X Close

UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


Information on the UCL Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries


Archive for the 'ENT History' Category

The Central London Ear Hospital in 1909

H Dominic W Stiles28 August 2015

This year the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital is celebrating 140 years in Gray’s Inn Road on this site.  The Central London Throat Nose and Ear Hospital first opened in 1874, in Manchester Street, now Argyle Street, Kings Cross.  It was an offshoot of Golden Square’s Hospital for Diseases of the Throat, which had been founded in 1862 by Sir Morell Mackenzie but had gone into a decline (Gould, 1998 p.10).  Some of the people behind the new hospital were the otolaryngologist Lennox Browne, his friend Captain Alfred Hutton, the physician Llewellyn Thomas who was also from Golden Square, and the dentist George Wallis.  Isaac Lennox Browne (1841-1902) was the son of the gynaecologist Isaac Baker Brown, who became unfortunately notorious.  His son had a far more distinguished career however.

After only a year the number of patients necessitated a move and the hospital laid a new foundation stone at its present site on Gray’s Inn Road.  The prominence of ‘throat’ in the title is indicative of Lennox Browne’s interest in the voice, and the foundation stone was laid by the famous opera singer Madame Patti and the building formally opened in 1876 (Yellon, p.38, as is the following). Even in those early days the hospital drew patients from across the country, a fact emphasized in the article from which these photographs came.  The article was by Evan Yellon, the fighter against quacks who often signed himself ‘Surdus’, and came into contact with Dr. Crippen.  Yellon tells us that in 1907, of 9,993 new patients admitted, no fewer than 1,860 from the country (ibid p.37).  The following year there were 10,481 out-patients and 707 in-patients.  I imagine that these figures come from annual reports.  We unfortunately have none of those, as they were all sent to the London Metropolitan Archives where they, and related materials, may be consulted.

In 1893 the hospital purchased additional land adjacent, and various parts if the building were rebuilt or enlarged.  a further expansion took place in 1906, when new wards were opened by Princess Louise.  Below is the out-patients department in 1909.NTNEH Outpatients

In 1909 the Chairman was still George Wallis, the Patron was the Duke of Connaught, and the Vice-President was Captain Hutton.  One of the surgeons at that time was James Dundas-Grant.  The service was free to those with no money, which perhaps explains the very high number of patients, however those with money were expected to contribute to the cost.  Yellon tells us that since the hospital was founded, it had treated 998,631 patients (ibid, p.40)! In 1909,

3,067 out-patients were sent by medical practitioners, and 392 in-patients.  The medical staff paid a total of 2,337 visits to the Hospital, involving 4,646 hours of their time.  681 operations were undertaken and performed in the out-patient department.  419 medical practitioners from all parts of the world visited the Hospital to witness the practice of the medical staff, while 41 ladies and gentlemen enrolled themselves as post-graduate students of the Hospital.  These figures should shew clearly the wide extent of the work being done.  The Hospital is entirely supported by voluntary contributions, and it (in common with other Ear Hospitals) has no grant from King Edward’s Hospital Fund; at the moment funds are very badly needed to enable the Committee to extend the work, and for the upkeep and necessary extension of the present buildings. (ibid, p.40)

Here we see the modern facilities as they were in 1909, complete with Edwardian nurses.NTNEH ward

NTNEH operating theatreNTNEH backView East from LibraryThe last view appears to be looking east.  Compare this shot taken from the library window – it is not easy to be sure as some buildings have of course gone and others have been built.  See the Lost Hospitals website for some of the older buildings  that were or are part of this hospital.  Click on images for larger size.

Gould, Glenice, A History of the Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital 1874-1982, Journal of laryngology and Otology Supplement 22, April 1998

Yellon, Evan, Special Hospitals for the Deaf, The Central London Ear and Throat Hospital, The Albion Magazine, Vol.2 no.2 p.37-40, Aug-Sep 1909



Adrien Célestin Soret, radiologist, meteorologist and inventor of the first binaural hearing aid in 1915

H Dominic W Stiles26 June 2015

Since his death, Adrien Célestin Marie Soret, (7th July 1854- 1931), Chevalier Légion d’honneur (1924), has fallen into obscurity, yet from what little I have discovered, he deserves to be much better known.  He was the son of a lemonade maker and was educated at Tonnerre, Beauvais, Orléans and Havre.  A commemorative plaque at his birthplace tells us “Driven by a concern for popularizing science, in 1886 he organized municipal courses which dealt with current scientific issues such as the effects of electricity and the discovery of X -rays.”  He then turned to photography, creating the Le Havre Society of Photography.

