Grants awarded: Research Bursaries
Project summaries of Wellcome grants awarded under the scheme ‘Research Bursaries’.
Dr Laura Beers
University of Birmingham
The politics of fertility treatment in 20th century Britain
I will use the Family Planning Association and associated archives held at Wellcome to map historical medical provision for infertility at the local level and explore what the provision – or lack of provision – of fertility treatment reveals about the changing relationship between individuals, family and the state in modern Britain.
I will explore to what extent the state viewed infertility as a problem that affected the body politic rather than a personal problem affecting individuals in the private family sphere, and how this has changed over time. I will look at the arguments about availability and entitlement to fertility treatment as part of a nationally-subsidised or state-run health system and what they can tell us about concepts of individual rights and notions of ‘worthiness’. I will also examine how debates over the state provision of fertility treatments have been gendered, racialised or approached from the perspective of class or eugenics, and what this can tell us about British political culture and society.
This pilot research will be written up in academic journals and act as a springboard to an Investigator Award into the political history of fertility treatment, the results of which will improve our understanding of the historical evolution of contemporary debates and help to shape current and future health policy.
This is a long-term project that imagines the city as a living organism, looking at sites of toxicity and vulnerability, healing and care with a focus on plant knowledge and medicine.
I will use research into the development of pharmaceutical drugs based on plants from the Boots Archive in Nottingham and the Wellcome Library in London. I will research specific plants and their stories, particularly the importation of ‘exotic’ plants during British colonialism, the development of botany as a discipline and the development of major pharmaceutical drugs from plants. I will also explore specific urban sites to investigate histories of industrial pharmaceutical companies in relation to local plant knowledge, the role of women in the development of medicinal knowledge and the institutionalisation of medicine.
I will use my research to create new artwork, including site-based performance, video, print-making and writing.
A place to grow: well-being and activism on Scottish allotments, 1946-1970
I will use the papers of Victor Webb, records from the Scottish Allotments and Gardens Society (SAGS) and the Scottish Allotment Scheme for the Unemployed, to investigate how allotments were threatened by post-war housing developments between 1946 and 1970.
I will examine how the arguments SAGS put forward during their campaign to protect allotments have shaped society today. I will work closely with SAGS to explore how researching the past can directly affect campaigns and activities. SAGS gave the papers to the University of Glasgow’s Archives and Special Collections (ASC) and have continued to add to this material. Other plot holders have retained records and I will work with both SAGS and the ASC to acquire them.
My research will result in a paper for the University of Glasgow Medical Humanities Research Centre, a paper for the Social History Society Conference and an article for Wellcome Open Research. I will also provide information for the catalogue and advise on further acquisitions and write an article for the Journal of Community Archaeology and Heritage on how researchers and small voluntary organisations can work together. This work could become an exemplar for how researchers can work with small voluntary organisations and their archives.
Professor Philip Cooke
University of Strathclyde
Becoming doctors: teachers, pupils and the student experience of medical education in 19th century Italy
While the teaching of medicine in the 21st century continues to undergo radical changes in techniques and methodologies, it is highly instructive to gain an understanding of the history of the teaching of medicine.
By the 18th and 19th centuries, Italy had been at the forefront of research and teaching in medicine since the middle ages. By analysing documents held at the Wellcome Library, including lecture notes written by students and teachers, text books, manuals, notebooks and treatises, I will reconstruct and analyse the rich medical/pedagogic environment of Italy during a key phase in its development, and the wider development of the teaching of medicine in Europe. I will investigate how the students approached the learning of medicine, how and what their teachers taught them, what methods were used and how successful they were.
The research will lead to articles, public lectures in Italy and the UK as well as engagement events with medical students in both countries.
Dr Zin Derfoufi
University of Warwick
Safeguarding people with mental health issues or learning disabilities during contact with the police
People with mental health issues account for about 20-40% of police time and a substantial proportion of deaths in police custody. However, police forces are still struggling to identify interventions that safeguard the welfare of vulnerable people. The government, police forces and local health trusts in the UK are keen to develop more integrated services but face considerable barriers to making them successful.
I will use four Wellcome Library archives to develop an evidence base to understand how these health issues have come to dominate police time, what barriers exist for better partnerships with police and healthcare and how to overcome them. The literature is dispersed and there is little research on safeguarding people with learning disabilities. This project will examine why progress in this area is frustratingly slow.
