History Carnival #115

Welcome to the 115th edition of the History Carnival, a round-up of some great posts written during the month of October. Special thanks to everyone who submitted in a nomination.

Battles and Wounds

Rumors of King Richard III and his “monstrous” birth has been hotly debated among historians. What happens once we dig up the King’s body? What long-buried secrets will his skeleton reveal? Speaking of Kings and secrets, The Freelance Historian narrates the history of fighting between Scotland and England from the 16th century onwards, looking at technological innovations, artillery, army formations, and politics during The Battle of Flodden, which took the lives of 5000-17000 Scots and 1500 Englishmen.

Here’s a book review of Stuart Hylton’s Reporting the Blitz: News from the Home Front Communities (The History Press Ltd., 2012).

Mary C. Neuburger writes about “Cold War Smoke” Cold War Smoke: Cigarettes Across Borders:

The rapid rise in smoking in the Bloc eventually raised concerns about tobacco and health, and Bloc states have waged fairly serious anti-smoking campaigns since the 1970s. Such campaigns, however, were largely ignored by local populations. Anti-smoking came from the wrong messenger, and what little “freedoms” people had – like an afternoon smoke break—were held onto tightly.  Hence unlike the United States, communist citizens were largely resistant to the anti-smoking campaigns that stopped smoking as a mass consumer phenomenon in the West in its tracks. To this day, the former communist states (and still-communist China) have among the highest smoking rates in the world. While the Western cigarette easily seduced (and still seduces) these populations, the Western propensity to kick the habit is more contested. As Frank Reznik might have once interpreted it, the “right” to smoke is still valued by people from large swaths of the globe, particularly the lands once (or still) ruled by communists.

Finally, Christopher M. Cevasco tells us the story of The Doomed Triumph of the H.L. Hunley:

The H.L. Hunley was one of the great engineering wonders of the U.S. Civil War and the first submarine ever to to sink an enemy ship. Such a feat was not repeated for another fifty years, when a German U-boat sank the HMS Pathfinder with the first successfully deployed self-propelled torpedo at the start of World War I. Notwithstanding this notable success, the Confederate Hunley is arguably best remembered for its failure to return after its first and only wartime mission, having vanished into the depths of Charleston Harbor.

Women’s History 

There’s been a bunch of great posts covering interesting aspects of women’s history. Susan Abernethy writes about Marie of Guise, Queen of Scotland, a member of one of the most powerful families in France who dominated Scottish and French affairs for fifty years.

I truly enjoyed this post on Going to Bed in Medieval and Tudor England: “Pillows were for girls, lying down was dangerous and invalids should nap standing up!”

Mike Rendell covers the a gruesome anniversary: The Burning to Death of Isabella Condon, 1779:

As the Times put it “The execution of a woman for coining … reflects a scandal upon the law and was not only inhuman, but shamefully indelicate and shocking. Why should the law in this species of offence inflict a severer punishment upon a woman, than a man? It is not an offence which she can perpetrate alone – in every such case the insistence of a man has been found the operating motive upon the woman; yet the man is but hanged, and the woman burned.”

Joyce Pijnenburg asks, “Does Woman Exist?”  by looking at Hermes, Plato, the Kabbalah, Agrippa von Nettesheim, and Salvoj Zizek on women and (their) presence.

The Chirurgeon’s Apprentice narrates a personal experience with breast cancer:

It may come as a surprise to readers that physicians and surgeons have been diagnosing women with breast cancer for thousands of years, and performing mastectomies for nearly as many. In the 1st century A.D., the surgeon, Leonidas from Alexandria,  described his technique for removing the breast which involved alternately cutting and cauterising the tissue with hot irons. During the Middle Ages, many surgeons began using a caustic paste which contained corrosive ingredients such as zinc chloride and stibnite. When applied directly to the breast, it would cause the tissue to undergo a rapid necrosis, making it easier to remove.

Another question worthy of reflection: “Do women dream of electric sheep?” A post examining Delia Derbyshire and the women of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.

Expanding Frontiers

New television program by Chirurgeon’s Apprentice! See the details as well as the trailer for “Medicine’s Dark Secrets”

A few posts from George Campbell Gosling on activism and voluntary action. People & Planet: Unearthing the history of student activism:

The documents to be found there are of interest not just to historians, and the charity itself, but also to the student activism sector as a whole. People & Planet has been in existence since 1969, formerly known as Third World First. The archive covers its development from an idealistic student initiative born in the last gasp of the 1960s, through to its current guise as a team of 16 staff campaigning on environmental and human rights issues, working with University students and school pupils to raise awareness and increase action. In the records of its activities, you can trace the changing focus of UK campaigning in the past four decades, and the evolving attitudes towards the wider world that went with it.

