning the murder of Sung Chao-jen, leader of the Kuomintang political party, and the withdrawal of funds from the Peking government. Dated 2nd May 1913. Pages 1 and 2 (MS.7937/21)
- Portrait of Sun Yat Sen from 'Obituary and programme of memo for Dr Sun Yat Sen' (MS.7937/23)
- Sir James Cantlie. Oil painting by Harry Herman Salomon after a photograph (Wellcome Library no. 45529i)

Author: Richard Aspin

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

If not here, where?

It was the proud boast of London’s Windmill Theatre that “We never closed”: that throughout the Blitz, as bombs rained down on London, the theatre continued to provide nude tableaux for the entertainment of lonely servicemen and their like. The list of ways in which the Wellcome Library resembles the Windmill is a short one: limited, most of us would think, to being in London and beginning with W. The beauty of the digital age, however, is that we can add a third to this list and say that in a sense we too never close: even if the Library’s doors may be shut, all manner of online resources remain available, 24 hours a day, for as long as our web-servers have power.

In the past various resources such as online journals or the Hospital Records Database have been highlighted in blog posts. A less well-known project whose data can be used via the Library website, was the Medical Archives and Manuscripts Survey, or MAMS.
When the Wellcome Library began collecting modern archival material in the 1970s, it rapidly became one of the first ports of call for researchers trying to locate the papers of particular individuals, or on particular subjects. The Hospital Records Database, a collaborative project between the Library and the National Archives, grew out of the need to answer questions like this. However, as its name suggests it deals only with hospital documentation, and as regular Library users will know the range of material that can be considered “medical” goes far beyond that – beyond the records of practitioners of scientific medicine and into issues such as nutrition, hygiene, demographics, complementary medicine, and so forth. The Medical Archives and Manuscripts Survey began in the latter 1980s by sending questionnaires out to repositories, and then, when it became apparent that the respondents could not be expected to spot the potential medical implications of every possible source in their holdings, moved in the early 1990s to sending Library staff out to survey archives in situ. By the mid-1990s, well over 100 London institutions holding archives had been surveyed: some, like the Royal Colleges, specialising in medicine; some, like the various Borough record offices, covering a wide range of subjects but limited to a specific geographic area; and others still drawn from all manner of specialisms, from the Alpine Club to the Zoological Society of London via the Marx Memorial Library and any number of other points between.

The 1990s, of course, was a time of radical change in information management and presentation. When MAMS began the aim was to publish the results as a printed directory, like a specialised and more detailed version of Janet Foster and Julia Sheppard's British Archives. By the mid-1990s it was apparent, as the infant World-Wide Web took off, that the way forward for these projects was as web-mounted databases rather than print. To recast the data gathered into granularised database fields, however, rather than the freetext reports that were its current form, would have meant a level of editing work almost as lengthy as the initial survey process had been. As the Web developed, too, increasingly direct access to archive catalogues was possible, and although this did not provide the sort of considered bringing together of medical sources that was achieved by the Library’s surveys, it was another factor in reducing the project’s attractiveness to publishers. In the end the Library decided that at the very least it could make all the information gathered available to researchers in a quick and simple fashion by mounting the various survey reports on the Library website, both as single documents – for those interested in sources available at a particular venue – or as one unified searchable listing, for people interested in a particular topic wherever it was to be found.

So, to the data. The terms of reference were simple: material of some medical or health relevance (“relevance” defined as widely as Sir Henry Wellcome would have done: very widely indeed), between the years of 1600 and 1945. 1600 was chosen as the start date reasoning that material before this tended to be used by a more narrowly defined research community (for example, before this date a knowledge of Latin is increasingly important); 1945, since the post-war landscape of health and medicine was radically different, most notably because of the setting up of the National Health Service. Between these two dates, pretty much anything went. The reader should be aware that the reports are now over 15 years old for the most part and that new material will have come in, contact details may have changed and so forth: but at its core the survey records a great tranche of hugely varied material awaiting the medical historian.

There are, of course, long reports for the obvious sources: the National Archives, the various Royal Colleges for the medical specialisms, the Wellcome Library itself (an overview of archive sources necessary at the time because this predated our online catalogue) and London Metropolitan Archives. These hold the riches that the researcher would expect. The beauty of the MAMS project, however, is in the unexpected material it throws up in those repositories that may be off the beaten track for the medical historian. The numerous borough record offices of the capital hold, as well as the expected local government material (administration of drainage and sewerage, Medical Officer of Health reports, and so forth) and local hospital records, a wide variety of other papers, both business and personal. Examples, plucked at random from the typescripts of completed entries, would include: the 1696 probate inventory of a Dorking physician held at the Minet Library, Lambeth; or the Bryant and May Company records that deal with employees’ conditions and phosphorus poisoning, held at Hackney Archives Department. Croydon Archive Service holds the transcripts of a court case brought against Croydon Corporation following an outbreak of typhoid in the borough in 1938. In the same year, the International Union of Local Authorities met at Finchley sewage works, a brochure and menu from the occasion being held by Barnet record office.

