Programme: VIII Abrils de l’Hospital and INHH’s 12th International Conference

Travel and the Hospital: From Pilgrimage to Medical Tourism

24-26th April 2019

Faculty of Geography and History (UB)

Universitat de Barcelona

Ferrer Bassa

Ferrer Bassa (c. 1285 – 1348) Catalan painter and miniaturist.

We are pleased to announce the full programme and registration details for the VIII Abrils de l’Hospital and the INHH’s 12th International Conference on the theme Travel and the Hospital. For more details of the call see our earlier post

The conference will take place at: Faculty of Geography and History (UB), c. Montalegre, 6 Universitat de Barcelona and Amics de l’Art Romànic / Institut d’Estudis Catalans and, Biblioteca de Catalunya, c. Carme, 47

Fees for the conference are:


Partial registration fee: 30€ until the 31st of march of 2019. Starting this same date, the registration fee will be 50€. This registration will grant the right to participate in the conference, take part in the planned tours, the coffee-breaks and two brunches.


Full registration fee: 60€ until the 31st of march of 2019. Starting this same date, the registration fee will be 100€. This registration will grant the right to attend the conference dinner on the 25th of April.

For details of how to register please email

Master’s students and PhD candidates, as well as doctors who have defended their thesis between 2017-2019 can ask for free registration, provided that they present a paper or a poster. Those who might be eligible should send an e-mail to before the 15th of February 2019.

Accommodation costs will be assumed in their entirety by the attendees. Since the University of Barcelona does not have an agreement with any of the city’s hotels, we suggest booking early.


Wednesday 24th April

Facultat de Geografia i Història, Universitat de Barcelona, Sala Gran 08:45h. Reception

09:15h. Official inauguration

Ricardo Piqueras, Dean of the Faculty of Geography and History Meritxell Simó, Director of IRCVM

SESSION I. Travel and the Hospital

09:30-11:00 h
Chair: John Henderson (Birkbeck, University of London)

09:30h. Giuliana Albini (Università di Milano): Guarding Bridges, Taking Care of Travellers: Hospital Foundations in Northern and Central Italy (11th-14th centuries).

09:50h. Marina Gazzini (Università di Milano): Hospitals and Travellers in Medieval Lombardy.

10:10h. Sarah Lennard-Brown (Birkbeck, University of London): The Geography of Charity. The Role of Travel in the Foundation and Day to Day Operation of the Late Medieval Hospitals as Compared to Almshouses in the City of London.

10:30h. Discussion

11:00 h. Coffee Break

SESSION II. Pilgrimage and the Hospital

11:30-13:00 h
Chair: Teresa Vinyoles (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona)

11:30h. Carole Rawcliffe (University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK): Changing Institutional Responses to Pilgrims and Wayfarers in Medieval England.

11:50h. Antoni Conejo (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona): Iconographic Sources for the History of Pilgrimage and Assistance in the Middle Ages

12:10h. Salvatore Marino (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona) and Ida Mauro (Universitat de Barcelona): The Hospitality Network for Pilgrims and Foreigners in Renaissance Naples.

12:30h. Discussion

13:00-14:30h. Lunch for all delegates (CCCB Restaurant)

SESSION III. Mobile Hospitals

Chair: Barry Doyle (University of Huddersfield)

14:30h. David Theodore (McGill University): Mobility and the Ideal Modern Hospital.

14:50h. Phuthego Phuthego Molosiwa (University of Bostwana): ‘The Medicine Van’: Social Diseases, Healthcare and Mobile Dispensaries in the Bechuanaland Protectorate, 1930s-1966.

15:10h. Shane Ewen (Leeds Beckett University) and Rebecca Wynter (University of Birmingham): Mobile Hospitals?: The Operation of Civilian Ambulance Services and the Provision of Emergency Medical Care for Burns c.1900-1970’.

