Current research by Unit staff includes:
1) Medical Education in Provincial England, 1800-1948
The Wellcome Trust University Award awarded to Dr Jonathan Reinarz in 2003 has allowed him to examine the evolution of medical education in provincial England during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Focusing on five schools, including Birmingham (founded 1828), Bristol (1833), Liverpool (1834), Newcastle (1834) and Sheffield (1828), it explores seven general aspects of medical education:
The foundation and organisation of medical schools
The establishment of associated museums and libraries
The influence of scientific knowledge on instruction
The emergence of medical specialities
The experiences of instructors and students
The growth of postgraduate education.
Aspects of this research project have been presented as papers at numerous national and international conferences, including university seminars in Exeter (2005); Birmingham (2004; 2005; 2006, 2007); Glasgow (2005); Liverpool (2006); Bristol (2007); Oxford (2009); Imperial College, London (2009); University College, Dublin (2010); National University of Ireland, Galway (2010), as well as the annual conferences of the American Association for the History of Medicine (Montreal, 2007); the European Association for the History of Medicine and Health (Heidelberg, 2009); and the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine (Vancouver, 2008; Montreal 2010). These currently form the draft chapters of a monograph, which has the working title Provinces of Learning.
Unit Director, Jonathan Reinarz, spoke on his research into medical students experiences of education c.1825-1948 at University College Dublin's Centre for the History of Medicine. Click here to hear the interview
2) The Pauper Lives Project
The Pauper Lives Project, a joint project managed by Dr Leonard Schwarz (University of Birmingham) and Professor Jeremy Boulton (University of Newcastle), consists of two parts:
Death, disease and the environment: contextualising individual causes of death in London, 1747-1825
The project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, which began on 1 April 2007 and runs for two years, aims to uncover the links between cause of death and the environment at the level of the street. The sextons books for the Westminster parish of St. Martin-in-the-Fields (population c. 42,000 in 1725) give the name, sex, age and cause of death of all those who died in the parish from 1747, c. 1,000 per annum. We propose to link this with the database we have created from the previous ESRC project recreating the life histories of 56,000 parish paupers who went into the workhouse at some stage of their lives between 1725 and 1825. Combined with a mapping exercise, this will enable us to examine patterns of mortality at the very local (often street or courtyard) level, something never possible before for this period.
The life histories of all those who entered the workhouse of St. Martin-in-the Fields, Westminster 1725-1824.
This project, that had ESRC funding between January 2004 and March 2007, has aimed to reconstruct the lives of the London poor using poor law records. It is not, therefore another analysis of the mechanics of poor relief. We have set out to study the relationship between life-cycles, poor relief and survival strategies of the labouring poor in Europe's largest city between 1725 and 1824. To make this practical we are confining our research to the parish of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, Westminster. This area had a population of some 30,000 throughout this period and has particularly good records.
The website can be found at: http://research.ncl.ac.uk/pauperlives
3) Insanity and lunatic asylums in the British Wesh Indian Colonies, 1838 – 1914
This study, facilitated by a Research Expenses Grant from the Wellcome Trust, is run by Leonard Smith and considers the development of the lunatic asylum system in the West Indies in the decades following the abolition of black slavery in 1838. The research concentrates on the islands of Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad, Antigua, Grenada and St Lucia, and to a lesser extent on the mainland territories of British Honduras (Belize) and British Guiana (Guyana). Documents in the National Archives in London, as well as local archive material and information gathered from visits to surviving institutions, are being utilised. The study will seek to ascertain how the British approach to the care and management of mentally disordered people was reflected and adapted in the particular circumstances of the West Indian colonies, with their highly stratified societies based on racial and class divisions, and their economic impoverishment.