Merchant Seamen's Health, 1860-1960

October 2014
12 black and white, 7 line illustrations
234 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843839521
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS015000, HIS037060, MED051000

Merchant Seamen's Health, 1860-1960

Medicine, Technology, Shipowners and the State in Britain

Tim Carter

Discusses the many measures taken in this period to improve seamen's health and fitness.
This book examines successive campaigns fought by reformers to improve seamen's health and fitness, sometimes aided by, often opposed by, bureaucracies and vested interests, such as ship-owners. It shows how these campaigns originated; how reformers, bureaucracies and vested interests interacted; and how far the campaigns succeeded. Among the many successes were the controls for infectious diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis and venereal infections; fewer accidents and health problems resulting from alcohol consumption; improvements to diet and medical care aboard ships; and improved assessment of seamen's fitness, including for colour blindness, an essential requirement following the introduction of coloured navigation lights. During this period up to three quarters of all merchant shipping was British-owned and, while some British approaches in the field of maritime safety were widely adopted internationally, it was often the case that other nations could teach Britain much about protecting the health of seamen.

Tim Carter recently retired as the Chief Medical Adviser to the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency. He is a Professor in the Norwegian Centre of Maritime Medicine at the University Hospital in Bergen. Previously he was the Medical Director of the Health and Safety Executive.

An e-book version of this title is available (9781782043485), to libraries through a number of trusted suppliers. See here for a full list of our partners.

Table of Contents

Health at sea before 1860
Unseaworthy seamen
The health of merchant seamen in the nineteenth century
Injury and disease at sea in the nineteenth century
The seaman ashore: victim, threat or patient
Bad food and donkey's breakfasts
Fit for lookout duties
The long-term health of seamen
War, manpower and fitness for service
Seamen's health in the welfare state
Retrospect and prospect


A useful starting point for future scholars working in a relatively uncultivated field. HISTORY

[An] important study [and] a valuable addition to the literature. It is the product of thorough research and the material is handled carefully, critically and perceptively to explore the realities and perceptions of seamen's health and medical care ashore and afloat. It deserves a wide readership. SOCIAL HISTORY OF MEDICINE

This powerful, authoritative and superbly researched work is highly readable and will be valued by anyone interested in the peopling of Australia and New Zealand. It contains a considerable amount of new material and Professor Carter is to be praised for meticulously excavating it. [B]eautifully presented. LE MARIN DU NORD/NORTHERN MARINER

Well researched, with an impressive number of footnotes, Merchant Seamen's Health, 1860-1960 provides a comprehensive list of references for scholars who may wish to probe more deeply into the evidence given by the author. . . . [A] significant contribution to maritime history literature. SEA HISTORY MAGAZINE

[This] well-researched, meticulously referenced and carefully written book . . . offers a welcome overview of a century of improvement in the health of the British merchant navy. . . . An invaluable work of reference. MARINER'S MIRROR

An authoritative, readable and highly illuminating study, written with deep conviction and rooted in sound research. NAUTILUS INTERNATIONAL TELEGRAPH

Related Titles