15:30h. Discussion

16:00h. Coffee Break

SESSION IV. War and the Hospital

Chair: Joana Balsa (Universidade de Lisboa)

16:30h. Jon Arrizabalaga (IMF-CSIC): Ambulances and Humanitarian Relief to Wounded Combatants: Reach and Limits of Technological Innovation in the Second Carlist War (1872-1876).

16:50h. Mark Butterfield (Leeds Beckett University): Ambulance Train Tourism in the First World War.

17:10h. Discussion

SPECIAL SESSION. Presentation of Scientific Posters

Chair: Antoni Conejo (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona)

Pol Bridgewater (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona): “Persones miserables de diverses nacions e condicions” (Miserable People of Different Nations and Conditions): The Presence of Foreigners among the Patients of the Hospital of the Holy Cross of Barcelona in the 15th Century and its Significance in the Shaping of a Welfare Landscape.

Isabel Juan Casademont (Universitat de Girona): Construction and Consolidation of an Architectonical Healthcare Model. The Santa Caterina Hospital of Girona (1666-1808).

Mireia Comas Via (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona): The Assistance of Foreign Women in Medieval Catalan Hospitals.

Susana María Ramírez Martín (Universidad Complutense de Madrid): Flight Against Smallpox: Experiments Agave and Begonia in Mexico and Madrid in the Late Eighteenth Century.

Jaume Marcé Sánchez (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona): The Spread or Influence of Models for Hospitals in the Mediterranean in the Late Middle Ages.

Teresa Vinyoles (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona): Foundling Children in the Holy Cross Hospital of Barcelone: 1488-1490.

Joana Balsa (Universidade de Lisboa): The Research Project «Hospitalis – Hospital Architecture in Portugal at the Dawn of Modernity: Identification, Characterization, and Contextualization».

Thursday 25th April
Amics de l’Art Romànic / Institut d’Estudis Catalans, Sala Pere i Joan


SESSION V. Travel and the Hospital 2

09:00-10:30 h
Chair: Francesca Español (Universitat de Barcelona-Amics de l’Art Romànic)

09:00h. Esther Diana (Centro di Documentazione per la Storia dell’Assistenza e della Sanità, Firenze): Poor People, Abandoned Children and Pilgrims From the City of Prato’s ‘Misericordia e Dolce’ Hospital, an Example of Symbiosis Between Artistic Representation, Care and Devotion

09:20h. Carmel Ferragud (Institut Interuniversitari López Piñero – Universitat de València): Women in Medieval Hospitals: Sibil·la and the ‘Hospital de Sant Andreu’ in Mallorca.

09:40h. Clara Jáuregui (PhD., History): The Wandering Leper and the Treatment of Leprosy in 14th Century Barcelona.

10:00 h. Discussion

10:30h. Coffee Break

SESSION VI. Heritage, New Technologies and Communities

Chair: Jon Arrizabalaga (IMF-CSIC)

11:00h. Joana Balsa de Pinho (Universiade de Lisboa): The Research Project «Hospitalis»: Study and Valorization of Hospitals as Historic Monuments.

11:20h. Raúl Villagrasa (IH-CSIC): Application of New Technologies and Historical Cartography for the Web Diffusion of the Hospital Network.

11:40h. Ana Mehnert Pascoal, Maria João Neto, and Clara Moura Soares (Universiade de Lisboa): Visits Abroad to Enhance the Portuguese Hospital Network: Administrators, Architects and Doctors Travelling During the 1950s.

12:00h. Rob Ellis (University of Huddersfield): London County Council, Foreign Lunatics and the 1905 Aliens Act.

12:30h. Discussion

13:00-14:30h. Lunch for all delegates (CCCB Restaurant)

15:00-17:00h (English)
15:30-17:30h (Catalan)

20:00h. Conference Dinner

Friday 26th April
Biblioteca de Catalunya, Sala Caritat

SESSION VII. Missionary

Chair: Barry Doyle (University of Huddersfield)

09:00h. Andrea L. Arrington-Sirois (Indiana State University): Medical Meccas: Missionary Staff and African Patients: At Mission Hospitals in Colonial Southern Africa.