One item in Lewisham’s archives department serves as a splendid illustration of the way in which archival material can travel far from its place of creation, making a guide like this necessary: the personal papers of M.H. Hogg, Medical Superintendent of Grove Park Hospital in the borough, include lecture notes taken at Aberdeen University. Similar examples of travelling material, which may or may not be explained by simple administrative or personal links, occur in other borough record offices: descriptive notes about Tooting Bec Asylum at Lewisham, or the 1914 annual report of Enfield Cottage Hospital at Sutton.

Most satisfying was the discovery of relevant material in specialist repositories whose remit was not ostensibly medical: the type of unexpected find that makes a subject survey essential. A historian of medicine might not think to check a repository whose slant is religious, but papers relating to doctors who were religious non-conformists may be found in the archives of the Religious Society of Friends or in Dr. Williams’s Library. The subjects discussed in the extensive correspondence held by the Royal Geographical Society include the health implications of different climates and medicinal plants from around the world. Finally, one can be reasonably certain that a historian of medicine in Bradford would not automatically head for the British Architectural Library at RIBA, yet there one may find a Bradford apothecary’s recipe book.

Less overtly medical material can also be fruitful for the researcher: for example, the papers of the banker Hastings Nathaniel Middleton (1781-1821), held by the City of Westminster Archives Centre, turn out to go into some detail on the mental illness of his mother.

The survey is, of course, the tip of the iceberg. Similarly varied material will exist in repositories outside London: it was the intention to carry MAMS beyond the capital, but the changing technical landscape halted the project before this happened. More material will have arrived at record offices since these surveys were carried out. There will, also be material from outside the date-span of the survey. In this last category comes a favourite example of the sheer unpredictability of medical archive sources: in the London Borough of Hillingdon’s archives at Uxbridge Library is a report, dating from the 1970s, on the movements of foxes in the borough. The medical relevance is that the fox is the main carrier of the rabies virus in continental Europe: the report was prepared to assess the rapidity with which rabies might spread by this means if the virus gained a foothold in Britain. As this illustrates, the medical implications of archive material may not superficially be obvious; but once one’s eyes are opened, almost all repositories will hold something worth recording and worth pointing out to the researcher. There is a wealth of material out there and much of it is recorded in the MAMS reports – we recommend readers to start exploring.

Note: contact details given in the MAMS reports were accurate at the time of the survey but may have changed since: for up-to-date information on addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail and web addresses, etc., readers should consult the National Archives' Archon directory.

Images, all repositories covered by the MAMS project. From top:
1/ Battersea Library, home of Wandsworth Heritage Service. Photograph copyright Christopher Hilton, made available under Creative Commons Licence via the Geograph website.
2/ The Royal College of Surgeons of England, c.1813: painting by George Dance, from Wellcome Images.
3/ Bishopsgate Institute. Photograph copyright David Bradbury, made available under Creative Commons Licence via the Geograph website.
4/ Minet Library, home of Lambeth Archives. Photograph copyright Stephen Craven, made available under Creative Commons Licence via the Geograph website.
5/ Dr Williams's Library, Gordon Square (a near neighbour of the Wellcome Library). Photograph copyright David Hawgood, made available under Creative Commons Licence via the Geograph website.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

HMS Beagle's Naturalist

On the 27th December 1831, one of the most famous expeditions of the nineteenth century was launched, as it was on this day, 180 years ago, that the second voyage of HMS Beagle begun. As such, let's mark this anniversary by briefly highlighting a manuscript we hold, written by the naturalist on board the Beagle at the start of its voyage. Quick question first - what was this person's name?

If your answer is 'Charles Darwin', then the wailing of the klaxons of QI be upon you - the correct answer, and the man who also held the post of ship's surgeon, was Robert McCormick (1800-1890).

McCormick's diary for the years 1830 to 1832, held in the Wellcome Library as MS.3359, helps to elucidate McCormick's relationship with both Robert FitzRoy (the Beagle's captain) and Charles Darwin (who was on board as a gentleman companion to FitzRoy, albeit one with a knowledge of geology and the natural world).

McCormick's diary forms the basis of a recent monograph published by the British Society for the History of Science: 'He is No Loss': Robert McCormick and the Voyage of HMS Beagle by Emily Steel.

The monograph - which also includes a transcription of McCormick's diary - examines McCormick's attitude to Fitzroy and Darwin and why it was McCormick left the Beagle in April 1832.

McCormick's diary may not be as famous as some of our other holdings, but its (relative) unfamiliarity is arguably a virtue: it's one of the manuscripts held by the Wellcome Library that directly reminds us that there can be disputed accounts of 'familiar' historical events.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Abbey Christmas

Clammy hands? Trouble sleeping? Counting down the hours until Christmas day? Like many of the library staff, you might be suffering withdrawal from medical history docu-drama and all-round national treasure Downton Abbey. That’s right, folks, medical history. Those of you who’ve managed to tear themselves away from Cousin Matthew’s puppy-dog eyes will surely have noticed the show’s preoccupation with all things sickly. The first series saw Lady Crawley’s miscarriage, Mrs Patmore’s cataract surgery, Bates’ ill-corrected limp and Isobel pressurising Dr Clarkson into performing pericardiocentesis on a dropsy patient. (Editor's note: we're drawing a veil over Mr Pamuk and his untimely ending at the erm, hands, of Lady Mary). But it was in the second series, set during the great war, that the medical storylines really started stacking up, with everything from gas-blindness to the poisons register getting a mention. With nine whole months to survive between Sunday’s Christmas special and the promised third series, Downton addicts will be casting around for something to feed their habit. And what better place to start than the Wellcome library?

