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Newsletter - Autumn 2015

Dear Members,

         Firstly we have news concerning Abigail Woods, who has been a member of the VHS committee for several years, and who was the energising initiator of the London Congress of the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine 2014, hosted by the VHS.

Abigail Woods, a member of the VHS committee and current president of the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine, has been appointed to the UK's first chair in veterinary history at Kings College London. Her official title is now Professor in the History of Human and Animal Health.’ 

Many congratulations to Abigail, and we hope she will continue to have the time to devote to the VHS for many years to come. She sends us this invitation:
Following the very successful 2014 biennial congress of the World Association for the History of Veterinary Medicine, which was hosted by the Veterinary History Society in London, you are invited to attend the 2016 congress in Vienna. This will be held at the University of Veterinary Medicine, 27-30 July 2016, jointly with the European Association of Veterinary Anatomists. The two main topics of the congress in veterinary history will be history of animal anatomy, and history of early veterinary schools. Free communications will also be accepted. The call for papers will be issued later this year. More information at  
 http://www.vetmeduni.ac.at/de/eava-wahvm-2016/  ‘

            And please put Friday 10 June 2016 in your diaries, the date of the VHS's summer meeting. This will be held at the RCVS, jointly with RCVS Knowledge, the Central Veterinary Society and International Cat Care. The theme: Cats and Vets in History and Society.

This is not forgetting the next important date in the meetings diary which includes the A G M, on Wednesday December 2nd 2015 at the RCVS.  The programme is full and of interest to everyone - details are on the website, together with the application form.
And before this there is the BVA London Vet Show 19-12 November 2015 at Olympia – how to book and the programmes for this conference are on the BVA website.

Earlier this year, the June meeting in Lichfield suited us very well: Erasmus Darwin’s house includes much for the historian of science within its eighteenth century atmosphere. There was a convincing Erasmus peering out of a window, surrounded by his notebooks and specimens, and in the lecture room we were transported from a local veterinary practice to the Galapagos Islands by two excellent speakers. A great delight to be shown the details of the Gothic cathedral by a local practitioner, and then time to investigate the birth-place of Samuel Johnson. This vertical house in the market square is still a book shop, with many quotations and personal effects of the family above. Johnson’s outpourings of books and papers are mainly remembered for his dictionary and poets’ lives – but he is also noted for keeping his black boy as his manservant for life, and naming him his heir. The Fortunes of Francis Barber – Michael Bundock.

             Looking at the VHS website we find that now one can join or renew one’s membership and pay subscriptions on line. The annual subscriptions are £25 for UK members and £30 for overseas members; students are said to pay £10, which seems a bargain for those overseas, if correct. Libraries pay £35 per year: we send to over 40 institutions, the majority of which are all over the world and far from here – surely a reliable indicator of the quality and success of Veterinary History.

            We heard this year of the death of Benita Horder; her nephew Neil Horder told us that she died in early June, aged 83, in London.
Benita Horder was Librarian at the RCVS at the time of the formation of the VHS and came to its inaugural meeting in October 1962. She was elected to serve on our committee from 1964 until 1994. During that time she acted as Secretary 1967/68 and as Chair for her final three years 1992/94. She was of course very young when she joined our Society, so few members will now remember her; but some recall a talk given by her at a Congress, ‘which was witty and spoke of years of experience and a pithy sense of humour’. She was said always to be very helpful and a pleasant and competent person in her position.
However within the last three years she had left her flat in the Barbican and we had therefore lost contact: her copies of Veterinary History or any queries were not acknowledged. The College has been informed, and there may be a memorial service.

            RCVS Knowledge has been awarded funding for a 5 year project to catalogue, and digitise key items, in the RCVS historical collection and archives - more information will appear in the next issue of Veterinary History.  Excellent news.

            Granville Penn Press are just about to send their next book to the printer, and all being well it will be available before the end of the year. Major-General Sir Frederick Smith: His Life and Work is the first comprehensive review and discussion of the achievements of this notable British veterinarian. He was able to combine four distinct careers into one life – his accomplishments as a soldier, a clinician, an educator and an historian are all examined against the backdrop of his own previously unpublished autobiography.  Frederick Smith was an important figure in British veterinary history as well as being the first historian of our profession. The book will be hard-backed, of about 150 pages including illustrations; a discounted price will be available for VHS members.

            In March this year the RCVS Council decided that UK veterinary surgeons may now use the courtesy title ‘Doctor’, to bring them into line with most international veterinary surgeons. The decision was arrived at after wide consultations, a large proportion of respondents being in favour. No doubt many of us were pleased at the announcement – it provided a boost to one’s headed paper – but are many practitioners using it? No doubt the addition, if noticed, gives rise to the inquiry from clients if higher fees will be expected …..

            We like to hear from you; contact with the committee is via:

Tim Cox - Chairman:  Ormsdale, Coldharbour Lane, Dorking, Surrey RH4 3AZ
timothy.cox3@btinternet..com      01306 881128      www.thecoxlibrary.com

Clare Boulton – Secretary:  RCVS Knowledge, 62-64 Horseferry Rd, London SW1P 2AF                                   clare@rcvsknowledge.org       -     020 7202 0710

John Clewlow – Editor: 1 St James Court, Grange Park Drive, Biddulph, Staffs ST8 7XX
johnclewlow@aol.com            -           01782 518641