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    Museums of the ‘new’ medical professions in the twentieth century

    Handley, Neil (2022) Museums of the ‘new’ medical professions in the twentieth century. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis comprises an historical study of museums established during the twentieth century by newly-emergent professional bodies within the British and Irish medical and healthcare sector. These museums were not intended for clinical training. Rather, they collected and interpreted the history of their respective professional specialties for a variety of audiences. As such, studying their contribution to processes of professionalisation requires consideration of changes in the status and public role of their parent professions and the manner in which members of those professions adapted their management of museums, with or without employing assistance from staff or volunteers with different professional backgrounds. Through detailed comparative case studies of the British Optical Association Museum, founded at the beginning of the century, and the museums of the British Dental Association and Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, founded either side of the Second World War, the thesis investigates the forces driving their formation. In particular, it explores the development of these museums in relation to the expansion of the ‘new’ professions. It argues that they were a means of professionalisation and demonstrates their contributory role in extending the legitimacy, remit and status of their parent organisations. Insights are also drawn from changes to the way museums of older medical specialties were managed and promoted. Three main chapters consider the museum-related activities of collecting, building (including display and the use of collections within institutional headquarters) and visiting (including public programming and promotion). Drawing on archival evidence as retained by the host bodies and on more limited external sources such as press articles and film, it explores the extent to which these activities were carried out in a manner that furthered positive perceptions of the professions and, moreover, would have been considered ‘professional’ by sociological commentators of the time. It concludes that these museums were viewed by their parent bodies either as a means to emulate other professional bodies (an aim to be discerned consistently throughout the century) or as increasingly public-facing services, albeit these developments occurred later. This raises our understanding of the shifting nature of ‘medical museums’ and the purposes to which they might be put.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 17 Aug 2022 14:57
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:40


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