Recreation and Leisure: A New Frontier in the History of Voluntary Action? and Launching the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives

Voluntary action has played a central part in the growth of recreational activities since the seventeenth century – if not earlier – when the growth of urban centres and increased affluence provided significant numbers of people with the opportunity and the means of enjoying a growing amount of ‘free’ time.

The legacy of Eric Hobsbawm, the Marxist historian, has died aged 95.

Jonathan Turner, recent IHPST (University of Toronto) PhD, writes about Tenure and the Culture of Failure in Academia:

Why are career paths that aren’t tenure track considered failures by so many of us? Why do we use expressions like ‘abandon the academic job search’ or ‘plan b’ even when we’re trying to explain that non-academic jobs are good outcomes of graduate studies? The easy answer is to blame the conveyor belt model of academia, and the lack of non-academic perspective of most academics. The reality is probably more a case of individual priorities and goals.
Well, that’s it for this edition of the History Carnival! Follow @historycarnival on Twitter for details about next month’s edition as well as any history tidbits that pop up!
Happy blogging!

Spontaneous Generations Vol.6

Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science 6:1 (2012) is now available online.
We invite you to review the contents of Vol. 6 below and visit our website for free access to articles and items of interest athttp://spontaneousgenerations.library.utoronto.ca.
Spontaneous Generations, Vol 6, No 1 (2012): Visual Representation and Science
Focused Discussion
Ari Gross, Eleanor Louson. Visual Representation and Science: Editors’ Introduction
Sachiko Kusukawa. Thomas Kirke’s Copy of Philosophical Transactions
Barbara Obrist. Visual Representation and Science: Visual Figures of the Universe between Antiquity and the Early Thirteenth Century
Laurent Dissard. Seeing the Past from Nowhere: Images and Science in Archaeology
Matt Spencer. Trouble with Images in Computational Physics
Martin Kemp. “The testimony of my own eyes”: The Strange Case of the Mammal with a Beak
Cindy Stelmackowich. The Instructive Corpse: Dissection, Anatomical Specimens, and Illustration in Early Nineteenth-Century Medical Education
Koen Beumer. A Matter of Scale: The Visual Representation of Nanotechnologies
Martin Mahony, Mike Hulme. The Colour of Risk: An Exploration of the IPCC’s “Burning Embers” Diagram
Jennifer Tucker. “The hidden world of science”: Nature as Art in 1930’s American Print Advertising
Annamaria Carusi. Making the Visual Visible in Philosophy of Science
Stephen M. Downes. How Much Work Do Scientific Images Do?
William Goodwin. Visual Representations of Structure and the Dynamics of Scientific Modeling
Laura Perini. Truth-bearers or Truth-makers?
Michael Jeremy Barany. “That small and unsensible shape”: Visual Representations of the Euclidean Point in Sixteenth-Century Print
Elie During. On the Intrinsically Ambiguous Nature of Space-Time Diagrams
Adrian Wüthrich. Interpreting Feynman Diagrams as Visual Models
Klaus Hentschel. The Stuttgart Database of Scientific Illustrators 1450–1950: Making the Invisible Hands Visible
Edward Jones-Imhotep. Sound and Vision
Ian Lowrie. On Adaptive Optics: The Historical Constitution of Architectures for Expert Perception in Astronomy
Maura C. Flannery. Flatter than a Pancake: Why Scanning Herbarium Sheets Shouldn’t Make Them Disappear
Bruce Taylor. Holdings
Michael T. Stuart. REVIEW: James R. Brown, Laboratory of the Mind
Cory Lewis. REVIEW: Frederick Grinnell, The Everyday Practice of Science: Where Intuition and Passion Meet Objectivity and Logic
Ignacio Suay-Matallana, Mar Cuenca-Lorente. “Visual Representations in Science”: Review of the 6th European Spring School on History of Science and Popularization: International Workshop, May 19-21 2011, Maó, Menorca, Spain
Founded in 2006, Spontaneous Generations is an online academic journal published by graduate students at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, University of Toronto. There is no subscription or membership fee. Spontaneous Generations provides immediate open access to its content on the principle that making research freely available to the public supports a greater global exchange of knowledge.