Downton’s transformation into a convalescent home is evocatively suggested in two albums of photographs. In the series Lady Sybil trains as a VAD (voluntary aid detachment) nurse to tend to injured servicemen. Our albums come from slightly less privileged stock: Grace Mitchell was the daughter of tenant farmers in Theydon bois, Essex, and worked as a nurse during and after the war, in England and France and at casualty clearing stations in Cologne. Dorothy Waller was from a medical family - her brother Wathen was serving as a Surgeon-Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Both Grace and Dorothy took photographs during their time at the 3rd southern general hospital, which included Oxford town hall and the Oxford examination schools. Pictured is Grace with patients in Oxford.

Downton’s shell-shocked Valet Mr Lang’s condition is brought to life in a 1917 film War Neuroses: Netley Hospital
which has been digitized and is available on the Wellcome Film youtube channel. The library also holds a collection of reprints of articles by Charles Samuel Myers, who coined the term “shell-shock” as well as diaries and notes made by Charles McMoran Wilson, when he was a medical officer on the Western front, which led to the publication of his The Anatomy of Courage in 1945.

The series climaxed with a perilous outbreak of Spanish flu, with Lady Grantham, faithful butler Carson, and Lavinia Swire all struck down.
The 1918 medical officer of health report for Kingsclere, close to Highclere castle where Downton is filmed, reveals how closely art imitates life - the influenza outbreak there ‘increased with the cold damp September till in October and November it was of alarming frequency causing 31 deaths.’ A further 5 deaths were attributed to the resulting pneumonia, against a total of 122 for the year. A public service film and a documentary with archival footage also record the outbreak.

If all of that’s piqued your interest but you’re still too lethargic to leave the house, why spend some of your Christmas book tokens on one of these:

Dismembering the male: men's bodies, Britain, and the Great War by Joanna Bourke

War, disability and rehabilitation in Britain: "soul of a nation" by Julie Anderson

A war of nerves by Ben Shephard

Spike Island: the memory of a military hospital by Philip Hoare

Women in the war zone by Anne Powell

As for “Patrick Crawley”’s amnesia and Matthew’s miraculously cured paralysis? We’re as stumped on those as you are…


A neo-Gothic building used as a hospital, with an ambulance in the drive. Watercolour by Walter E. Spradbery, Wellcome Library 47357i

Photograph from the album of Grace Mitchell, Wellcome Library 675224i

Compiled by Wellcome library staff and written by Jo Maddocks

Friday, December 23, 2011

parts of plants and their functions

One of a series of booklets written to support plant science in the Primary Curriculum. This topic introduces pupils to the basic parts of a flowering plant, with a range of fun activities to reinforce pupil learning.
This topic introduces pupils to the basic parts of a flowering plant - the root, stem, leaf and flower. It provides a range of activities that include growing plants from seed (inside or outside the classroom), ways of making simple models of a plant and card games that are fun but at the same time reinforce pupil learning and help them to be ready to move on to the next stage.
The 6 'Plants for Primary Pupils' booklets were written in conjunction with the Field Studies Council, and copies were sent out to all UK state primary schools. For extra print copies, please contact the FSC. The booklets can also be downloaded in PDF form from the links on the right. Worksheets are also available online in Word format for editing in your own classroom.
Parts A to F are available as separate pdf files. Some items in Part F are also available as Word files. Download them from the links on the right.

Part A
  • Front page
  • Safety
  • Copyright information and acknowledgements
  • Introduction

Part B
  • Growing seedlings
  • Activity 1: Growing seedlings in the classroom (1)
  • Activity 2: Growing seedlings in the classroom (2)
  • Growing a sugar snap pea

Part C
  • Games with cards
  • Activity 1: Flash cards
  • Activity 2: Loop cards (plant part dominoes)
  • Activity 3: Snap
  • Activity 4: Memory game of matching pairs
  • Activity 5: Happy families
  • Activity 6: Traditional game of bingo
  • Activity 7: Plant splat

Part D
  • Create a plant
  • Building a plant game

Part E
  • Background information for teachers

Part F
  • Templates - for card sets, grids (bingo and splat) and plant parts. Templates - for card sets, grids (bingo and splat) are also available as Word documents

One of a series of booklets written to support plant science in the Primary Curriculum. This topic introduces pupils to the basic parts of a flowering plant, with a range of fun activities to reinforce pupil learning.
This topic introduces pupils to the basic parts of a flowering plant - the root, stem, leaf and flower. It provides a range of activities that include growing plants from seed (inside or outside the classroom), ways of making simple models of a plant and card games that are fun but at the same time reinforce pupil learning and help them to be ready to move on to the next stage.
The 6 'Plants for Primary Pupils' booklets were written in conjunction with the Field Studies Council, and copies were sent out to all UK state primary schools. For extra print copies, please contact the FSC. The booklets can also be downloaded in PDF form from the links on the right. Worksheets are also available online in Word format for editing in your own classroom.
Parts A to F are available as separate pdf files. Some items in Part F are also available as Word files. Download them from the links on the right.

