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School of History

Dr Edmund Ramsden


Wellcome Trust University Award Lecturer

Room Number: ArtsTwo 2.33


I joined Queen Mary in 2013. I am a historian of science and medicine with expertise in the history of the social, behavioural and biological sciences in the twentieth century United States. I completed my PhD at the European University Institute. Prior to joining Queen Mary, I held posts at the universities of Manchester, Exeter and London School of Economics.


Research Interests:

My current research, supported by the Wellcome Trust, is focused on the involvement of social and behavioural scientists in architecture, planning and design in the post-war United States, so as to improve mental health and social wellbeing, particularly in relation to institutional environments and public housing.

Other key areas of research include the history of experimental psychiatry and psychology in relation to neuroses, emotional disorders, addiction and suicide; the history of eugenics, population science and policy; social survey methods in relation to health, growth and intelligence; the role of animals in science and medicine.


Selected publications

  • The Quest for a Democratic Eugenics: The Problems of Population in the Twentieth Century United States (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, forthcoming).
  • ‘Designing for Mental Health: Psychiatry, Psychology and the Architectural Study Project’, in Preventing Mental Illness. Mental Health in Historical Perspective, Kritsotaki D., Long V., Smith M. (eds), (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), pp. 209-235.
  • ‘A Neurotic Dog’s Life: Experimental Psychiatry and the Conditional Reflex Method in the Work of W. Horsley Gantt’, Isis, 109 (2018): 276-301.
  • ‘Tales of the unexpected: The use of narrative in studies of experimental neurosis’, Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, 36B, (2018): 147-162.
  •  ‘Working across species down on the farm: Howard S. Liddell and the development of comparative psychopathology. c.1923-1962’, with Robert G.W. Kirk, History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences, 40 (2018): 1-29.
  • ‘Remembering the West End: social science, mental health and the American urban environment, 1939–1968’, with Matthew Smith, Urban History, 45 (2018): 128-149.
  • 'Making Animals Alcoholic: Shifting Laboratory Models of Addiction', Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (link is external), 51 (2015): 164–194.
  • ‘Surveying the meritocracy: The problems of intelligence and mobility in the studies of the Population Investigation Committee’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 47 (2014): 130-141.
  • Stress, Shock and Adaptation in the Twentieth Century (link is external), editor with David Cantor (University of Rochester Press, Rochester, NY, 2014)
  • ‘The Suicidal Animal: Science and the Nature of Self-destruction’, with Duncan Wilson, Past & Present (link is external), 224 (2014): :201-242.
  • 'Making Organisms Model Human Behavior: Situated Models in North-American Alcohol Research, since 1950', with Rachel Ankeny, Sabina Leonelli, and Nicole Nelson, Science in Context (link is external), 27 (2014): 485-509.
  • The History of Human Heredity (link is external), editor with Staffan Müller-Wille and Bernd Gausemeier (Pickering and Chatto, 2013)
  • ‘Rats, Stress and the Built Environment’, History of the Human Sciences (link is external), 25 (2012): 123–147
  • ‘Science and Medicine in the United States of America’, in Mark Jackson (ed.) Oxford Handbook of the History of Medicine (link is external) (Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • ‘Rat Cities and Beehive Worlds: Density and Design in the Modern City’, with Jon Adams, Comparative Studies in Society and History (link is external), 53 (2011): 722–756
  • ‘From Rodent Utopia to Urban Hell: Population, Pathology, and the Crowded Rats of NIMH’, Isis (link is external), 102 (2011): 659–688
  • ‘Travelling Facts About Crowded Rats’, in M. Morgan and P. Howlett (eds.) How Well Do Facts Travel? (link is external) (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
  • ‘Regulating Populations and Disciplining Science’, in M. Barbagli and H. Ferguson (ed.) La Teoria Sociologica e lo Stato Moderno (link is external) (Bologna: Il Mulino, 2010)
  • ‘Confronting the Stigma of Eugenics: Genetics, Demography and the Problems of Population,’ Social Studies of Science (link is external) 39 (2009): 853-884
  • ‘Escaping the Laboratory: The Rodent Experiments of John B. Calhoun & their Cultural Influence’, with Jon Adams, Journal of Social History (link is external), 42 (2009): 761-792
  • ‘Eugenics from the New Deal to the Great Society: genetic demography and relations between social and biological scientists of population’, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (link is external) Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 39 (2008): 391-406
  • ‘A Differential Paradox: The Controversy Surrounding the 1947 Scottish Inquiry into Intelligence and Family Size’, Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences (link is external), 43 (2007): 109-134
  • ‘Social Demography and Eugenics in the Interwar United States,’ Population and Development Review (link is external), Vol. 29 (2003): 547-599
  • ‘Carving Up Population Science: Eugenics, Demography and the Controversy Over the “Biological Law” of Population Growth,’ Social Studies of Science (link is external), Vol. 32 (2002): 857-899


I welcome applications from candidates wishing to undertake doctoral research in the following areas:

  • History of psychiatry in 19th and 20th century North America
  • History of the social and behavioural sciences
  • Animals in history, science and medicine
  • Population studies, eugenics and birth control politics
  • Urban history and architecture, planning and design from the late 19th century
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