• King Goa Chair

    The instrument maker F.C. Rein created this acoustic throne for King John VI of Portugal (also called King Goa VI). According to the Deafness in Disguise Exhibit, King John VI used the throne from about 1819 until his death in 1826, while ruling from Brazil. The King’s chair was equipped with a large receiving apparatus… Continue Reading

  • Publication: “Learning From Artifacts”

    I spoke about my experiences at the  “Reading Artifacts” summer institute before; the fourth edition of Spontaneous Generations has published my review–“Learning From Artifacts: A Review of the ‘Reading Artifacts: Summer Institute in the Material Culture of Science.’” Yay, me!

  • Sound the Trumpets

    Curtis’ Dispensary aimed to not only provide treatment for the poor and destitute populations, but also to supply acoustic instruments to those with severe hearing loss irremediable by medical treatments. Curtis was prolific in instrument design; taking into account new theories on sound and his own understanding of the physiology of the ear, he invented… Continue Reading

  • Mr. Curtis’ Acoustic Chair

    First introduced and described in the fourth edition of his Treatise on the Physiology and Diseases of the Ear (1831), John Harrison Curtis’ acoustic chair earned him national recognition as an inventor during the first half of the nineteenth century. The chair is a large library chair affixed with a trumpet alongside the chair such… Continue Reading

  • Fitting For Health

    In September, I’ll be in Paris, presenting at what is sure to be an amazing conference. The “Fitting for Health: The Economy of Medical Technology in Europe and its Colonies, 1600-1850,” will be held on 2-3 September at the École normale supérieure and Académie nationale de médecine. Here is the conference description: Is the history… Continue Reading


    In this blog post, I want to share one of the projects I’ve been involved with: The University of Toronto Scientific Instruments Collection (UTSIC), a volunteer project at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology, to catalogue, collect, and maintain all of the university’s scientific instruments collection. Several graduate students who… Continue Reading

  • Exploring Instruments: “Deafness in Disguise” Collection

    In 1993, historian A.J. Turner remarked that “[a]though studying instruments as part of science is an old pursuit, writing the history of scientific instruments is new.” Writing on the history of medical instruments is even newer, for since the 1990s, there has been a remarkable explosion of scholarship on the history of medical instrumentation. But… Continue Reading