'Dr Phyllis Kerridge and the Politics of Disability in Inter-War Britain'

6 March 2019, 2.00 PM - 6 March 2019, 3.30 PM

Dr Coreen McGuire and Dr Jaipreet Virdi - Centre for Health, Humanities and Science Research Seminar for International Women's Day

G.16 Cotham House

How and why are women scientists remembered? How and why are they forgotten? What is the historian’s role in public commemoration of scientific achievement?

The Bank of England’s recent list of candidates to be the face of the new fifty-pound note was designed to highlight individuals who had made significant contributions to British Science. It was notable for its prominent inclusion of famed women scientists such as Rosalind Franklin and Dorothy Hodgkin. The debate about which individual should be celebrated in this manner has focused not only on the scientific achievements of the candidates, but also on what lessons we ought to take from their history. Who we choose to remember and celebrate tells us a great deal about our cultural values. Yet, these debates reveal little about why individuals who have not been celebrated in this kind of process have been forgotten by the annals of history. This talk will illuminate this process of forgetting and the importance of remembering.

Dr. Phyllis Margaret Tookey Kerridge (1901-1940) was a chemist and physiologist who contributed significantly to inter-war science. Armed with an impressive list of postgraduate credentials—including a M.S., a Ph.D., and a M.D. from University College London—Kerridge earned a stellar reputation as a prominent scientist and renowned collaborator. Her work was influential in shaping new ideas about measuring the body, and she collaborated with scientists in the U.K., Denmark, India, and the United States on projects relating to deafness, artificial respiration, nutrition, and color blindness. Her research was characterized by use of precision medical tools for measuring and standardizing sensory phenomena and she particularly relied on measurement instruments to negotiate disputed measures of “invisible disabilities:” disabilities that are not (culturally) apparent unless medically framed. In this talk, we recover the life and works of Phyllis Kerridge to outline her scientific contributions while also recognizing the nuances of disability history and women’s history, focusing specifically on the relationship between power and instrumentation


Please be advised that this research seminar will be supported by 'Zoom' software. Should you wish to live-stream the talk please follow the instructions below.


1. Go to zoom.us to join meeting, and put in the session id 437-658-5022, press open meeting, click on the exe file, and it will take you straight through to the meeting.

2. Alternatively, you can just paste https://zoom.us/j/4376585022 into your browser and the same thing will happen.

3. You can also download Zoom onto your computer, make an account and so on, and enter the session ID 437-658-5022 to the program to enter the meeting, but that’s slightly more steps.

4. To phone in, dial the country code (UK: 4 (0) 20 3695 0088) (full list here:https://zoom.us/zoomconference) then enter the Personal Meeting ID followed by the hash key. N.B. Your phone number will appear in the Zoom meeting.

Your mic and video will be off to start off with (your mic will be off the whole time) to avoid problems with background noise. DON’T PANIC! If you have any technical difficulties or would like to ask a question etc. please feel free to comment in the Chat box on Zoom and I will see it. You are free to switch your video on or off. During questions- type your questions into the chat box and the chair will organise for one of the speakers to answer them. 

Contact information

Charlotte Withers 

Edit this page