I will develop recommendations and some will be tested for a subsequent, major grant application to Wellcome in collaboration with at least two police forces and their corresponding health trusts.
Professor Natasha Erlank
University of Johannesburg
Planning families in 20th century Sub-Saharan Africa
To date there has been no systematic study of the history of birth control technologies in independent Africa.
This project centres on attempts to reconfigure the African family in the 20th century, by researching the role of family planning and birth control in the context of the history of gender, aid, and post-coloniality in Africa. I will compare experiences in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. Part of my research will use key collections from the Wellcome Library.
Dr Mark Gallagher
University of Glasgow
Ronald Sandison, LSD and the ‘beyond within’ Powick Hospital, 1952-64
Ronald Sandison was a Scottish psychiatrist responsible for introducing and overseeing LSD psychotherapy at Powick Hospital, Worcestershire between 1952 and 1964. A purpose-built LSD unit was constructed there and his work served as a model and conduit for an emerging international network of scientists and clinicians experimenting with LSD.
My research will focus on previously unexplored archive material from the Sandison collection at the Wellcome Library to contextualise Sandison and Powick in this wider network and to chart the development of LSD therapy at the hospital.
I will research the archive and participate in Wellcome activities as directed by the Ross MacFarlane Network and Wellcome Trust Hidden Persuaders group. I will then analyse, write and discuss my research with Dr Gavin Miller in Glasgow drawing on previous research at the RD Laing Collection in Glasgow. I will then publish articles and blogs and present the findings at public talks.
Dr Sam Goodman
Colonial consumption: alcohol, medicine and society in British India
This project engages with the role of alcohol in colonial British India c.1800-1947. It will analyse the extent to which alcohol was embedded in medical, social and cultural discourses of colonial society, producing a range of conflicted and contradictory practices. Using archives such as the British Library and the National Library of Scotland, the project will focus on how alcohol remained a mainstay of colonial medicine, military routine and Anglo-Indian culture during the Brtitish colonial period in South Asia, despite concerns over health.
I will focus on inconsistencies where drinking and intoxication were either criminalised or mitigated by medical expertise, by contrasting records relating to India and Britain. I will argue that colonial space itself was a dominant determining factor in decisions made by military and civil authorities when treating or punishing people for excessive drinking.
This research will be used to prepare for a Wellcome seed award designed to compare and contrast attitudes to alcohol across the wider British Empire in the same period.
I will use the Wellcome Trust Library to research a feature film script based on the English writer Fanny Burney’s mastectomy that she had in Paris in 1811. My research into early 19th century history will focus on: social and medical attitudes to the female body and sickness and death; medical theories about breast cancer; the doctor-patient relationship; early 19th century surgery; medical advances made on the battlefields; and the effects of the French Revolution, the Enlightenment and the Napoleonic wars on the medical and scientific community.
My research will result in a film script, a rehearsed reading of this script and the production of the film.
Audrey Amiss collection
Audrey Amiss was an artist who worked as a civil service typist for most of her life and was diagnosed in her mid-twenties with paranoid schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. She entered her first psychiatric hospital at this point and up until her death in 2013, aged 79, she was a ‘revolving door’ psychiatric patient/service user, referring to herself in later years as a ‘mental health survivor’.
I will research her life using Wellcome’s 84 boxes of her sketches, paintings, scrap books, letters, diaries, photographs and other materials donated by her family.
My chief goals are to use the research to write a book and a screenplay for a feature film based on Audrey’s life and artwork. This will give valuable insight into the life of an artist living with mental health diagnoses.
Dr Helen Spandler
University of Central Lancashire
Crafting psychiatric contention: Asylum - the magazine for democratic psychiatry (1986-2016)
As a controversial branch of medicine, psychiatry has become a significant field of contention, giving rise to anti-psychiatry, critical psychiatry and a psychiatric survivor movement.
We will investigate how mental health service users/survivors and professionals have ‘crafted’ forms of contention, in response to changes in the UK psychiatric field over the last 30 years. We will explore linguistic and visual expressions of psychiatric contention, such as stories, testimonies, cartoons and poems, to identify how different forms and styles of contention relate to different experiences of mental illness or different modes of psychiatric treatment and care. The research will be based on Asylum: the magazine for democratic psychiatry (1986-2016), the back catalogue of which was acquired by the Wellcome Library in 2015.