He is here as he is the inventor of the first binaural hearing aid, a fact that seems to have been forgotten by many.  I came across this in the book Binaural Hearing Aids by Andreas Markides (1977), where Soret gets a very brief mention.  That was because of this U.S. patent for a binaural hearing device, in 1915.  However, it is hard to find out how widely it was used and I could not find his name in Berger’s The Hearing Aid: its Operation and Development (1984).

AudiphoneIn Learning to Hear (1970), Edith Whetnall & D.B. Fry of the Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital’s Nuffield Centre, wrote

The man with the monacle excites immediate attention.  The ophthalmologist who prescribed only a monacle for a patient with defective vision in both eyes would be regarded as a little odd.  The situation is completely opposite with hearing aids.  Here the tradition has been to prescribe only one aid.  It is probable that the origin of this tradition lies in expense but it is now so hallowed by custom that advocates of binaural hearing aids are told that they must produce evidence that these have an advantage over monaural aids.  As the normal person is born with two ears the onus of proof would seem to lie in the other direction and the advocates of the monaural hearing aid should prove their case.(pp.131 & 134)

Perhaps those who have threatened to reduce NHS patients to one hearing aid might reflect on that.

Soret’s death made it into Arthur Mee’s The Children’s Newspaper on August the 15th 1931, as “A MAN’S SACRIFICE FOR THE WORLD – Another Great Hero of Peace – SCIENTIST’S LIFE GIVEN TO HUMANITY”

The sunny South of France has experienced a great shadow of grief in the death of an eminent scientist, Professor Celestin Soret, who died at 77.  His life was sacrificed to the, X-ray, for he associated himself whole-heartedly with Dr Röntgen in bringing this invention to the aid of the medical world. The doctors were very sceptical as to the help which they could get from this new invention, and Professor Soret diagnosed over forty thousand cases through the X-ray in his own house, besides the thousands that he was asked to help in the hospitals.  He began life as a schoolmaster in Havre, where he taught physics. Many thousands, not only in France but in other parts of the world, owe him a great debt of gratitude, for he was an international figure.  He was the inventor of apparatus by means of which the sufferers from partial deafness could listen to concerts and conversations with the help of earphones and other pocket instruments. He tried to imagine how much the deaf must miss in life, and he used his knowledge to help them in their difficulty.

Soret was also involved in work at the Hydrographic School of Havre, where he lectured on naval hygiene, and he established a meteorological  observatory on the coast. The article concludes, “Like many other great men of science this French professor died comparatively poor. He placed his knowledge at the disposal of the world to save lives and not to make profit out of it ; and he gave up more than wealth to the cause of knowledge : he sacrificed both his hands.”

In fact, the brief obituary in The British Journal of Radiology Vol.4, p.368, the only other obituary I have so far tracked down, says he died as a result of his early X-ray work, which caused radiodermatitis.  “Through various operations carried out since 1923, Dr. Soret had lost both his arms, which had to be amputated.”

The memorial plaque also says (with the help, I admit, of Google Translate),

A year after the discovery of X -rays (1895) , he set up at his home a ray generator and the first radiography experiments. Four years later he was head of the radiological service in the Hospital of Le Havre.  […] Appointed honorary professor in 1907 , he devoted himself entirely to research and practice of X-rays.  […] In 1928 he received the Medal of the Order of the Crown of Belgium in recognition of the care given to Belgian fighters during their stay in hospital of Le Havre.

It has proved difficult to find these few details of Soret’s life.  One problem is that he shares the same birth year and initial as Charles Soret, the Swiss mathematician and physicist, and some people seem to have confused the two of them.

There is a photograph of him here, and a more poignant photograph with one hand amputated here.

He was a remarkable man.  If you know anything more about him please add a note below.


Sorel et Soret, Un cas d’elephantiasis avec troubles nerveux, gueri par les rayon X. La Normandie medicale, 1″ mars, 1898, p.97.
[I have not seen this article]


Whetnall, E. and Fry, D.S., Learning to Hear (1970)

Hie is remembered as a pioneer of radiology on the Ehrenmal der Radiologie in Hamburg.