09:20h. Sara Honarmand Ebrahimi (University College Dublin): Caravanserai as an emotional practice: Travellers and the Church Missionary Society (CMS) hospitals in north-west India.

09:40h. Karen McNamara (National University of Singapore). Circuits of Technology and Healing: The Making of a Mission Hospital in South India.

10:00h. Discussion

10:30h. Coffee Break

SESSION VIII. Centres of Excellence and Tourism

Chair: Salvatore Marino (IRCVM-Universitat de Barcelona)

11:00h. Yannis Gonatidis (University of Crete): Foreign Patients in the Municipal Hospital of Hermoupolis (Syros), 1834-1914.

11:20h. Kevin McQueeney (Georgetown University): A “Black Medical Center”: Flint Goodridge Hospital and African American Healthcare in Twentieth Century New Orleans.

11:40h. Yannis Stoyannidis (University of West Antica): From TB Patients’ Travels to Sanatoria Businesses. The Evolution of Medical Tourism.

12:00h. Discussion

12:30-13:00h. Concluding remarks: Antoni Conejo, Barry Doyle, and John Henderson

13:00-15:00h. Free Time for Lunch

VISIT TO THE LIBERTY HOSPITAL OF SANT PAU 15:00-17:00h (English and Catalan)

Organizing Committe: Antoni Conejo (University of Barcelona), John Henderson (Birkbeck, University of London, UK), Barry Doyle (University of Huddersfield, UK), and Joana Balsa de Pinho (University of Lisbon)

Collaboration: Meritxell Simó, Marta Sancho, Salvatore Marino, Pol Bridgewater, Jaume Marcé (University of Barcelona), Núria Altarriba (Biblioteca de Catalunya), Mercè Beltran (Recinte Modernista del Sant Pau), and Francesca Español (Amics de l’Art Romànic, IEC)


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Taking the Maternity Package to Zambia – and the historical lessons that emerged

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Following on from our post about adapting and adopting the baby box, Prof Barry Doyle has been to Lusaka in Zambia to discuss our project and in particular the Chitenge for Change idea being developed by Prof David Swann at Sheffield Hallam. During the visit I met with a range of partners from educational institutions, the Ministry of Health, local health providers and representatives of the charity, St John Zambia. I also spoke to a group of Zambian Medical Students, visited a rural health centre and met up with some leading Zambian historians. And at the end I had time to visit a safari park and spot a giraffe!


As a historian of interwar health care I was most struck by the similarities between the current challenges facing maternity care providers in Zambia and those encounters by health professionals between the wars, especially in rural areas.

Most obvious was the lack of money to deliver high quality services. Zambia has recently received significant support from the EU to upgrade their frontline maternity and child welfare services. This mirrors the support given to the countries of central Europe by the Rockefeller Foundation in the 1920s and 30s, especially to develop health centres and train health visitors and community midwives. But huge gaps still remain in Zambia, especially in the countryside. A particular stumbling block to engaging mothers with health centres and antenatal provision in Zambia is the requirement parents face to provide a range of materials for the birth of the child if the baby is delivered in a health centre. Addressing similar problems was at the root of the original Finnish Baby Box scheme – which sought to provide poor mothers in rural areas with a set of minimal requirements for their new born babies. In other European countries between the wars maternity centres also provided some basics. In England, for example, municipal Maternity and Child Welfare Centres distributed layettes to the poorest mothers.

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A key aim of Zambian health policy is to get women to give birth in health centres or hospitals. As in late nineteenth century Britain or inter war central Europe, there is an acute shortage of trained maternity workers and midwives, with many women continuing to make use of village wise women. These traditional birth attendants cause concern for the maternity services both through their limited professional qualifications and the dangers associated with giving birth in remote areas. As with Britain and France in the early twentieth century, there is a big push to train more midwives and to get them into the community – a policy supported by Rockefeller in the 1920s and the EU today – but this is slow and barriers remain to taking up institutional delivery. In addition to the cost, many women live up to 20 kilometres from a health centre and with no access to transport have to walk or be carried – even by wheelbarrow! The centre we visited did have an ambulance stretcher, but this was one vehicle for a substantial area and was used only in extreme emergencies.