This research will enrich our understanding of how the contestation of psychiatric knowledge has been crafted over time, and how forms of contestation have shaped – and been shaped by – the wider landscape of medicine, psychiatry and culture.
Dr Shaul Bar-Haim
Revisiting the Second Northfield Experiment: the creation of a ‘therapeutic community’ model, 1943–1945
The project will revise the second Northfield experiment in group therapy that was carried out at Hollymoor Hospital in Northfield in 1944–45 and will shed light on the creation and legacy of the post-war concept of ‘therapeutic community’. The first experiment (1942–43) is known in the literature as a turning point in the history of British psychiatry as it turned towards psychodynamic and psychoanalytic approaches. Historians, however, tend to overlook the second experiment (1944–45). Moreover, scholars have considered the two experiments as part of the same project, even though they were carried out by different people and in different periods of the war.
Using the Wellcome archive of the second experiment’s leading psychiatrist, Siegmund Heinrich Foulkes, I will argue that it was a distinctively different project which created a separate psychotherapeutic post-war legacy. My study will be a starting point for research on the cultural history of group therapy in post-war Britain.
Dr Marieke Hendriksen
Preserving and modelling the body: technique in anatomical practice and visual arts at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh 1700–1850
Anatomists and visual artists worked closely together to produce anatomical drawings, atlases and models in early modern Europe. An extensive corpus of literature on anatomical drawing and illustrations exists, yet little attention has been paid to other techniques used to depict the body by artists and anatomists.
This project focuses on the development and influence of techniques like plaster casting, corrosion, colouring, and wax and papier-mâché modelling by artists and anatomists. I will explore the practices and resources used by the members of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) to preserve and make models of the human body in the period 1700–1850 using the RCSEd archive and the earlier papers from the School of Medicine of the Royal Colleges archive.
I will give a public lecture on the subject as well as publishing a blog post and a peer-reviewed academic article. The research will also contribute to a monograph with the working title ‘Making technique: anatomical objects and visual art 1700–1850’.
Dr Iain Hutchison
Accepted and rejected: 19th century elected inmate applications to the Scottish National Institution for the Education of Imbecile Children
The project is an investigation of patient applications for admission to the Scottish National Institution for the Education of Imbecile Children between 1862 and 1914 using the records that are held at the University of Stirling Library. The key goals are to understand the motivation of the families who sought admission of children to this residential institution, to examine how the selection process worked. I will also explore the outcomes for those children who were accepted, notably when they reached the age for discharge, and consider why certain cases applying for admission were unsuccessful and trace what happened to some of the rejected children.
Disease is the enemy: Sir Ronald Ross and the medical war in the Mediterranean 1915–1918
The purpose of this project is to make full use of the recently-archived Ross Collection at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, to reassess the work of Sir Ronald Ross and the conduct of the medical war in the Mediterranean, 1915–1918.
The objective is to identify key turning points in the wartime battle against malaria, dysentery and diarrhoea. The research method focuses on the use of private correspondence and unpublished materials to complement official sources in assessing the achievements and limitations of British medical operations and to compare and contrast these achievements in the context of contemporary French, German, American and Australian research.
The goal is to contribute to the historiography of military medicine and to add a chapter to current work on wartime factors spurring British and allied medical research.
University of Cambridge
Development of an in situ treatment method for 20th century moisture-damaged paper
This project will undertake the conservation and long-term preservation of a moisture-damaged nominal roll from a Second World War civilian internment camp at Changi, Singapore. The document has international significance, recording the personal information of individual internees who were drawn from over 20 different countries. It is currently being conserved at Cambridge University Library as part of a digitisation project, but preliminary work indicates that further research is essential to determine the best course of conservation treatment. Examination and assessment of a range of treatment methods will be carried out using specialist investigative imaging equipment, which will be acquired for the project.
The development of a successful treatment will not only ensure the long-term survival of the nominal roll, but will also inform the conservation of significant collections of similarly damaged material in the library’s collections and for the wider archival community.
