This year’s CSHM conference hosted speakers from all over Canada, the US, Guatemala, Europe and New Zealand. Themes spanned a wide range from the history of Public Health in Canada to human experimentation after WW2, from disease concepts to military history, and from women in health care to different migration movements by physicians coming to North America during the 20th century. The presidential address was given by current CSHM’s president, Sasha Mullaly (University of New Brunswick, Canada). The Paterson Lecture was given by Elena Conis (Emory University, United States). The conference held a special graduate students’ breakfast, a dinner at Calgary’s Heritage Park and a book launch of members’ recent publications. This year’s H.N. Segall prize for the best student paper was awarded to Caroline Lieffers (Yale).
This report’s intention is to give an overview of the variety of themes discussed with a focus on those sessions attended by the author and rapporteurs, while it cannot be complete with just around 70 conference presentations in total. It should be noted, that the last day was run in conjunction with the Canadian Historical Association (CHA) / Société historique du Canada (SHC) and that it was by principle a bilingual event. In Spring 2017 the CSHM will convene at Ryerson University, Toronto, Ontario.
Welcoming opening remarks were given by local arrangement’s chair Frank W. Stahnisch. In her history of Occupational Theory (OT) SASHA MULLALY (New Brunswick) linked the story of the Sanatorium in Clifton Springs, upstate NY, to its founder and director George Barton (1871–1923), who created the sanatorium in 1914. He believed that when one becomes sensitive to the tool one becomes sensitive to disease as well. It was a place where concepts of mental hygiene and the dehumanizing effects of industrial work were discussed. Barton thus was a key advocate in the professionalization of the new movement in North America in the early 20th century.
In the session on disease concepts PIERRE-OLIVIER MÉTHOT (Laval) discussed the ontological and physiological approaches to disease, the influence of Henry H. Sigerist and of some of his students like Owsei Temkin on these approaches. The dualistic framework of these contradictory ideas and heterogeneous categories became visible. MARTINA SCHLÜNDER (Toronto) then discussed the English translation of Ludwig Fleck’s Entstehung und Entwicklung einer wissenschaftlichen Tatsache / The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, written in German in 1935 and designed as a witty polemic against the Vienna circle. In Schlünder’s opinion the English translation does not capture the concept nor the spirit of Fleck’s original. According to Fleck we have to understand diseases as temporal processes.
ANDREW CUNNINGHAM (Cambridge) questioned the morality of exhuming mummies, which was very much en vogue in Europe in the 19th and 20th century. In Cunningham’s opinion buried bodies should be left untouched and trying to determine what these persons died of would be “a useless endeavour” as it is the individual physician who determines what an individual person died of. This viewpoint raised an interesting discussion about morality, forensic pathology and politics.
NICHOLAS BINNEY (Exeter) stressed the importance to look at the history of medical practices in order to question our practices today, not the inverse. He works on history of heart failure by comparing guidelines – or early similar forms of guidelines – from as early as 1833. He raised the question whether there is anything that links different localities and cultures by giving the image of beads on a string. His preliminary answer is that long stories imply that today´s form is final, but it is temporary only.
In the Session on reintegration and response after WW1 MICHELLE FILICE (Wilfried Laurier) analysed Veterans, Disability Pensions and the role of physicians in the respective decision making process between 1919 and 1939. Around 170,000 soldiers returned wounded from Europe and the Canadian government was not quite prepared to accommodate those men’s needs, which sometimes led to a feeling of betrayal. Her analysis revealed the inconsistent acknowledgement of psychological trauma as a disease entity among the board of pension commissioners (BPC). Her analysis offers a possible linkage to disability studies. In his presentation on the Denazification of the Medical Profession of Germany, MIKKEL DACK (Calgary) gave a disillusioning picture. The Health service was one of the most Nazified sections in Nazi Germany and yet members rarely lost their licence, partially because they were needed in a post-war society. Another reason was the lack of a clear definition of who was or was not to be seen as a Nazi. Dack had examined 2,000 denazification files from all four allied occupation zones.
CORINNE DORIA (Paris / Milan) gave an intriguing presentation on a collection of letters written by French blind WW1 veterans, a subject that she situates between medical humanities and disability studies. She takes her sources from two publications: Le journal des soldats blessés aux yeux and Bulletin mensuel de l´union des aveugles de guerre. As a source of medical writing these reveal the difficulties blind veterans encountered and the different measures installed to assist them. They show us the physical handicap and its social component.