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Delivering health education is also constrained by very high levels of illiteracy, especially among women in rural areas. Again, similar issues were encountered in central Europe, especially in the eastern areas of Czechoslovakia and Poland. In these contexts image based health education materials proved particularly important as did taking the message to women in the villages. Interestingly, the recent EU maternity package programme did not include health education as a central feature of the delivery, focusing on raising post natal attendance with the mother and baby pack as an incentive. While in Zambia I made contact with volunteers and staff from St John Zambia who have recently run a Mama na Mwana (Mother and Baby) scheme using volunteers to visit expectant mothers to deliver health education on a face to face basis. The importance of volunteers in this project echoes the extensive network of charitable Infant and Chid Welfare Centres operating in interwar Britain, like the Leeds Baby’s Welcome or the work of the Croix Rouge Francaise in France at the same time.

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A number of other problems were identified, particularly in remote areas. Traditional myths continue to surround childbirth. Health official were cautious about revealing too much about what these were but it is clear they impede their work, especially around early registration of the pregnancy and engagement with the health centre. Health workers in central, and especially south-eastern Europe experienced similar problems into the 1930s with religion, fear of the health system and superstitions all preventing health education and intervention. Gender relations also act as a barrier in some areas with men exerting considerable control over their wives maternity choices. This can be beneficial – we were told of one village where the chief was fining husbands whose wives used the wise women as birth attendants instead of going to the health centre. In general, health professions are seeking to involve husbands in the pregnancy, especially given the cost involved in a health centre birth. This is an area in which the contemporary experience is very different to interwar Europe – I have not come across any historical examples of husbands’ involvement with childbirth or of health professionals expecting or encouraging such involvement. This was very much a post Second World War development in Europe.

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Overall, this was an amazing opportunity. I will continue to work with the contacts I made while in Zambia to develop our initiative – the Chitenge for Change – more of which in the near future. Thanks to the University of Huddersfield GCRF Health Sandpit and to my colleagues in Huddersfield, Sheffield Hallam and especially Christine and Shadrick in Lusaka.




Adapting and Adopting the Finnish Baby Box


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For the past nine months Barry Doyle, Director of the Centre for Health Histories, has been involved in an exciting inter-disciplinary project with Dr Jim Reid (PI) from the School of Education, along with colleagues from the School of Art, Design and Architecture at the University of Huddersfield, academics at Sheffield Hallam, Bristol and Tampere (Finland) Universities, the University of Africa (Zambia) and University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Vietnam National University. The key aim of the project is to explore the opportunities to adapt the principle of the Finnish Maternity Package (The Baby Box) for use in two low and middle-income countries (Zambia and Vietnam). A related objective is to develop a historical research project exploring the cultural history of the baby box in Finland. This pilot project has been generously funded by the University of Huddersfield URF Global Challenges Research Fund Sandpit Events.

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The Maternity Package was launched in Finland 80 years ago this year as a key strategy in the nation’s attempts to reduce a stubbornly high infant mortality rate (IMR). Like many of the nations that gained independence in the wake of the First World War, Finland saw social welfare in general, and health policies in particular, as a means to build legitimacy and strengthen national identity. The original maternity package was targeted at the most vulnerable mothers but ten years later was turned into a universal benefit for all women irrespective of income or the number of children they had borne. The box – which is big enough for a baby to sleep in – contains a selection of items designed to provide the parents with the basics for their new baby, including clothing, nappies, feeding aids and other simple essentials. Over the years the contents have changed, from a selection of life saving products to more fashion conscious items that reflect the aspirations of parents. Similarly, the form of the box has been altered, from a functional government ‘archive box’ to a brightly decorated receptacle with a design that changes each year. Although a cash benefit is available, even today around 95% of parents choose the box – though we don’t know if all, or even most, of the contents is used.


