Healthy or Unhealthy Cities? Urban History Group Conference 2018 Keele University, 5th & 6th April

Healthy or Unhealthy Cities? Urban environments, cultures and economies of public and private health, 1600 to the present.

By their very nature towns and cities were and still are potentially unhealthy spaces, beset by problems of disease, pollution and inadequate housing. Yet cities have also been centres for reform and significantly improved ‘health’ provision: the great leaps forward in sanitation, environmental and industrial regulation, provision of hospitals and other medical services were themselves driven by the pressures of urbanisation. Although this ‘progress’ was neither linear nor without significant resistance, the impetus to promote change and to extend provision could and did bind city communities together. Indeed, as recent assessments have shown, cities became the increasingly healthy option as services and environments improved.

The health of urban populations and healthiness of urban environments and experience, therefore, remain central to our understanding of how towns and cities do or do not function.  The 2018 UHG conference will explore how we interpret and historicise the highs and lows of urban health and environment alongside the responses and experiences these produce.

In framing your paper or making a proposal for a panel you may wish to consider some of the following:

  • How healthy or unhealthy were cities compared to say rural environments; in what sense were problems localised or area specific, and did this impact on the city’s aggregated view of itself?
  • How has the (un)healthy city been represented to urban dwellers? How important were the perceptions of health and/or inequality over empirical knowledge in determining outcomes?
  • What drove forward health, pollution, environmental, housing and sanitary reform?  Was it largely pragmatic or idealistic; economic or research driven; led by locals or national agents?
  • What role did protest and radical action play in changing approaches to urban health?
  • What is the role of class, age, gender, sexuality, or ethnicity in determining access to a healthy urban life?
  • What was the correlation between economic activity and urban health?  How has regulation and planning impacted upon economic and industrial productivity; what tensions arise in creating cities that are both healthy and wealthy?
  • In terms of medical provision, who were the key actors, why were they involved and what did they achieve?
  • What were the limits and strengths of ‘voluntaryism’, how involved was the community in this and in what ways did the voluntary, religious and state systems inter-react?

The conference committee invites individual papers and panel proposals of up to three papers. Papers might be in the form of thematic or case studies, cutting across time and space to draw out the larger-scale historical process at work in relation to the conference theme. Contributions ranging from c.1600 to the present are welcome and can be drawn from any geographical area. Contributions from doctoral candidates (see below) are an important feature of the Urban History Group conferences and so these, too, are encouraged and can be financially supported with modest bursaries.


Abstracts of up to 300 words, including a paper or panel title, name, affiliation and contact details should be submitted to and should indicate clearly how the content of the paper addresses the conference themes outlined above. Those wishing to propose sessions should provide a brief statement that identifies the ways in which the session will address the conference theme, a list of speakers, and abstracts. The final deadline for proposals for sessions and papers is 7th October 2017.


The conference will again host its new researchers’ forum, which is composed of two strands. The first is aimed primarily at those who are at an early stage of a PhD or early career research project. New researchers’ papers should be the same length and follow the same submission rules as the main sessions, but need not be related to the main conference theme. The second strand provides an opportunity for first-year PhD students to present a 10 minute introduction to their topic, archival materials, and the specific urban historiography. This is an opportunity to obtain feedback from active researchers in the field of Urban History, but also to introduce your work to colleagues in the field. Please submit all proposals to marking them clearly ‘New Researchers’ or ‘First Year PhD’ in the subject field and on the abstract.


Bursaries. Students registered for postgraduate study can obtain a modest bursary on a first come, first served basis to offset expenses associated with conference registration and attendance. Please send an e-mail application to Dr Nick Hayes at and also ask your supervisor to confirm your status as a registered postgraduate student with an e-mail to the same address. Deadline 8th December 2017. The Urban History Group would like to acknowledge and thank the Economic History Society for its support for these bursaries.

For further details please contact

Conference Organisers


Dr James Greenhalgh

University of Lincoln

Tel: 01522 83 7729



Dr Markian Prokopovych

University of Birmingham

Tel: 0121 414 3259


For New Researchers


Dr Tom Hulme,

Queen’s University, Belfast

Tel: 028 90973312






Fully Funded Research Training Masters in History and Heritage at the University of Huddersfield

heritage logo


As part of the Heritage Consortium, an AHRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training, the History subject group at the University of Huddersfield welcomes applications for one Fully Funded Research Training Masters in History and Heritage to commence in September 2017. The Heritage Consortium is an innovative PhD programme which aims to develop a range of skills derived from a direct engagement with heritage and the heritage sector broadly defined.