Dr Sita Reddy
Ars Medica Botanica: medicine and the ‘Jungle Books’
The project will trace a visual genealogy of India’s medico-botanical traditions through four colonial botanical texts – the core ‘Jungle Books’ – ranging from the 16th century Colóquios de Simples de Drogas to the 17th century Hortus Malabaricus and the 19th century Flora Indica and Plants of the Coromandel Coast. Research using these four texts will involve matching and cross-referencing textual information for a group of medicinal plants with the botanical art, herbaria and archival papers of Company botanists, making visible the unnamed indigenous botanical artists of Company paintings, and tracing botanical iconography across diverse print media: engravings, watercolours, and lithographs. It is part of my larger project to document an Indian botanical ‘Ark-ive’, a visual genealogy of botanical arts traditions. I will produce a web archive and an arts exhibition script from research that will rely on Wellcome Library sources and two external collections: Kew Gardens on quinine and British Library/India Office Library on health and disease in British India.
Dr Wendy Sims-Schouten
University of Portsmouth
Mental health in childhood
This project will draw on archives from The Children’s Society – The Unexplored Riches in Medical History project – with a focus on narratives about mental health in its earliest children’s case files dating from the 1880s to 1920s.
The aim of this project is to create the basis for a more textured understanding of the origins of perceptions about mental health which underlies much subsequent child welfare support, and to inform practice and further research to improve outcomes for children.
Dr Victoria Tischler
The house that Boots built: dementia and the multisensory
The project undertakes research using items from Boots the Chemist’s archive. The goal is to identify archival objects that have the potential to benefit people with dementia and their carers and to inspire creative and public engagement activities that raise awareness of the condition. The Boots archive is a rich resource, offering opportunities for empirical research and wider public scrutiny. This research involves exploration of archival items using object handling, photography, interviews with Boots staff and documentation.
The aim is to assess the therapeutic, aesthetic and public engagement potential of objects. The history, composition, usage and psychosocial associations of each item will be considered including multisensory characteristics that indicate potential for future research and public engagement activities.
Dr Jonathan Toms
University of East Anglia
Challenges to the ‘mental deficiency’ system: the National Association for Mental Health’s role in legislative change and the development of community care 1946-1967
The recent opening of the MIND archive in the Wellcome Library offers the first opportunity to develop a rigorous account of the National Association for Mental Health’s (NAMH) role in ‘mental deficiency’ services when it provided professional training, experimental hostels and advice to the government and public in the 1940s to 1960s. An examination of its activities is crucial to understanding post-war developments in services. However, academic commentaries commonly do not acknowledge NAMH’s role. Instead they focus on other stakeholders including The National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) and the National Association for Parents of Backward Children (NAPBC – now Mencap). These groups were involved in two particular areas: legislative change and developing community care.
This project’s key objective is to understand NAMH’s role in these areas in the context of its relationship to these other organisations involved in this area of care.
Dr James Wilkes
The Peckham Experiment: fiction from the archives
I propose to research the archive of the Pioneer Health Centre – part of the Peckham Experiment – held at the Wellcome Library, and write a series of prose poems, fiction and creative-critical texts based on the materials in the archive. The project builds on my existing research allowing me to propose several substantial goals in a relatively compressed timeframe.
I aim to produce a significant body of prose texts to be published in part in literary journals and as a collection in the emerging genre of experimental or hybrid creative-critical prose. I will explore ideas from the archive, such as the relationship between the individual and the collective, or between self-organisation and experimentation and give them contemporary relevance.
I also aim to advance the practice of creative-critical writing and the argument that creative writing can produce new insights into a topic and develop a new audience for archival writing, the Peckham Experiment archives and the Wellcome Library’s collections.
Dr Susan Aspinall
The patient as an individual: the development of modern homeopathic practice in the patient case books of the London Homeopathic Hospital 1890–1914
This project will use the patient case books of the London Homeopathic Hospital (LHH), held by the London Metropolitan Archives to analyse the period around the turn of the 19th century when modern homeopathy began. The project builds on bodies of literature that have focused on professionalisation of homeopathy and the split from orthodoxy at the end of the century.
The literature has concentrated on the redrawing of professional boundaries, but this project will focus on what it has meant for homeopathic practice itself at a time which saw the decline of the medically qualified homeopath and rise of the lay practitioner. It will assess the development of a reformist philosophy of individualisation and holism which repositioned homeopathy within the diverse modern health economy.
