Edward Turner, First Professor of Chemistry at UCL - ProfJoeCain

Edward Turner was a Creole. So what?

A historian colleague of mine recently asked if I knew anything about the genealogy of UCL’s first Professor of Chemistry, Edward Turner (1796-1837). This colleague said he had heard a report that Turner was mixed race, the son of a Creole mother. Being a careful and critical historian, my friend wanted to know about evidence. We both understood this would be an exciting piece of…

Charles Darwin Blue Plaque on Gower Street London WC1, by Professor Joe Cain

Darwin in London

During research concerning Charles Darwin and Emma Darwin’s life at number 12 Upper Gower Street, London, I identified several errors and vagaries in biographical material found in standard reference works. This note communicates corrections and clarifications. There is some new information about the history of the house, and some corrections to baptism records associated with the Darwin family. This is all written up in an…

The anatomist overtaken by the watch carrying off Miss W-ts in a hamper

Corruption Exposed in Body-Snatching Business, 1825

In Britain, body-snatching was a cloak-and-dagger business. It also was corrupt. When her husband was arrested, tried, and executed for crimes associated with body-snatching, Ann Millard sought revenge. To her mind, local officials were complicit in the theft of bodies and their subsequent sale to anatomists. So were the medical schools where bodies often arrived in the middle of the night without explanation. While her…

Spiral galaxy (NASA)

Music of the Stars – Live Performance Celebrating History of Astronomy

In May 2011, Dr Silvia De Bianchi organised the workshop, “The Harmony of the Sphere: Kant and Herschel on the universe and the Astronomical Phenomena” at UCL. This brought together research on Kant, Herschel, and astronomy. The workshop culminated in a musical programme featuring original interpretations of compositions produced to honour astronomy and astronomical reflections. The music was recorded and produced by UCL Department of Science and…

Grave of Vice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy, Upper Norwood, London

Robert Fitzroy is buried in Upper Norwood Cemetery (photographs)

Robert Fitzroy (5 July 1805 – 30 April 1865) is buried in the church yard of All Saints Church, Upper Norwood, London (site). The memorial was restored in 1997. At the time of his death, Fitzroy lived at 140 Church Road. This is near the church, and the site has historical markers from Croydon to mark the fact Fitzroy lived in this house. Church Road connects…

Charles Darwin's Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Penguin Classics), 1890 second edition, edited by Professor Joe Cain and Dr Sharon Messenger ISBN 9780141439440

Charles Darwin’s Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1890 second edition) (book)

He who admits, on general grounds, that the structure and habits of all animals have been gradually evolved, will look at the whole subject of Expression in a new and interesting light. (Charles Darwin) New edition, with an upgrade First published in 1872, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals was a book at the very heart of Darwin’s research interests – a…

Tiger skeleton from No Ordinary Space (History of UCL Grant Museum of Zoology (ISBN 9781906267896) | Professor Joe Cain

No Ordinary Space: UCL Grant Museum (book)

Book on UCL Grant Museum of Zoology UCL’s Grant Museum of Zoology moved to The Thomas Lewis Room in UCL’s Rockefeller Building in 2011. This book answers popular historical questions about the room, the building, and the wider university and medical school environment.  The aim is to investigate basic historical questions visitors have had about the space, some of the architectural details, and the building’s…

D'OH - Homer Simpson

How Extremely Stupid: Source for Huxley’s Famous Quote

When asked about the Origin of Species and the theory of natural selection, Thomas Henry Huxley told friends, “how extremely stupid not to have thought of that”. This is well-known folklore, and much has been made of it. Though often repeated, it rarely is traced to its source and considered in its full frame. Just where did Huxley say this, and what’s the original context?…

Robert E. Sloan | American Paleontologist | by Professor Joe Cain | 2008

Interview with Robert E. Sloan

A series of oral history interviews in 1996 with Professor Robert E. Sloan (Bob) regarding his career, the recent history of paleontology, and the life of an American scientist in the second half of the twentieth century. These comprise 16 sessions, from tape recorded interviews. These transcripts are from cassette tapes now on deposit at University of Minnesota Archives, Twin Cities campus. The interviewer is Professor Joe…