His Legion d’honneur citation documents are here.

A urine soaked record – the Bath Home and a homeopathic hospital

H Dominic W Stiles23 January 2015

In our collection we have a big thick green-bound ledger, measuring approximately 13 1/4″ by 8 3/4″.  A torn bit of paper on the front cover indicates that it was used by the Poolemead Home for Deaf Women, at 9 and 10 Walcot Parade, Bath, to record names and details of the inmates.

Homeopathic WalcotThe home, founded in 1868, became known as the Deaf and Dumb Industrial Home, then was taken over by the National Institute for the Deaf in 1932, and moved to ‘Poolemead’ at Twerton-on-Avon, near Bath, in 1933, and is now known as the Leopold Muller Deaf Home.

The Story of how the home began is related in Silent World (1946) –

An old four-page pamphlet, grubbed up from the archives of 105 Gower Street, and believed to be the only copy in existence, told me all there was to know about the beginning s of what we now call “Poolemead”.  How the Reverend Fountain Elwin, of Temple Church, Bristol, found a little deaf mute girl in his parish and took her into his home; of how the family moved to Bath; and how his daughter and her friend Miss White went about the city looking for deaf and dumb children, found several neglected little waif, and began to teach them in a rented room in Orange Grove.

A Hundred Years Ago

This must have been about 1832, for our pamphlet tells us that Miss Elwin began her life’s work among the deaf when she was eighteen, and she was born in 1814.  she died when she was ninety.

Her early efforts went so well and aroused so much interest that in 1840 a Committee was formed and premises taken over at 9 Walcot Parade.  In 1868 a home for adults was started, and by the middle 1890’s the adult work had far outstripped the school.  The State was beginning to accept its proper duty of educating the young, and by 1897 the school had been closed altogether and the Charity Commissioners had agreed to the accumulated funds and property being used entirely for the home.

So the Bath Home for Deaf and Dumb Women came properly into being.

What became of the  leaflet I cannot say –  it is possible it survives in the collection hidden somewhere.  We have very little for Bristol in general (two late 19th century reports from the Bristol Institute are ‘missing’) and nothing from Bath, so I cannot compare anything in the way of annual reports for the home.  The founder was Jane Elwin, Fountain Elwin’s daughter.  Initially I connected him with the Elwin family in Norfolk, who produced another Fountain Elwin around the same time, but census returns show he was born in Middlesex circa 1784.  I believe that they may well have been related.  Elwin was ordained in 1810 and ended up at Bristol’s large (now ruined) Temple Church.  He died in Bath in 1869 aged 85.  Jane was born in Bedminster, dying in 1904.  The 1901 census describes her as having ‘senile decay’.

The 1851 census shows a seventeen year old house maid, Elizabeth Buck, who was ‘deaf and dumb’ – surely this might be the deaf girl taken in by Elwin?   She was not described as deaf on the 1841 census.

If I discover anything more about Jane Elwin and Bath I will update this page.

The ledger illuminates other information we can find on the census (and no doubt other records).  For example, the first person listed for the Bath home is Harriet Ball – see below on the left (click to enlarge).  She was “deaf and dumb from a scald when two years old, her right arm amputated, she was one of the first to enter the home”.  An audiologist I consulted suggests that she may have had non-organic hearing loss, but it is far more likely that she had hearing loss that had not previously been detected.  The Bath Home seems to have used the ledger into the 1930s, though with only basic information on the later entries.

Ball clarkePrior to its use by the Bath Home, the ledger started life in Norwich as we can see from the plate in the inside front cover here.

Fletcher alexanderNow look again at the front plate at the top of the page and underneath the label we can make out the words ‘Homeopathic Hospital’.  It was originally used then by one of two possible homeopathic hospitals in Norwich at that time, the first entry being for a Susan Bush in 1856, the last in 1860 by …son (name partly concealed).  Here is an example of a patient in 1856, and I have chosen one who was deaf – Eliza Landamore.  Click for a larger size.

Eliza LandamoreA second example is below – and again I chose a person with a hearing problem, Susanna Denny who has ‘ottorhea’.Susanna Denny

Another patient, Robert Rippingale, born in 1843 in Catton (near Norwich)

Septr. 9th 1856 “For the last six years has had scrofulous swellings of the neck [from?] the remains of an old sore. Perfectly adherent to the bone of the lower jaw. His general health has been tolerably good. Has been an outpatient of the Norwich Hospital but without benefit.
Silica [6?]
16th Rather better ”
23rd Still improving Sulph + Silica

Robert did not live long – sadly he died in 1864.