University of Edinburgh
Untangling the roots of Edinburgh genetics 1899–1939
This project aims to conduct detailed research into the origins and early history of animal genetics in Edinburgh; a subject which is currently critically lacking in scholarly engagement. I will use the animal genetics archives held at Edinburgh University Library’s Special Collections and a number of genetics collections held in other institutions.
Dr Adrian Chapman
‘All our Words are Meaningless’: RD Laing, language and healing
What place do words play in RD Laing’s idea and practice of healing? RD Laing, a psychiatrist and a renowned writer worked largely through the medium of speech but could be profoundly ambivalent about the place of words in healing. This project will extend understanding of Laing’s language and healing by exploiting the vast research potential of the Laing Archive at the University of Glasgow.
This project will involve a dedicated period of research, which will enable me to immerse myself in several collections held at the Wellcome Library to produce a new body of work. ‘Elemental’ will draw on the elements of the periodic table, using them as a lens through which to explore contemporary lived experience. The key aim is to make connections to specific collections from the Wellcome Library to underpin a new artistic work. The research will be directed towards creating a written text which will be adapted for performance on stage.
Dr Sam Goodman
Imperial measures: beer, medicine and health in colonial India
This project engages with the role of alcohol – specifically ale, beer and porter – in the history of colonial British India c.1800–1950. It analyses the extent to which the medical, social and cultural perception of these drinks were not only linked, but were subject to contradiction and conflict in a colonial context.
Using archival sources from the India Office Records in the British Library, the project will focus on the role of alcohol as the cause of acute and chronic ailments, as well as various social anxieties, but also consider its recurrent role as a preventive and restorative remedy. The project’s goals are to survey India Office Records pertaining to the production, provision, consumption and prescription of alcoholic drinks in colonial society c.1800–1950, to accumulate data and research that will enable me to produce both academic and more accessible accounts about the medical practices and drinking culture of colonial British society.
This research will act as preparation for a larger project on the role of alcohol in an Anglo-Indian context.
Professor Susanne Klausen
The thalidomide disaster, the British Abortion Act (1967) and the passage of eugenic abortion laws in the Commonwealth 1961–1977
My project’s overall focus is the role of the thalidomide disaster of the early 1960s in cultivating public support for eugenic abortion in Commonwealth countries in the 1960s and 1970s. I will conduct research using the Wellcome Library archive to analyse the uptake of the eugenic clause contained in the Britain Abortion Act (1967) and abortion legislation subsequently enacted in other Commonwealth countries. Numerous members of the Commonwealth were directly affected by thalidomide and at least three – Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – adopted Britain’s eugenic clause in subsequently enacted abortion laws. Yet there is surprisingly little research on the adoption of this clause.
I intend to scrutinise the impact of the thalidomide tragedy on the decision to include a eugenic clause in the British Abortion Act (1967), identify which Commonwealth countries adopted the eugenic clause even in a modified form, and elucidate the role of Britain’s acceptance of eugenic abortion to the acceptance of the clause in those countries.
Dr Jennifer Novotny
University of Glasgow
‘They don’t want your charity – they demand their chance’: the socio-economic rehabilitation of First World War wounded at Erskine Hospitals
I will research the Erskine Hospital archive, which has been recently acquired by the University of Glasgow Archives. Initially, research will focus on the previously unexplored archival material, enabling me to contextualise Erskine in the wider UK network of First World War hospitals. I will ask how manual therapies at Erskine provided mental and physical benefits as well as socio-economic ones and compare and contrast occupational rehabilitation at similar facilities. This research builds upon recent work on the development of orthopaedics during the First World War and medicine in conflict, but it will have a distinct focus on the development of occupational therapies.
Dr Sian Pooley
University of Oxford
Childhood maltreatment and lifetime resilience: an archival pilot study
This is a new research project that seeks to understand the lives of people who experienced maltreatment during their childhood in Britain, 1930-1975. The project is interdisciplinary and collaborative, combining historical and psychological approaches to study how, and to what extent, people navigated pathways to resilience across their lives. Existing studies of resilience in the face of maltreatment have focused on protective factors in childhood, so that little is known about pathways to resilience over the course of a lifetime and how historically-specific understandings of maltreatment affect this.
