Medicine at Sea: Poxed and Scurvied

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Society of Genealogists

14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road
Greater London

Live Zoom talk for social historians: Kevin Brown explains how the well-being of ships’ crews became increasingly important. When European sailors began to explore the world, it was difficult to keep them healthy. Malnourishment and crowded conditions bred disease. These diseases could decimate the indigenous populations in other parts of the world. Plus new diseases could be brought back to Europe. The well-being of crews became a dominant factor in the success of naval operations. The Royal Navy led the way in shipboard medical provision. It sponsored many of the advances in diet and hygiene, giving them a significant advantage during the Napoleonic Wars. The improvements trickled down to the merchant service. Eventually, the struggle to improve the fitness of seamen became a national concern. It resulted in a series of far-reaching, and sometimes bizarre, public health measures, generally directed against the effects of drunkenness and the pox. In this way, as in many others, the attempts to address the specific needs of the seafarer developed into wider implications for society as a whole. About Kevin Brown: Kevin is an authority on the history of medicine. He is Trust Archivist to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and Alexander Fleming Laboratory Museum Curator at St Mary’s Hospital, London. You can join Kevin for a Questions session at the end of the talk.

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Upcoming event dates:

  • Saturday 22nd August 2020 10:30 - 11:30


Live 1-hour Zoom talk: £10.00; discounted for Members of Society of Genealogists £5.00. On 21 August an email invitation will be sent to all who have booked which includes a password and link to the talk - remember to check your spam folder!

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