The maternity package idea is increasingly used across the world. In the UK the Scottish Government commenced a universal baby box scheme on the Finnish model in 2017. It has also been piloted in a number of English localities and another sixty countries have deployed a version of the package – though often the benefit is not universal nor is it necessarily the work of the government. Indeed, in poorer countries it is likely to be charities and other NGOs involved in delivering the service.


Our project began with a desk review of current policy and services in Zambia and Vietnam conducted by an intern, Nuala Doyle. This showed that Zambia had one of the highest IMRs in the world, with particular problems in rural areas and among the poorest groups in the cities. Vietnam has made huge strides in reducing IMR but problems remain among ethnic minority groups and especially in the highland areas in the north west of the country. This provided the base information for an initial exploratory workshop in Huddersfield in June 2018 which brought together the core team members (Reid, Doyle, Vahtikari, Swann, Mushibwe and Dinh) with colleagues from Art and Design (Dr Omar Huerta Cardoso), Human and Health Sciences (Dr Serena Bartys) and the Business School (Dr Julia Meaton) to explore how to develop the project. This led to the firming up of three work packages.


In package one we will be working with Dr Tanja Vahtikari of the History Faculty of the University of Tampere to develop a project on the cultural and emotional history of the use and meaning of the Baby Box in the Finnish context since the 1940s. This will include background research on Finland’s IMR crisis in the 1930s which ultimately led to the maternity package policy. It will be placed in an international context, exploring other nations’ responses including child welfare centres, health visitors and ‘social nursing’, mother and child feeding policies and the provision of layettes. However, its primary focus will be how people used and have remembered the baby box in Finland. To pursue this we aim to partner with the Finnish Literature Society, an organisation that, to a great extent, is the custodian of the nation’s cultural history and heritage. Through this we hope to uncover the material and emotional history of the boxes. We expect to submit applications for funding for this aspect of the project soon.


Zambian Baby Carrier

Our second work package is led by Professor David Swann and aims to adapt the maternity package for use in Zambia. Working with Professor Christine Mushibwe, Vice Chancellor of the University of Africa in Lusaka, we are exploring appropriate ways to deliver assistance to new parents, with a particular focus on very young mothers giving birth while living on the streets of Lusaka. Plans are still in their infancy, but David has been working with his Product Design students to develop prototype ideas that could be used in this context. Barry will be visiting Lusaka in November to discuss plans with Christine and to meet with NGOs, government and academics. More news to follow!

Hmong carrier

A Hmong Baby Carrier

The third package brings together Omar Huerta Cardoso and Linh Dihn to examine potential product designs for use among the highland populations of western Vietnam, the area of the country with the most intractable IMR problems. Jim Reid will be visiting Vietnam in the next few months to discuss prototype designs with state agencies and NGOs along with a range of potential academic partners.

This is a very exciting departure for the Centre for Health Histories. We are really looking forward to developing an interdisciplinary project that could have a significant impact on the life chances of women and children around the world. It also opens up opportunities to extend the international focus of the historical research we undertake into the history of health and healthcare in Finland and, it is hoped, Zambia, both nations with very limited historical healthcare research in English.







Extended Deadline Funded PhD: Visual and Cultural Representations of the St John Ambulance Brigade in the Twentieth Century.

Visual and Cultural Representations of the St John Ambulance Brigade in the Twentieth Century.

AHRC Funded Collaborative Doctoral Award Studentship

University of Huddersfield, Museum of the Order of St John and the Heritage Consortium



The Heritage Consortium is offering a fully funded AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award studentship with the Museum of the Order of St John and the University of Huddersfield. Supervised by Professor Barry Doyle (Huddersfield) and Dr Rosemary Wall of the University of Hull, the studentship will combine the support and training offered by the Heritage Consortium, the professional supervision of the curatorial staff of the Museum of the Order of St John in Clerkenwell, London and the academic culture of Huddersfield’s Centre for Health History.

Building on our AHRC funded project Crossing Boundaries: The History of First Aid in Britain and France, 1909-1989 the student will work with Museum staff to make their extensive collection of photographs accessible to a wider public nationally and internationally. In the process they will develop their own archiving, curating and digitization skills.

