Medicine and the Workhouse

October 2013
2 black and white, 6 line illustrations
290 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in Medical History
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC MED039000, SOC045000, HIS015000

Medicine and the Workhouse

Edited by Jonathan Reinarz, Leonard Schwarz

eBook for Handhelds
This is the first book to examine the history of the medical services provided by workhouses, both in Britain and its former colonies, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries workhouses were a key provider of medical care to the poor. Workhouse beds in Britain far outnumbered beds provided by charitable hospitals, and a high percentage of inmates were elderly and infirm, needing not only accommodation and work but also medical relief.
Historians of welfare, the English poor laws, and medicine have been aware of the importance of workhouse-based medicine, but the topic has not been studied in depth. This volume is the first to examine the history of the medical services provided by these institutions both in Britain and its former colonies, over the period covered by the Old and New Poor Laws. Written by prominent historians of medicine, welfare, and social policy, the essays document the experiences of those who received care or died in these houses, and form the critical foundation for a new historiography of workhouse medicine.

Contributors: Jeremy Boulton, Virginia Crossman, Romola Davenport, Steven King, Angela Negrine, Susannah Ottaway, Rita Pemberton, Jonathan Reinarz, Alistair Ritch, Leonard Schwarz, Samantha Shave, Kevin Siena, Leonard Smith, Alannah Tomkins.

Jonathan Reinarz is director of the History of Medicine Unit at the University of Birmingham, UK. He has published extensively on the history of English medical institutions, 1750-1950.
Leonard Schwarz has recently retired as a reader in Urban History at the University of Birmingham, where he founded the Birmingham Eighteenth Century Centre.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781580468022), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

Introduction - Jonathan Reinarz and Leonard Schwarz
Contagion, Exclusion, and the Unique Medical World of the Eighteenth-Century Workhouse: London Infirmaries in Their Widest Relief - Kevin Siena
The Elderly in the Eighteenth-Century Workhouse - Susannah Ottoway
"These ANTE-CHAMBERS OF THE GRAVE"? Mortality, Medicine, and the Workhouse in Georgian London, 1725-1824 - Jeremy Boulton and Romola Davenport and Leonard Schwarz
Workhouse Medical Care from Working-Class Autobiographies, 1750-1834 - Alannah Tomkins
"A Sad Spectacle of Hopeless Mental Degradation": The Management of the Insane in West Midlands Workhouses, 1815-60 - Leonard Smith
Workhouse Medicine in Ireland: A Preliminary Analysis, 1850-1914 - Virginia Crossman
Exploring Medical Care in the Nineteenth-Century Provincial Workhouse: A View from Birmingham - Jonathan Reinarz and Alistair Ritch
"Immediate Death or a Life of Torture Are the Consequences of the System": The Bridgwater Union Scandal and Policy Change - Samantha Shave
Practitioners and Paupers: Medicine at the Leicester Union Workhouse, 1867-1905 - Angela Negrine
Workhouse Medicine in the British Caribbean, 1834-38 - Rita Pemberton
Poverty, Medicine, and the Workhouse in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: An Afterword - K80169 King
Selected Bibliography
List of Contributors


This long overdue volume of essays moves beyond accounts of exclusively metropolitan experiences, drawing attention to the diverse experiences and policies that shaped medical relief at the regional or local levels and showing how, in words of one contributor, the workhouses were "reluctant saviors at best." The volume offers a coherent, up-to-date edited collection that will inform further research and appeal to a large audience of medical and welfare historians. --Keir Waddington, Cardiff University, School of History, Archeology, and Religion

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