Canary in a Coal Mine (working title), my documentary film about myalgic encephalomyelitis, is heading toward rough cut, an early version of the finished film. Right now, we are working intensely on the historical sections to help the audience understand not only the history of the disease but a broader history of medicine. The intention is to give audiences a framework for understanding just how we arrived at where we are now with this disease.
We will be hiring an archival researcher to search for film, images, and newspaper or journal article headlines, a search that may unearth primary resources we have never seen. The collective knowledge of this community is an amazing resource, and so I am asking for your help to give our archival researcher a great start.
Specifically I would love your help collating information and primary resources on the following topics. Actual images, news archive, etc. would be incredible, but just as important is adding what you know. Collating more detail on where and precisely when major events happened will give our researcher clues on where and when to look.
The best way to collate materials is to post them on MEpedia (I will be sharing the links directly with our researcher – just sign up for an account and click “edit” on the page and paste away. Don’t worry about formatting! Others will come along and make sure links and citations work, etc.)
1) The Outbreaks
We are looking for information, archive, and visuals from all the outbreaks, but are especially interested in the 1934 Los Angeles County Hospital outbreak, the 1946 Akureryi, Iceland outbreak, the 1955 Royal Free Hospital outbreak, and the 1984 Incline Village, Nevada outbreak. Again, links to actual newspaper accounts and visuals would be helpful – or even uploads of materials you may have – but also useful would be just fleshing out these pages with more information to help our researcher in their search.
2) The Victorian history of the disease
We are looking for information, archive, and visuals on Victorian understandings of the disease, including: hysteria, neurasthenia, Charcot, Freud and other contemporaries who may have written about these two conditions – wastebasket precursors to chronic fatigue syndrome.
Edit: I do not mean to say that ME was historically diagnosed as hysteria although it was probably very close to some understanding of neurasthenia. Rather that the legacy of both illnesses influenced the whole of the history of medicine and the way that ME was later categorized and treated. But please, do correct or contest what I am getting wrong! That is part of the beauty of “crowdsourcing” this project – it helps us to learn about new sources and make sure that if we get things wrong, by the time we are picture lock, we have gotten them right.
Thanks for your help! Post any questions you may have below.