Students Staff

Academic Staff

Dr Lisa Smith SFHEA

Position in departmentDirector Digital History Centre; Graduate Research Director
Staff positionLecturer in Digital History
Telephone01206 874120
Academic support hoursM 11:45-12:45; Th 10:00-11:00

It’s as simple as this: I like stories. People and their stories are endlessly interesting. In fact, I very nearly went into literature instead of history, but what made me realise that I should be a historian is that I like piecing together stories from fragments of information.

I studied history at the University of Alberta and the University of Essex. From 2002 to 2015, I was a member of the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. In September 2015, I returned to the University of Essex.


Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy (2017)
Ph.D., University of Essex (2002)
M.A., University of Alberta (1997)
B.A. Hons. in Honours History, University of Alberta (1995)

Current research

My long-standing interests are on gender, health, the household, and the body--particularly, pain, illness experience, reproduction/infertility and domestic medicine. I am developing an online database of Sir Hans Sloane's correspondence (c. 1685-1750) and am a co-investigator on a crowd-sourcing recipes transcription project (Early Modern Recipes Online Collective). In addition, I am a founding editor for The Recipes Project blog and write about my research at The Sloane Letters Blog. I tweet as @historybeagle.

Research interests
  • Britain and France, ca. 1600-1800;
  • Digital History;
  • Gender;
  • the Family;
  • the Body;
  • Medicine and Science;
  • Supernatural

Postgraduate Supervision

Early modern topics supervised have included:

  • early modern supernatural debates;
  • recipes as scientific knowledge;
  • illness narratives and religion;
  • military nursing; and
  • women's intellectual networks.

Dissertation Supervision

I am happy to supervise projects on any of the topics listed above, as well as more general topics (ca. 1500-1850).

Teaching responsibilities

HR111 'Society, Culture and Politics in Europe, 1500-1750'

CS101, 'Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics and Culture'

HR250 'Supernatural and Natural Worlds in Early Modern Europe'

HR350 'Pain: A Short History'

Plus, some lectures on: HR100 'The Making of the Modern World, 1776-1989', HR200 'History Works: Beyond your B.A.', CS220 'Navigating the Digital World', and HR231 'Choosing Your Past'.



  • “Bespelled in the Archives”, The Appendix: A New Journal of Narrative and Experimental History 1, 2 (2013):
  • “The Body Embarrassed? Rethinking the Leaky Male Body in Eighteenth-Century England and France”, Gender and History, 23, 1 (2011): 26-46.
  • “Imagining Women’s Fertility before Technology”, Journal of Medical Humanities, 31, 1 (2010): 69-80.
  •  “‘An Account of an Unaccountable Distemper’: The Experience of Pain in Early Eighteenth-Century England and France”, Eighteenth-Century Studies 41, 4 (2008): 459-480.
  • “The Relative Duties of a Man: Domestic Medicine in England and France, ca. 1670-1740”, Journal of Family History 31, 3 (2006): 237-256.
  • “Reassessing the Role of the Family: Women’s Medical Care in Eighteenth-Century England”, Social History of Medicine 16, 3 (2003): 327-342.

Book Chapters

  • “Friend and Physician to the Family”, pp. 48-56 in From Books to Bezoars: Sir Hans Sloane, Collector of an Age. Ed. A. Walker, M. Hunter and A. MacGregor. London: British Library Publications, 2012.
  • “Secrets for Healthy Living in the Eighteenth Century: The Medical Casebooks of Vivant-Augustin Ganiare”, in Secrets and Knowledge: Medicine, Science and Commerce (1500-1800). Eds. E. Leong and A. Rankin. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.
  • “La Raillerie des Femmes? Les Femmes, la Sterilité et la Société en France à l’Époque Moderne”, in Femmes en Fleurs, Femmes en Corps : Sang, Santé, Sexualités, du Moyen Age aux Lumières. Eds. C. McClive and N. Pellegrin. Saint-Etienne: Presses Universitaires de Saint-Etienne, 2010.