NATASHA SZUHAN (Melbourne) examined the North Kensington Women’s Welfare Centre’s Medical Committee and how it helped establish early Contraceptive Standards in Great Britain. This centre became one of the first contraceptive programs in London as it developed standard procedures.
In her presentation on “How to Poison Children: Justus von Liebig’s Food for Infants and the Laboratory’s Material Limits.” CAROLINE LIEFFERS (Yale) explained how Liebig had created an infant food, which was tested in France on 4 newborns who all died afterwards. Her study offers insights into the integrity and the limits of laboratory work, but also on anxieties in late 19th century Europe towards chemistry. Ethical standards for testing new substances had yet to be created.
ERIN GALLAGHER-COHOON (Saskatchewan) had examined the role of US doctors experimenting with STD in Guatemala. Gallagher-Cohoon took a closer look at the women’s role in these experiments. Not only were they given dehumanizing names as la puta or female donor, they were also seen as the predominant source of infection, giving troubling insight into the traditional perception of the female body as being dangerous, infectious and potentially deadly. Furthermore, it offers a view on a multilayered complex of power as Guatemalan (female) bodies were used to protect white American (male) bodies.
In her Paterson Keynote Lecture on “Vaccines, Pesticides, and the Nature of Evidence” ELENA CONIS (Emory) intertwined the DDT narrative and the (anti-)vaccination narrative from a mostly US-centered point of view. She could show that the pesticide DDT was eventually banned not because of a social movement but because environmental evidence was too strong to be overlooked. She recaptured the fraud in scientific studies that led to the wide-spread belief that vaccinations could cause autism. Conis then moved on to asking the quite provocative question why parents should believe that DDT is bad, but vaccination is good. In her opinion history has to tell those stories differently and it has to tell them well and that historians should listen more to the Zeitgeist of the current communities.
KELSEY LUCYK (Calgary) provided the long history of Public Health Advocacy in Canada from 1910 to 2010 in merely 15 minutes by dividing those 100 years into four parts: living conditions in early Canada; children, family and workers; war time and the part “on the road” leading into the future. She could show critically that Canadian PH has always centered on trying to alleviate social inequalities.
ISABEL CIOK (Calgary) continued with an optimistic outlook on the Alberta Public Health Association (APHA), 1943–2015, by concluding that PH always wins. The first time period from the 1940s to the 1970s was marked by travelling clinics and the fight to eradicate diseases by applying the upstream principle of prevention. The time period from the 1970s to the 1990s was marked by strong social movements and the growing understanding that health was more than biomedicine. The current period is one of rising inequalities and the need of incorporating external influences like for example the Kyoto protocol.
LINDSAY MACLAREN gave insight into the fluoridation of water in the province of Alberta (AB) and could show that dental public health has been a prominent part of the Alberta Public Health Association (APHA).
ROGELIO VENDEZ MENDOZA (Calgary) laid out the different Spanish translations of important European medical textbooks by Columbian physician José Felix Merizalde (1787–1868) in the early 19th century. He could show that Merizalde not just simply translated those works but added his comments and thus tried to adapt the knowledge to the conditions in his own culture. Mendoza painted the picture of a man who was an engaging medical scholar, a polemicist who enjoyed lively discussions and a driving force in the creation of the Medical Faculty at the University of Bogotá. His translations today are a national treasure of Columbia. JANE JENKINS (St. Thomas University) took a closer look at the New York Network in New Brunswick’s Public Health Reform and by doing so tried to re-place Canada’s Public Health History: The Public Health act of New Brunswick in 1918 was inspired by a group of physicians who had travelled to Bellevue Hospital, NY, USA – a fact that she used to prove that place does in fact matter. This not only facilitates the overcoming of negative local stereotypes but helps to study the contrast and convergences with the US.
J.T.H. CONNOR (Memorial) traced the biography of Dr. Frederick D. Mott, who was one of the rare US citizens to become a Canadian Minister. Having obtained his medical degree at McGill he later left the US again, partially due to the anti-communist movement in the 1950s. Mott, who was committed to socialized medicine then established a health care plan in Saskatchewan. In Connor’s eyes Mott is part of the continuity of individuals in Canada who made things work.
