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Seminar 6 : Sources and Approaches

Thinking ahead to your long essay and to help shape your reading and historical (and interdisciplinary practice), this seminar will be devoted to exploring a range of printed and on-line resources. For this week you will be asked to bring along and discuss a primary source with the group.

You will then be invited to submit a 250-750 source analysis of this primary source by 5pm Friday 30 November. This can be left in the perspex folder outside my office or emailed to me:

Please choose from one of the following topics and do some research into primary sources you could use which relate to the topic. This could be information about an online archive, some images or other visual media such as historical film clips or printed sources perhaps from an edited collection - the possibilities are endless!

  • Food and nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Insitutional Health - workhouse; prisons; hospitals; schools; infant welfare services
  • Ethnicity, race and health
  • Mental health
  • Eugenics and the 'Problem Family'
  • Disability
  • Dental health
  • Beauty and cosmetics
  • Poverty and disease

A good place to start might be Wellcome Images or the Wellcome Collection, The National Archives, Mass Observation Archives (especially the topic collections), The Charles Booth Online Archive, social studies/surveys, memoirs or edited collections ( e.g. Robert Roberts The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century (1971), Maud Pember-Reeves (ed.), Round About a Pound A Week (1913), Margaret Llewelyn Davies, Maternity: Letters From Working Women (1915), Gowdridge, Williams and Wynn (eds), Mother Courage: Letters from Mothers in Poverty at the End of the Century (1997).

The Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick also holds extensive trade union records which deal with issues relating to health, and the National Cycling Archive, and a range of materials relating to mental health. Some of their collection is digitised but you can also arrange visits to see the collections in person.

The Main University Library also subscribes to a range of online database archives. Historical Texts holds the collections of the UK Medical Heritage Library (printed medical texts from 1700) and is also fully searchable. Other online archives you might want to consult include: 19th Century Newspapers; 19th Century British Periodicals Online; 19th Century UK Periodicals; Archives of Sexuality and Gender; British Non-Parliamentary Publications; British Parliamentary Publications (House of Commons Papers); Daily Mail Historical Archive; Defining Gender; and Histpop: Online Historical Population Reports.

Use your imagination and bring some interesting primary sources or information about collections which you could use....

Essay Questions

What are the insights and problems with using oral history testimonies for studying the history of medicine?

How was good health promoted in the twentieth century?

What sources can we use for examining people's different experiences of insitutional health?