Part A
  • Front page
  • Safety
  • Copyright information and acknowledgements
  • Introduction

Part B
  • Growing seedlings
  • Activity 1: Growing seedlings in the classroom (1)
  • Activity 2: Growing seedlings in the classroom (2)
  • Growing a sugar snap pea

Part C
  • Games with cards
  • Activity 1: Flash cards
  • Activity 2: Loop cards (plant part dominoes)
  • Activity 3: Snap
  • Activity 4: Memory game of matching pairs
  • Activity 5: Happy families
  • Activity 6: Traditional game of bingo
  • Activity 7: Plant splat

Part D
  • Create a plant
  • Building a plant game

Part E
  • Background information for teachers

Part F
  • Templates - for card sets, grids (bingo and splat) and plant parts. Templates - for card sets, grids (bingo and splat) are also available as Word documents

Brain Structures and their Functions

Brain Structures and their Functions

The nervous system is your body's decision and communication center. The central nervous system (CNS) is made of the brain and the spinal cord and the peripheral nervous system (PNS) is made of nerves. Together they control every part of your daily life, from breathing and blinking to helping you memorize facts for a test. Nerves reach from your brain to your face, ears, eyes, nose, and spinal cord... and from the spinal cord to the rest of your body. Sensory nerves gather information from the environment, send that info to the spinal cord, which then speed the message to the brain. The brain then makes sense of that message and fires off a response. Motor neurons deliver the instructions from the brain to the rest of your body. The spinal cord, made of a bundle of nerves running up and down the spine, is similar to a superhighway, speeding messages to and from the brain at every second.
The brain is made of three main parts: the forebrain, midbrain, and hindbrain. The forebrain consists of the cerebrum, thalamus, and hypothalamus (part of the limbic system). The midbrain consists of the tectum and tegmentum. The hindbrain is made of the cerebellum, pons and medulla. Often the midbrain, pons, and medulla are referred to together as the brainstem.
The Cerebrum: The cerebrum or cortex is the largest part of the human brain, associated with higher brain function such as thought and action. The cerebral cortex is divided into four sections, called "lobes": the frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe. Here is a visual representation of the cortex:
Image of Cerebral Cortex
What do each of these lobes do?
  • Frontal Lobe- associated with reasoning, planning, parts of speech, movement, emotions, and problem solving
  • Parietal Lobe- associated with movement, orientation, recognition, perception of stimuli
  • Occipital Lobe- associated with visual processing
  • Temporal Lobe- associated with perception and recognition of auditory stimuli, memory, and speech
Note that the cerebral cortex is highly wrinkled. Essentially this makes the brain more efficient, because it can increase the surface area of the brain and the amount of neurons within it. We will discuss the relevance of the degree of cortical folding (or gyrencephalization) later. (Go here for more information about cortical folding)
A deep furrow divides the cerebrum into two halves, known as the left and right hemispheres. The two hemispheres look mostly symmetrical yet it has been shown that each side functions slightly different than the other. Sometimes the right hemisphere is associated with creativity and the left hemispheres is associated with logic abilities. The corpus callosum is a bundle of axons which connects these two hemispheres.
Nerve cells make up the gray surface of the cerebrum which is a little thicker than your thumb. White nerve fibers underneath carry signals between the nerve cells and other parts of the brain and body.
The neocortex occupies the bulk of the cerebrum. This is a six-layered structure of the cerebral cortex which is only found in mammals. It is thought that the neocortex is a recently evolved structure, and is associated with "higher" information processing by more fully evolved animals (such as humans, primates, dolphins, etc). For more information about the neocortex, click here.
The Cerebellum: The cerebellum, or "little brain", is similar to the cerebrum in that it has two hemispheres and has a highly folded surface or cortex. This structure is associated with regulation and coordination of movement, posture, and balance.
The cerebellum is assumed to be much older than the cerebrum, evolutionarily. What do I mean by this? In other words, animals which scientists assume to have evolved prior to humans, for example reptiles, do have developed cerebellums. However, reptiles do not have neocortex. Go here for more discussion of the neocortex or go to the following web site for a more detailed look at evolution of brain structures and intelligence: "Ask the Experts": Evolution and Intelligence
Limbic System: The limbic system, often referred to as the "emotional brain", is found buried within the cerebrum. Like the cerebellum, evolutionarily the structure is rather old.
This system contains the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala, and hippocampus. Here is a visual representation of this system, from a midsagittal view of the human brain:
Image of the Limbic System
Click on the words to learn what these structures do:
Brain Stem: Underneath the limbic system is the brain stem. This structure is responsible for basic vital life functions such as breathing, heartbeat, and blood pressure. Scientists say that this is the "simplest" part of human brains because animals' entire brains, such as reptiles (who appear early on the evolutionary scale) resemble our brain stem. Look at a good example of this here.
The brain stem is made of the midbrain, pons, and medulla. Click on the words to learn what these structures do:

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Forthcoming attractions

January 1st in the archives is a time not only for new resolutions and new projects, but for new raw material: at the start of each year, a batch of material that has been closed for Data Protection reasons is opened for readers to work upon. The precise contents of this year's batch, of course, are still secret for a little over a week. We can, however, give at least the bare-bones information from the archive catalogue about these forthcoming attractions. They include:
  • More material from the papers of Lord Moran, Churchill's physician (PP/CMW), to join that released on 1st January 2011.

  • Two items from the Queen's Nursing Institute (SA/QNI): a volume of the Queen's Roll, on which inspections of nurses were recorded, covering 1926-1927; and - from the card index that replaced the original bound Roll - a microfilm of nurses' records on cards from 1907 to 1927.

  • A file from the Brain Research Association (SA/BRA) explaining the Association's position regarding the 1979 Protection of Animals (Scientific Purposes) Bill and the 1979 Laboratory Animals Protection Bill.

  • Files from the Beit Memorial Fellowship (SA/BMF) on various candidates for a fellowship, discussed in 1927.

  • A file from the papers of the psychiatrist Donald Winnicott (PP/DWW) relating to a few adult patients whose papers found in a small file of predominantly child patient notes from the 1920s.

  • The full list is as follows. Only a little while to go....

    MS.8155; Christo P. Popoff; 1957; letter to Dr. C. Allen of the Seamen's Hospital, Greenwich, London. Popoff writes about a case of schizophrenia and enquires about the effectiveness of Largactil in stabilising patients suffering from this condition.
    PP/CMW/D.9/1; Moran's Notes; 1950-1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/2; 1951 Recommendations; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/2/1; London Teaching Hospitals and Regions 'For meetings, 7/2/52 & 6/3/52'; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/2/2; Index to 1951 recommendations; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/3; 'Notes 1951'; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/3/1; Birmingham I, Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/3/2; Wales, Leeds, Sheffield; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/3/3; North East, North West Metropolitan Region; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/3/4; South East, South West Metropolitan Region; 1951.
    PP/CMW/D.13/3/5; Specialities, London Regions and Teaching Hospitals; 1951.
    PP/DWW/F/1; Adult Clinical material; 1920s; A few cases of adult patients found in a small concertina file of predominantly child patient notes from the 1920s (now in PP/DWW/E.2/1) and separated out here.
    PP/HUN/C/1/23; Cysticercosis; 1932-1943.
    SA/BMF/A.2/109; Hacker, Henry Pollard; 1927.
    SA/BMF/A.2/110; Winton, Frank Robert; 1927.
    SA/BMF/A.2/111; Wooldridge, Walter Reginald; 1927.
    SA/BMF/A.2/112; Morgan, Walter Thomas James; 1927.
    SA/BMF/A.2/113; Eggleton, Philip; 1927.
    SA/BMF/A.2/114; Marrian, Guy Frederick; 1927.
    SA/BMF/A.2/115; Fee, Archibald Roderick; 1927.
    SA/BRA/C.1/3/2; Brain Research Association response to the 1979 Protection of Animals (Scientific Purposes) Bill and the 1979 Laboratory Animals Protection Bill (Includes papers from the Committee for the Reform of Animal Experimentation, The Physiological Society, the Research Defence Society, The Royal Society, and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare); 1980-1981.
    SA/QNI/J.3/35; The Queen's Roll: 8301-8550; Oct 1926-Jul 1927.
    SA/QNI/J.4/1; The Queen's Roll on cards; 1907-1927; 3055-8499.

    Image: 19th century wood engraving from the Wellcome Library's Iconographic Collections.

    Merry Christmas!

    The Wellcome Library closes today for the festive period at 6pm and re-opens at 10am on Tuesday 3rd January 2012.

    We would just like to take this opportunity to wish all Library readers and followers of the Library Blog, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

    Image: A snowballing scene with boys playing in the snow. On the reverse of the picture is an advertisement for Onnen's German Fever and Ague Mixture. 1890s (EPH 348)

    Frequent flyers

    If it could collect air miles, then some of the material inthe Wellcome Library would have a pretty impressive stash of them by now. In 2011, Library material travelled a totalof 10,168 miles on its way to and from various different loans to museumsaround the world.
    Countries lent to include The Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland,Germany (on quite a few occasions), France, the Czech Republic and Canada, aswell as numerous loans within London and the UK. All of these exhibitions have been temporary,lasting on average around 6 months, and the number of items lent has variedbetween 1 and 12. Click on the map belowfor more details:

