Healthy Boundaries

Healthy Boundaries

Property, Law, and Public Health in England and Wales, 1815-1872

James G. Hanley


University of Rochester Press



Argues that the legacies of Victorian public health in England and Wales were not just better health and cleaner cities but also new ideas of property, liability, and community.
This book argues that the legacies of nineteenth-century public health in England and Wales were not just better health and cleaner cities but also new ideas of property and people. Between 1815 and 1872, the work of public health activists led to multiple redefinitions of both, shifting the boundaries between public and private nuisances, public and private services, taxable and nontaxable property, cities and suburbs, the state and the individual, and, finally, between different kinds of individuals. These boundary-making processes were themselves inflected by different material, political, and ideological developments in the areas of disease, demography, democracy, and domesticity.

The changes in boundaries manifested themselves in the creation of new nuisance laws and in the minute control by the state of private domestic arrangements. Most important, these changes also promoted a radical shift in ideas on who should bear financial responsibility for the health of others, stimulating in the process a controversy on the nature of community. Public health thus served as an important, if contradictory, site in the creation of communities, enhancing the right to health for some while simultaneously restricting in the name of health the privacy rights of others. Relying on underused legal sources, this book presents a fresh view of the local origins and legal and political significance of the public health movement of the nineteenth century.

James G. Hanley is associate professor of history at the University of Winnipeg.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782047056), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.


1 line illustrations
270 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in Medical History
Hardback, 9781580465564, June 2016
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MED039000, MED078000, HIS015000
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Related Titles

Table of Contents

The Laws of Nuisance before 1846: Property, Health, and Democracy in the Age of Reform
Private Benefit and Public Service: Paying for Sewers before 1848
The Boundaries of Health, 1848-70
The Benefits of Health: London, 1848-65
Healthy Domesticity, 1848-72


In this important new book, James Hanley recovers a key aspect of nineteenth-century sanitary reform . What distinguishes Hanley's account is the level and intensity of his analytical-archival gaze . [A] fresh historical perspective on how public health became a public enterprise. BULLETIN OF THE HISTORY OF MEDICINE

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