The Wellcome Trust Center for the History of Medicine at University College London has announced its closure. This will occur in a wind down process over two years.
The announcement came abruptly, and apparently quite unexpectedly at the end of the UCL term. Even today, the Center’s website declares
The Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL continues to build on its proud tradition of excellence in furthering the academic study of the history of medicine and an awareness of its importance.
Current students will be able to complete their studies there, but the fate of the faculty and the teaching program after that is unclear. The Wellcome Trust says that funding of history of medicine studies will continue, and the Wellcome Collection and Library are apparently not at risk.
In my view, this is a serious blow to our discipline. First, the Wellcome Center has enjoyed an excellent reputation, and its scholars have produced a very respectable body of scholarship over the years of the Center’s existence. Secondly, the Center has been a source of respectable visibility in the helter-skelter academic–and lay–world.
And now it is to go away, at a time when “history” itself seems to be under some attack, and our little corner of it–that of military or naval medicine–is almost disappearingly small.
All the more reason for us to be personally and collectively more visible, more “public” in our work.