DAVID WRIGHT (McGill) examined Life Stories of Émigré South African Doctors in Canada 1957–84. Wright could show that most immigrants came between 1966 and 1976, most were men and more than 60 per cent were Jewish. As shown in semi-structured interviews they regretted to leave South Africa but did so anyway out of a feeling that difficulties were only about to get worse. This study is part of a bigger project about the immigration of foreign-trained doctors to Canada. The goal of this project is to rethink the history of Medicare and to understand this particular migration through the lens of diasporic studies and global history.
ALEKSANDRA LOEWENAU (Calgary) explored the Immigration Applications to the Society for the protection of science and learning (SPSL) by German-speaking Neuroscientists. They are held at Bodleian library, Oxford, UK, as many emigrants first moved to GB and then on to North America. Initially the SPSL’s standpoint was that politics had no place in science, but that changed as oppressive measures by Nazi Germany grew harsher. Getting a job in the individual host country was difficult and often there was “no spot”. German-speaking immigrants who were in GB after September 1st 1939 were interned on the Isle of Man which added to their desperation.
PAUL STORTZ (Calgary) took a closer look at Refugee Professors at the University of Toronto, between 1939–1946 by asking two questions: First, how did Canada come to ignore the horrible conditions many professors were in? Second, how can we narrate this history today in critical history? The Canadian emigration system was racist and anti-Semitism was strong in Canadian society, so that the paperwork for just one person was astounding and the process took long. On the other hand, many on university campuses supported altruism. The presentation by GÜEL RUSSELL (Texas A&M) on Features in Translocation examined the life of Felix Haurowitz (1896–1987). Russell could show the importance of Istanbul University in recruiting German-speaking academics like biochemist Haurowitz from Prague in the 1930s and 40s. Her central argument is that in transmigration serendipity is the key word as the emigrant does not know in which circumstances he will end up in. DAVID ZIMMERMAN (Victoria) examined Émigré Academics in the SU. Reasons to go there were not all about communist ideas and ideals and finally this decision proved to be disastrous in most cases. Those who survived could sometimes continue an academic career, some could move on to the US, where they kept silent about their time in the SU. Those who died can be traced via the Yad Vashem archive.
FRANK W. STAHNISCH (Calgary) portrayed one academic who left Nazi Germany as being neither Jewish nor Socialist. Before holding the chair of Anatomy at Jena University Hartwig Kuhlenbeck (1897–1984) had lived in Tokyo and was fluent in Japanese and Chinese. Once in the US he published heavily but was never as successful as in Jena. ERNA KURBEGOVIC (Calgary) traced the Journey of German Émigré Dr. Hugh Lytton (1921–2002) from Nuremberg via London to Calgary. During WW2 he joined the 3E documents team and went to Germany as a British soldier looking for documents as evidence. Later he did a PhD in psychology and his supervisor then moved to Western Canada, adding to the émigré academic story of Eastern Canada. Kurbegovic could show that a database can teach about structures, but a case study can dig much deeper than numbers and show that emigration was anything but easy.
Alison Treacy Bumstead (Calgary): “The Battle Behind the Battle: Allied Surgical Planning for the Invasion of Normandy.”
Andrew McEwen (Calgary): “Mallein as a Diagnostic Agent: Civil and Military Applications in Canada, 1891–1921.”
Andrea McKenzie (York): “Visual War Stories: Public and Private Memories of Canadian Nurses during the Great War.”
Pierre-Olivier Méthot (Laval): “Are Diseases ‘Entities’ or ‘Processes’? Narratives and Disease Concepts in Twentieth Century Medical History.”
Martina Schlünder (Toronto): “’In Reality Diseases Do Not Exist, Sick People Do!’: Ludwig Fleck on the Concept of ‘Disease Entities’.”
Andrew Cunningham (Cambridge): “Should We Even Try to Identify Diseases in the Past?”
Nicholas Binney (Exeter): “History as Tracking the Evolution of our Knowledge of Disease.”
James R. Wright Jr. (Alberta Children’s Hospital): “Pathological Specimen Collections Derived from Commonwealth Casualties in the Great War.”
David Theodore (McGill): “That ‘70s Hospital: University Healthcare Centres after Medicare.”
Erich Weidenhammer (Toronto): “Exploring the Material Culture of Public Health.”
