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  • Image of alchemical furnaces

    Kitchen alchemy in the 16th century

    01/11/2017

    Since late antiquity, alchemical texts have had a reputation for being difficult to read. Besides often being written in Latin, which automatically limited the readership, these treatises employed a hermetic language, following the tradition of the secrecy of esoteric knowledge.… Continue reading

  • Woodcut of St Birgitta.

    Reading and health in the medieval convent

    08/06/2017

    Medieval medicine, based on the writings associated with Hippocrates and Galen, held that health depended on keeping the body’s humours (blood, choler, phlegm and melancholy) in equilibrium. The regulation of the ‘non-naturals’, influences on the body such as the consumption… Continue reading

  • Greek manuscripts at the Wellcome Library: a symposium and concert

    02/05/2017

    On Thursday 25 May 2017 the Wellcome Library will host a one-day symposium on its Greek manuscripts, aiming to explore hitherto unknown or very little studied medical texts. Topics will include the diagnosis and therapy of diseases, and the ownership… Continue reading

  • Censorship on medieval manuscript page.

    Censorship of medieval English recipes

    21/04/2017

    A late medieval manuscript in the Wellcome Library contains intriguing marks of censorship. MS. 406 is a collection of Middle English texts and recipes produced in the 15th and early 16th centuries. The recipes are from the ‘Practica phisicalia’ composed… Continue reading

  • Woodcut of black hellebore plant.

    Rediscovering the gut-mind connection

    09/03/2017

    The gut-mind relationship is currently undergoing a renaissance. In the past decade, biomedical science has been drawing increasingly compelling links between mental health and the gastrointestinal tract. Conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome are being linked to mental illness, and… Continue reading

  • Medieval herbal showing plants.

    A medieval medical bestseller: the ‘Circa instans’

    20/02/2017

    Pharmacy was one of the pillars of medical therapy during antiquity and the Middle Ages. Medicaments were derived from the natural world (plants, minerals and animals), and resulted from the combination of different substances, each with specific properties and therapeutic… Continue reading

  • The history of genetics research in Edinburgh

    23/01/2017

    As the archivist on the University of Edinburgh’s Wellcome Trust-funded ‘Towards Dolly’ project, I catalogued a variety of genetics collections but rarely got the chance to delve into them from a research perspective. Over four years on the project I… Continue reading

  • An hysterical diagnosis

    01/12/2016

    What did it mean for a woman to be diagnosed with hysteria? In the second of our blog series on the ‘asylum and beyond‘, Charlotte Whittingham examines patient records from the asylum to find out. A 1916 casebook from St… Continue reading

  • Wikimedia editathon on the history of psychiatry

    02/11/2016

    Are you interested in the history of mental health and psychiatry? Then come along to our free History of Psychiatry Beyond the Asylum event, featuring talks from top historians and an afternoon of editing Wikipedia to improve its coverage of… Continue reading

  • Dirty but rewarding: contributing to the UK Medical Heritage Library

    26/10/2016

    The Royal College of Surgeons, England was one of 9 institutions that contributed to the UKMHL. Their Collections Librarian, Dot Fouracre, tells us about what it was like to be part of the mass digitisation project. We were excited to… Continue reading