At some point in 1860 I would surmise, the ledger met with an unfortunate accident.  Having read the heading of the article I think you will know where I am going with this…  Someone spilt urine onto the ledger, sticking many pages together.  Sadly some idiot later attempted to part the pages, damaging many.  It still smells very strongly of the cause of this accident!  However, clearly, as it was only partly used someone decided that it still had plenty of life left in it.  Quite how it travelled from Norwich to Bath we can only guess, but as you read above there was some sort of a possible connection with the Elwin family of Bath and Elwins in Norwich (a Robert Fountain Elwin was a rector in Norfolk).

If anyone recognises the hand that the Norwich part of the record was written in, please let us know.  There is no name in the front, so I cannot be sure who first used the book.  The Bath part was probably written by Emily Walker Morgan, head of the home in 1911 (aged 45) where the handwriting matches that at the start of the Bath part of the ledger.  I surmise it was first used by her around 1910.

Later enties show the handwriting getting shakier into the 1930s before it changes, and the record is less detailed.

Silent World, 1946, October, p.112-4

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 970; Book: 3; Civil Parish: Walcot; County: Somerset; Enumeration District: 5; Folio: 7; Page: 6; Line: 20; GSU roll: 474610 (for the Elwins)

1841 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 931; Book: 13; Civil Parish: Lyncombe and Widcombe; County: Somerset; Enumeration District: 4; Folio: 27; Page: 5; Line: 18; GSU roll: 474593 (for Elizabeth Buck)

1851 Census – Class: HO107; Piece: 1943; Folio: 464; Page: 32; GSU roll: 221102

1861 Census – Class: RG 9; Piece: 1690; Folio: 53; Page: 6; GSU roll: 542851

1871 Census – Class: RG10; Piece: 2487; Folio: 55; Page: 5; GSU roll: 835196

1881 Census – Class: RG11; Piece: 2438; Folio: 30; Page: 4; GSU roll: 1341587

1891 Census – Class: RG12; Piece: 1935; Folio: 53; Page: 7; GSU roll: 6097045

1901 Census – Class: RG13; Piece: 2341; Folio: 19; Page: 4

1911 Census – Class: RG14; Piece: 14715; Schedule Number: 333

Inmates in 1911 on the census –
Name Relation to Head Birth Date Age Gender Marital Status Occupation Birth Place Address

Emily Walker Morgan Head   1866    45   Female Single  Head Matron Of Institution   Dublin 10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Martin   Assistant    1868    43   Female Widowed   Assistant Matron   Bath, Somerset  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Harriett Ball               1857    54        Female Single             Paddington, London, England    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Frances Clark             1846    65        Female Single             Paddington, London, England    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Chambers    1848    63        Female Single             Liverpool, Lancashire             10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ann Rogers                1850    61        Female Single             Bridgend, Glamorganshire      10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Louisa Tickett            1857    54        Female Single             Mile End, London, England   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth Townson     1882    29        Female Single             Liverpool, Lancashire             10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ellen Hillyer               1857    54        Female Single             Dorchester, Dorset                  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ann Adams                1857    54        Female Single             Milton Nr Lymmington, Hampshire   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Eliza Curl                   1875    36        Female Single             Dereham, Norfolk                   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Emily Hubbard           1864    47        Female Single             West Ham, London, England 10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Honor Ninnes             1886    25        Female Single             St Ives, Cornwall                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Elizabeth White          1846   65        Female Single             Devizes, Somerset                   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Charlotte Lowndes     1871   40        Female Single             Brighton, Sussex                     10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Annie Shepherd          1872   39        Female Single             Leeds, Yorkshire                     10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Georgina Fuller           1850   61        Female Single             Norwood, Surrey                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Ellen Smith                1888    23        Female Single             Paddington, London, England  10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Annie Crouch             1873    38        Female Single             Hammersmith, London, England   10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Alice Turner               1872    39        Female Single             Eastbourne, Kent                    10 Walcot Parade, Bath

Two Margate Old Boys

H Dominic W Stiles23 December 2014

These are two old boys from the Royal School for Deaf and Dumb Children Margate,  J. Dade, and Dan Sargent, taken I suppose circa 1930.  They appear to be photographs of photographs.