Digital Projects



Recent Talks


  • 'A Recipe for a Virtual Conference', Learning Spaces: Education Conference, 11 January 2018, University of Essex (invited talk).
  • 'The Multiple Meanings of an Eighteenth-Century Caesarean Section', British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Conference, 3-5 January 2018, Oxford University.


  • 'Easing Childbirth Pain in Early Modern France', Knowledge in Context: Colloquium in Honour of Laurence Brockliss and Colin Jones, 22-23 September 2017, Oxford University (invited talk)
  • 'Imagining Inexpressible Suffering in the Eighteenth Century', Early Modern Group Seminar, 7 June 2017, Durham University (invited talk)
  • 'Gender and the Circulation of Hans Sloane's Books', The Material Culture of Citizen Science Workshop, 12 May 2017, Oxford University (invited talk)
  • 'Imagining the Hidden: Inexpressible Suffering in the Eighteenth Century', Gender and Pain in Modern History Conference, 25 March 2017, Birkbeck University (keynote)
  • 'Digital Methods', Source of Knowledge: Teaching with Archival Collections, The Gerald Aylmer Workshop, 25 February 2017, The National Archives (invited talk)
  • 'Collaborating with Students on the Digital Recipe Books Project', From Strongroom to Classroom: Archives and Teaching in Higher Education, The Gerald Aylmer Seminar, 24 February 2017, Institute for Historical Research (invited talk)


  • Roundtable on 'The Place of the Digital History of Medicine', Society for the Social History of Medicine Conference, 7-10 July 2016, University of Kent (organiser & participant)
  • 'Hans Sloane's Human Fossils', Corpses, Cadavers and Catalogues: The Mobilities of Dead Bodies and Body Parts, Past and Present, 17-18 May 2016, London (speaker)
  • 'Finding Hans Sloane', Social History Society Conference, 21-23 March 2016, University of Lancaster (speaker)
  • 'Close-reading and Crowd-sourcing', Citizen Science in Historical Perspective, 19 February 2016, Max Planck Institute, Berlin (invited talk)
  • 'Fragments from an Eighteenth-century Family Scandal', History of Medicine Group, 17 February 2016, Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh (invited talk)
  • 'Considering an Account of an Eighteenth-Century Caesarean Section', The Medical World of Early Modern Ireland, 3-4 September 2015, Trinity College Dublin (speaker)


  • 'Hans Sloane and the Huguenots: Crossing Borders in the Republic of Letters', Social Networks Conference 1450-1850, 16-17 July 2015, Sheffield University (speaker)
  • 'Reconstructing Dr. Sloane: Gender, Expertise and Identity for an Eighteenth-Century Physician', History of Medicine Unit, 4 June 2015, University of Birmingham (invited talk)

Digital Presentations


  • 'What is a Recipe? The Editors' Final Panel Livestreamed', What is a Recipe? A Virtual Conversation, 10 July 2017, The Recipes Project and The Wellcome Library, London.
  • 'Historical Pang-Relievers and Birth Quickeners: A Twitter Panel with Laurence Totelin, Julia Martins and Lisa Smith', What is a Recipe? A Virtual Conversation, @historybeagle, 22 June 2017, The Recipes Project.
  • 'Introducing Margaret Baker, a Twitter essay', What is a Recipe? A Virtual Conversation, @historybeagle, 15 June 2017, The Recipes Project.

Recent Public Engagement Talks

  • 'Recipe Books and Family Histories', Essex History Group, Essex Records Office, Chelmsford (November 2017).
  • 'Seventeenth-Century Saturday Kitchen, or Hanna Woolley's Recipes for Queen-Like Living Every Day', The Plume Lecture, Thomas Plume's Library, Maldon (November 2017).
  • 'Sir Hans Sloane's Supernatural Correspondence', Community Science Programme, Kensington & Chelsea Borough (October 2017).
  • 'Finding Hans Sloane', Celebration of Science, Kensington & Chelsea Borough (October 2016).
  • ‘Recipes to improve your love life: advice from the eighteenth century’, Whipple Museum of the History of Science, Cambridge (May 2016)

Conferences Organised

  • 'What is a Recipe? A Virtual Conversation', 2 June to 10 July 2017, The Recipes Project. Programme here.

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