the British Society for the History of Radiology


Report of the 8th meeting of the International Society of the History of Radiology (ISHRAD) in Brussels 28 Sep 2019

“Reflections on the International Day of Radiology” – a paper by Arpan Banerjee on the Oxford Medicine website

Review of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen: The Birth of Radiology, Rosenbusch, de Knecht-van Eekelen



Report on the British Society for the History of Radiology Annual lecture ‘The Society of Radiographers – A Century of History 1920-2020’

Report by Dr Arpan K Banerjee Past Chair British Society for the History of Radiology

The venue of this year’s British Society for the History of Radiology  annual guest lecture on the 10 Feb 2020 was again the magnificent Governor’s Hall at St Thomas’s Hospital, London.  The lecture was meant to be a double act by two distinguished members of the radiography profession but  as Audrey Paterson was unfortunately  unable to attend Richard Price delivered the presentation.

The proposal for a society for radiographers goes back to 1918 when Albert Forder from King’s College Hospital and Cyrus Winch from St Thomas’s Hospital started making the first moves to form a society for radiographers. In the early days of radiology and radiography the professions were not strictly regulated  as now and anyone from any background  was able to set up the apparatus to take radiographs. The Institute of Electrical engineers approved the formation of a society of radiographic operators  and Dr Hernamon Johnson wrote an article in 1919 in the Archives of Radiology and Electrotherapy proposing that this society would organise and educate the various classes of lay helpers.

Sir Robert Knox the eminent radiologist at King’s College Hospital  and Sir Archibald Reid  from St Thomas’s Hospital leant support to the creation of the new Society of radiographers  on 6 Aug 1920 with a council meeting held  on the 18 Oct in 1 Albermarle Street and Sir Archibald Reid was installed as President for 3 years. Initially 40 members were admitted without examination. In the early days there was no distinction between diagnostic and therapy radiographers. Soon examinations were introduced . Controversy about whether  non medical radiographers should be allowed to  report began to rage and initially it was felt that 15 years experience should allow  the radiographer to provide reports although  the period between 1924 and 1988 was one  during which it was felt that the radiographers should  not be allowed to interpret the images produced.

1926 saw the first radiographer  President Harry Ede. The audience  then heard about the contributions  of Dr George Kaye FRS ( Editor of the journal Radiography 1935-1941) as well as the legendary  Mrs Kitty Clark ( first female President of the SOR 1935-37 )whose famous book on radiographic positioning is now in its 14th edition.

In the 1960’s the society acquired new headquarters  in  14 Upper Wimpole Street. It was a decade of poor working conditions and the Limbert injustice case of wrongful  sacking  of a radiographer was covered.

The struggles to improve the status and working conditions of the profession throughout the 60’s and 70’s  were alluded to including the conflicts with Barbara Castle in the 70’s . The replacements of the diploma qualifications the HDCR with an eventual graduate profession in the 21st century and the improvements in the career structures and new roles with reporting radiographers in today’s NHS were described  along with the struggles along the way.

Many in the audience had lived through the changes and it is probably true to say the progress of the radiography profession was interlinked with the changes in the NHS in general since its foundation in 1948. The relentless march of radiological progress also necessitated  increased staffing  which because it was not always available necessitated new working patterns and certain blurring of the professional  boundaries in hospitals.

The audience were given an excellent overview of the history of the radiography profession and the political changes which were occurring in the NHS throughout this period.

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UKIO Online short papers: History of imaging

Webinar Thursday 2 July 2020

Presentations selected from the submitted abstracts

on the history of imaging(click title for slides):

History and evolution of Artificial Intelligence - Elizabeth Beckmann, Chair, BSHR and Director, Lanmark

Early chest radiology pioneers and the beginnings of chest radiology - Dr Arpan K Banerjee, Retired Consultant Radiologist

Miss Marion Frank (1920 - 2011) "I have never been a good radiographer, but I knew how to get out of trouble" - Dr Adrian Thomas, Consulting Radiologist, Canterbury Christ Church University

Kathleen Clara Clark (1896-1968) and the need for standardisation - Dr Adrian Thomas, Consulting Radiologist, Canterbury Christ Church University

Recent issues of SCOPE have historical articles  of interest:

Francis Duck. Scope 29(2) Summer 2020. 32–35  ‘The Radium Boss - The life and times of Sidney Russ.’

