RSM’s History of Medicine Society Meeting

RSM’s History of Medicine Society Meeting

Faculty of the history and philosophy of medicine and pharmacy
Sydney Selwyn lecture:

“An examination of sex versus gender identity in the General Medical Council’s Trans Healthcare ethical guidance”

Dr Sara Dahlen, MBBS, BSc (Hons), DPMSA Sydney Selwyn Prize Winner

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Monckton Copeman lecture:

“A Tale of Charles Dickens: Amateur Physician or Social Reformer”

Dr Nicholas Cambridge MD MRCS FSA FLS FRSA

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Understanding Death and Mortality in the Context…

A two-day Workshop funded by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology, Newcastle University and by the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ History of Psychiatry Special Interest Group The workshop seeks to foster dialogue about a wide range of urgent themes in the historiography of institutional dying, mortality and mental illness, including the epidemiology of mortality, especially amongst the insane in institutions; changing understandings of causes of death; the evolving role and bench praxis of post-mortem dissection and pathological sciences and the threat/meaning of death for the institutionalized.

The plenary speaker is Professor Hilary Marland (Warwick) who will be talking about her major research project exploring health in prison. Other confirmed speakers/chairs include Jonathan Andrews, Nicol Ferrier, Robert Dale, Vicky Long, Louise Hide, Chris Philo, Andy Owen and Jennifer Wallis. Registration and attendance are free for Newcastle University staff and for all students.

There is a registration fee of £60 for others wishing to attend, to cover lunch, refreshments and workshop programme packs.

To register and for further information, please email the workshop organiser Jonathan Andrews (Newcastle University)

Understanding Death and Mortality in the Context of Mental Illness and Institutionalisation during the 19th and 20th Centuries

Thurs. 17 Sept. – Fri. 18 Sept. 2020, Barbara Strang Teaching Centre (BTSC), Newcastle University

Draft Programme

Thurs. 17 Sept.

13.30-14.15 Registration and Tea/Coffee (BSTC B.30)
14.15-14.30 Welcome (Dr Jonathan Andrews & Prof. Nicol Ferrier) (BSTC B.32)

Session 1: 14.30-16.00 Chair: Dr Jonathan Andrews (BSTC B.32)
14.30-15.15 Prof. Nicol Ferrier (Newcastle University): “Exhaustion, death and the post-mortem in Victorian asylums”
15.15-16.00 Dr Jennifer Wallis (Imperial College, University of London): “‘There is no possibility of removing my emotions which are natural’: The functions and effects of illustration in asylum post-mortem records”
16.00-16.30 Tea/coffee (BSTC B30)

Session 2: 16.30-18.45 Chair: Prof Jeremy Boulton
16.30-17.15 Dr Robert Dale (Newcastle University): “Understanding death in institutions providing psychiatric care for veterans of the Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union between 1945 and 1965”
17.15-18.45 Plenary: Prof Hilary Marland (University of Warwick) “‘The living death of convict life’: madness, mortality and the Victorian prison”

Friday 18 Sept. 2020

9.00-9.30 Tea/coffee (BSTC B.30)
Session 3: 9.30-11.30 Chair: Prof. Hilary Marland (BSTC B.32)
9.30-10.15 Dr Jonathan Andrews (Newcastle University): “Patient writings on death and loss in the Royal Edinburgh Asylum during the Victorian era”
10.15-11.00 Prof. Chris Philo (University of Glasgow): “Considering Agamben’s ‘homo sacer’ and ‘spaces of exception’ for historicising death in the long-stay asylum pre-1950s”
11.00-11.30 Tea/coffee (BSTC B.30)

Session 4: 11.30-13.00 Chair: Prof. Nicol Ferrier
11.30-12.15 Dr Vicky Long (Newcastle University): “‘Death alone would eliminate these patients in about twenty-five years’: Analysing mortality patterns amongst long-stay psychiatric patients in the era of deinstitutionalisation”
12.15-13.00 Dr Andy Owen (Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust): “Standardised mortality rates among residents of Hatton Asylum in the mid-nineteenth century”
13.00-14.00 Lunch (BTSC B.29)

Session 5: 14.00-15.30 Chair: Dr Vicky Long
14.00-14.45 Dr Claire Hilton (Queen Mary College & Royal College of Psychiatrists): “‘A standing disgrace’: tubercular mortality in British asylums during the First World War”
14.45-15.30 Dr Louise Hide (Birkbeck College, University of London): ” ‘Waiting for death’ in British psycho-geriatric wards in the 1960s-70s: attitudes to old age, dementia, temporality and dying”
15.30-15.45 Workshop down tools, closing remarks and epitaph

RCPE History of medicine award

The purpose of this award is to support and develop the study of the history of medicine in Scotland.

