During the 61st Annual DVG-Vet-Kongress in Berlin 12-15 of November 2015 there will also be a conference in veterinary history. The history conference is arranged by the History Section of the German Veterinary Medical Society and the Department of History of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover and takes place 13 and 14 of November at Estrel Convention Center. There will also be a Methodology Seminar during the conference.
Two main themes have been chosen: “Role and importance of veterinary medicine in society” and “Silent witnesses: Veterinary medicine and museology.”
The cover picture of the Call for Papers depicts a synthesis of both themes: “La folie du Jour!”, ‘The madness of the day!’ is the title given to this empire engraving housed in the Veterinary Historical Museum of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Hannover. The caricature shows physicians who presumably after giving an enema to the lady of the house also give her lapdog an enema, a satire on veterinary medicine, which was emerging at the beginning of the 19th century.
Download the full seminar announcement or visit www.csm-congress.de for more information or to register. Professor Johann Schäffer is responsible for scientific supervision.
The call for papers is now available for the 41st International WAHVM Congress, which will be held at Imperial College, London, United Kingdom, 10-13 September 2014. The two conference themes are ‘the history of One Health’, and ‘war, animals and the veterinary profession.’ Papers and posters are invited on these and other topics relating to the history of animal health and veterinary medicine. Please submit an abstract using the form at www.veterinaryhistorylondon.com. The deadline is 31 Jan 2014. Students are particularly encouraged to participate, and bursaries are available for them.
Keynote speakers are:
Professor Donald Frederick Smith, Professor of Surgery and Dean Emeritus, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine: ‘The Three Parts of One Health’
Dr Hilda Kean, Ruskin College, Oxford: ‘Animals in wartime Britain: The Home Front’
The meeting is generously sponsored by: The Wellcome Trust, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Knowledge, Society for the Social History of Medicine, Royal Veterinary College, University of London, Kings College London, University of Surrey School of Veterinary Medicine, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.
More information at www.veterinaryhistorylondon.com
Like everywhere, the history of veterinary medicine reflects the larger history of the United States. Sunday’s American Veterinary History Society meeting was a fascinating glimpse into several periods of US history through the lens of human-animal relationships and especially veterinary medicine. Here are a few highlights from my notes:
Michael Blackwell, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Tennessee, gave a powerful lecture (much of it extemporaneous) on the participation of ethnic, cultural, and gender minorities in vet med over time. He asked, “why was veterinary medicine quiet during the Civil Rights era?” As with so many other important social institutions, he answered, our profession hoped that “if we were quiet, integration would not happen to us first.” Blackwell challenged the profession to become a leader in diversity, not just for the sake of diversity; but because of our role in the overall social good. Many animal-owning communities around the US feel alienated from the veterinary profession, due in part to the fact that they have not been historically represented in the profession. “We lose something when we don’t have a significant number in our profession of people from those communities we are trying to serve.” These communities have different cultural attitudes towards animals, and different levels of socioeconomic resources; but we all love our animals and want to care for them.
Cultural beliefs came up again in Kimberly Porter’s analysis of the “Cedar County Cow Wars.” This episode pitted angry farmers against government veterinarians mandated to test cattle for TB. Between about 1926 and 1931, this one county in the state of Iowa was consumed in hostilities over the meaning of “scientific” and the validity of the tuberculin test, the rights of individual animal owners versus the broader public health concerns of officials, and fears that traditional rural American culture was disappearing. Porter is the first historian I know of who has discovered the role of a radio “shock jock” named Norman Baker, who broadcast over the station “KTNT” under the banner of “The Naked Truth.” In the tradition of Billy Sunday and other inflammatory radio personalities, Baker classed meat packers, serum manufacturers, and government vets as the farmers’ enemy. Porter argues that Baker inflamed his radio audience, thus accounting for the fact that this was the only place in the US where violence accompanied TB testing to this degree (and where a lawsuit went all the way up to the US Supreme Court).
Cultural attitudes toward veterinarians and animals can be discerned from many sources: the postcards that Trenton Boyd has collected; the newspapers and radio broadcasts from the “cow wars,” the oral histories, published lectures and papers, photographs and adverts, …all of these sources and more were featured at the Sunday session. This was a great program of veterinary and animal history. More soon!
Donald Smith has created an interesting and informative blog on veterinary history topics that he’s run across. In the U.S., there are several universities and veterinary schools that have archival materials for researchers interested in veterinary history. One of these is Cornell University, within the Flower-Sprecher Veterinary Library (headed by Susanne Whitaker, who is the wonderful secretary of the AVMHS) and the Kroch/Olin Libraries (archives of the University). A visit there is highly recommended for anyone interested in vet history research. In the meantime, check out Dr. Smith’s blog here: https://www.veritasdvmblog.com. Dr Smith gave a great presentation at the AVMHS meeting on Sunday on the oral histories of veterinarians that he has collected. You can access the transcripts of his interviews on his blog site. Happy reading!
This Sunday, the American Veterinary Medical History Society will have its annual meeting in Chicago, Illinois, USA. This is also the 150th Anniversary of the American Veterinary Medical Association. There are several activities of interest to historians, including the James Steele One Health Challenge on revitalizing “One Health” in the North American veterinary profession. I will be posting about the ongoing activities, so check in this weekend!
Stay cool, literally.
Susan Jones, DVM PhD
Professor and Director
Program in the History of Science, Technology, Medicine
The 45th edition of the Society ́s Yearbook for 2012 (293 pages) appeared in January. (It is published every second year).
The Association’s Board will meet in April of 2013 and the annual two-day Veterinary Historical Seminar will take place in May. Members will journey to Lyon, France, in September for 8 days.
Kurt Jensen chairs the Association this year.
Fragment of a carved relief featuring three horses drawing a chariot. From the north-west palace, Nimrud, Assyria (modern-day Iraq). Neo-Assyrian, 9th century BC. – British Museum
Louise Curth recently reviewed the British Museum exhibition, “The Horse from Arabia to Royal Ascot” for BBC Radio. Listen to her discussion with Donna Landry about how the iconography of the horse has been represented in art and culture. This free-admission exhibition, running until the 30 September 2012, surveys 5,000 years of horse history.