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Irradiating the Sun-Starved: Light Therapies in Britain, c.1900-1940


9 April - 3 June 2013

Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick

Curated by: Dr Tania Woloshyn (Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Medical Humanities)

As part of the Wellcome Trust-funded project, 'Soaking Up the Rays: The Reception of Light Therapeutics in Britain, c.1899-1938', this exhibition featured important light therapy textbooks, advertisements, manufacturer pamphlets, popular articles, ultraviolet (UV) and infrared lamps, and UV-protective goggles. These images, objects and texts were vital to disseminating and defining natural and artificial light therapy. Heliotherapy (natural sun therapy) and phototherapy (artificial light therapy) developed as progressive therapies during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries for the treatment of a variety of conditions, especially types of tuberculosis (of the lungs, skin, glands, bones and joints, etc.). Sunlight, whether natural or artificially-produced, could be used locally, that is directly onto wounds or lesions, or generally as a 'bath' for the whole body, and was understood to possess bactericidal and analgesic properties. As such light became a powerful, natural regenerative agent in the treatment of acute and chronic diseases. The exhibition concentrated on the early development of heliotherapy and phototherapy in Britain, highlighting their use in hospitals, sanatoria, and within the home with a fascinating range of material dating to c.1900-1940.

podcast1.jpgPublic Lecture Tuesday 30 April 2013 - Dr Tania Woloshyn


Please note: For reasons of copyright, the images accompanying this lecture are unfortunately unable to be uploaded as part of the podcast. However, the majority of them are on display in the Exhibition to the 3rd June 2013.

This Exhibition ran in conjunction with the Wellcome Trust-funded interdisciplinary workshop, 'Light Technologies: the Materialisation of Light Therapeutics, c.1890 to the Present', at the Modern Records Centre on Wednesday 10 April 2013.