The prize for this award is £500.


This award is open to all researchers in the history of medicine, or related social and cultural history fields. Researchers can be based in the United Kingdom or overseas. Please be aware that for overseas finalists, travel expenses to the event will only be paid from their point of entry into the United Kingdom.

Application and Selection Procedure

Research must be unpublished and must have been undertaken in the last 3 years. Research which has been submitted for publication will be considered, but details should be given of when and where it has been submitted, and if it has been accepted for publication. Abstracts must be based on original research in the field.

The deadline for submissions is 31 August 2018.

Abstracts must be submitted in either PDF or Word format along with a completed application form and curriculum vitae. The abstract must not exceed 1000 words in length. The curriculum vitae must not exceed two sides of A4.

Applicants, if chosen, must be willing to present their research on Friday 19 October 2018. This is a public event, to encourage engagement with the history of medicine in Scotland.

The Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh will publish the winning paper. The winner will also be asked to submit a guest blog post on their research for publication on the College’s heritage blog.

The award can only be awarded to an individual once.


Click here for more info

100 years on from the death of Dr Elsie Inglis

After being told by the War Office ‘my good lady go home and sit still’ as women doctors and surgeons were not permitted to serve in front-line hospitals, Elsie offered her services to Britain’s allies. On their acceptance, she formed the Scottish Women’s Hospitals (SWH) and together with her colleagues and associates from the suffragist movement between 1914-1919 raised the equivalent of £53m in today’s money to buy equipment and get their stations to the front line.
Seventeen Scottish Women’s Hospitals were set up across France, Corsica, Greece, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia to treat soldiers, as well as a number of satellite hospitals and dressing stations, manned by nearly 1,500 women.

You can also learn more about Elsie and the SWH movement at

Edinburgh History of Medicine Group

The group holds a series of monthly talks between October and April each year. These are held in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and  are open to all.

Details of the programme for session 2015-16 can be found here


Glasgow History of Medicine Group

The Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow are collaborating in a series of seminars on medical history, medical humanities and related topics.  Meetings will be in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow at 5.30 pm.  Tea/coffee from 5.00 pm.  All welcome.

For further information email:


John Blair Trust

The Trust is a registered charity established in 1995 by the British Society for the History of Medicine and the Scottish Society of the History of Medicine.  John Blair had been President of both Societies and had played a major role in organising  meetings whose financial success led to the formation of the Trust.

The purpose of the Trust is “The promotion of the study of the history of medicine by undergraduate students of medicine and allied sciences”.

The Trustees invite applications from undergraduates in medicine and allied sciences throughout the UK, for grants-in-aid, up to £150, to enable them to pursue their studies in the history of medicine. Such applications might include funding for necessary photocopying, research fees and any other incidental or enabling expenses.

Application forms may be viewed and downloaded  as a Word Document from here  Blair Trust Application Form


John Morgan

John Morgan compOn 24th June 1950 at the Society’s 8th meeting Professor Whitfield Bell described the life and work of John Morgan an Edinburgh medical gradutae of 1763.

Morgan was the principal founder of the first medical school in America, at Philadelphia in 1765. Indeed it was from the Edinburgh Medical School that the inspiration, the model, and the trained men to found this first medical school in America came. Morgan’s project for American medical practice and education comprised three heads. He wanted to raise the standards of professional practice by separating the practice of medicine from the practice of surgery and the sale of drugs. He founded a medical school in connection with a U niversity, and required candidates for medical degrees first to have had a sound general training in the liberal arts and sciences. He wanted to create in Philadelphia a College of Physicians like the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, of which he was a Fellow (1763), that physicians might exchange ideas’ and encourage and enforce high standards.
Professor Bell concluded that in some measure, Morgan failed in each of his enterprises. Philadelphia had only a population of some 30,000; the conditions of life in America were not suited to the kind of specialisation and the standard which existed in Britain. Ultimately, however, most of Morgan’s ideas were adopted, by other persons, and from this point of view he justified Benjamin Franklin’s prediction that he would” be of great use to his country and an honour to the Medical School of Edinburgh.”

This portrait, a copy of the original by Angelica Kaufman, hangs in the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh