David Wright

David Wright
Contact Information
Email address: 
david.j.wright [at] mcgill.ca
Professor and Canada Research Chair

D.Phil. (Oxford)
B.A., M.A. (McGill)

Specialization by time period: 
1800 - 1900
1900 - Today
Specialization by geographical area: 
North America
Office hours: 

By Appointment


David Wright received his BA and MA in History from McGill University and his DPhil (in History) from the University of Oxford. As a post-doctoral research fellow at Oxford, he specialized in the history of health and medicine before being appointed Wellcome Trust Lecturer in the History of Medicine at the University of Nottingham (1996-99). In 1999, David returned to Canada to become the Hannah Chair in the History of Medicine at McMaster University, a cross-appointment between the medical school and the History department. During his twelve years at McMaster, he was active in several administrative capacities, including Chair of the international Society for the Social History of Medicine (SSHM), Associate Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, and Chair of McMaster’s University Curriculum Committee.

David joined the Department (in 2011) as Professor of History, cross-appointed to the Department of Ethics, Equity & Policy (formerly the Institute for Health and Social Policy), in the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. At McGill, he has served in several administrative capacities, including Interim Director of the Institute of Health and Social Policy (2013), Chair of the Department of History and Classical Studies (2015-18), Interim Associate Dean of Arts, Faculty Affairs (2021-22) and briefly as Interim Dean of Arts (2022). Meanwhile, David has published widely on five overlapping areas of research interest: the history of madness and lunatic asylums; the history of disability; the history of child health; the history of hospitals; and the history of Canadian Medicare. In 2020, he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Academy of Arts, Letters and Sciences) in recognition of his contributions to the history of health and medicine.

Graduate supervision: 

social history of health and medicine; history of public health; history of medical institutions; history of madness and psychiatry, globalization of health human resources; history of global health initiatives

Selected publications: 

Book cover of "Doctors Beyond Borders" Book cover of "Sick Kids" Book cover of "Health and Medicine in the circum-Caribbean, 1800-1968" Book cover of "The Confinement of the Insane" Book cover of "Downs: the History of a Disability" Book cover of "From Idiocy to Mental Deficiency" Book cover of "Mental Disability in Victorian England" Book Cover of "Mental Health and Canadian Society" Book cover of "Outside the Walls of the Asylum" Book cover of "Histories of Suicide"

downs Japaneseforeign practicesurban history


Publication files: 
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