Category Archives: General

Historiography in the Social History of Medicine: Records at the NIH and the UK Web Archive

3.coverThe latest issue of Social History of Medicine includes two pieces related to historiographic research methods that may be of interest to our readership.

In light of (and as case against) the downsizing of the Office of History at the American National Institutes of Health and the prevailing uncertainty about its future capacity to be of service to historians, David Cantor has taken it upon himself to provide a guide to the available records, those beyond the collections held at the National Library of Medicine, the National Archives and in private possession, “those squirreled away in the NIH itself, in filing cabinets, on servers and computer systems, and within the records management system, many of which are uncatalogued and can be tricky to find.”

It also outlines how to best approach the bureaucratic system for viewing available records. Upon the dismantling of their historical office, historians will be left to navigate the complexities and social politics of finding and accessing materials at the Institutes without guidance, and as such the insights provided by this short work will likely prove invaluable.

The abstract can be found here: Finding Historical Records at the National Institutes of Health.

Martin Gorsky, out of the Centre for History in Public Health (Faculty of Public Health and Policy), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, provides another methodological guide. His work employs a case study (on the recent decentralization of public health services in Britain) to introduce the search engine interface of the UK Web Archive (colloquially called the Dark Domain Archive) and discuss the opportunities it provides, the challenges posed by its current functionality, and its relation to the future of historiography at large. The analyses conducted were both quantitative and qualitative, and analytic processes include thematic analysis, discourse analysis, and analyses of the selected sites as visual artifacts.

The full article can be found open access here: Into the Dark Domain: The UK Web Archive as a Source for the Contemporary History of Public Health.

 

Share on Facebook

Networking the Early Years of the American Journal of Psychology

The most recent issue of the American Journal of Psychology includes an article exploring the journal’s earliest years of publication. In “The Evolution of The American Journal of Psychology 1, 1887– 1903: A Network InvestigationChristopher Green and Ingo Feinerer use the methods of the digital humanities to network the journal’s content. The abstract reads,

The American Journal of Psychology (AJP) was the first academic journal in the united states dedicated to the “new” scientific form of the discipline. But where did the journal’s founding owner/editor, G. Stanley Hall, find the “psychologists” he needed to fill the pages of such a venture 1887, when he was still virtually the only professor of psychology in the country? To investigate this question we used the substantive vocabularies of every full article published in AJP’s first 14 volumes to generate networks of verbally similar articles. These networks reveal the variety of research communities that hall drew on to launch and support the journal. three separate networks, corresponding to 3 successive time blocks, show how hall’s constellation of participating research communities changed over AJP’s first 17 years. Many of these communities started with rather nebulous boundaries but soon began to differentiate into groups of more distinct specialties. some topics declined over time, but new ones regularly appeared to replace them. We sketch a quasievolutionary model to describe the intellectual ecology of AJP’s early years.

Share on Facebook

’37’- A Forthcoming Film on the Kitty Genovese Case

The New York Times reports that a film, titled ’37’, on the infamous Kitty Genovese murder is in the works. The Genovese case is often credited with providing the impetus for research into the bystander effect, whereby bystanders fail to intervene in an emergency situation as a result of a diffusion of responsibility. The notion that bystanders failed to intervene in the Genovese case – including the NYT‘s initial erroneous accounting of 37 such individuals – has been called into question (see our previous posts on this myth here). As the NYT reports,

Whether the classic account of the murder is factually true has been disputed for years. The disturbing article in The New York Times at the time (“37 Who Saw Murder Didn’t Call the Police”) got the probable number of witnesses wrong, among other facts. Some people did call the police; at least one neighbor comforted the victim as she died. But over the years, Kitty Genovese has become more than a true-crime statistic. She’s attained the status of a myth aswirl in urban dread.

More details about the film ’37’ can be found in the NYT piece.

Share on Facebook

CfP: Special Issue of HoP on History of Psychotherapy in North and South America

A call for papers has been issued for a special issue of History of Psychology on the history of psychotherapy in North and South America. Guest edited by Rachael Rosner, the issue will be released in parallel with a special issue of History of the Human Sciences on the history psychotherapy in Europe (guest edited by Sarah Marks). The deadline for submissions is January 1st, 2016. The full call for papers follows below.

