28/03/2017 Esther Cole (University of Manchester)

Esther Poster 2

The History of the Liverpool Medical Students’ Society

The Liverpool Medical Students’ Society (LMSS) plays an active and vibrant part in medical student life, with over 40 student committee members and a history spanning more than 140 years. This includes social, educational and charitable roles, creative outlets, and welfare support for over one thousand medical students. However, the Society has not been without controversy. The legacy of the Society’s long history includes bizarre rituals and archaic traditions which now appear out of place an increasingly politically correct world. The aim of my research is to help put recent events into historical context.

This seminar outlines my undergraduate research on the origins of the Liverpool Medical Students’ Society, which began as a debating society founded in 1874, attached to the Royal Infirmary School of Medicine. The society formed a hub whereby staff and students could debate varied topics such as the role of women in medicine, ‘germ theory’ and Listerian antisepsis. My postgraduate research aims to build on this preliminary work, using the debating society minute books to identify key individuals of influence. I hope to use digital techniques and social network analysis to explore a medical nexus which encapsulates not only the establishment of a university in Liverpool, but also professional networks such as the Liverpool Medical Institution. I hope to determine the relationships between teaching staff and students, to see whether being a member of the debating society afforded any special privileges.

Debates regarding women doctors were finally borne out when female medical students were admitted to the University in 1903. This established new types of social networks and dynamics. I hope to follow these networks through to the end of the First World War, to explore the effect conflict had on the debating society’s members and alumni, including the increased opportunities granted to female doctors during war time.

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