Dan Sargent Margate Daniel Wright Sargent’s birthplace was ‘N.K.’ – not know – on the 1911 census for Margate School (that tells us he was ‘totally deaf’), but from the Free BMD we can see that he was born was born in Tendring, Essex, in the summer of 1902.

J. Dade is harder to pin down as we have no first name.  I suppose a search of the margate School magazine may turn up a record but I leave that to others.

See what more you can discover!Dade margate

“There are two classes of deaf people” – Charles John Macalister

H Dominic W Stiles10 October 2014

Charles John Macalister (1860-1943) was the third  son of William Boyd Macalister of Bootle, who was a ship owner.  Charles went into medicine, but chose to study in Edinburgh, before returning to Liverpool.

We are told that he “formed a lifelong attachment to the Royal Southern Hospital, and from 1892 to 1900 was also physician to the Stanley Hospital. He interested himself particularly in children’s diseases and promoted the foundation of the Royal Liverpool Children’s Hospital.” (Lives of the fellows)

He was one of the earliest to recognise the value of ultraviolet therapy.  He also worked for long at the stimulation of healing of wounds and (with Benjamin Moore) at the possibility of anti-neoplastic factors in the embryo and young infant.  He may not have had spectacular success in either of these difficult fields, but undoubtedly his questing mind was a stimulus to his fellow workers. (Lancet Obituary)

He became involved in the Liverpool Institution and the Liverpool Benevolent Society, perhaps originally in his role of (honorary) consulting physician to the school.  He must have been on familiar terms with the great Deaf Liverpudlian, George Healey (1843-1927) Missioner to the Deaf, at the Liverpool Adult Deaf and Dumb Benevolent Society.

What is interesting for us is that from his close association with deaf children in Liverpool, he formulated clear ideas about how they should be best educated.

I have scanned and attached the short article, Deaf Mutes and Their Education, that Macalister published in the Liverpool Medico-Chirurgical Journal in January 1891.  In this article Macalister begins,

In October 1889 I brought before the Medical Institution some points bearing upon the education of deaf mutes, my object then being to show that, for the masses of the deaf, the pure oral system (as recommended by the Royal Commission on the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind, the report of which had just been issued) is not so satisfactory as is the combined method. [p.60]

[…the author reviews the history of deafness and then discusses three main methods of deaf education, signs, oralism and combined…]

In considering the question as to which of these three systems is most suitable as a general means of education for the deaf, we have to take into account that there are two classes of deaf people to deal with, viz., those who are totally deaf and have been so since birth, and those who were once able to hear and speak, or who remain still susceptible to loud sounds.  And, again, we must distinguish very importantly between the rich and the poor, for the means taken to educate the one must be recognised as being sometimes unsuited to the other.  It is not my wish to define which method should be adopted in the case of those that are well-to-do – they can get the advantage of private tuition, and the amount of time spent over their education is not of importance; and I have no doubt that for them, as well as for those who can hear a little, or who were once able to speak, the pure oral system is worthy of adoption, and has met with much success.  [p.70-1]

His view contrasts with that of Patterson in Manchester, who became a late convert to the Oral method of education (see previous blog entry).

Below is the Liverpool School as it appeared a generation before, in 1853.

Liverpool school 001
Obituary, Lancet, 1943 Volume: 242 Issue: 6271 Page: 589- 90

Charles John Macalister [Who Was Who, accessed 10/10/2014]

Lives of the Fellows [accessed 10/10/2014]


National Institute for the Deaf Medical Scrapbook, circa 1935

H Dominic W Stiles5 September 2014

As a conduit & clearing house for information on all aspects of hearing loss and deafness, the National Institute for the Deaf (N.I.D., now Action on Hearing Loss) was careful to gather information or stories that encompassed these topics in the popular press and in academic journals to which they had access.  This scrapbook from 1935 is illustrative of this.  It contains cuttings from a wide variety of papers and journals on medical aspects of hearing loss and deafness.  As it was the 1920s, when the topic of eugenics was extremely popular, many of the stories touch on that, some in favour and some against.

In one image we read about the huge number of Germans who were being sterilised, in the other we see sterilisation arguments in the British press.

