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Dr Lynsey Cullen
Daphne Jackson Trust Fellow



BA (Cardiff University), MA and PhD (Oxford Brookes University)

Lynsey Cullen is a Daphne Jackson Trust Research Fellow in the History of Medicine. Her current research project (funded by the AHRC and the ESRC) focuses on the history of patient data from the nineteenth century to the present day. Her research interests more broadly include the history of hospitals, medical women, welfare, and mental healthcare.

Lynsey’s PhD (funded by a Wellcome Trust Postgraduate Scholarship) carried out at Oxford Brookes University examined patient case records of the Royal Free Hospital during the early twentieth century. Her MA research examined the first female gynaecologist appointed at the general hospital in Britain, the first medical social worker in Britain, and post-mortem practice at the Littlemore Mental Asylum in Oxford during the late nineteenth century. Lynsey has published on themes including the history of hospital welfare, mental healthcare, and post-mortem practice.  

Lynsey is also a professional playwright, screenwriter, and children’s book author.



Lynsey’s Daphne Jackson Trust research project ‘Patient Data and the Media, 1860s to Present: Using historical scandals to explain current distrust surrounding access to medical data’ is funded by the AHRC and the ESRC.

The project examines how medical records have been accessed and used in the past to understand current distrust around the sharing of medical data under NHS Digital. It examines how patient case records moved around the medical marketplace in the nineteenth and early twentieth century before the arrival of the NHS, when they were stored with GPs and individual hospitals.

The recent history of NHS Digital is also explored: a reincarnation of earlier initiatives which attempted to merge GP and hospital records onto a single mega-database. Each attempt caused significant public anxiety about how our medical data is kept and used, fuelled by medical data breach scandals in the media. The project acts as a pilot to a larger study on how the patient case record has moved from being a purely medical resource to being claimed by the public as part of their personal private story.

Lynsey’s PhD thesis ‘Patient Case Records of the Royal Free Hospital, 1902-1912’ explored patient identity and choice in the medical marketplace, population health, hospital treatment, and patient experience. The project sampled, photographed, and transcribed over five-hundred patient case records (the largest corpus for an historical study to date).

Her MA research examined the patient records of Dame Mary Scharlieb at the turn of the twentieth century (the first female gynaecologist appointed at the general hospital in Britain) and compared her treatment approach to that of her male counterparts; the Almoner’s Record Book of Miss Mary Stewart, the first medical social worker in Britain appointed at the Royal Free Hospital 1895; and post-mortem practice at the Littlemore Mental Asylum in Oxford during the 1880s.

Lynsey’s general research themes include the history of patients, medical data, hospitals, medical welfare, asylums and mental healthcare, medical women, and the history of death and dying.  


Selected publications

Calabria, V. and Cullen, L., ‘Mental Healthcare in Ireland post-1922’, History of Psychiatry, (upcoming 2023)

Cullen, L, ‘Cullen on Jansson, ‘From Melancholia to Depression: Disordered Mood in Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry, H Disability, H-Net Reviews, July 2021.

Cullen, L., ‘Cullen on Wallis, ‘Investigating the Body in the Victorian Asylum: Doctors, Patients, and Practices’, H Disability, H-Net Reviews, August 2018.

Cullen, L., ‘Post-mortem in the Victorian asylum: practice, purpose and findings at the Littlemore County Lunatic Asylum, 1886-7’, History of Psychiatry, Vol. 28, Issue 3, (September 2017), 280-296

Cullen, L., ‘The First Lady Almoner: The Appointment, Position and Findings of Miss Mary Stewart at the Royal Free Hospital, 1895-1899’, Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Vol. 68, No. 4, (October 2013), 551-582

Cullen, L., ‘Patient Case Records in Medical and Family History: Examining the Records of the Royal Free Hospital’, Family & Community History, Vol. 15/1 (Spring 2012)

Cullen, L., ‘Patient Case Records of the Royal Free Hospital’, Wellcome History, Issue 45 (Winter 2010), 8-9

External activities


Lynsey Cullen is a playwright, screenwriter, and author who is passionate about telling untold stories, especially those from the LGBTQ+ community.

Lynsey finished the research and development for her Arts Council England funded play KIDS in the Autumn of 2022 and is currently under commission with Izzy Paris Productions to write her play UNCLE. She will have a podcast episode Daddy Issues for ‘The Scene’ (Get Over It Productions) released shortly and is currently working with director Oz Arshad on her short film BIOLOGY and with Polari Productions on her virtual reality short film CAKE, all on the theme of queer families.

Lynsey is also currently working as a playwright and facilitator for Cherwell Theatre Company on their Home Office funded project ENACT, tackling violence against women and girls in secondary schools.

Her numerous plays have been produced across the country by companies including Hive North at Hope Mill Theatre in Manchester and Full Disclosure at the Southwark Playhouse in London.

She has also recently published her debut children’s Christmas book, Marzipan the Clumsy Elf.

Contact details

Dr Lynsey Cullen
Daphne Jackson Trust Fellow
Department of History
Vanburgh College
University of York
YO10 5DD