Our application relates to the first stage of this research, which will involve a small pilot study using the archives of The Children’s Society. The relevant case files relating to children who grew up in charitable care after identified maltreatment are uncatalogued and have not been subject to previous academic study. It is therefore necessary to conduct an initial systematic examination of these files, so as to plan future research with the knowledge of possibilities and challenges these sources pose for qualitative and quantitative analysis.
This research begins to fill the gaps in academic scholarship and will contribute to improvements in policy-making and practice.
Dr Elsa Richardson
Anxious eating in the Victorian city: consumption, control and contamination
This study seeks to offer a new perspective on contemporary anxieties regarding health, work and wellbeing. It connects present-day anxieties regarding our fast food culture with the chaotic diet of the Victorian city worker, and it presses us to consider how the urban environment continues to shape how and what we eat. I will conduct focused research into one key area of this larger project: namely, the role of the vegetarian restaurant in shaping the lunchtime habits of London’s workforce using published and archival materials held in the Wellcome Library.
Dr Annie Skinner
‘They fell into great wretchedness’: an analysis of Charity Organisation Society referrals to the Waifs and Strays Society 1882–1899
The main focus of the research will be to uncover the work of the Charity Organisation Society (COS) of the Waifs and Strays Society (now known as The Children’s Society) during its early years (1882–1899). COS visitors, seen as the first social workers, made home visits to assess claimants in line with the COS policy, ensuring claimants were genuine and to ascertain the causes of poverty and ill-health before giving help. About this time, voluntary organisations providing residential childcare were also established including the Waifs and Strays Society in 1881. The COS became involved on two levels in this organisation, in management and in domiciliary assessments of children and families. This project will determine the extent of COS involvement by examining case files and other documentary sources from the early years of the Waifs and Strays Society.
Dr Claudia Soares
Aftercare: ensuring the physical and mental wellbeing of children in the Victorian children’s welfare institution
This research project will examine the institutional ‘aftercare’ practices that The Waifs and Strays Society (now The Children’s Society) implemented between 1881 and 1914, which sought to ensure the longer-term physical and mental wellbeing of children leaving care. It will focus on children’s experiences of and responses to the provision of aftercare support, asking how far policies were successfully translated into practice.
It will assess how these aftercare practices had an impact on children’s longer-term wellbeing, their ability to achieve positive life outcomes and to participate fully in society.
Dr Steven Taylor
University of Leicester
‘Perfect’ and ‘imperfect’ bodies: The Children's Society, childhood health and improvement 1881–1926
This proposal will involve the study of documents in The Children’s Society archive. The collection contains important records on how a discourse of improvement was developed by doctors whose expert opinion shaped the boundaries of perfect and imperfect childhoods in Britain during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Analysis of case studies in the files will facilitate the compilation of a new database on child health and those that deviated from the medical norm – one of the proposal’s key goals. Reconstructing narratives of ‘perfect/imperfect’ children through familial and institutional representations of them will involve exploring treatment histories for childhood sickness.
MNovember57 the contents of early medicinal almanacs have been the subject of much research, the study of extant folding almanacs and their bindings has been hampered by their scarcity. There are about 30 examples, many of which are missing their bindings. Furthermore, examination of medieval embroidery has been limited by the poor survival rate of secular examples. MS.8932’s binding offers an unrivalled opportunity to learn more about bindings, embroidery and production methods dating from the medieval period.
The research aims to analyse the binding through a detailed examination of the actual artefact supported by a review of existing literature. A similar study of other bindings and related medieval textiles will be used to provide comparative material and context.
Dr Jonathan Toms
University of East Anglia
MIND’s campaigning for people with learning disabilities 1970-1983
Present government policy and professional practice for people with learning disabilities has its origins in the deinstitutionalisation processes, civil rights concerns and social integrationist philosophies of the 1970s and 1980s. However, we know little about how these campaigns were mobilised. The MIND archive at the Wellcome Trust offers a unique resource for developing a rigorous historical account of this mobilisation.
MIND prominently campaigned to change government policy and professional practice for people with learning disabilities during this time period. This project’s main goal is to reconstruct how, why and with what consequences MIND developed this strategy.