Jacalyn Duffin and Joseph Pater (Queens): “Mrs. Robinson’s Revenge: Pete Seeger and the Saskatchewan Medicare Song.”
Erin Spinney (Sasketchewan): “Carers for the Sick or Drunken Accessories to Desertion? Nursing at Plymouth and Haslar Naval Hospitals, 1790–1815.”
Geoffrey Hudson (Northern Ontario School of Medicine): “Not Suffering Saints: Mutiny in the Royal Greenwich Hospital, 1705–50.”
Matthew Neufeld (Saskatchewan): “The Birth of Biopolitics in Early Modern England: Manning the Royal Navy: 1690–1710.”
Isabelle Perreault (Ottawa) and Alex Gagnon (Montréal): “La dernière représentation: Analyse littéraire et iconographique de la mise en scène de sa propre mort au 20e siècle.”
Catherine Carstairs (Guelph): “Gordon Bates, the Health League of Canada and the History of Public Health in Canada.”
Marie-Claude Thiffault (Ottawa): “Le Parcours de Vie Improbable de ‘Francoise’: Analyse Microhistorienne d’un Dossier Psychiatrique (1979 – 1999).”
Leah Wiener (Simon Fraser University): “Health Policy and Medical Attendance at Gogama, Ontario, 1927–57.”
Marie Lebel (Université de Hearst): “Déhospitalisation, Langue et Périphérie: Regard Socio-historique sur les Soins et Services de Santé Mentale Dans le Nord-est Ontarien.”
Katrina Ackermann (University of Regina): “’We were to remain unheard and unheard of’: Rural Women’s Reproductive Health Care Activism in the Maritime Provinces.”
Noah E. Miller: “They’re always lookin’ for the Bad Stuff’: Rediscovering the Stories of Coqualeetza Indian Hospital.”
Michelle Filice (Wilfred Laurier): “’The Medical History of an Invalid’: Doctors, Veterans and Disability Pensions, 1919-1939.”
Mikkel Dack (Calgary): “The Failed Purge: Denazification of the Health Services and Medical Profession of Germany.”
Corinne Doria (Sorbonne & Milan): “Lettres et récits d’aveugles de guerre. Entre medical humanities et disability studies.”
Nancy Gonzalez-Salazar (INED): “Des réseaux des charlatans et des médecins en Uruguay: Une intrication des savoirs et pratiques à l’origine de l’éveil médical national (1800 – 1860).”
Caroline Lieffers (Yale): “’How to Poison Children: Justus von Liebig’s Food for Infants and the Laboratory’s Material Limits.”
Dan Malleck (Brock): “’Masters of the field’: Constructing, negotiating, and sustaining the professional authority of Nova Scotia’s pharmacists, 1876-1914.”
Natasha Szuhan (Melbourne): “The North Kensington Women’s Welfare Centre’s Medical Committee: Using Medicine and Science to Establish Early Contraceptive Standards in Britain.”
Cheryl Krasnick Warsh (Vancouver Island University): “Letters to Dr. Kelsey: Thalidomide and the Quest for Good Science in the Nuclear Age.”
Erin Gallagher-Cohoon (Saskatchewan): “Infected Women and the Doctors who Infected Them: Sexual Narratives and Silences in Dr. Cutler’s Records.”
Paterson Keynote Lecture by Elena Conis (Emory), “Vaccines, Pesticides, and the Nature of Evidence.”
Kelsey Lucyk, Frank Stahnisch and Lindsay McLaren (all University of Calgary), “The History of Advocacy Around the Social Determinants of Health in Canada, 1910-2010: Findings from the Canadian Public Health Association.”
Isabel Ciok (Calgary): Rogelio Velez Mendoza, Kelsey Lucyk, Lindsay McLaren (all University of Calgary), “The History of the Alberta Public Health Association, 1943-2015: Lessons for Contemporary Public Health Advocacy.”
Lindsay McLaren (Calgary): “Community Water Fluoridation in Alberta: the Historical Role of Public Health advocacy, 1950-2015.”
Joanna L. Pearce (York): “Unmeasured: Blindness and Medical Interventions in Nineteenth Century Canada.”
Tyler Hnatuk (York): “Classification and the Human Sciences at the Huronia Regional Centre 1900-1925.”
Sadia Ahmed (Calgary), Ian Mitchell (Cumming School of Medicine), Gregor Wolbring (Calgary): “Analysis of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome coverage in Canadian Newspapers.”