The academic study will be built around the Museum collections, the aims of the Crossing Boundaries project and the interests of the students. Particular themes that could be developed include:

• St John Ambulance Brigade and St John Ambulance Association in the Second World War,
• the development of the St John Ambulance Brigade ambulance service,
• industry and St John’s industrial heritage,
• and/or using photographs either in heritage organisations or in historical research.



Candidates should have a good degree and a Masters in relevant disciplines. Please apply using the Heritage Consortium application form available at the webpage below. Please outline any relevant experience and how you will develop a project around one of the themes listed above. Applicants should also submit references and proof of qualifications by the closing date of 24 September 2018 to

For further information on the Heritage Consortium and application process see

For more information on the Crossing Boundaries project:

For information on the museum

For more information on this opportunity email
This award is only available to UK students.


The History of Emergency Medicine Workshop

The History of Emergency Medicine Workshop
Crossing Boundaries: The History of First Aid in Britain and France, 1909-1989’ project
University of Huddersfield


Day One – 27 June 2018
Student Centre Boardroom


Welcome and Introductions, Introduction to ‘Crossing Boundaries: The History of First Aid in Britain and France, 1909-1989’ project, and Lunch


Pre-20th century

Lisa Smith, University of Essex
TBC (Early Modern First Aid advice in domestic handbooks)

Sally Frampton, University of Oxford
A Little Knowledge is a Dangerous Thing: The First Aid Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Jennifer Wallis, Queen Mary University of London
“Ha! Ha! I am a b(u)oy again.” Henry Silvester and the life-saving method of self-inflation


Voluntarism and First Aid in France and Britain

Charles-Antoine Wanecq, Sciences Po
Saving lives, training citizens : the French Red Cross, the State and the control of first aid practices (1940s-1970s)

Stefan Ramsden, University of Hull
St John Ambulance and working-class community

Day Two – 28 June

Oastler 6.09

Project Sessions


Rosemary Wall, University of Hull, and Barry Doyle, University of Huddersfield
First Aid on the Roads


Jonathan Reinarz, University of Birmingham, Rebecca Wynter, University of Birmingham, and Shane Ewen, Leeds Beckett University



Student Centre Boardroom

Interpreting First Aid Heritage collections at the Museum of the Order of St John and the British Red Cross Museum and Archive



Samiksha Sehrewat, University of Newcastle
Providing medical aid in an emergency: Charitable Organizations, the Mesopotamia Medical Breakdown and colonial governmentality

Susan Grayzel, Utah University
“Chemical Weapons Come Home: Devising Defences for Poison Gas in Interwar Britain and France”


Closing discussions and reflections on connections between the papers, publication, and the first aid history project and policy relevance over tea and coffee.



CFP: Travel and the Hospital: from pilgrimage to medical tourism, Barcelona, April 2019

International Network for the History of Hospitals and Institute for Research on Medieval Cultures (IRCVM) of the University of Barcelona

12th Conference of the INHH and VIII Abrils de l’Hospital
24-26 April 2019 University of Barcelona

Ferrer Bassa (c. 1285 – 1348) Catalan painter and miniaturist.

Medical tourism is an increasingly popular feature of health care today. Yet it is not always recognised that, throughout their history, hospitals have attracted patients from afar seeking cures, both spiritual and physical, not available at home. While much work has previously focused on the institution as a fixed place, often closely associated with a specific locality, the hospital’s role as a focus for a wider network of health needs and health consumers has been largely overlooked. This neglected topic will be the focus of our twelfth conference.

From its inception the hospital provided care and cure for pilgrims, either en route to, or on their arrival at, shrines, as well as for patients from beyond the urban centre, some from local areas and others travelling great distances to access treatment. These institutions were also distinguished by their architectural and artistic heritage, being decorated with paintings and sculptures, some of which still survive today and depict pilgrims, the poor and the sick. Although many buildings have disappeared or been transformed over time, others remain that reflect their original size and beauty and are important destinations for tourism.

