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Students of history are not always aware when they live through major historiographic change; shifts are sometimes only recognizable in hindsight, with accumulated divergences sharply evident against the backdrop of the field.
In 1974, David Hey published his book on Myddle in Shropshire, a study based upon his doctoral research at Leicester University. One might wonder how a proud South Yorkshireman had even heard of an insignificant North Shropshire parish, let alone decided to carry out research on it. Fortunately, his supervisor, Professor W. G.
The case of Mary Toft—the woman who gave birth to rabbits in 1726—has an enduring appeal. I remember the first time I encountered her as a final year undergraduate, both fascinated and appalled by the details of the case.
In early 1780 the rebuilding of Newgate Prison was very nearly complete. Thirty years of debating, campaigning, and planning had finally resulted in the construction of a new and improved jail, which would stand as a permanent monument to England’s commitment to prison reform.
People down on their luck fleeing to the colonies on the first available ship is a mainstay of 19th century fiction. It was a convenient way for an author to either get rid of an unnecessary character, or to bring a surprise new person into the narrative mix with dramatic effect.
In the summer of 1948 Alexander Fleming, known around the world as the discoverer of penicillin, visited Spain. Fleming had published his famous paper on the antimicrobial effect of the Penicillium notatum mould in 1929.
These days, expenditure on health amounts on average to some 9 per cent of gross domestic product in the prosperous nations of the West. Whether through direct taxation, social security, social health insurance or private means, it’s a substantial amount.
‘In me,’ wrote Bishop Thietmar of Merseburg in the early 11th century:
The history of eugenics continues to provide new and challenging ways to interpret the some of the major developments in social policy and social work during the 20th century, from child welfare, public health, and family planning, to the institutionalisation of disabled persons and the treatment of mentally ill.