    It’s not just the collections that are well travelled – we send acourier for most of our loans, and Library staff have notched up an impressive 19,928miles this year in round trips carrying out this important role.
    So what exactly is involved in lending the Library’scollections? It all starts with aninitial request from the borrowing institution, giving details of theexhibition and what they would like to borrow. Our Conservation department then assess the item(s) to ascertain if theyare robust enough for loan, and what, if any, work needs doing to them in orderto make them safe for travel and display. After final approval from the Library’s Senior Management Team, therethen follows lengthy discussion between the Library’s Exhibition Liaison andthe borrower regarding display and security conditions, any costs involved,transport etc.
    Couriering has already been mentioned, and this is the area oflending that many find most interesting. It can seem quite glamorous , and it’s true that it certainly beats aday in the office, but it can also be very tiring with early starts and manyhours of travelling. Professional arthandlers are always used to transport loans,and their preferred method of transport within Europe is usually by truck. Therefore, if accompanying a loan to adestination in Europe, the courier will travel in the truck, spending manyhours, sometimes even days, on the road. If travelling by air, it is necessary to arrive at the airport hours inadvance of the flight in order to witness the crate containing the loan beingloaded up. This involves going behindthe scenes to the cargo shed at the airport, donning a high-vis jacket andhaving your wits about you in order to avoid the many forklift trucks andlorries that work in these areas.
    Once the courier reaches their destination with the loan safely intow, they must witness it being unloaded and securely stored into the borrowinginstitution’s premises, and then they will usually return the following day toinstall the item(s). Installationinvolves witnessing the loan being unpacked, condition checking it to ensure ithasn’t been damaged en route, and then supervising its placing in the displaycase or hanging on the wall. Dependingon the number of items being lent, and how complicated they are to install,this process can take anything from an hour to a couple of days. Then it’s back to the UK, with a de-brief onthe trip when the courier returns to work. The whole process then takes place again, but in reverse, when it istime for the loan to be returned.
    With requests already received from various museums in the USA,Spain and UK, 2012 looks set to be another busy year for the loan of Wellcome Library material.

    Author: Rowan De Saulles

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    Years in the archives

    When the Library surveys readers to assess their level of satisfaction with our service, a common comment is to highlight the helpfulness of the staff (a comment for which we are extremely grateful). We’d like to think that this begins with recruiting the right people; but it’s also a result of a stable staff, long-serving Library employees building their experience and skills as time passes, and sharing this knowledge with readers and colleagues. On that note, today we’d like to mark twenty years’ service to the Library by Dr Richard Aspin, the Head of Research and Scholarship.

    Richard joined us from Lambeth Palace Library in 1991, arriving in a library very different from today’s. His role initially was as Curator of Western Manuscripts, head of a department of just two people looking after pre-1900 archival material: twentieth-century material was looked after by the then Contemporary Medical Archives Centre. Since that time we have seen the merger of those two bodies into today’s Archives and Manuscripts department; the introduction of a database to make archive catalogues visible and searchable online; the refitting of 183 Euston Road not once but twice; and now, the impending transformation of our reader experience by mass digitisation and the collection of born-digital archives. Throughout these changes, one constant has been Richard’s combination of level-headedness, diplomacy and scholarship worn lightly. We, and our readers, have been the beneficiaries.

    Author: Chris Hilton

    Spades, Hearts, Diamonds

    A game of cards. Oil painting by Stephen Jenner. Wellcome Library no. 47409i

    In England in 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, Charles Dickens published The Old Curiosity Shop, and a certain E. Estridge passed the time by drawing on playing cards. He (or she, but perhaps more probably he) took a complete pack manufactured by the firm of Hardy & Sons, and doodled contemporary scenes on each of the numbered cards, using the pips (the spades, hearts, diamonds and clubs) as human heads. Each of the royal cards carried a letter or number which together spell out "E. ESTRIDGE 1840".

    The complete pack was acquired by the firm of Abbott & Holder from whom the Wellcome Library has acquired three cards, thus adding a new and bizarre species to the variety of genres represented in the Wellcome Library's collections. In the Wellcome Library they have the number 780448i and they can be found in the Wellcome Library catalogue here.

    The Two of Spades (left) must be either a meeting or a confrontation between two black figures (since Spades and Clubs are black). Estridge has shown them as two black pugilists exercising the science of boxing. Many books had been published about the science of boxing, including Captain John Godfrey’s A treatise upon the science of defence of 1747 and Thomas Fewtrell’s Boxing reviewed; or, the science of manual defence, displayed on rational principles, London, 1790. And at some stage boxing acquired the sobriquet "the sweet science". The Oxford English Dictionary also gives as the meaning of spade “Slang (orig. U.S.) depreciative and offensive. As a term of contempt or casual reference among white people: a black person, esp. a black man. Formerly (among African Americans): a very dark-skinned black person.” But as the earliest quotation given is American and dates from 1928, it would surely be incorrect to read that meaning into this English drawing.

    The Three of Diamonds (right) contains three figures: what about two people helping a third? Estridge does that by showing two men carrying an injured person on a stretcher "To Guy’s", i.e. to Guy’s Hospital, then as now in Southwark, near London Bridge. This patient there follows in the tracks of those Southwark residents who had recently been taken to Guy’s and immortalised in the pages of Richard Bright’s Reports of medical cases (1827-1831).

    The Ten of Hearts suggests a team game with ten players or a well-ordered ceremony of some sort. Estridge makes it a post-mortem examination (above), conducted by a Georgian surgeon in a wig, in the presence of eight other witnesses. Several other scenes in the pack also show people in Georgian dress, suggesting that Estridge was old enough to recall life from before 1800. His post-mortem examiners are not modern medical coroners of the Thomas Wakley generation, but perhaps members of the old Company of Surgeons, dissecting a body in Surgeons' Hall in the Old Bailey, and living on in folk memory into the reign of Victoria. The subject has certainly given the artist a lot of amusement in turning hearts into heads, with the closed eyes of the deceased contrasted with the staring eyes of the watchers.

    'Monkeyana' and the book that never was

    As we come to the close of the year, 2011 saw not one but two films concerned with attitudes to our ancestors - Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Project Nim. Fiction, as well as legislation, has a long history of interest in interspecies relations and the Library contains some classic examples, including The Island of Dr Moreau and Tarzan. Many of these works show the influence of Charles Darwin's notion of evolution and importantly its antithesis - devolution or degeneration.

