Justine Pick

Justine Pick

Department of History
Doctoral Researcher

Contact details

PhD Title: The Process of Sanitary Improvement: Theory, Practice and Impact in Birmingham 1842-1911
Supervisor: Dr Malcolm Dick and Dr Matt Cole
Phd History


My research explores the theory, practice and impact of sanitary improvements in Britain between the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As national legislation placed responsibility for public health in the hands of local governments, my study closely examines how a single local government, the Corporation of Birmingham, addressed the environmental damage of urbanisation and industrialisation and attempted to improve public health. Areas of research are water supply, sewage, waste management, living conditions and food safety. 

One particular aim of my research is to reveal how far was the gap between, theories of disease and the ideology of sanitary improvement, and the actual impact of the solutions put in practice.  This will involve examining how much influence unique local circumstances had on solutions and their outcomes. Also, what evidence there is for improvement to health and life expectancy and if so, when it actually began.  It is therefore a study of environment history, disease and public health in Britain, as well as a contribution to the social and political history of Birmingham.