medical history – The British Newspaper Archive Blog

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‘This Pestilential Stream’ – Exploring the ‘Great Stink’ of 1858

‘The foulest nuisance that ever disgraced the annals of a nation,’ the condition of the Thames in the summer of 1858 had reached a crisis point. Bloated with sewage and other effluence from the world’s second largest city, the Thames had become a ‘pestilential stream,’ emitting a putrid odour that was dubbed the ‘Great Stink.’ Westminster Bridge | Illustrated London News | 21 October 1843 In this special blog, we shall uncover the true state of the Thames, as it was in the

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A Gift of Warfare – The History of Plastic Surgery

‘Plastic surgery, born in one war and perfected in another,’ had been practiced before the First World War, but it took this global conflict, and a second one, to develop plastic surgery as we know it today. The Sphere | 20 May 1933 In this special blog, using newspapers taken from The Archive, we will trace the development of plastic surgery, from the work of Harold Gillies in the First World War, to its move into the cosmetic mainstream in the

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Newspapers from the Pandemic – Reporting on the Spanish Flu

What began as rumours from Spain was soon to become a nightmarish reality, as the Spanish flu pandemic began to take hold in the United Kingdom, where it would go on to kill approximately 250,000 people, and 50,000,000 globally. Staff from the Michie Hospital | Graphic | 26 July 1919 In this special blog, as part of medicine month on The Archive, we will take a look at how newspapers from the time reported on the deadly disease, from those first rumours,

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Uncovering Dubious Medical Remedies on Our Archive

We’ve scoured The Archive to bring you some of the most dubious medical remedies from our newspapers. From magic cure-all pills to blood-letting, from cigarettes to liquorice, we take a look at some of the most bizarre cures from the last two centuries, using pages taken from the British Newspaper Archive. The Graphic | 8 April 1922 It might go without saying, but we thought we better say it anyway – please do not try any of these cures at home!

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A Look at Contemporary Reactions to Early Vaccination

In 1796 British doctor Edward Jenner demonstrated how infection from cowpox gave rise to immunity from smallpox. This led to the first vaccination in history and represented the first step in the total eradication of smallpox, the only human disease to ever be totally globally eradicated. Edward Jenner | Illustrated London News | 27 January 1923 With vaccination again hitting the headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, we set out to discover how Edward Jenner’s contemporaries reacted to his groundbreaking vaccination method, and

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