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Ayurveda all in a row

The Wellcome Library is closed this week (29 June-5 July) to enable the staff to carry out numerous stocktaking and ordering projects for the benefit of its users. For example books on the open shelves inevitably get out of order during the year and need to be put back into sequence.

Essentials of fevers

The Library has a formidable collection of old textbooks on selected medical subjects. Browsing the open shelves is in itself an education in medical history, provided the books are in the correct order: the sort order is first subject and then date. The order enables one to pinpoint changes in thought and vocabulary, for example from “fevers” to “communicable diseases”.


Revising in hospital, by Moyra Sheldon. Wellcome Library no. 532906i

Moyra Sheldon was a medical illustrator at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge around 1971. The Wellcome Library has had since 2001 a sample of her drawings, and Closed week has provided an opportunity to get this collection into order. It shows the range of work that an illustrator might be called on to carry out in a teaching hospital, whether illustrating research papers for scientists or creating posters for common rooms.

All done by hand of course — no Apple Macs or Clipart in those days. Some of the subjects are always with us: a broken leg does not excuse a young patient from maths revision when exams are imminent(above). By contrast this drawing (right) of a 1971 hippy is a real period piece.

“Then there are the ones my doctor gives me”. Pen and ink drawing by Moyra Sheldon, 1971. Wellcome Library no. 532906i

This is the time of year for work experience placements (interns). Thanks to Lydia Figes, Mae Hazell, Artan Perjuci and Isabel Errington for their help with the above and similar projects.

Author: William Schupbach

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