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Lucy Jane Santos

Half Lives: Tales from the Radium Era

In this talk Lucy Jane Santos, the owner of a formidable collection of radium health and beauty products, will share some of the fascinating, curious, and sometimes macabre devices and treatments that were foisted upon the public during the Radium Era, which spanned the early part of the twentieth century.

We will trace the element through its ascendance as a desirable item—a present for a queen, a prize in a treasure hunt, a glow-in- the-dark dance costume—to its role as a supposed cure-all in everyday twentieth-century life, when medical practitioners and business people (reputable and otherwise) devised ingenious ways of commodifying the new wonder element, and enthusiastic customers welcomed their radioactive wares into their homes.

With period advertisements, promotional literature, instructions and the objects themselves Lucy Jane Santos will delve into the stories of these products and details the gradual downfall and discredit of the radium industry through the eyes of the people who bought, sold and eventually came to fear the once-fetishized substance.

Lucy Santos

Lucy Jane Santos (hello@lucyjanesantos.com | lucyjanesantos.comTwitter | Instagram) is an expert in the history of 20th century leisure, health, and beauty with a particular interest in (some might say obsession with) the cultural history of radioactivity. Lucy has appeared as an occasional contributor on TV and radio, and her historical research has been featured by History Today, BBC History Revealed, The Telegraph, The Scotsman, the Daily Express and on the BBC2 documentary, Makeup: A Glamorous History. Her most recent project is as Creative Consultant for the documentary Obsessed With Light a film that tells the story of the performance artist and scientist Loïe Fuller.