Another story from 28th of march 1935 in the Daily Express, says that the Rotherham Schools Medical Officer, Dr. A.C. Turner

believes that more than 1,000 of the children under his care have varying degrees of deafness – but their class-rooms are too noisy for him to find out!

Recently his department bought a portable audiometer – a delicate instrument used in the testing of hearing – and his assistants have been going from school to school searching in vain for a room quiet enough to use the apparatus.
“Before the audiometer can function accurately we must have a room with perfect quiet,” Dr. Turner told me.

“We cannot find one! Each room we have tested has had so many distracting noises that the recordings are incomplete.

“I am advocating an aural clinic in which the audiometer could be installed in a sound-proof room.”

Perhaps someone in the Rotherham area interested in medical history could find out more about Dr. Turner and see if or when he got his room.

Click onto the images for a larger scale view.

scrapbook 1 scrapbook 2

French Soldiers learn to lip read, circa 1920

H Dominic W Stiles13 June 2014

In the British Deaf Times for March-April 1922 (p.21) we read that the Duke and Duchess of Portland attended a tea for deafened ex-servicemen in Nottingham.   The former soldiers followed proceedings by lip-reading.

The lip-reading classes held in Nottingham and Mansfield have afforded instruction to 173 ex-service men, and keen disappointment is felt at an intimation the the Ministry of Pensions is likely to stop the grant, for there are many more afflicted who need similar instruction. Some 230 men in the East Midland region have been reported to Nottingham, and there are about 60 more known to be deaf, but who have not been reported. […]
It is impossible to over-estimate the benefit offered. The high percentage of ex-service ment in this region is considered to be due to the fact that Medical Boards and aural specialists have been particularly keen in recommending cases, and that the teachers here have a happy faculty for teaching deaf men.

There is a fair bit of material on deafness in the military in the First World War and all the way through to modern conflicts, but no one has as far as I am aware written anything about the scale of the problem in the post war years and how people managed to cope.

The photographs here show a teacher in France working with deafened soldiers in Nantes. We do not know the name of the teacher, but I believe he would be easily identifiable, so if you know who he is please add a comment below. The pictures show, in a pre-audiometric testing era, the ways in which hearing was tested and lip-reading taught.

French soldiers 6

Deaf soldiers Nantes 1 001The idea in the first image is to test the ability to lip-read from an angle.French Soldiers 4French Soldiers 3

French soldiers 2French Soldiers 5Here we see various hearing tests. Finally Deaf Soldier Nates 3 AH 001I particularly wonder why lip-reading ancient history was one of the lessons!

Peter Zwarts, former Institute of Laryngology and Otology Librarian

H Dominic W Stiles29 November 2013

Peter Zwarts (1933-2013) formerly the Institute of Laryngology and Otology Librarian, died in Petersfield on 12th of August 2013.

We are grateful to Ray Allen who worked here from 1991 – 2005 and knew Peter well, for most of the following information about his interesting life.  Ray says,

we breakfasted and often had supper together (when the canteen stayed open to provide hot dinners to 7.30pm!).  He always left Petersfield at about 5.50 am. to be in for breakfast at 7.20 am. departing home at close of play/canteen, sharp at 7.35 pm.  I had met him quite a few years before when I worked at a small ENT Research Institute at the Middlesex Hospital.  He had a tremendous reputation with most  ENT consultants and Researchers from the 60’s to 1990’s, not just at Grays Inn Road but from around the UK, who knew him and visited him at the Library whenever they were in London for courses or the RSM monthly meetings.  In a pre computer age it seemed as if  all published work on ENT both historic through  to current journals was stored in his head…..  he hated the computer!

Knowing so many people in ENT, the library became a clubbish place where smoking was allowed, filled with many of the late Professor Hinchcliffe‘s cohort of doctors.

He was born in Holland, to the north west of Amsterdam, and had, Ray says,

a very tough time during the occupation, talking movingly of the famine north of the Rhine in the last winter of the war, when they were reduced to trying to survive on tulip bulbs dug from the fields.  The Germans and particularly the Dutch Nazis, worried no doubt about the retribution to come,  were at their most brutish  with the civil population and  I believe a number of his family paid a very high price.

