News 2014


Fran Badger GraduationCongratulations to Fran Badger who was conferred her PhD at the December graduation ceremony. Fran’s thesis was on the development of institutional midwifery in the midlands in the long 19thcentury. In the photo with Fran are her PhD supervisors Stuart Wildman and Jonathan Reinarz, and Vanessa Heggie, Birmingham Research Fellow in the Unit.


MDS display cabinet

History of Medicine Unit PhD student Fran Badger and Unit Director Jonathan Reinarz have curated an exhibition in the display cases in the Medical School foyer on the history of midwifery training over two centuries. The exhibition begins with some of the earliest publications produced by midwives in the seventeenth century and concludes with the published diary of pupil midwife Dot May Dunn, Birmingham’s version of Call the Midwife. The exhibition features a surgeon’s set of five craniotomy tools which were kindly donated by Dr Brian Watson (MBChB, 1953), a copy of Fleetwood Churchill’s Theory and Practice of Midwifery(1842), donated by Dr Tom Harrison, as well as some of the works of John Ingleby, Birmingham’s first lecturer in midwifery.  The exhibition runs until Easter; please visit the cases and explore some of the items that have been unearthed from the University Collections and loaned by other outside partners.


Nineteenth-century drawing of a tattoo of St George on the body of a French thief. Wellcome Collection, LondonVanessa Heggie and Jonathan Reinarz took part in the British Science Festival, which was held in Birmingham in early Sept. Vanessa ran a session called 'tattoos for time travellers' (trying to figure out what scientific information would actually help us survive a trip into the past: popular answers were maps of all kinds, anatomical drawings, astronomical information, recipes, and Dr Who's phone number). They also ran a panel session in Birmingham Library, with honorary fellows Len Smith and Andrew Williams, called 'What did your Ancestors Die Of', helping people understand how the history of medicine affects family history research.


Nineteenth-century drawing of a tattoo of St George on the body of a French thief. Wellcome Collection, London



Olivia CetinogluFormer History of Medicine intercalation student, Olivia Cetinoglu, has had her study of the General Hospital in Bridgetown Barbados published in the international journal Caribbean Quarterly, Volume 6, No.1 (2014), pp. 98-116. The article offers a glimpse into the management of a Caribbean hospital and its patients in the nineteenth century and early twentieth centuries. Well done, Olivia! Quite an achievement for an undergraduate student. 


mother and child actors portraying the first child with a scalded headOn 21st August 2014, Northampton General Hospital celebrated its 270th
anniversary.  To commemorate the anniversary, Medical Illustration produced a
short film to explore an 18th-century child healthcare pathway.  The
re-enactment follows the progress of Thomasin Grace, the first patient admitted
to Northampton General Infirmary who suffered from  scald head - a severe form
of ringworm. Thomasin was discharged cured after an inpatient stay of more than
100 days.   One of our Honorary Fellows, Dr Andrew Williams, was instrumental in
setting up this project.  The condition was recreated by Julia Hyland, our
former Outreach Officer.  A film is expected to be available to view at the end
of September.


Congratulations to Fran Badger, whose PhD thesis, entitled ‘Delivering Maternity Care: Midwives and Midwifery in Birmingham and its Environs, 1794-1881’, was passed following a viva on 12 June. 

Fran Viva

Fran with her two examiners, Dr Alannah Tomkins (Keele), on the right, and Dr Tania McIntosh (Nottingham), left.


Jonathan Reinarz spoke at the annual meeting of the Association of Medical School Secretaries, which held its conference in Birmingham on 12-13 June. Jonathan’s talk examined the history of the administration of Birmingham’s Medical School from its foundation in 1828 to the new millennium. Though primarily focusing on the Dean’s Office, the lecture examined the roles of other administrative staff, whose numbers expanded in the post-Second World War period.

Professor Brodie Hughes,Tom Whitehead, William Trethowan and Owen Wade

Four Birmingham Deans: Professor Brodie Hughes (1974-78); Tom Whitehead (1984-88); William Trethowan (1968-74) and Owen Wade (1978-84).


Nursing at Birmingham


Jonathan Reinarz was involved in a BBC Radio podcast examining the treatment of soldiers at the First Southern General Hospital, which was located at the University during World War One. The podcast can he found here:


PhD student Fran Badger has had an article published in the journal Women's History Review. The article is based on a chapter of her thesis and examines the ledgers of Coventry midwife Mary Eaves. The article, 'Illuminating Nineteenth-Century English Urban Midwifery: the register of a Coventry midwife' can be found here



Perfume BottleJonathan Reinarz was interviewed by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about his work on the history of smell. The programme featuring his commentary and some other recent work in the field of sensory studies can be found on the ABC’s Body Sphere website


Professor Charlotte AndersonOn Wednesday, 9 April, Jonathan Reinarz gave a guest lecture at the Royal College of Paediatrics annual conference, which was held in Birmingham from 8-10 April. His talk, entitled 'Minor Medical Subjects: the History of Paediatrics in Birmingham', followed the President's lunch and was part of a historical panel organised by some of the College's Senior Fellows. The talk covered the work of the first four professors of paediatrics at the University of Birmingham, including Leonard Parsons, James Smellie, Douglas Hubble and Charlotte Anderson, the first woman to be appointed to a UK chair in paediatrics.

Professor Charlotte Anderson


Jonathan Reinarz will be speaking on ‘Cultures of Complaint’ at the new Birmingham Library on 19 March. The talk will summarise some of the research from a forthcoming book which he has edited with Rebecca Wynter. The book, entitled Complaints, Controversies and Grievances in Medicine: Historical and Social Science Perspectives, will be out in late 2014.


Jonathan Reinarz will be posting on the University’s ‘Saving Humans’blog for the week of 17 March. Why not follow his postings and learn a bit more about the history of burns.

Skin Cells from a Scald

Skin Cells from a Scald



Past ScentsHistory of Medicine Unit Director Jonathan Reinarz is proud to announce that his broad survey of the history of smell, Past Scents (University of Illinois Press), is now out in both hardback and paperback. With chapters on smell and religion, perfume, gender, race and class, as well as a final chapter on scents and the city, the book should have something for everyone. It should also demonstrate the power of sensory approaches to help us look at various historical issues, even the most familiar, in new and provocative ways.

More information can be found at the University of Illinois Press website