Situated in Ararat, Victoria, construction of the goal commenced in 1859 and the facility was opened in 1861.
In 1887 it was converted for use as a maximum security psychiatric ward for the criminally insane.
The original building was intended to be a Victorian goldfields prison, based on the Pentonville concept, by the Public Works Department.
On 10 October 1861 the gaol was opened, with a total of 21 prisoners incarcerated.
The first Governor was Samuel Walker (previously the Governor of Portland Gaol). In 1864 the gaol housed 40 prisoners and in 1867 John Gray became the gaol’s second Governor, a position he held for ten years.
On the 15 August 1870 the first execution was conducted at the gaol, when Andrew Vere was hung for the murder of Amos Cheale in January 1869.
The second execution at the gaol was held on 25 September 1883, when Robert Francis Burns was hung for the murder of Michael Quinlivan.
In 1877 Henry Pinniger was appointed as the gaol’s third Governor.
On 6 June 1884 the gaol held its third execution, with Henry Morgan being hung for the murder of Margaret Nolan in November 1883. I
n 1884 George Fiddimont became the gaol’s fourth Governor, he died of a heart attack at the goal on 14 September 1886.
In the aftermath of the Victorian gold rush the gaol was no longer required and in December 1886 the gaol building was proclaimed as the ‘J Ward’, part of the Ararat Lunatic Asylum.
J Ward is now a museum open to the public. Other notes about J Ward include the amazing art work done by prisoners on the walls out side in their open area, the way this place makes you still imagine it being operated, and the thought to detail is amazing.
J ward was not only occupied by the criminally insane but also the insane who had not committed any crimes.
By the 1600s, the plague doctor was a terror to behold, thanks to his costume — perhaps the most potent symbol of the Black Death. The protective garment was created by the 17th-century physician Charles de l’Orme (1584-1678).
De l’Orme had been the physician of choice for several French kings (one Henri and a Louis or two), and was also a favourite of the Medici family in Italy. In 1619 — as a carefully considered way to protect himself from having to visit powerful, plague-infested patients he couldn’t say no to — de l’Orme created the iconic uniform.
Its dramatic flair certainly made it seem like a good idea, and the costume quickly became all the rage among plague doctors throughout Europe.
Made of a canvas outer garment coated in wax, as well as waxed leather pants, gloves, boots and hat, the costume became downright scary from the neck up.
A dark leather hood and mask were held onto the face with leather bands and gathered tightly at the neck so as to not let in any noxious, plague-causing miasmas that might poison the wearer.
Eyeholes were cut into the leather and fitted with glass domes.
As if this head-to-toe shroud of foreboding wasn’t enough, from the front protruded a grotesque curved beak designed to hold the fragrant compounds believed to keep “plague air” at bay.
Favourite scents included camphor, floral concoctions, mint, cloves, myrrh and basically anything that smelled nice and strong.
In some French versions of the costume, compounds were actually set to smolder within the beak, in the hopes that the smoke would add an extra layer of protection.
A wooden stick completed the look, which the plague doctor used to lift the clothing and bed sheets of infected patients to get a better look without actually making skin-to-skin contact.
This fantastic eye chart — measuring 22 by 28 inches with a positive version on one side and negative on the other — is the work of German optometrist and American Optometric Association member George Mayerle, who was working in San Francisco at end of the nineteenth century, just when optometry was beginning to professionalise.
The chart was a culmination of his many years of practice and, according to Mayerle, its distinctive international angle served also to reflect the diversity and immigration which lay at the heart of the city in which he worked.
At the time it was advertised as “the only chart published that can be used by people of any nationality”. Stephen P. Rice, from the National Library of Medicine explains just how thoroughly thought through the different aspects of the chart were as regards the aim to be as inclusive as possible:
Running through the middle of the chart, the seven vertical panels test for acuity of vision with characters in the Roman alphabet (for English, German, and other European readers) and also in Japanese, Chinese, Russian, and Hebrew.
A panel in the center replaces the alphabetic characters with symbols for children and adults who were illiterate or who could not read any of the other writing systems offered.
Directly above the center panel is a version of the radiant dial that tests for astigmatism.
On either side of that are lines that test the muscular strength of the eyes.
Finally, across the bottom, boxes test for colour vision, a feature intended especially (according to one advertisement) for those working on railroads and steamboats.
An 18th century caricature using a devil figure to illustrate the pain and inflammation caused by gout. In the middle ages pain was seen as a lesson from God. (James Gillray (1756-1815)/ Getty Images)
‘Pain is Ageless’ and UK historian Joanna Bourke has just released The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers. She recently spoke with Antony Funnell about suffering and its social and historical context.
At its most basic, pain is an early warning system. It signals danger—that something is wrong—but it can also be a pleasure.
Many of us devour chilli not just because of the flavour it imparts, but because of the way it makes us feel—that tingling, burning feeling that’s all too addictive.
There is pleasure also in the infliction and receipt of pain, and not just for those who dwell in the darker corners of society. Witness the phenomenal mainstream success of books like Fifty Shades of Grey.
The amount of pain that we feel is really very, very dependent on a lot of external circumstances. It’s influenced by everything around us.
Pain has also been an instrument of authority.
The hanging, drawing and quartering of traitors in 14th century England had little to do with justice. A simple blade would have sufficed.
Such punishments were about making a public display of pain to reiterate the power of the state, indeed the power of the monarch, over human life itself.
That developed nations no longer use pain in this way (even in the United States executions are at least intended to be quick and surgical) speaks to the fact that our relationship with pain is subject to social mores, to fashion over time—that it is imbued with historical context.