Visual pathology: a case study in late nineteenth century clinical photography in Glasgow, Scotland

Summerly, Paula A.V. (2003) Visual pathology: a case study in late nineteenth century clinical photography in Glasgow, Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (43MB) | Preview
Printed Thesis Information:


This thesis analyses the role of clinical photography in late nineteenth-century Glasgow. The photographs for this study occur in five interrelated contexts. Firstly I examine the clinical uses of popularised techniques such as the stereograph, carte-de-visite and the cabinet card. Secondly, I shall discuss a selection of clinical photographs that featured in the context of the Glasgow Medical Journal from the late 1870s onwards. The first published images were the work of professional studio photographers. Over the following two decades, however, one sees an increase in the number of photographs taken by medical men. These published photographs circulated in a number of contexts including M.D. theses, medical society lectures and individuals' collections. Thirdly, clinical photographs began to feature in the context of the surgical ward journals and pathology reports of the Glasgow Western Infirmary and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Glasgow from the mid-1880s onwards. These photographs were often the work of House Surgeons and Resident Assistants. During the early 1880s while surgeon to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Sir William Macewen (1848-1924) began to take clinical photographs for inclusion in his Private Journals, our fourth context. Macewen began to mount duplicate prints of some of these cases on to boards, and write brief case notes on the verso. This formed the basis of a collection of clinical photographs, which he used in surgical demonstration classes at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary Medical School. The fifth, and final, part of this study examines Macewen's collection of clinical photographs, which expanded over the next thirty years or so, to contain over eight hundred items. In 1892 Macewen moved from the Glasgow Royal Infirmary to become Regius Professor of Surgery at the University of Glasgow and Visiting Surgeon to the Glasgow Western Infirmary. Macewen used his collection of clinical photographs in conjunction with plaster casts, specimens and lanternslides in surgical demonstration classes held at the University of Glasgow. Many visual sources in the history of medicine are fragmentary by their very nature, disconnected from their origins and contexts of use. In this thesis I take an interdisciplinary and contextualised approach to the study of late nineteenth-century clinical photography. The aim is to understand and interpret photographs within their local contexts of production, circulation and use. Photographs can have intimate connections with other forms of images, texts and artefacts. These inter-relationships have important implications for understanding the role of clinical photography within late nineteenth-century Glasgow medicine. Moreover, I shall explore alternative ways of illustrating the results of this research through means of visual expression.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
T Technology > TR Photography
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Nicolson, Dr. Malcolm
Date of Award: 2003
Depositing User: Mrs Marie Cairney
Unique ID: glathesis:2003-40933
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2019 15:49
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2019 15:49

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year