The Congress commemorated

The following document reached us under mysterious circumstances last week. Careful textual analysis using particle swarm model selection methods affirms that it is of foreign rather than Mancunian origin – possibly Yorkshire or the Thames Valley region. Readers who may be able to shed any light on its origins are strongly encouraged to keep the information to themselves.

Manuscript Found within an Omnibus, upon last Sunday morning, being an Occasional Verse, in some sort, an Ode Commemorative, in the mode of a Serio-Comic Song, concerning the late Universal Colloquy of all the Scholars of the Globe Entire, held at the College of the Rising Manufacturing Town of Manchester.

We’re up and down the Oxford Road, we’re in and out the venue,

With smile polite, with focused mind, consult again the menu;

Of hist.of sci. and tech. and med. there is, it seems, no end,

So much to choose, so much to lose, it drives me round the bend. Continue reading

Science and Medicine at The John Rylands Library

By James Peters & Julie Ramwell, The University of Manchester Library

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The John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Stephen Richards

The John Rylands Library,  Deansgate is a remarkable neo-Gothic building in the city centre. It opened to the public in 1900, and since 1972 has been part of The University of Manchester Library, the third largest academic library in the UK.  The Library is home to the major part of  our Special Collections, which include internationally significant collections of printed books, manuscripts and archives,  a number of which relate to HSTM. Continue reading

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A Historical Epistemology of Empathy

By Eric M. Johnson, University of British Columbia

A version of this post can also be found on The Primate Diaries Blog at The Scientific American.

Dark portents of civil war were looming as the American poet Walt Whitman celebrated the transformative song of empathy. “I do not ask the wounded person how he feels,” he wrote in his 1855 book Leaves of Grass, “I myself become the wounded person.” The ensuing battle over slavery, an institution that Charles Darwin called “the greatest curse on Earth,” would seem an unlikely place to find hope in human potential. And yet, as Whitman wrote during his volunteer service with wounded Union soldiers, “I’ll pour the verse with streams of blood, full of volition, full of joy.”

Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published in the United States one year prior to the first fateful shots at Fort Sumter that began the bloodiest conflict on American soil. Continue reading

Taking (history of) science to town: Manchester meetings

By Rebekah Higgitt, National Maritime Museum

This post originally appeared on The H-Word Blog at the Guardian.

For academics, it is conference season. Conferences are, when you stop to think about them, strange events, with their own sets of rituals and performances. Large ones take over the lives of their organisers, though few take over their locations in the way that meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) did in the 19th century.

Today known as the British Science Association, in the 19th century the BAAS was its annual meeting, usually held in August or September at different cities and towns across Britain, Ireland and, on seven occasions between 1884 and 1929, the Dominions. Continue reading