Great news! Iâve just signed a contract to write a book for Pen & Sword in their Tracing Your Ancestors series. My book will be called Tracing Your Medical Ancestors and it will be aimed at anyone with a doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist or other medical professional in their family tree. It will concentrate on the sources available to track down these ancestors and will draw on new research Iâll be doing over the coming months.
Iâm really excited about writing this new book and I canât wait to get started on the research. It will be very different in style from Life in the Victorian Hospital and the other two books written for The History Press because it will be more source-based. I will keep you all updated on my progress with the book through this blog.Despite the difference in style, I will still be looking for stories of medical ancestors to use as examples in the book. So if you have any kind of medical professional in your family tree, be they district nurse, optician, matron or physician, please do get in touch. I am especially interested in hearing from anyone with photographs of a medical ancestor. Look forward to hearing from you!
When I was doing the research for my new book Life in the Victorian Hospital, I visited archives across England, Scotland and Wales. Delving into the admission and discharge registers of the Victorian general hospitals, it became clear that a large proportion of the patients were malnourished, and that three meals a day with plenty of bedrest was as valuable as any medicine the hospital could prescribe. This could be for as long as six weeks - the average length of stay in hospital at the time.
These patients were the lucky ones, recommended for treatment as they were deemed worthy of charity. Others were refused admission because they were receiving poor relief and were therefore sent to the workhouse infirmary, or because they were judged to be earning enough to pay for a doctor.
This last scenario continued to be a common predicament of the working and lower middle classes well into the 1930s, but it did not mean they could afford to pay for medical treatment. Women and children in particular went without the medical attention they badly needed until it was too late to bring about a cure.Thankfully, thatâs now in the past because the existence of the NHS means that no-one in the UK need worry about the cost of going into hospital. I have been following Twitterâs We Love the NHS campaign with interest because my husband has Crohnâs disease, a chronic illness for which he has had numerous operations. He requires long-term medical treatment and through it all, the NHS nurses, doctors and surgeons have provided the highest standards of care, something for which I am forever grateful. So, when you really need it, the NHS is a real life-saver.