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.


Rachel D Poster

British Architectural Acoustics, 1900-1930

Before the First World War, British architectural acoustics was little changed since the nineteenth century. Despite significant developments in the United States of America following the work of Wallace Clement Sabine, and to a lesser extent in Germany, few British architects or scientists engaged in architectural acoustics research. Six years after the end of the war the Building Research Board of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research formed a committee to oversee research into the acoustic properties of building materials in three different research establishments: the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, the Building Research Station at Acton, and the Signals Experimental Establishment at Woolwich. Within the first few years of its existence the Architectural Acoustics Committee advised on the architectural design competition for the League of Nations Assembly Hall and was consulted on acoustic materials by the Government of India and the Municipality of Singapore.

In this seminar I will present how the importance of acoustic technologies in the First World War and the need for cheap alternative building materials during and after the war led to the creation of the Architectural Acoustics Committee.



Josh Butt Poster 2

Adapting to the emergence of the automobile: a case study of Manchester coachbuilder, Joseph Cockshoot and Co., 1896-1939

Today motor vehicles are ubiquitous. Yet at the end of the 19th century motoring was a new pastime, and there were only a few hundred motorised vehicles on the road. Many believed motoring to be a fad and motorists faced opposition on many fronts, from local corporations, the police and rural residents. However over the next few decades motoring would grow exponentially, changing how people thought about transport.

Coachbuilders also had an uneasy relationship with this new technology. While automobile manufacturers and customers required coachbuilder’s skills to build motor car bodies, the growth of the automobile was eroding the use of personal horse-drawn transport during the first decade of the 20th century. Relatively complete company records at the Museum of Science and Industry survive for Manchester coachbuilder Joseph Cockshoot and Co. This collection is one of only a few that documents the dilemma faced by coachbuilders in this era of change.

While clear technological inheritance between early motorcars and horse-drawn carriages has long been established, more recent scholarship has examined the emerging automobile culture, highlighting the complex relationships between cycling, motoring and the use of horse-drawn transport. Study of this relatively under researched industry offers a unique perspective on the advent of the motor car, providing some significant observations that can add to our understanding of personal mobility and motoring during this period.


Name:                      Kate Hiepko


Year of PhD:           2 of 3

Thesis topic:           The history of diabetes research, care and prevention in the former German Democratic Republic, 1949-1990

Funding body:       AHRC (North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership)


I am a second year PhD student here at the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine. I completed my undergraduate and Master’s degrees in History at the University of Bristol. My project examines the chronic disease diabetes mellitus in the state socialist context of the former German Democratic Republic. It centres on key strands of diabetes care (diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation), seeking to establish links between these and the political goals present within the GDR’s centralised healthcare system, such as prevention and economic determinism. It will explore a number of important institutions as sites for diabetes care, which include the Soviet-inspired polyclinics, a boarding school for diabetic children, and the large Institute for Diabetes ‘Gerhardt Katsch’ in Karlsburg on the North East coast, where internationally-recognised research into diabetes was conducted. The approach that I am taking is interdisciplinary, contributing not only to the history of chronic diseases (and diabetes more specifically) but also to the political and cultural history of the GDR. I will be interviewing patients in order to assess what it was like to live with a disease that requires close monitoring in a state known for its high surveillance, as well as medical professionals who were involved in diabetes care and clinical research. One particularly interesting example of a unique, specialist East German occupation was that of the diabetic nurse (Diabetikerfürsorgerin) who acted as an intermediary between doctors and patients. I also intend to draw on official archival material and medical case notes written in East German diabetes advice centres, all of which are held at several regional archives and Germany’s national Bundesarchiv in Berlin.



‘Aktion Störfreimachung’ and Diabetes Mellitus in the Shadow of the Berlin Wall, 1961-1966

At the end of 1960, the leader of the former East Germany, Walter Ulbricht, announced that the state needed to reduce its reliance on goods, including pharmaceuticals, from West Germany and other NATO countries. When the Berlin Wall was erected on the 13th of August 1961, this provided the ideal opportunity for Ulbricht’s words to be put into practice. The autarkic policy in question was called ‘Störfreimachung’, which, literally translated into English, means ‘making free from disturbances’. Its impact could be felt to a large extent by East Germany’s diabetic population, who had become, it seemed, increasingly dependent on superior western depot (long-lasting) insulins, especially from the West German pharmaceutical company, Hoechst. Once depot insulin from the west was prohibited, diabetics were only able to use East German insulin alternatives, some of which were still ‘in-progress’ in their development. So catastrophic was the changeover (‘Umstellung’) from western insulins to East German variants that diabetes specialists referred to their patients as experiencing a ‘metabolic derailment’ (‘Stoffwechselentgleisung’) as a result.

It is the intention of this paper, therefore, to examine what life was like amidst the competitive, Cold-War politics immediately following the building of the Berlin Wall for diabetics, for their families and for the doctors treating them. It will look at how the policy of Störfreimachung did not simply influence the treatment of individual cases, but also how far it shaped the whole system of care for diabetes and the decisions that were made in inpatient and outpatient facilities either as a direct or indirect consequence of the policy. The paper will make use of a distinctly East German primary source, the so-called ‘Eingaben’ (petitions), which were sent to the high political authorities and frequently included a complaint of some sort. These give a colourful and detailed insight into the thoughts and feelings of diabetics and their relatives after what has often been branded the ‘secret foundation day’ of East Germany.



Donald Winnicott (1896-1971) is known primarily as a child psychoanalyst, remembered for his introduction of several concepts into psychoanalytic theory (the ‘Good-Enough Mother’; ‘Transitional Objects’; the ‘True Self’ and ‘False Self’) as well as his development of diagnostic and therapeutic games (most famously the ‘Squiggle Game’) and his ideas about the use of play in psychoanalysis. But the most constant fixture of his professional life was Paddington Green Children’s Hospital, where he worked in paediatrics for almost forty years. It was in this setting – in ‘the ordinary out-patient clinic of a children’s physician’ in a relatively deprived area of London – that Winnicott encountered most of the 60,000 or so patients claimed to have treated over the course of his career. Exploring some of the central themes and distinguishing features of Winnicott’s work (the centrality of the mother-baby dyad, the interplay of inner world and surrounding environment, and the relation between physical and mental symptoms) alongside the day-to-day workings of his paediatric practice reveals the significance of Paddington Green in the development and dissemination of Winnicott’s work.



Work, Rest and Play: Liverpool’s Medical Community since 1930

This seminar outlines an ethnographic approach to studying the training, professional, and social lives of the medical community in twentieth century Liverpool. Key spaces of this analysis include the university medical school, where nascent professional identity was established in students within a competitive and often transgressive environment, and the Liverpool Medical Institution, a nexus of professional and social interactions in the city where doctors met to discuss clinical practice and share ideas. The changing demographics of medicine in Britain will be explored, in terms of gender and ethnicity of practitioners, and the shifting experiences of medics living and working in the city. As a recently begun project, this seminar will introduce the key research questions and methodologies, including oral history interviews with retired physicians, and suggest possible challenges facing the research.