Over the centuries major man-made crises such as war have prompted the introduction of many forms of mobile hospital. Among them were the first ambulances, the medical units that travelled with troops on campaign, and the sophisticated network of treatment stations developed by the combatants of the First World War, including hospital trains with more patients than a London teaching institution. Hospitals have also featured at the heart of migration stories – with staff moving around empires and across borders to acquire medical training and to assist a growing body of patients, whose access to hospital medicine has been limited by poverty, race, lack of citizenship, or the unavailability of specialist services locally. In many parts of the world, and especially in areas with limited healthcare infrastructure or widely dispersed population, hospitals came to the patients, with a variety of mobile institutions being developed to serve the sick in Africa, Russia, Central Europe and across Asia. These many activities reflect the variety of topics that can be included in our theme of Travel and the Hospital.

We seek abstracts of 300 words in ENGLISH [or Spanish or Catalan with and English translation] pertinent to the conference theme. Papers on any historical period, region or country might focus on, but are not restricted to:

Pilgrimage and the hospital
Migration and hospitals – patients and staff
Perceptions of’ diverse staff and patient populations.
Sites for medical testing (remedies or techniques which are imported)
Global connections, including missionary and transnational organisations
War and campaign medicine
Itinerant healing and healers in rural areas.
Mobile hospitals
Centres of excellence, learning and medical education.
Hospitals as historic monuments; their importance to cities both today and in the past.

The conference languages will be English, Catalan and Spanish. We hope to be able to offer some bursaries for doctoral and early career researchers.

Conference organisers Antoni Conejo (Barcelona), John Henderson (Birkbeck, London, UK) and Barry Doyle (Huddersfield, UK)
Abstracts should be emailed to OR by the closing date of Monday 2 July 2018.


My UHG Initiation: Reflections on the Annual Conference, 2018.

In a guest blog, Leeds Beckett and Heritage Consortium student, Mark Butterfield, relates his experience of his first visit to the Urban History Group conference themed around Healthy or Unhealthy Cities.

I began my PhD with the Heritage Consortium at Leeds Beckett University in October 2017 and over the last few months I have been attending academic conferences relevant to my research topic. My research topic is the legacy of war-related traumas during the interwar years in the West Riding of Yorkshire. I’m researching both the physical and psychological casualties of war, including non-combatants, and the impact which the war, their trauma and their subsequent aftercare had upon their lives. My local study will investigate the numerous care and rehabilitative institutions which arose or adapted to accommodate the huge influx of returning soldiers, and the impact which this had upon local communities.

I was delighted to hear that the theme for the 2018 Urban History Group’s prestigious annual conference was ‘Healthy or Unhealthy Cities?’ and registered my attendance. The conference opened with a keynote lecture from Sally Sheard (Liverpool), who focused on the history of urban health policies with Liverpool as a case study. Sheard utilised the biographies of less public-facing individuals, such as Borough Surveyors and Medical Officers for Health, who proved to be instrumental in the evolution of urban health. Her subsequent call to give voice to the marginalised in future urban histories certainly resonated with my own work.

Following the keynote, we had three parallel sessions to choose between. I decided to swap between sessions in the first instance as I wanted to hear my second PhD supervisor, Barry Doyle (Huddersfield), speak, as well as a paper on the First World War in a different panel. Unfortunately, that meant I missed the Q&A for Barry’s paper, and missed out on another undoubtedly excellent talk by Nick Hayes (Nottingham Trent). The drawback of having such rich panels!



Doyle’s talk evaluated the role of hospitals in four European Nations (Britain, France, Hungary and Czechoslovakia), arguing that during the interwar period their role began to shift from preventing death to prolonging and improving the quality of life for their patients. The following paper, by Aaron Graham (UCL), focused on how colonialism and urban improvements in Jamaica were intertwined. The international scope of both these papers was encouraging to see. Doyle’s comparative approach particularly stood out, and although there are many difficulties with finding comparable datasets between disparate nations, his findings were convincing in this wider international context.

