the British Society for the History of Radiology


100 Years of Medical Radiology, Adrian Thomas

The Story of Radiology, ESR     Pt1 Pt2

X-Rays in Medicine - the First Century

Early American radiology: the pioneer years, D J DiSantis AJR, 147, 1986

Preserving, celebrating radiology’s revolutionary road RSNA News


An Interventional Radiology Odyssey: The Story of my Life and Work
 by Josef Rosch

Springer  2016 pp103

Louis Harold Gray: a founding  father of radiobiology  by S Wynchank.

Springer 2017 pages 137         

Click BOOKS     





BSHR has recently joined the Oral History Society as a group member. It gives us access to their Journal and services. Take a look at their website for details.

If you wish to look at the Journal you will need our group username and password. Members can obtain these from the Secretary. Email




Report of the  British Society for the History of Radiology  2018 annual  lecture on ‘Edith and Florence Stoney pioneering sisters in Radiology’


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

The 2018 annual lecture of the BSHR was held on the evening of  19 Feb 2018  in the Governor’s Hall of St Thomas’s Hospital. The title was  ‘Edith and Florence Stoney  pioneering sisters in Radiology’. The talk was a double act  delivered by the distinguished radiology  historians  Prof Francis Duck  and  Prof Adrian Thomas  the former concentrating on Edith and the latter Florence Stoney.

The Stoney sisters were remarkable women who deserve to be better remembered and this masterly exposition of their life and achievements were a fine tribute to their important legacy.

Edith the elder sister was born in Dublin in 1869 and Florence in 1870 being  members of a distinguished family whose father was an FRS and distinguished physicist and 3 further FRS’s amongst the uncles and cousins.

Edith went to Cambridge and went  on to become a distinguished medical physicist and became a Physics lecturer at the London School for Women. Florence who could not study medicine  at Dublin as they did not admit women  and was to qualify from the London School of Medicine for Women in 1895 and proceed to MD in 1898.

In 1902, Florence Stoney started the X-ray work at the Royal Free Hospital and New Hospital for Women (Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital) and was demonstrator in anatomy at the London School of Medicine for Women. In the early days facilities were primitive and Florence often took plates home to be developed. 1n 1907 Dr Harrison Orton was appointed to lead the department  at the Royal Free over Florence  and this would have been been a great disappointment for Florence at the time.

At the outbreak of WW1  both Edith and Florence volunteered their services  to the British Red Cross but was turned down by Sir Frederick Treeves  the surgeon  famous for  the ‘Elephant Man’. Undeterred they went on to set up  a voluntary 100 bed  unit with the Belgian red Cross staffed mainly by women. Later the work was continued in France at Château Tourlaville near Cherbourg.  By1915 Florence was working for  the War Office and  running the radiology department of the   1000 bedded Fulham Military Hospital.

Unfortunately her health deteriorated with dermatitis developing in her hands and  after the war she settled in Bournemouth. She went on to become the founder and President of the Wesssex branch of the BIR.

From November 1917 to February 1919 Edith was  in charge of the X-ray Departments at the Scottish Women’s Hospitals at Royaumont and Villers-Côtterets. She was one of the first to describe the radiographic aspects of gas gangrene and became highly skilled in foreign body localisation.

Following the war she returned to teaching physics and eventually retired to Bournemouth to live with her sister.

Edith died in 1938 six years after Florence who died in 1932.

The story of these two remarkable women  was beautifully told and well illustrated with slides and all those who attended  were able to learn about these two brilliant, inspiring  women who in spite of such difficulties were to become early British pioneers of medical physics and radiology.


Genes,  Flies , Bombs and a Better Life -  in  the  footsteps  of Hermann  Muller

 By Geoff Meggitt     Pitchpole Books  2016  300pages

Reviewed by Dr Arpan K Banerjee  Past Chair Brit Soc History of Radiology

Hermann Muller was born in the  USA  on  Dec 21 1890 of German heritage  (his grandfather had emigrated from Germany  in the mid 1850’s ).He studied at Columbia and then  taught physiology at Cornell Medical College. His great passion however was genetics  and he wanted to  do research  on Drosophila  a field of study initially pioneered by the  eminent  scientist  Thomas  Morgan  who  was  awarded the Nobel Prize in 1933  in medicine for his work on chromosomes and heredity. Julian Huxley  the eminent  biologist  found   Muller a job at the Rice institute , Houston  where he started his pioneering work on mutations. From 1925 onwards he was Professor  at Texas  teaching  genetics.

 In 1926 he discovered that radiation  (xrays) caused gene mutations. This was to result in the Nobel Prize in Medicine  in  1946. Muller was showered with numerous honours. Muller’s socialist and communist leanings are well covered in this book.  His years of exile in Russia 1934-1937 are described including his fallout over Lysenko and the  upsetting of  Stalin. He returned to Edinburgh  where he helped the career of many Indian scientists  before returning  to  Amherst College  USA.

In 1945 he became a Professor of Zoology  at Indiana, USA.  He published many  books  including  ‘The Mechanism of Mendelian Heredity’ with Morgan  in addition to over 300 original papers.

Meggitt’s  biography of this fascinating  maverick,  scientific genius  is a thoroughly researched account of a remarkable life and does not shirk from  discussing the controversial  aspects of his subject’s character and beliefs including  the subject’s communist convictions and belief in eugenics.

In  the early  days of  X-rays  people were not aware of its dangers. Muller’s legacy is that he showed  in  experiments  that radiation was harmful and caused mutations  and  this  knowledge  has helped mankind  deal with radiation  with all the respect that this field deserves. Muller died in 1967.


Check Arpan Banerjee’s recent article in Rad magagzine on Radiology and Nobel Prizes

A video extract from the Annual Lecture 2018