History without historians? Medical history and the internet

King, Helen (2012). History without historians? Medical history and the internet. Social History of Medicine, 25(1) pp. 212–221.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/shm/hkr054


Recent claims that the eighteenth-century men-midwives William Smellie and William Hunter had women murdered to order, to provide the illustrations for their impressive atlases of obstetrics, raise fresh questions about how medical history is generated, presented and evaluated in the media and, in particular, on the internet. This paper traces the generation and subsequent reception of what, for some, has now become a ‘historical fact’, in order to illustrate how attempts by medical historians to engage with policy and with the public exist alongside a shift towards the deprofessionalisation of history.

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