I ducked out of the ‘Urban Health’ panel and joined the ‘Interventions in Housing’ panel to hear Calum White (Oxford) speak on ‘Medical Officers of Health and Housing during the First World War in Britain.’ White used Glasgow and Liverpool as comparative case studies to examine the significance of the 1919 Addison Act. The First World War had seen a downturn in the construction of new homes, and the Addison Act was intended to combat the housing crisis after the Armistice. Wartime construction restrictions impacted upon public health and medical officers from Glasgow and Liverpool responded to these issues in different ways. In the Q&A session, White highlighted how national and local government priorities may be disconnected, and that the imposition of laws can be adapted by individual actors with their own agendas.

For the third session entitled ‘New Researchers’ and First Year PhD Workshops,’ I attended the latter, to see how my own progress compared with those presenting their work. Jacqueline Radford (Swansea) presented on ‘The Municipal Middle Classes in Aberavon, 1830-1915,’ Rory Booth (Leicester) spoke about his project ‘Bohemianism, Gentleman’s Clubs and Masculinity in the Late Victorian City,’ and Georgina Jayne Lockton (Leicester/Science Museum), presented on ‘Science, Technology and Road Safety in the Motor Age.’ This was an excellent panel, with a supportive audience. The panellists received a great deal of constructive feedback, and responded to questioning with thoughtful, considered responses, which bodes well for their return to future conferences.

The following morning, I attended the ‘Spatializing Disease and Health in Urban Space’ panel, led by the hilariously titled ‘Darling Buds of Malaise: Rural Filth and Urban Spaces’ by Elizabeth Jones (Leicester). A reminder that a good pun for a title, particularly in this digital information age, will stand out from the crowd and perhaps lead to greater circulation. Tim Livsey (Oxford) followed with a paper on British-controlled West Africa and the ‘reservations’ implemented there, a rare opportunity to hear the experiences of the ‘other,’ the occupied local population under British rule. I was most excited to hear the final paper by Oliver Betts (National Railway Museum), ‘Sites of Contagion: Unhealthy Railway Stations in the Victorian City’, having written my Master’s thesis on First World War ambulance trains as sites of trauma. Train stations were an important nexus for troops leaving for and returning from the war, and were even used as makeshift mortuaries, but I had never considered them as ‘unhealthy’ spaces in their own right, and this paper broadened my contextual understanding of railways, urban space, and health.

The final panel I attended was ‘Challenging Expertise on Urban Health,’ the first paper being jointly given by my lead PhD supervisor, Shane Ewen (Leeds Beckett) and the two other members of the ‘Burns Project,’ Jonathan Reinarz and Rebecca Wynter (Birmingham). Splitting a twenty-minute paper between three speakers was no mean feat, but was perfectly executed. The team spoke on child burn fatalities in the domestic sphere using two case studies from Birmingham to illustrate their findings. A sobering and poignant paper, and in the aftermath of the Grenfell fire, horrifyingly relevant. The following paper by Peter Collinge (Keele) was more upbeat, and an unexpected gem given the paper’s focus on the adulteration and contamination of food and drink. Suffice to say that I’ll be checking my food packaging with much greater scrutiny in future. The final paper of the conference was given by Harold Bérubé (Sherbrooke), and again, was informative and entertaining, providing yet another global perspective, this time from Québec. Urban history truly encourages global, interdisciplinary approaches and the conference as a whole was a reflection of all the excellent work being done to push boundaries further and bring to light the hidden histories of urban spaces worldwide.

The final plenary session was a roundtable discussion in which it was noted that despite the breadth of papers focusing on health, there had been little mention of emotional or mental health, a point which I had been on the verge of raising myself. Given that much good work has been published on the history of mental health provision, especially during the wartime period, its omission from the conference was a surprise. However, I’ll certainly be submitting for a place in the New Researchers’ Forum for the next conference in Belfast, where I hope to share my own research into this area with the UHG audience.

Mark Butterfield
Leeds Beckett University
2017 Heritage Consortium PhD Researcher