Rogelio Velez Mendoza(Calgary): “Translating Health: The Colombian Physician Merizalde’s Use of Nineteenth-Century European Medical Knowledge.”
Jane Jenkins,(St. Thomas University): “Re-Placing Canada’s Public Health History: The New York Network in New Brunswick’s Public Health Reform.”
J.T.H. Connor (Memorial): “Thinking the Unthinkable? Dr. Frederick D. Mott, Socialized Medicine, and Contemplating Canadian Medicare as a Yankee Invention.”
David Wright (McGill) and Andrew Medeiros (McGill): “’The First on the Boats to Leave’: The Life Stories of Émigré South African Doctors in Canada.”
Alexandre Klein (Ottawa): “Camille Laurin, historien de la medicine? Retour sur un projet historiographique devenu outil de reform scientifique et sociopolitique.”
Claire Cheetham (London): “Do Mortality Rates in the Early Modern City Mean that Parents did not Invest in their Children?”
Malika Sager (Lausanne): “Histoire d’un livre: le cas de Naissance de la clinque de Michel Foucault.”
Emmanuel Delilli (Humboldt & CAPHES): “Écrire l’histoire de la psychiatrie transculturelle au Canada. Exotisme, minorités et savants dans les récits de pionniers et les premiers réseaux universitaires.”
Aleksandra Loewenau (Calgary): “’Reason for Dismissal?- Jewish Faith’: Narratives’ Analysis of the SPSL Immigration Applications to North America by German-speaking Neurologists.”
Paul Stortz ((Calgary): “Refugee Professors at the University of Toronto, 1939-1946: Prosopographical and Historiographical Update.”
Guel Russell (Texas A&M): “The Unique and the Universal Features in Translocation: The Case of Felix Haurowitz (Prague – Istanbul – Bloomington 1938-48).”
David Zimmerman (Victoria): “The Story of German-speaking Émigré Academics Who Sought Refuge in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”
Maria Neagu (Ottawa): “Dire, dénoncer, démystifier.Une étude socioculturelle de la presse écrite comme acteur social de la déhospitalisation psychiatrique au Canada (1960-1980).”
Marcel Martel (York): “’I Need Help but Nobody Understands What I Say’: FrancoOntarians and Mental Health Services in French.”
Sandra Harrisson (Trois-Rivières): “Au-delá de l’épuisement familial: le parcours transinstitutionnel de patients psychiatrisés.”
Heather Stanley (Memorial): “’Never been the same since the baby was born’: Stories of Postpartum Depression and Ideal Motherhood.”
Frank W. Stahnisch (Calgary): “’When the Story of a Physician’s Life Echoes That of a Full Century’: The Multifarious Emigration Paths of German-American Neuroanatomist Hartwig Kuhlenbeck (1897-1984).”
Daniel Burston (Duquense): “Loss, Longing and Up-Rootedness in the Life and Work of Montréal Psychiatrist Karl Stern.”
Erna Kurbegovic (Calgary): “’From German Youth to British Soldier to Canadian Psychologist: The Journey of German Émigré Dr. Hugh Lytton (1921-2002).”
Fedir V. Razumenko (Saskatchewan): “The Nexus of Canadian Cancer Research: from the Commissions to the Institute, 1929-1951.”
Matthew Oram (Calgary): “The Spring Grove Experiment: The Rise and Fall of the United States’ Most Significant LSD Psychotherapy Research Program.”
Eric Oosenbrug (York), “Medicine, McGill, and the Problem of Pain in the Postwar Era.”
Baptiste Baylac-Paouly (Institut Mérieux): “Le vaccine antiméningococcique de l’Institut Mérieux: un dispositive thérapeutique au Carrefour de multiple réseaux.”
Robert Card and Man-Chiu Poon (Saskatchewan and Calgary): “A History of the Development of Hemophilia Treatment Centers in Canada. Glory Days in the 1970s followed by Grim Tragedies of “Tainted Blood” in the 1980s.”
Nicole Shedden (Saskatchewan): “Hemophilia Care in the 1980s and 1990s: An Oral History of the Impact of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic on Healthcare Providers and Hemophilia Treatment Centers in Canada.”Carol Nash (Toronto): “Encouraging Self-Reflection in History of Medicine Researchers.”