'The Radium Era: Rise and Demise of Radioactive Quackery' Webinar

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Can't make it live? Register and get access to the full replay for one week! New York Adventure Club | www.AdventureClub.com

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While radioactivity conjures up images of nuclear reactors and bright yellow warning signs for a 21st-century audience, society of the early 1900s actually clamored for more of it, not less. But how did the discovery of radium lead to its inclusion in a generation of quack medical and consumer products? It's time to delve into the story of radium in popular culture, and how a once fetishized substance was finally exposed as the dangerous substance it always was.

Join New York Adventure Club as we uncover the fascinating history of the Radium Era, a period in the early 20th century which saw the rise of a wide range of general consumer products and services containing radium.

Led by historian Lucy Jane Santos, and author of a book on radium, our virtual experience will include:

  • An overview of radium, from an explanation of its discovery to how a unique scientific instrument came to be the must-have Christmas gift of 1903
  • How radium became in vogue and was included in everything from Broadway shows, to medical procedures, to spa treatments
  • Examples of outrageous general consumer products containing radium, including the deadly (Radithor radioactive water), bizarre (O-Radium Hat-Pad: 'whenever you are wearing your hat, you are subjecting your hair to beneficent rays’), and simply fraudulent (Radol, which claimed to be a radium-impregnated cancer cure)
  • A discussion of how radium watches used in the trenches of World War One led to a fashion craze, and how that popularity led to the tragic fate of a women whose job it was to manufacture them
  • The gradual downfall and discrediting of the radium industry and how the substance eventually went from revered to feared
  • A special look at select items from Lucy's personal collection of radium objects

Afterward, we'll have a Q&A session with Lucy — any and all questions about the Radium Era are welcomed and encouraged!

Can't make it live? Don't worry, you'll have access to the full replay for one week!

See you there, virtually!

*Once registered, you will receive a separate, automated email containing the link to join this webinar

**For the best possible viewing experience, please ensure you're using the latest version of your internet browser — Google Chrome is the most compatible. Exact technical requirements and a webinar user guide will be shared in the automated confirmation email upon registration.

***A full replay will be available after the experience for all registered guests

About Lucy

Lucy Jane Santos is an expert in the history of 20th century leisure, health, and beauty.

After completing a BA in Egyptian Archaeology and a MA in Arts and Heritage Management Lucy worked for several private members clubs and societies in London including The Arts Club, the Authors’ Club, and the International Wine and Food Society.

She has been a judge for the Historical Writers’ Association Non-Fiction Crown, the recipient of the Stephen Joseph Research Award and was the Non-Fiction Writer In Residence for the Stay-at-Home! International Literature Festival (2020). She is a founder of the Art Deco Society UK and co-founder of the Cosmetic History and Makeup Studies Network.

Half Lives: The Unlikely History of Radium is Lucy’s debut book and was shortlisted for the 2021 BSHS Hughes Prize, for books that bring scholarship to new readers by capturing the public imagination while conforming to the rigorous standards of academic research. Her next book, which is a history of the element uranium, will be published in 2024.

Lucy also works as a freelance historical researcher and consultant.


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Categories: Virtual, Moments in History

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