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Showing posts from October, 2016

The Prince of Poisoners

With the scary season upon us RCSI Heritage Collections decided to have a look in the archives and see what Halloween-esque material we could find to share with you. And oh how the archives did not let us down!  The year is 1856.  The town is Rugeley, Staffordshire .  The crime is the..   Poisoning of John Cook by his friend William Palmer! High Street, Rugeley. Palmer's house is in the centre background with the bay window. The crime scene is the Talbot Arms Hotel, to the left foreground.  William Palmer was born in Rugeley in 1824 and was the sixth of eight children. At 17 years old he was apprenticed to a Liverpool chemist but was dismissed after three months for stealing. Palmer travelled to London where he qualified as a physician in August 1846. He returns home and soon people he drinks with (George Abley), he is related to (his mother-in-law Ann Thornton) and who are horse racing acquaintances (Leonard Bladen) start to become seriously ill with stomach pai

Hidden Heaps of History in Hanslope

In this modern world of technology and advanced learning, it is easy for people to believe that the history taught in schools, universities and online is a pretty accurate decisive history. But a new book entitled The History Thieves by Ian Cobain has shown that there are cracks forming in the historical foundation of the British Empire. The British Empire at it's peak in the 1920s had a population of over 500 million people and could lay claim to 24% of the Earth's total land area. The empire was so large that the sun was always shining on a part of it; 'the empire on which the sun never sets'. Included in those parts were Canada, Bermuda, Egypt, Burma, South Africa, India and Ireland. The British Empire in 1921 Cobain's book looks at all the records meticulously kept by the British while ruling their colonies and how, despite popular belief, large amounts of these records weren't destroyed once the country received it's independence. Instead these

Intriguing Heritage Items: No.3

Yesterday an amazing and thought provoking symposium entitled  Incarcerated Bodies  took place in Kilmainham Gaol . It looked at the history of hunger strikes, the instruments used to force feed patients and prisoners and how 'dark collections' should, or should not, be exhibited. Not for the faint-hearted! Having presented a paper entitled 'Force Feeding Implements in the RCSI Heritage Collections', the thought occurred to us why not feature one of these implements as an 'Intriguing Heritage Item'.  So tah dah!!    Lid of wooden case holding a 19th century stomach pump with 'Stomach Pump' written on it RCSI/MI/169   Stomach pump RCSI/MI/169 This stomach pump which is housed in a beautiful velvet lined wooden box is from the 19th century and unfortunately doesn't have any makers mark on it. The pump itself is brass and is accompanied by tapered bone or ivory implements, a black wooden bite bar and two pieces of tubing; one thick clo

Leafs, Lichen and Linnaeus

Being a surgical college does not mean that the RCSI Heritage Collections only has material relating to surgery. Centuries ago when anatomy, surgery and medicine were being discovered and studied, zoology, botany and chemistry were in the mix too. Now this was a time when different classes or species of organisms, plants and animals hadn't been discovered. Here's the science bit; the taxonomy of living organisms is the science of describing, identifying, naming and classifying these organisms. The formal system of naming living things by giving them a name made of two parts is called binomial nomenclature.  So for example an African elephant has the binomial nomenclature is Loxodonta africana , a honey badger's is Mellivora capensis and a chestnut tree is Castanea sativa . So who was the genius who said 'Here why don't we divide these plants and animals into different classes and make things easier for ourselves when studying them?'    It was Carl Linnaeus