Edwin Aird. Scope 29(3) Autumn 2020. 22-25. The Gray Laboratory Pt.I.

Past issues have featured several other articles of interest. These issues may be browsed free through this link

The 2021 BSHR Lecture

New results on biographical research on WC Röntgen

 By Uwe Busch – Director, Deutsches Röntgen Museum

7pm, 8th February 2021

    Free Online lecture

The lecture provides information about Röntgen's family history and his deep roots in the Bergisches Land. In addition, new insights into Röntgen's extensive image and document archive in the German Röntgen Museum will be presented.

Click here for more details, how to sign up and the A4 poster


This 30-minute video describes the medical career of Arthur Schüller as well as the lives of his family members.

Schüller was born in 1874 and the  arc of his life mirrored the rise and decline of Austria from 1870 till 1955. The Schüller family origins lie in Bucovice and Brunn but his early medical career was spent in Berlin and at the AKH in Vienna.

In 1906 he married Margarete Stiassni, daughter of a wealthy Brunn industrialist. In spite of severe financial constraints on the Medical School after World War I , Arthur was closely involved in the successful graduate courses for foreign doctors who came to  learn from those who had been leading figures in establishing Vienna’s pre-eminent international position in medical science. By the 1930’s Schüller was well known internationally and he travelled to conferences world wide. .

As a Jew  he was expelled from the University in 1938. His search for a home elsewhere involved fellow scholars in the USA, UK and Australia . After a  spell in Oxford  he settled in Australia with eventually at post at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.

The Schüllers’ two sons had died in Nazi camps  and this appears to  have provoked  Arthur's later decline into withdrawal and depression. He and Margarete lived  in Heidelberg, a suburb of Melbourne, until his death in 1957.

His contribution to medical science - pioneering three surgical procedures and identifying three neurological diseases –  led to him being seen as the father of the discipline of neuro-radiology. His two seminal books established this field.

The link to the video is



After lockdown perhaps, visit the six museums described in Arpan Banerjee’s recent RAD Magazine article reproduced here


Book review of ‘There are Places in the World Where Rules Are Less Important Than Kindness’

by Carlo Rovelli, Allen Lane 2020 p 230  £20   ISBN 9780 241454688

Reviewed by Dr Arpan K Banerjee  Former Chair and current Trustee Brit Soc Hist of Radiology

Carlo Rovelli is an Italian physicist best known for his books ‘Some brief lessons in Physics’ and ‘The Order of Time’ both worldwide best sellers. In the 1960’s to the 1980’s Richard Feynman was considered the great populisers of physics, an accolade  passed on to Stephen Hawking at the end of the twentieth century and now the baton is being bestowed on  Carlo Rovelli.  Rovelli is an Italian  theoretical physicist who has made significant contributions to the study of space and time. He is probably best known to the public  however for his books popularising physics.

This new collection of his translated pieces ( translated by Erica Segra and  Simon Carnell) are a delightful smorgasbord  of his varied interests and are a collection of  short essays previously  published in a variety of Italian newspapers and periodicals. The title I think is a great one and should be applicable  to the NHS!

Essay topics range from Aristotle, Copernicus and Newton through to Black Holes, global warming  and scientific philosophy and even the author  Nabokov’s interest in butterflies. Einstein’s many errors are  the subject of an interesting piece ( if the great man made so many errors what chance do we mere mortals have?! ) Darwin gets a mention and readers will find the essay on   the double Nobel Laureate Marie Curie of interest.

The essay on  the brilliant British mathematician Roger Penrose written in 2011  is now of topical  interest– he was awarded the Physics Nobel Prize in October 2020. Finally an essay on the current Covid pandemic written in April concludes this collection. A truly eclectic and thought provoking collection.

Rovelli in this collection of essays provides us with a glimpse of his wide  interests in science, history and philosophy. The essays are short and pithy , well written and the translation has done him justice. Most people outside Italy will probably have not read them before and the collection produced here which can be dipped in and out of  and provide both entertainment and education will no doubt also go on to be a bestseller like his previous books.