Kevin Brown Historian

History of health, medicine and naval history

Health and Medicine on the Home Front in the First World War Day School

Charing CrossDay School: Health and Medicine on the Home Front in the First World War

Friday 12 July 2013, 10:30-15:30

Find out how civilians in London stayed healthy in the Great War despite cuts in medical provision and how the need to keep the nation fighting fit led to new initiatives in health promotion.

City Lit, Keeley Street, Covent Garden, London

Tutor: Kevin Brown

KEVIN BROWN is the Trust Archivist to Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the Curator of the Alexander Fleming Museum at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington and an expert on the history of medicine. He is the author of Penicillin Man: Alexander Fleming and the Antibiotic Revolution, which tells the story of the antibiotics revolution that began in the laboratories he now curates, and also Fighting Fit: Health, Medicine and War in the Twentieth Century, a history of military medicine in the wars of the twentieth century, The Pox: The Life and Near Death of a Very Social Disease and Poxed and Scurvied: The Story of Sickness and Health at Sea. His latest book, Passage to the World: The Emigrant Experience 1807- 1940 is published in April 2013. He has lectured widely, both internationally and at home, and was 2001 Andrew J. Moyer Lecturer at the United States Department of Agriculture National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research.

<;Course outline

What is the course about?

The course will explore the effects of the First World War on the health of civilians on the Home Front in terms of the health of Londoners.

What topics will we cover?

-the ill health of the nation revealed by recruitment in 1914 and whether it became better or worse during the war

-the reduction in general practitioner and hospital services for civilians because of military needs

-the importance of child welfare in wartime

-how Londoners stayed well in wartime

-industrial welfare

-sexual health

By the end of this course you should be able to:

-understand how the Great War had an impact on the health of civilians
-place in context the main developments in civilian health services 1914-19

-discuss the relationship between war and health in an age of total war

-identify ways of learning more about the subject and archive sources with greater critical awareness.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an `introductory` course and does not assume any previous study or reading although you will need a good grasp of English to keep up with the course and to participate fully in discussions. You will gain more from the course, in terms of enjoyment and learning, if you are able and willing to do some supplementary reading. As with most of our history and current affairs courses, curiosity, an open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course will be taught through illustrated lectures and discussion, using slides and handouts as appropriate. There will also be an afternoon visit to Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre to look at archive sources.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

Please bring a pen and paper. Books and other resources will be recommended so you can follow up themes that interest you, but there is no need to have done any introductory reading before starting the course. Camden Local Studies and Archives Centre is located in Holborn Library, within walking distance.

If you do want to read about the subject before hand, recommended books are

K. Brown, Fighting Fit: Health, Medicine and War in the Twentieth Century (History Press, 2008)

J.M. Winter and J.L. Robert (ed.), Capital Cities at War: Paris, London and Berlin 1914-19 (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

To book:


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