Elaine Leong

MPG Minerva Research Group Leader (Sep 2012-Feb 2019)

Dr. Phil.

I gained my doctorate in Modern History from the University of Oxford in 2006. Before joining the MPIWG, I was a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge and a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick. In 2006 and 2007, I held short-term fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Huntington Library. My article "Making Medicines in the Early Modern Household," (82, 2008) was awarded the 2009 J. Worth Estes Prize by the American Association for the History of Medicine and the 2010 Jerry Stannard Award.

My research is centered upon medical and scientific knowledge transfer and production. My interdisciplinary projects use theories and methods in the history of the book and the history of reading to elucidate practical knowledge and quotidian activities within the domestic sphere. I am currently working on two book-length projects. The first, Treasuries for Health: Making Recipe Knowledge in the Early Modern Household is the first major study of informal "science" and medicine in early modern English Households. The second, Reading Rivière in Early Modern England, uses the story of Lazare Rivière’s bestselling Praxis medica/The Practice of Physick to explore the production, transfer and codification of vernacular medical knowledge in early modern Europe. I am also interested in investigating women’s medical knowledge and practice and how this knowledge was generated, acquired and transmitted. Finally, I have particular interests in note-taking, paper technologies, and household archives of natural knowledge. With Alisha Rankin (Tufts University), I edited Secrets and Knowledge: Medicine, Science and Commerce 1500-1800 (Ashgate Publishing, 2011).


Early Modern Recipes Online Collective


Paper Cures: Managing Knowledge and Health in the Early Modern Household


Reading Rivière in Early Modern England


The Recipes Project: Food, Magic, Art, Science, and Medicine


Translating Medicine in the Premodern World


Treasuries for Health: Making Recipe Knowledge in the Early Modern Household


Vernacular Medical Books in Early Modern England


Working with Paper: Gendered Practices in the History of Knowledge


Collecting Knowledge for the Family: Household Recipe Books in Early Modern England


Testing Drugs and Trying Cures in Premodern Europe


Selected Publications

Leong, E. (2017). Brewing ale and boiling water in 1651. In M. Valleriani (Ed.), The structures of practical knowledge (pp. 55-75). Cham: Springer.

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Leong, E., & Rankin, A. (2017). Testing drugs and trying cures: experiment and medicine in medieval and early modern Europe. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 92(2), 157-182. doi:10.1353/bhm.2017.0023.

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Leong, E., & Rankin, A. (Eds.). (2017). Testing drugs and trying cures [Special Issue]. Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 91(2). doi:10.1353/bhm.2017.0023.

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Leong, E. (2016). 'Herbals she peruseth': reading medicine in early modern England. In R. Cooter (Ed.), History of medicine. Vol. 2: Early modern medicine (pp. 292-316). London [u.a.]: Routledge.

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Managing Health and Household in Early Modern England

Predoctoral Event

Land Ahoy!


Itineraries of Materials, Recipes, Techniques, and Knowledge in the Early Modern World (Part II)


Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

"Reconstructing Household Recipes"

"Making and Knowing Reconstruction Workshop," Chemical Heritage Foundation, U.S.A.

"How Do You Solve a Problem Like Wellcome MS 4759?"

"Sources for Global History of Science" workshop, Columbia University, U.S.A.

"Annotating The Art of Distillation: ‘How Rebecca Tallamy Read Her John French'"

Renaissance Society of America Annual Meeting, Berlin, Germany

"Brewing Ale in Early Modern England"

Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft, Universität Bremen, Germany

"Creating Treasuries of Health: Knowledge Codification in the ‘Margins'"

SAW History of Science, History of Text seminar, Université Paris 7, CNRS, Laboratoire SPHERE, Paris.

"Homemade Trials: Recipes and ‘Experimentation' in the Early Modern Household"

History of Science Society (HSS) Annual Meeting in Chicago, U.S.A.

"'Tried and tested': Creating a Treasury for Health in Early Modern England"

HSTM Colloquium, University of Minnesota U.S.A.
Reading Rivière in Early Modern England

Physicians, Paper and Polis Workshop. MPIWG and Institute for the History of Medicine and Ethics, Charité, Berlin, Germany
"Tracing Recipe Networks in Early Modern England"

University of Basel
"Note-taking for Health: Medical Notebooks in the Early Modern Household"

Department of the History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge
"Paper Slips, Notebooks and Health Management"

CRASSH, University of Cambridge