    If humans had developed from apes could some of us occasionally revert to our primitive former selves? This theme lies behind such titles as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (see previous post) and The Time Machine. More recently, films of the 20th century continued to refer to the idea of reverting to a more bestial type (atavism), including Cat People which I have to confess, is one of my favourite movies. The original, by Jacques Tourneur, features a quote in its opening sequence from 'The Anatomy of Atavism' by Dr L. Judd:

    Even as fog continues to lie in the valleys, so does ancient sin cling to the low places, the depressions in the world consciousness.

    Alas, any search for this intriguing tome will prove fruitless as it, like Dr Judd, the psychiatrist in the film, never existed. Judd, played by Tom Conway lives on in film history because with his pipe, cigarettes and urbane charm he is a great example of early filmic portrayals of this profession. Here are two film clips: one from Cat People in which Judd archly smokes at a wedding party, and this trailer for the sequel Curse of the Cat People which has a Christmas theme (albeit one with threats of infanticide).

    Film fans may appreciate our new e-book Icons of Grief (available to registered readers) which examines the work of Val Lewton, writer of both Cat People and the equally wonderful 'I Walked with a Zombie' (a re-working of Jane Eyre set on a tropical island). Lewton was a Russian emigree and the nephew of Hollywood star Alla Nazimova who allegedly coined the term 'sewing circle' to describe the clandestine affairs of tinsel town's bisexual and lesbian actresses.

    For books that do exist concerning current legislation readers can see Marie Fox's chapter 'Legislating Interspecies Embryos' inside our new acquisition The Legal, Medical and Cultural Regulation of the Body. Fox highlights how tricky it is coining the right term to express what many consider a contestable area of research: mixing the cells or gametes of human and non-human animals. Terms like 'chimera' and 'hybrid' are often used by journalists and authors as they sound more dramatic.

    Illustrations: Fantasy - human-fish hybrid. Fantasy artwork of swimming chimeras with fish heads with human legs. Credit: Diane Harris, 2002 Wellcome Images B0004399
    'Monkeyana' satirical cartoon from
    Punch, 18 May 1861, p.206 Wellcome Images L0031419
    A group of cats dressed as gentry dining in a restaurant. Watercolour. Wellcome Images V0021521

    Tuesday, December 20, 2011

    Guest Post: Exploring Health and Medicine in Early Modern Wales

    Dr Alun Withey is an academic historian of early modern medicine, technology and the family. Here, he describes the inspiration and contexts of his new book, Physick and the Family: Health, Medicine and Care in Wales, 1600-1750, which includes research carried out in the Wellcome Library.

    I never set out to be a medical historian. Whilst studying for my History BA, I was struggling to find a topic for my dissertation. I knew I wanted to do something connected to Wales and the seventeenth century, and settled upon the Civil Wars. I visited a local record office, and was introduced to a source that nobody had done much work on…a commonplace book. Amongst the notes and jottings were several medical remedies that looked interesting to the untrained eye. My curiosity was piqued and I decided to look into it further. Seven years, and a PhD later, I’m still looking!

    Welsh medical history, at least in terms of the early modern period, has often been overlooked. In 1975, the editor of a collection of essays on the subject concluded that there were problems caused by a lack of medical sources for Wales. Such work that had been done tended to concentrate on the folkloric and magical elements of medicine in Wales, doubtless an important element of Welsh heritage, with the legendary ‘Physicians of Myddfai’ and their remedies garnering a lot of attention. The problem with ‘folklore’, however, is that it is a loaded term; Although magical remedies, symbolism and the ‘cunning man’ were important components, I felt that they also somehow contributed to a rural caricature, and made Wales seem remote, cut off from the wider world by its language and sometimes awkward terrain.

    Physick and the Family, the first academic monograph on early modern Welsh medical history, set out to give what I see as the other side to the story of Welsh medicine. In doing so I not only wanted to write a new medical history of Wales, but also to use Wales as a test-bed to address much broader questions in medical history. In this sense, a new study wouldn’t just fill in gaps, but could provide a credible new investigation of the experience of sickness, health and care in the early modern period.

    In many ways, the sources, dictated what questions could be addressed and answered. Contradicting the earlier view about Welsh sources, it soon became clear that there was actually a wealth of source material – much of it untapped. The book draws upon Welsh remedy collections, of which a good number survive – one especially rich example surviving in the Wellcome Library, known as the ‘Welsh Leech Book’ (MS.417). A study of the types and derivations of Welsh recipes proved insightful into the movement of medical knowledge both into, and within, early modern Wales, and not least in changing medical terminologies in the Welsh language. Diaries and letters yielded much useful information about sickness, the ways in which people described their symptoms, and also important factors such as the social rituals and conventions of sickness and the sufferer.

    But the book also uses different types of source material, and it was often this that yielded the most interesting and surprising results. A detailed study of probate inventories, for example, looked at evidence for medical paraphernalia in the early modern home, but also for evidence, in shop inventories, of medicines for sale. From studies of shop inventories in three Welsh counties, it is clear that even small, remote village shops often sold a range of medical goods.

