Tag Archives: Archives

Framing women’s scientific labour at the Burden Neurological Institute through archival photography


‘Triple exposure shows Lady Janet Shipton flinching from light’, Life, ‘Electronic Patterns of the Brain’ / ‘The Love Machine Tests Compatibility’, 9 April 1956. BURD/A/06/113, BNI

Over on the Science Museum Group Journal site, David Saunders (a PhD student at the Centre for the History of the Emotions, Queen Mary University of London), has written a good read entitled Wired-up in white organdie: framing women’s scientific labour at the Burden Neurological Institute

Using untapped photographic collections in the Burden Neurological Institute’s (BNI) papers, Saunders work addresses a lacuna in the historiography of science that has overlooked the prominent roles women have played in the history of the BNI. 

The work does not, however, treat the photos as “providing an unproblematic ‘window’ onto the experiences of these scientific workers, this article contends that the photographs in question ‘frame’ women’s labour in particular ways so as to devalue, obscure and erase their contributions to the BNI’s much-lauded achievements.” 

Rather, the article “considers three such frames: the objectification of women as the subjects, rather than the practitioners, of neuroscientific research; the elision of women’s scientific, domestic, and familial roles; and the visual equation of women’s labour with that of the machine.”

Read the entirety here!

Psychologist and Wonder Woman Creator William Marston’s Papers Now at Schlesinger Archives

A collection of papers of psychologist and Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston have landed at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study’s Schlesinger Library. And more papers from Marston’s granddaughters are set to arrive at in the archives in the months ahead. Undoubtedly the Marston’s papers will also feature items from his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston and partner Olive Byrne, both of whom are well deserving of collections in their own right. As described in the Harvard Gazette,

Over the past academic year, two collections of William Moulton Marston, the Harvard graduate, psychologist, and inventor of the lie detector machine whose Wonder Woman comics promoted the triumph of women, arrived at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study’s Schlesinger Library.

Though there’s little material directly related to Wonder Woman among the photos, letters, articles, drawings, and miscellanea in the archive, the collections go a long way toward explaining the influences in Marston’s life that inspired his righteous crime-fighting character, her racy look, and her fantasy storylines.

“His collection helps tell a back story rooted in Marston’s controversial research and the women in his unorthodox personal life,” said Kathy Jacob, curator of manuscripts at the Schlesinger. That includes Marston’s simultaneous relationships with two strong and idealistic women, a connection to Margaret Sanger ­— one of the most important feminists of the 20th century — as well as Marston’s work with behavioral psychology and his theories on love.

Relatedly, a new feature film, Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, is set to be released later this fall.

July 31st BPS/UCL Talk: “Kingsley Hall: An Island? Exploring Archival Accounts of Life at the Hall”

R. D. Laing

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre, in conjunction with UCL’s Centre for the History of the Psychological Disciplines, has announced the next talk in its summer seminar series. On Monday July 31st Adrian Chapman, of Florida State University, will be speaking on “Kingsley Hall: An Island? Exploring Archival Accounts of Life at the Hall.” Full details below.

Monday 31st July

Dr Adrian Chapman (Florida State University)

‘Kingsley Hall: An Island? Exploring Archival Accounts of Life at the Hall’

Kingsley Hall was radical therapeutic community established by R. D. Laing in 1965 (and that ran until 1970) in the East End of London. Here I turn to archival accounts of life at the Hall by residents and visitors. These accounts are from a book (never published) about Kingsley Hall and other communities established by the Laing network in the 70s. In his introduction to the book (the most stable title of which was Asylum: To Dwell in Strangeness), Laing engages in a debate with his former collaborator, David Cooper, who had spoken derisively of the Hall and other communities as “happy islands”, isolated zones of pseudo-freedom. Following a consideration of the aims, scope, history and marketability of the book project, I take the island metaphor as my starting point for exploring archival materials. This route allows me to trace significant connections and dissonances among several contributors to Asylum: To Dwell in Strangeness, and offers rich possibilities for interrogating the nature of the Hall and the radical psychiatry associated with R. D. Laing. In particular, I want to examine debates around the politics of the Kingsley Hall project; the relation of the Hall to its surrounding area in the East End; as well as the relation of Laing and his project to mainstream psychiatry, and to 1960s counterculture.

Tickets/registration: https://uclkingsleyhall.eventbrite.co.uk

Location:
SELCS Common Room (G24)
Foster Court
Malet Place
University College London

Time: 18:00-19:30

New at the Wellcome Library: Tavistock Institute of Human Relations Archive Now Open to Researchers!

The papers of the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations (TIHR) have now been catalogued – 130 boxes of them! – and are now open to researchers at the Wellcome Library. As the TIHR Archive Project reports,

These papers – the registered document series (SA/TIH/B/1) – provide a framework for the research and outputs of the Institute from 1945 to 2005, containing key reports and findings from seminal social studies from the post-war period to the early 21st century.

The reports trace the dynamic and cutting-edge work undertaken by the Tavistock Institute’s team of social scientists, anthropologists and psychoanalysts, in their efforts to apply new thinking emerging in the social sciences to the most prevalent contemporary needs and concerns of society. The topics addressed in the reports are hugely diverse, covering many aspects of the organisation of human social and cultural relations, institutions, social conflicts, and organisational structures and group dynamics.

More details about the archive can be found here, while the collection can be explored here.

Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’

coverThe European Research Consortium for Informatics and Mathematics‘ publication ERCIM NEWS put out a special issue on ‘scientific data sharing and re-use.’ In it Christine Borgman (out of UCLA’s department of Information Studies) touches in brief on some of the topics covered in her new volume Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World (2015, MIT Press).

In her book, Borgman locates data as only meaningful within borgmaninfrastructures or ecologies of knowledge, and discusses the management and exploitation of data as particular kinds of investments in the future of scholarship. Her take on the history of big data and the growing enthusiasm for data sharing, which she asserts often obscures the challenges and complexities of data stewardship, is relevant to historians of the social sciences. An excerpt:

Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. Studying data is a means to observe how rapidly the landscape of scholarly work in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities is changing. Inside the black box of data is a plethora of research, technology, and policy issues. Data are best understood as representations of observations, objects, or other entities used as evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship. Rarely do they stand alone, separable from software, protocols, lab and field conditions, and other context. The lack of agreement on what constitutes data underlies the difficulties in sharing, releasing, or reusing research data.  Continue reading Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’