Port cities in the European past acted as ‘gateways of disease’ in the same way that airports today function as hubs for the transmission of infectious diseases such as the Ebola and the ZIKA viruses. Major port cities in the past are unique laboratories enabling us to better understand the long term global evolution of mortality and health in dynamic environments characterized by high disease loads from a large range of infectious diseases, such as cholera and smallpox, high rates of population turnover and vast economic and industrial change.
The network makes use of individual-level cause-of-death data for the entire population of European port cities for the period 1850-1950. These truly unique datasets enable us to go beyond what was captured in highly-aggregated nationally published statistics which make use of extremely limited 19th century disease classifications. In this way we can evaluate health changes in-depth, being able to study dis-aggregations, by individual disease, by age, sex, etcetera. We can thus reconstruct the epidemiological ‘fingerprints’ of European port cities and the way these changed in an exceptional period in the history of European health, in which life expectancy nearly doubled, infectious diseases sharply declined, and cancers and cardiovascular diseases increased.
The network brings together scholars in social history, historical demography, medical history and historical epidemiology.
The SHiP network has received funding from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) as part of its Internationalization Program 2017. For further information and contact details, see our website: Studying the history of Health in Port cities.
Prof. Dr. Martin Dinges
Institut fur Geschichte der Medizin der Robert Bosch Stiftung
Tel.:0711 46084 167
Fax:0711 46084 181