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Dr Elise Smith

Elise Smith


Office Hours:

Rm 3.52, third floor of the Faculty of Arts Building
+44 (0)24 76575573 (internal extension 75573)

Tuesdays, 11am-12pm (online via Teams, book a spot here); Fridays 1-2pm (in office)


Academic Profile

  • 2015-present: Associate Professor in the History of Medicine, University of Warwick
  • 2011-2014: Teaching and Research Fellow in the History of Medicine, Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine, University of Oxford
  • 2011: PhD in History, University of Cambridge
  • 2006: MPhil in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology, University of Cambridge
  • 2004: BA in History, McGill University



My research interests lie in the history of medicine and the life sciences in Britain and the British Empire since 1800. My current project examines the impact of the nineteenth-century health reform movement on the Royal Navy, and the role played by maritime medicine in debates over nature and nurture, physical deterioration, and national efficiency. I am currently revising a book manuscript on the rise and fall of craniometry (the study of skull measurements) as a branch of racial science in Britain and the British Empire in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This has expanded into a wider interest in racial theory; the study and measurement of the human body; and the disciplinary histories of anthropology and anatomy.



Skulls, Nation and Empire: The Rise and Fall of British Craniology, 1800-1939 [Being revised for Cambridge University Press, UK]

Journal Articles:

'Raising Boys for the Navy: Health, Welfare, and the British Sea Services, 1870-1905,' Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

'"Why Do We Measure Mankind?" Marketing Anthropometry in Late Victorian Britain,' History of Science 58 (2020): 142-165.

'Cleanse or Die: British Naval Hygiene in the Age of Steam, 1840-1900' Medical History 62 (2018): 177-198.

‘Class, Health, and the Proposed British Anthropometric survey of 1904,’Social History of Medicine 28 (2015): 308-329.

‘Skulls, Science, and the Spoils of War: Craniological Research at the United States Army Medical Museum, 1868-1900,’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (2009): 156-167.

Review Essays:

‘Dead Medicine—Reviewing Sylvie Ferber (Ed.), The Body Divided: Human Beings and Human ‘Material’ in Modern Medical History and Richard Sugg’s Mummies, Cannibals and Vampires: The History of Corpse Medicine from the Renaissance to the Victorians,’ The Canadian Bulletin of Medical History 32 (2015): 208-211.

‘Putting Racial Science in its Place—Reviewing Ann Fabian’s The Skull Collectors and B. Ricardo Brown’s Until Darwin,’ Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (2013): 443-446.