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Celebrating International Women’s Day: From the College Archive

Continuing our deep dive into the history of the RCSI Biological Society (check out last month’s BioSoc post for LGBT+ History Month ), we’re flying the flag for the first women of BioSoc this International Women’s Day. The RCSI Biological Society (BioSoc) is the official student society of RCSI and one of the oldest student medical societies in the world.  Women have been consistently well-represented in successive BioSoc Committees since its inception in the 1930s. The Society appointed its first female President - Dr Margaret (Pearl) Dunleavy - in 1951. Two decades earlier, the opening paper presented at the first Inaugural Meeting in Feb 1932 – on a case of Henoch-Schonlein purpura - was read by a woman, Miss Johnson, prompting a formal note of thanks to be entered in the minutes 'for allowing a woman to read the first paper.' Miss Mary Teresa McQuaid presenting a paper titled ‘Polyserositis in a Young Male Child’ to assembled BioSoc attendees, 20 November 1947 Intellectual
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Celebrating LGBT+ History Month: From the College Archive

The historic RCSI Biological Society (BioSoc) is the official student society of RCSI and one of the oldest student medical societies in the world. Trawling through the minutes of BioSoc meetings recently, we were struck by the number of papers delivered on the subject of human sexuality as far back as the early 1940s:  2 May 1940         ' Sex Development Normal & Abnormal', presented by Mr D Early 5 March 1942      'Sex and Life', presented by Mr J Carri 5 May 1943           ' Homosexuality', presented by Mr R Poole Though the papers themselves have not survived, the topics under consideration and the nature of the discussions that ensued among those in attendance were captured to varying degrees in the minutes of these BioSoc meetings.  RCSI Biological Society members, late 1940s-early 1950s The Science of Sexuality BioSoc offered an unusually open forum for discussion of sex and sexuality at a time when it was still regarded as taboo within mainstream a

Major Dr Thomas J Crean- LRCSI & FRCSI

One of the nicest aspects of working in Heritage Collections is the people that we meet along the way. Be it in person in our reading room in Mercers building, reading about them in an 18th century letter or coming across them in a snapshot of time in a sepia coloured photograph. We are always meeting people!  Last month we were fortunate enough to meet the Moorhead family- Cari, Susan and Peter, who had got in touch with us earlier on this year with the view of donating a very unique and interesting piece of surgical equipment. The piece was a set of surgical tools encased in a solid wooden box with the engraving: Thomas J Crean Surgeon Imperial Light Horse 1899 The name on the engraving is quite a familiar one here in RCSI. Born in Dublin in 1873 Thomas Crean studied in Clongowes College and completed his medical studies in RCSI gaining his Licentiateship in 1896 and his Fellowship in 1902. He then went on to have a successful and active career in the British Army as a soldier and do

Bringing back the dead: resuscitation in the eighteenth and nineteenth century

Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival of ‘Samhain’, one of four seasonal turning points in the Celtic calendar. Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the transition from ‘light’ half of the year, associated with life, to the dark half of the year, associated with the dead.  Samhain, with its influence on modern-day Halloween, symbolises a weakening of the lines between this world and the next, and between the realms of the dead and the living.  But what exactly does it mean to be dead, and when does ‘death’ actually occur? These were just some of the questions that physicians in the late 1700s grappled with in their quest to ‘reverse’ death through the application of resuscitation techniques. Royal Humane Society pamphlet promoting resuscitation in the case of apparent drowning victims, c1860 Definitions of death and ‘The vital force’ While the scientific and legal definition of death continues to cause debate to this day, the blurring of boundaries betwee

Taking a close look at MICROSCOPIC ACTIVITY throughout the centuries

M icroscopes have always been a crucial tool used for the advancement of health and medicine. They allow medics, scientists and researchers to describe the body at a microscopic level more consistently and with confidence in what they see through them.  Today microscopes are used in the observation of bacteria and microbes as well as in the development of new chemicals and medicines used to combat disease.  RCSI Heritage Collections holds a large collection of microscopes dating back to the early 19 th century. Here, we take a ‘closer’ look at the history of the microscope, how they came about, as well as their introduction to Irish medical science (there’s an RCSI link!) History It was a Dutch father-son team named  Hans and Zacharias Janssen who  invented the first so-called compound microscope in the late 16th century when they discovered that, if they put a lens at the top and bottom of a tube and looked through it, objects on the other end became magnified. However, as ing

RCSI launches newly digitised population health archives for National Heritage Week 2022

Heritage Week 2022 marks the official launch of RCSI’s new online Digital Heritage Collections website showcasing RCSI’s extensive heritage collections, including newly digitised materials from population health pioneer and campaigner Sir Charles A. Cameron. For the first time, users can discover the extraordinary individuals and events in RCSI history that have shaped the development of healthcare and society at local, national and international level through a series of curated online exhibitions and never-before-seen digitised material from RCSI Heritage Collections. Explore the site here . The people’s champion Funded by the Heritage Council Stewardship Fund, RCSI has digitised and made available a range of never-before-seen material from the papers of population health pioneer, Sir Charles Alexander Cameron.  Spanning several thousand pages across almost half a century, these papers shine a light on the life and work of one of Victorian Dublin's most influential citizens. Disc

RCSI Heritage Collections awarded Heritage Council funding to digitise and make accessible historical archives relating to public health in Ireland

As we approach the anniversary of Sir Charles Cameron's birth on 16 July 1830, RCSI Heritage Collections is pleased to announce an award of Heritage Council funding to digitise and make publicly available for the first time selected material from Cameron's private papers. Portrait of Sir Charles Cameron Sir Charles Cameron (1830-1921) was at various points in his lifetime a Fellow, Professor, President and historian of RCSI, but is best remembered today for his contribution to improving standards of public health in Ireland in his capacity as Medical Superintendent Officer of Health for Dublin Corporation from 1879 to 1921. Cameron’s research, publications, and campaigning during this period led to dramatic improvements in living conditions, life expectancy, and general population health in Dublin at a time when disease was rife in the city. The Heritage Council’s Heritage Stewardship Fund was instituted in 2022 to support staff in local authorities, state agencies, and third l