Marriage: A Distraction

Sometimes I get distracted when I go to the library. Case in point: I headed to the Thomas Fisher Rare Books library at the University of Toronto to examine John Cunningham Saunders’ Anatomy of the Human Ear and ended up requesting a manuscript that I looked at a couple of years ago as part of a course assignment on marriage, settlement, and personal relations. I originally sought out Lady’s Scrapbook (1830-1833? Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, University of Toronto, MSS 05017) with the intention of discovering what martial relations between couples in upper class England were like, but I looked at it again for no other reason but to look at it again. How much time did the couple spend together during the days? How much time did they spend with their immediate family, and what were their relationships like? How much love was expressed between a husband and wife in terms of letters, poems, and other personal sentiments?

This manuscript is a scrapbook complied by Elizabeth D. (Danscomb?) over the years 1830 to 1833 (or maybe longer). From a letter (tucked in the scrapbook) written by her brother W.D (William?) dated August 26, 1861, it is discovered that Elizabeth eventually got married and had a son and daughter. The scrapbook was perhaps complied while Elizabeth was still a young woman. In his letter, W.D expresses his relationship with his new bride as they are travelling to the Alps and viewing the scenes at Ragatz and other provinces of Germany: “I am taking advantage of today’s leisure to write to you, as according to these ___ fashionable custom of brides writing up to receive congratulations of friends, which custom is not out of date in _____, my bride is sitting up today and tomorrow to receive her friends.” In this brief sentence, we get a glimpse into Elizabeth’s relationship with her brother, and practice of including friends (and family) after marriage to join in with celebrations. Despite assumingly being on their honeymoon, W.D. heeds accordingly to this important custom of receiving friends.

In addition to the letter, the scrapbook is appendixes with two Valentine poems on a card written by Elizabeth. For whom, it is not clear, nor is there any hint as to why Elizabeth kept them. Were they meant to be given away, or was Elizabeth simply expressing her fondness for a romanticized ideal of love? “Happy birds are flying on/Rapid their wing and sweet their song/Lovely Valentines are they/So great the birds of joyous May/What better carried than the Dove/To send a verse to me of love,” begins the first card. Elizabeth was obviously very fond of poetry, in both romantic forms, and in the form of sermons. A tremendous chunk of the scrapbook is nothing more than cut-out clippings of poems, articles, and book reviews, from various magazines and newspapers (it is not recorded which ones) and glued to the pages of the scrapbook in no clear order, except for two pages. The first page contains a subtle theme of proper etiquette and expressions of bridal expectations. There is a (amusing) cut-out with the title “Matrimonial Maxims,” which is a brief guideline for a man seeking a wife:

Never marry a rich woman without rank, or a lady of rank without riches; the former will taunt you with the poverty you experience before marriage, and the later will taunt you with the poverty you feel after. If you marry a number of sisters [!], you run some risk of being the slave of the whole; and if you marry an only daughter, especially if she bears an only child, you are sure to be under the espionage of her wanting-maids, and in nine cases out of every ten, to have a pitted and peevish wife into the bargain. If you mean to be a really domestic man, never marry an ugly woman.

On the same page, there is also a clipping of a poem, the “Moorish Bridal Song,” and an article, “Advice to Young Women,” and a “The Bachelor’s Soliloquy.” The Soliloquy gives a different (somewhat comedic) perspective on how bachelorhood might be viewed on a general scale:

Yes—yes—I’ll lead a single life/(a married an is lost,)/For the dearer a wife may be,/The more the wife will cost!/Ye meddling matchmaker may try,/To wheedle me, ‘tis time;/But tho’ I’ll never match your choice,/I’ll be a match for you./Myself to you I’ll never lend,/So fret, and sigh, and groan,/For tho’ I am a single man,/I’ll prove I’m not a loan./I’ve sought all London thro’ and thro’/’Mong dames of high degree./I’ve seen a hundred pretty maids,/But not one made for me!/A bachelor I, my friends may laugh/no Benedict they’ll find me;/Free as the air I’ll live and die,/If I leave no heir behind me!