The history of psychotherapy is a topic that cuts across disciplines and cultures. In North America, psychotherapy pre-dates Freud in the faith healing and liberal protestant movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Throughout the 20th century and into the 21st century, even as Freud took the limelight, the practice passed through many professions including neuropathology, psychiatry, social work, the ministry and clinical psychology, as well as marriage and family counseling, nursing, and a host of others. Psychotherapy also became the darling of cinema and literature. And yet, psychotherapy has never been a licensed profession. Anyone can hang out a shingle as a “psychotherapist.” Psychotherapy has thus been both a staple of, and a lens onto, medicine, science and culture for nearly 125 years.

How can we make sense of this ubiquitous and yet historically elusive practice? This special issue of HOP opens up the conversation to historians from a broad spectrum of specialties. We welcome contributions on any aspect of the subject in North or South America, but ask contributors to keep within the time-frame of late 19th century (when the term “psychotherapy” originated) to the present. Continue reading CfP: Special Issue of HoP on History of Psychotherapy in North and South America

Share on Facebook

New JHBS: Race Relationships, Lazarfeld’s Voter Studies & More!

Mary Ainsworth

The summer issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now online. Articles in this issue explore the relationships of scientists who disagreed over the nature of race, the origins of Mary Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Procedure, Alfred Binet’s role as editorial director of a French publishing house, and more. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Race relationships: Collegiality and demarcation in physical anthropology,” by Peter Sachs Collopy. The abstract reads,

In 1962, anthropologist Carleton Coon argued in The Origin of Races that some human races had evolved further than others. Among his most vocal critics were geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky and anthropologist Ashley Montagu, each of whom had known Coon for decades. I use this episode, and the long relationships between scientists that preceded it, to argue that scientific research on race was intertwined not only with political projects to conserve or reform race relations, but also with the relationships scientists shared as colleagues. Demarcation between science and pseudoscience, between legitimate research and scientific racism, involved emotional as well as intellectual labor.

“Ainsworth’s Strange Situation Procedure: The origin of an instrument,” by Lenny Van Rosmalen, René Van der Veer and Frank Van der Horst. The abstract reads, Continue reading New JHBS: Race Relationships, Lazarfeld’s Voter Studies & More!

Share on Facebook

LSD Research, “Normal Controls,” and the Making of “Vulnerable Populations”

In a recent piece on the Somatosphere blog, historian Laura Stark describes the making of “vulnerable populations” in medical experimentation. Currently writing a book on the emergence of “normal control” subjects in medical research, Stark uses her research on LSD experimentation at the US National Institutes of Health post-WWII to discuss the idea of “vulnerable populations.” The above video features excerpts from some of Stark’s oral history interviews with research subjects used as “normal controls” in this research.

As she describes in “How to make a “vulnerable population”,”

The category of the “vulnerable population” is itself a product of modern (American) bioethics, which invented the concept in its recent vintage and gave it specific meaning in public parlance. The field of modern bioethics emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, and in the post civil-rights period, the bioethical concept of the “vulnerable population” was coded with contemporary rights-based concerns: about minorities, about prisoners, and more. The specific meanings and people associated with “vulnerable populations” were embedded in 1970s human-subjects regulation, as well as in popular discourse….
The concepts of modern bioethics operate at another level, too. Ian Hacking coined the term “moral kinds” to tag what he called meta-ethical issues that people—including scholars—come to embody. We are working to develop Ian Hacking’s framework to show how law (especially U.S. human-subjects regulations) shapes both the memory practices of historical actors and the interpretive practices of present-day scholars. In sum, we are interested in how the concepts of bioethics, such as “vulnerable populations” codified in 1974 and later extended beyond the United States, have narrowed the range of possibilities available to scholars for interpreting empirical evidence. We like Hacking’s approach because it offers a way to investigate how the governing moral sensibilities of a specific time and place both constrain and liberate scholars themselves. The secular, North American, rights-revolution ethos of modern bioethics, we suggest, limits how questions about research practices in the human sciences are conceptualized, and can deflect questions about the historicity of the discipline of bioethics as a knowledge-making enterprise in its own right. We aim to explore medical knowledge-making alongside the ontology of modern bioethics—to ask how, when, where, and with what effects the terms and priorities of this expert domain developed. In doing so, we hope to capture a fuller repertoire of institutions, sensibilities, and activities that eventually came to constitute modern science and biomedicine.

