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The aim of the Society is to stimulate interest in the History of Radiology and artefacts, for the benefit of the members and the public. We are supported by numerous professional bodies and are a registered charity:  Charity Number 1012505. For more details click on the BSHR tab.  Email

  ISHRAD, International Day of Radiology and the 120th anniversary of Rontgen’s discovery in Wurzburg.

 Report by Dr Arpan K Banerjee

  Chair British Society for the History of Radiology

November 8 1895 was the day when Rontgen  a relatively unknown Physics Professor at Wurzburg ,Germany conducted his epoch making experiment in his laboratory late on a Friday evening . The rest of the story has now become etched in medical history. Today it is difficult to imagine modern  hospitals without radiology departments. None of this would have been possible without his discovery of X-rays ,  published in his elegant paper ‘Eine Neue art  von Strahlen’ and presented  to the Physical and Medical Society of Wurzburg on 23 January 1896. News of the discovery spread worldwide and Rontgen went on to become the first recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.

On Nov 8  2015 a celebratory event to mark the 120th anniversary of the  discovery was  held  in the lecture hall of the Institute of Anatomy Wurzburg. It is here that the distinguished Professor of Anatomy , Albert Von Kolliker worked and discovered mitochondria and  subsequently became a Fellow of the Royal Society of London and Copley Medallist. It was his hand that was X-rayed by Rontgen in the famous demonstration in the  lecture theatre all those years ago. Readers are probably more familiar with the famous 1966 painting by  the artist Robert Thom (1915-1979) depicting  this epoch making event.  

The weekend of celebratory events in Wurzburg included a scientific meeting of the International Society of the History of Radiology celebrating Rontgen’s discovery  held in the Rontgen  memorial building on the  Rontgenring road. This building luckily escaped the Allied bombing of Wurzburg which destroyed  90% of the city in 1945.  This building consists of  Rontgen’s original laboratories and an exhibition space and is now part of the new  University of  applied sciences, Wurzburg and displays  material relating to Rontgen’s life and provides an insight into the turn of the twentieth century physics. The tour of the famous laboratories was one of the highlights of the weekend. It was in this very room that X-rays were discovered by Rontgen and some of the apparatus was on display as well as Rontgen’s bookcase and desk and the famous sculpture of his hands.

A range of lectures were presented on a variety of topics including the development of radiology in Wurzburg, Rontgen’s birthplace in Remscheid and  an interesting presentation by S Popp on the  Rontgen memorial site itself. The memorial site consists of the laboratories Rontgen used at the University of Wurzburg and is now under the care of the newer University of Applied Sciences Wurzburg Scheinfurt. The road on which this building stands was renamed the Rontgenring  in 1909 in Rontgen’s honour. In the afternoon  a variety of talks were presented on topics ranging from Hounsfield, the Braggs,  early uroradiology to shoe fluoroscopy. The meeting was organised by the International Society for the History of Radiology, Roentgen Memorial site and the German Roentgen Society.

Wurzburg is also home to the famous Juliushospital founded in 1576 and an accompanying winery the profits which have enabled the hospital to flourish throughout the years. In the early nineteenth century this hospital had one of the world’s most advanced operating theatres.

Wurzburg University is one of Germany’s oldest universities and boasts 14 Nobel Laureates including Rontgen and Fischer, Nernst and Max von Laue the discoverer of x-ray diffraction in 1912. Landsteiner who in 1900 did his pioneering work on blood groups also worked here. In addition  Rudolf Virchow the great pathologist was also associated with Wurzburg for part of his career.

The city honoured its famous son with a front page article in the local paper and celebrations were held on the evening of Nov 8 to which delegates and local dignitaries were invited.

The weekend was a truly humbling, informative and inspiring experience for the members of the British Society for the History of Radiology who were lucky enough to attend.

First published Dec 2015 Rad Magazine UK


22 FEBRUARY 2016 7pm

The Governors' Hall at St Thomas’ Hospital Westminster Bridge Road

London SE1 7EH.

Marie Curie and the origins of early

Diagnostic Radiology and Radiotherapy

Dr Allan Chapman

Science Historian and Author, Oxford University

Dr Allan Chapman is a historian of science at Oxford University. His special areas of research lie in the history of medicine and of astronomy. He came to Oxford to do his doctoral research, and has been here since 1972, attached to Wadham College, and since 2009, to Christ Church as well. In 2014, as part of its bi-centenary celebrations, Lancaster University gave him the Outstanding Alumnus Award, while in 2015, the Royal Astronomical Society awarded him its Jackson Gwilt medal. He is the author of some ten books and over 100 papers, and is currently in the final stages of his latest book; Physicians, Plagues, and Progress: A History of Western Medicine from Antiquity to Antibiotics (Lion Hudson, Oxford, forthcoming 2016)

This exciting lecture will cover the early days of radiology and radiotherapy including Roentgen’s and Marie Curie’s important pioneering contributions.

ADMISSION BY TICKET ONLY, OBTAINABLE FROM: Dr Arpan K Banerjee Consultant Radiologist by email NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 17, 2016 Tickets are free of charge. A retiring collection will be taken with a suggested donation of £5.

Annual General Meeting 6:15pm

(BSHR members only)  Light refreshments from 6pm.

Above: Rontgen’s laboratory

Right: The Rontgen Memorial site


The 25th Congress of the BSHM August 2013

The History Session at UKRC June 2014

Nervous Women…ISHRAD 2012

The History Session at UKRC June 2015


Francis Duck’s  ISHRAD lecture in Vienna 8 March 2014 in pdf form. It’s nearly 40 MB


The British Institute of Radiology has produced a short film about the history of radiology during World War 1.  BIR past-president, Professor Andrew Jones, interviews  Adrian Thomas about the important role of radiology during the war and some of the major figures during that period. The film features some interesting artefacts.

Find it here.


Dr Paul Frame  has built up a museum at Oak Ridge Associated Universities, Tennessee that covers many aspects of atomic and nuclear history: measuring instruments, particularly those for health physics, are well represented but there is a wide-ranging collection of documents. It contains some artefacts of radiology and much of it is online.


Adrian Thomas’s short history of radiology is a good start to finding out  about its fascinating past. Other accounts can be found through the History tab above.