Medical Instruments as Authority and Knowledge: A Research and Documentary Project

Michelle Hamilton

Award: 2023 Project Grant

The Medical Artifact Collection at Western University stores approximately 1300 objects with an adjacent teaching space and curates six exhibit cases. ‘Medical Instruments as Authority and Knowledge’ will combine published and archival sources, our artifacts, and past and new oral history interviews of physicians to betterunderstand the role of instruments in medical practice. Did medical instruments reinforce or threaten professional authority, through hands-on on-the-job training that either supported or disrupted knowledge gained through formal education or published materials. Michelle’s research will be conducted through a chronological and comparative case-based approach of three London, Ontario, practitioners: Dr. Alexander MacLaren (185?-1944), Dr. William Pelton Tew (1889-1976), and Dr. John Sangster (1943-2022). The second, ‘documentary’ part of the project will create new data about medical instruments through oral interviews and make it accessible through our online database. These more robust records will contribute, preserve, and make accessible new data about medical instruments for future researchers and instructors and augments the value and continued sustainability of our collection as a research resource.