Read the full post online here.

Share on Facebook

BPS’ 2015 Stories of Psychology Symposium

The History of Psychology Centre at the British Psychological Society will be holding its 5th annual Stories of Psychology Symposium on Wednesday, October 14th. This year’s title is Clinically Applied: Origins of a Profession. 

According to the website:

The topic of this year’s symposium was chosen as a curtain raiser for the start of the 50th anniversary year of the BPS Division of Clinical Psychology (DCP) in 2016. It looks forward to the Golden Anniversary by looking back at the development of clinical psychology as a profession, a history that reaches back beyond the foundation of the DCP in 1966.

The four main speakers are all contributors to “Clinical Psychology in Britain: Historical Perspectives” edited by John Hall, Graham Turpin and David Pilgrim, which is due to be published by the History of Psychology Centre in December 2015.

Find out more about the featured speakers, session topics and registration details from the event flyer,  or on the Centre’s website.

Share on Facebook

New 5 Minute History Lesson: “Ruth Howard”


The Cummings Center for the History of Psychology has released the second episode in its series 5 Minute History Lesson. The episode is discusses the life and work of psychologist Ruth Howard and features audio from a telephone interview with Howard by Even the Rat was White author Robert Guthrie. More details on the video can be found here. (The first episode in the series was on psychologist James V. McConnell.)

Share on Facebook

BBC Radio: “The Psychology of War”

As part of the programme, The War that Changed the World, BBC Radio has aired an episode on “The Psychology of War.” The episode features an expert panel and live audience discussing war’s psychological effects. As described on the BBC Radio website,

One hundred years ago World War One set the course for the twentieth century; for the countries that took part nothing would be the same again. In this worldwide series of events with the British Council, we look at the impact of the war from around the world.

The third debate of the series comes from The Imperial War Museum in London as we explore the psychology of war. What drove men to volunteer for the war? What drove them to the edge of sanity when they got there?

Historian and broadcaster Amanda Vickery is joined by a panel of experts and a live audience to explore the mental impact of fighting the war at home and abroad. World War One experts Dan Todman (Queen Mary, University of London) and Michael Roper (University of Essex) are joined by the celebrated cultural historian, Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck, University of London), who presents her specially commissioned essay, Shell Shock and the Shock of Shells.

You can listen to this episode here and explore other episodes in the series here. You can also enrol in the Open University’s accompanying free online course, “World War 1: Trauma and Memory,” here.

Share on Facebook

July 13th BPS/UCL Seminar! “The Course of Modern Psychoanalysing About Myth”

The British Psychological Society’History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk as part of its summer term BPS History of Psychological Disciplines Seminar Series. On Monday July 13th Robert Segal of the University of Aberdeen, will be speaking on “The Course of Modern Psychoanalysing About Myth.” Full details follow below.

The British Psychological Society History of Psychology Centre in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines

Location: UCL Arts and Humanities Common Room (G24), Foster Court, Malet Place, London WC1E 7JG

Time: 6pm-7.30pm

Monday 13 July 2015
Professor Robert Segal (University of Aberdeen), The Course of Modern Psychoanalysing About Myth

This talk will trace the history of psychoanalysing about myth through the major figures:  Freud, Rank, Roheim, Arlow, Bettelheim, Jung. and Campbell.  Myth has never been just an unconscious expression of the Oedipus complex and over the years has become much more.

Robert Segal is the author of The Poimandres as Myth: Scholarly Theory and Gnostic Meaning, Religion and the Social Sciences: Essays on the ConfrontationJoseph Campbell: An Introduction. Explaining and Interpreting Religion, Theorizing about Myth and Myth: A Very Short Introduction, among other works.

Share on Facebook