    Other records such as those of the Old Poor Law were revealing in matters of care. Who, for example, cared for the sick, and what measures did the parish take to look after its own sick poor? The survival of some astonishingly detailed poor law records for one particular Welsh parish, allows for a detailed case study of the often sophisticated structures of care available to the early modern patient.

    The book is intended to have a broad appeal, and not just to those inside the Welsh borders. It has been written to speak to anyone with an interest in medical history certainly, but also in social history more widely, since it is at heart a book about the experiences of ‘ordinary’ people. But as a regional history, it also encourages a more nuanced view of the early modern medical world, and one that takes into account the often important variations that could be caused by topography and geography, as well as language and literacy.

    I said earlier that this was the first book of its kind; technically it is. But it is also worth mentioning a hidden gem in the Wellcome Library archive. In the 1920s an eminent physician, Dr David Fraser-Harris, was busy compiling his ‘History and Lore of Kymric Medicine’ – a richly detailed study of Welsh medical history and one in many ways far ahead of its time. Sadly, he died before it was completed and it now survives only in many boxes and unfinished drafts. In seeking to say something new about Welsh medicine we obviously shared a similar goal. I hope that he would have approved of my modest efforts some 90 years later.

    Author: Alun Withey

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Medical Officer of Health reports to be digitised

    The Wellcome Library has received JISC funding towards the creation of a major free online dataset covering public health in London from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century.

    This project is based on the reports of the Medical Officers of Health (MOH) in Greater London between 1848 and 1972. Of all the collections in the Wellcome Library the MOH reports have the greatest research potential for the study of public health history in 19th and 20th century Britain, and are one of the most heavily consulted collections at the Wellcome Library. Online access to this resource will vastly increase their impact on research and would be invaluable to public health researchers, epidemiologists and practitioners, as well as medical and social historians.

    The Medical Officers of Health systematically monitored and oversaw the provision of disparate services that contributed to the well-being of local populations. The Officers – individually and as a group – were one of the most influential agents of social and medical reform in Britain over a period of more than a century. Their reports contain a wealth of information (especially statistical data) and there is a long pedigree of advanced research using MOH reports as primary source materials for a wide range of subjects including (but not limited to) food and food safety; maternity and child welfare; housing; pollution; manufacturing (e.g. the inspection of workshops); shops and offices; sanitation; social care; civil liberties; demography; engineering and meteorological conditions.

    Digitising these extensive holdings will not only improve access to an important body of research material, but will offer opportunities for new approaches to text and data mining. Digitisation and text encoding will be carried out in 2012, and will be made freely available on the Wellcome Digital Library website in early 2013. For more information you can read the project plan on the JISC website.

    Friday, December 16, 2011

    New Genetic Program Converts Static Cells Into Mobile Invasive Cells

    Researchers at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) have identified the gene GATA 6 as responsible for epithelial cells -which group together and are static- losing adhesion and moving towards a new site. This process, which is common to developing organisms, is very similar to one that occurs in metastasis, when tumour cells escape from the original tumour and invade new tissue. "This process explains why Gata 6 is found in cancers of the liver, pancreas and colon, thus allowing tumour cells to acquire metastatic properties," stresses Jordi Casanova, CSIC professor and head of the Drosophila Morphogenesis Group at IRB Barcelona, where the study has been conducted.

    The journal Developmental Cell is to publish the results of this study this week.
    In addition, Gata 6 triggers a genetic programme that favours the survival and adaptation of cells in new tissue. It also promotes the expression of some enzymes, the so-called metalloproteases, which degrade the cellular matrix, thus allowing cells to migrate and enter new tissue. Furthermore, Gata 6 induces the gene Forkhead, which is a survival factor. "When cells start migrating they are subjected to many changes and to stress, and in these adverse conditions many can die. This gene protects them against death," explains Kira Campbell, "Juan de la Cierva" post-doctoral fellow with Casanova's lab and first author of the article. Tumour cells hold metalloproteases and Forkhead.
    From the Drosophila fly to cancer
    Once again the small fly D. melanogaster, used in developmental studies, has shed light on processes linked to cancer. Casanova's team, which specializes in morphogenesis, has revealed the mechanism by which epithelial cells transform into mesenchymatic cells during gut development in fly embryos. The Drosophila gut is an endodermal organ, as is the colon, the liver and the pancreas. "What we have discovered is that the programme that we have characterized for the first time is specific for endodermal tissues," explains Casanova.
    Having identified the genetic programme that favours this transformation in Drosophila, Casanova contacted Eduard Batlle's lab, which focuses on colorectal cancer and is also at IRB Barcelona. The aim was to test whether the homologue gene in mammal cells had the capacity to produce this same change. Their studies showed that this gene homologue, GATA 6, is conserved and confers cells the same capacities as those observed in the fly. "We started off with a strictly basic research line in development and have ended up with a collaboration with the Oncology Programme to address possible implications in cancer," says Casanova, emphasizing the multidisciplinary nature of the study. His lab now wishes to turn its attention to other members of the GATA family. "For example, pancreatic cancer has very poor prognosis. Our research can contribute to furthering understanding of the genetic bases of endodermal tumours and may speed up the detection of possible therapeutic targets."

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