It seems strange that Elizabeth would clip an expression of the male perspective on selecting a mate, but it is probable that at this stage, she was curious about the thoughts and practices of men in claiming their loves. Maybe she was sought after by different men, or maybe none at all; maybe her family was arranging her marriage, and she wanted to know why men got married and how they chose their selection. It would be a leap to come to any viable conclusion about Elizabeth’s decision for clipping these articles, but I found it really interesting that she kept them amongst same articles and poems expressing bridal love, and proper etiquette for women.

The other organized page focused on the theme of death. There is a newspaper clipping on the death of King George and a discussion about the need to change the name “George” to “William” in the national anthem. There is also a beautifully handwritten poem by Elizabeth dated November 5, 1830: “They died—aye—they died and no things what are now/Who walks on the turf that lies over their brow/…/Your life and despondence and pleasure and pain/are seeming together like sunshine and rain.” Additionally, there is a cut out from another letter or page, of a poem written by H.K.White, titled “To Consumption”: “Gently most gently on thy ___head, consumption lay thine hand! let me decay like the ___ lamp, unseen away and softly go to the slumber with the dead.” There is also a written poem, which at first I thought was compiled by Elizabeth for a W. Peabody, but might have been complied by W. Peabody (I base this on the way she copied other poems and placed the author’s name right by the title), on the subject of death: “Thanks for the memory to thee, my lovely little boy/…/with trembling hand I ___bind thy dying eyes to close.” I originally thought Elizabeth lost a son, and this page was devoted for her grievance over his loss; it is possible she did, though the 1861 letter from her brother wishes her son well.

There is not really much to go on from Elizabeth’s scrapbook, besides receiving an insight on the perceptions of a young woman on issues of love, religion, marriage, and family. Elizabeth cut out numerous articles and poems, and during the later pages, she simply hand-copied the poems she sought out. She was a person obviously interested in literature (there’s a clipping from the Athenæum, a journal of English and foreign literature, from June 23, 1837, with a book review of Bryon’s Life and Works, Vol.VII), fine arts, and travelling (many articles/poems about Jamaica, America, Germany, etc,), and her brief clippings of marriage and love gives an interlude of how a person during nineteenth century Britain may have thought about love and marriage.

An Anatomy of the Ear: John Cunningham Saunders (1773-1810)

Born on October 10, 1773, John Cunningham Saunders was the youngest son of John Cunningham and Jane Saunders of Lovistone, in Devonshire Country. At eight years old, along with his brother, he was sent to Tavistock learning. Saunders eventually studied at the seminary at Southmolton until 1790, when he then apprenticed to the surgeon John Hill of Barnstable, for five years. He then relocated to London to complete his medical education at the distinguished schools of surgery—St. Thomas and Guy’s Hospitals, focusing his studies on anatomy. Two years later, he was appointed Demonstrator of Anatomy at St. Thomas by Sir Astley Cooper, to whom Saunders resided with for several years, and worked as an anatomical dresser in order to finish his surgical education.

Saunders’ treatise, The Anatomy of the Human Ear (1804) is a testament to his mentor. Not only does Saunders acknowledge Cooper’s influence in his dedication, but he also followed the same criteria for anatomical studies that Cooper insisted were essential for the surgeon’s practice: including minute dissection of intricate parts and comparison between different cadavers to ensure the parts are similar.

The book is a masterpiece full of colorful engravings detailing precise aspects of the face and its parts. It was heralded by Saunders’ contemporaries for being the first English work providing proper merits to the study of the anatomy of the ear.

On October 1804, Saunders published a proposal encouraging the founding of a charitable institution for the care of diseases of the eye and ear, a proposal which came into fruition in 1805 as Saunders, along with John Richard Farre (1775-1862), established the London Dispensary for the Relief of the Poor Afflicted with Eye and Ear Disease, in Charterhouse Square (later the London Infirmary, and later on, Moorsfield Hospital). The Dispensary would eventually become a template for nineteenth-century specialist hospitals, which were largely developed by medical men and originated as outpatient dispensaries.[1]

By 1809, the hospital ceased to provide treatments for the ear, a decision that probably reflected Saunders’ rising career as an ophthalmic surgeon more so than the lack of medical preference for treating ear diseases. Saunders remained at the institution until his death in 1810.


[1] Lindsay Granshaw, “’Fame and fortune by means of bricks and mortar:’ the medical profession and specialist hospitals in Britain, 1800-1948,” in Lindsay Granshaw and Roy Porter (eds), The Hospital in History (London & New York: Routledge, 1989), 199-220; 202.