I think he did his Librarianship training in Holland and England.  He went to America in the early 1950’s working at The New York Public Library.  There he was able to indulge in his great passion, Jazz.  Completely oblivious to the dangers he walked everywhere, and his thick Dutch/ English accent, unusual to the American ear,  allowed him to stroll nightly into Harlem and into black only venues where he was accepted (and walked out again unharmed, in the early hours).  The Dutch  being the original New York colonists (Harlem/Yonkers etc..),  perhaps he just felt at home.

Peter 1

Night after night he listened to and chatted with, some of the most famous jazz musicians and bands of the period. His jazz knowledge was  encyclopaedic and he had a vast collection of music at home.  His other great passion was cigars, the only man I know to own a humidor, to keep his collection in prime condition.  […] A real ‘Character’ with an unexpected hinterland.

There was some sadness in his life, his wife dying quite young I understand.
Peter  2

Goodbye Peter.

Domenico Cotugno (1736-1822) De aquaeductibus auris humane internae anatomica dissertatio

H Dominic W Stiles4 October 2013

Until the middle of the 18th century, thinking about the way the inner ear worked was still dominated by Aristotle’s idea of “aer implantus”.

There were only a few who dared to speak out against this view.  Schelhammer in 1684 expressed a doubt that there was an implanted air in the ear, but offered no substitute. Valsalva (1704), Vieussens (1714), and Cassebohm (1734) suggested the prescence of fluid but made little of it for they still spoke of the “aer implantus.”  In 1739, Boerhaave quite specifically spoke of the prescence of fluid in the labyrinth. (Bast and Anson 1949)

Domenico Cotugno, a pioneer of neuroscience, was the first person to prove the presence of a serous fluid in the labyrinth and the first to associate this with sound transmission.  He believed that sound waves move the stapes which in turn move the labyrinthine fluid, considered that tones could be perceived by the semicircular canals but were analyzed in the cochlea (ibid).

Cotugno 2

When he was only 25, in 1761, his dissertation, Aquaeductibus auris humane internae, predated the work of Hermann von Helmholtz.  In it he described the vestibule, semicircular canals, and cochlea.  He demonstrated the labyrinthine fluid, and considered mechanisms of resonance, sound transmission, and hearing.  He depicted the columns in the bony spiral lamina of the cochlea known as Cotunnius’ columns.  His description of the nasopalatine nerve, and its role in sneezing anticipated Antonio Scarpa’s work. (Pearce 2004)

Born in Ruvo di Puglia, Cotugno was educated at a Jesuit school then was sponsored by the Duke d’Andria to attend the University of Naples, working in the Ospedale degli Incurabili.  He spent many hours studying in the library, a time he said that was the happiest of his life (hint!).  He received his doctorate from the Salerno Medical School in 1756.

Cotugno is an outstanding example of a humanistic physician. I addition to being one of the most prominent scientists of his time, he was also interested in art, architecture, nusismatics and antiquities. He accumulated a remarkable private library, a small part of which is still conserved in the Biblioteca Nazionale in Naples (Böni et al 1994)

When he died he left a large sum of money to the Ospedale degli Incurabili, now known as the Ospedale Domenico Cotugno.

His two illustrations from Auris humane are shown here.

Cotugno 1

De aquaeductibus auris humane internae anatomica dissertatio. 1761

Böni T, Benini A, Dvorak J. Domenico Felice Antonio Cotugno.  Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1994 Aug 1;19(15):1767-70

Theodore H. Bast and Barry J. Anson.  The temporal bone and the ear. 1949

Pearce JM. Cotugno and cerebrospinal fluid.  J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2004 Sep;75(9):1299. [Free article]

De Auditu Liber Singularis of Schelhammer

H Dominic W Stiles23 August 2013

Günther Christoph Schelhammer (1649-1716) was from a family that originated in Hamburg.  However he was born in Jena where his father Christoph was a surgeon and professor.  After studying and travelling in Holland, England and Italy, Schelhammer became professor of Anatomy, Botany and Surgery.  He married Maria Conring (herself an author of a popular cookery book) daughter of the polymath and expert in German law, Hermann Conring.Auditu 1

I am not sure of the position that Schelhammer holds in the history of ENT – if you know please do comment.  He apparently knew Boyle and Morison from his visit to England.

At any rate, this book from 1684, De Auditu Liber Singularis, has some very nice early illustrations of the malleus, incus and stapes.Auditu 2  Click on the image for a larger size.