The award includes a full fee waiver and a stipend  of £9,986 for one calendar year. The successful student will enrol on a Full Time MA by Research and work towards a dissertation which explicitly draws together history and heritage. We also offer the following MA by Research pathways MA by Research in Public History, Oral History and Community Heritage Masters by Research in the History of Childhood

All MA by Research students are expected to attend a weekly Graduate Seminar along with engagement with the departmental research seminar programme and involvement in activities like the Perspectives on the Past Postgraduate Conference. Opportunities will be created to work with heritage partners and to develop skills in public engagement and social media.

History staff offer a range of research interests from the Medieval to the contemporary with particular strengths in gender, health, labour, battlefield and childhood history. The successful student will also have the opportunity to work with one of our heritage partners to acquire the skills required to develop their dissertation project.

Applicants should have a minimum of a good 2:1 degree in History, Heritage or cognate discipline. To apply submit a cv with your qualifications, any relevant experience and a 300 word outline of your research interests and reasons for applying to undertake a Research Preparation Masters with a focus on History and Heritage. Your project outline should make explicit reference to the heritage focus of the project and how you would fit into a programme designed to prepare for a heritage PhD. Applications should be submitted to and headed History and Heritage RPM by the closing date of 21 July 2017.

For further information contact Professor Barry Doyle

Perspectives on the past: History, Heritage, Identity. Annual Postgraduate Conference University of Huddersfield 9 June 2017

We are pleased to announce the final programme for Perspectives on the past: History, Heritage, Identity the annual Postgraduate Conference of the University of Huddersfield History Department. The conference will be held in Heritage Quay, our multi-award winning archive and interpretation centre. There will be no registration fee and we hope to offer travel bursaries for speakers. To book a place email

0915-1000 Arrival, Coffee & Welcome


Session 1: Identity and related issues in the Medieval World


Mark McCabe Huddersfield University Should I stay or should I go’: the dilemma of going on Crusade in Gerald of Wales’Itinerarium Cambriae
Claire Hudson Huddersfield University Women and Chivalry in Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur
Dr. Philippa Byrne Oxford University East and West, Tolerant and Persecuting: Norman Sicily in the Eye of the Beholder.
1130-1145 Break

Session 2: Preserving the Past

Rob Piggott


Huddersfield University The Leaven of the Past: The Norfolk and Norwich Archaeological Society, newspapers and archaeological practices of the nineteenth and early twentieth century


Mariel Rodriguez Cambridge University Memory, preservation, and identity: the preservation movement and the creation of culture in nineteenth-century England
1245-1345 Lunch

Session 3: Britishness in the Twentieth Century


Andy Cook Huddersfield University Britain’s other D-Day: Decimalisation of the Currency 15 February 1971
Rowan Thompson Northumbria University ‘An essential institution in British aviation’: The Air League of the British Empire, Empire Air Day and the Creation of ‘Airmindedness’ in the 1930s.
1445-1500 Break


Session 4: Aspects of the North

Taras Nakonecznyj Leeds Beckett University My City, My Way: investigating Narratives of the Self, Place and History in York.
Tracey Jones Teesside University ‘Colliery Amazons and Venuses’: The ‘Picturesque’ Pit Brow Women of Wigan.
Siobhan Maguire-Broad Leeds College of Art Once and Now – An Overview of St George’s Field
1630-1700 Conference Close

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History of Nursing Research Colloquium 2017



The 20th UK Association for the History of Nursing, Research Colloquium will be held from 9am to 5pm on the 28th June 2017 at the University of Huddersfield.

We are pleased to announce our keynote speaker as Teresa Doherty, library and archive manager, Royal College of Nursing, as well as a wide-ranging schedule of research papers.

The Colloquium will be hosted at the University of Huddersfield in partnership with History at Huddersfield and includes lunch in the award winning Heritage Quay Archive.

The fee for the Colloquium day is £20 (£10 for students and unwaged). All details for the day and how to book can be found by visiting the UKAHN website at






We are pleased to announce a call for papers for the University of Huddersfield’s Postgraduate Conference 2017. The conference offers an interdisciplinary opportunity for postgraduate students and early career researchers in these fields to share their research at Huddersfield, a department renowned for its supportive atmosphere and sociability. We welcome proposals for papers of no more than 20 minutes from those researching in the fields of history, heritage, historical archaeology or any other related discipline. We would especially encourage MA students or those early in their research to submit a proposal. Papers can be on any topic or time period. We do not wish to be prescriptive in terms of specific themes for submissions as we are seeking the widest possible range of contributions.
Papers from the conference will be eligible for submission to the peer reviewed journal, Postgraduate Perspectives on the Past,
Offers of papers should include a 250 word abstract and a short biography.
Deadline date: 30 April 2017
Please send submissions and queries to
There will be no registration fee and we hope to offer travel bursaries for speakers.

European Healthcare before Welfare States Workshop, 17 February 2017


The European Healthcare before Welfare States project of the Centre of Health Histories at the University of Huddersfield will be holding the first of two linked workshops on Friday 17 February, 2017. The event, funded by the University Research Fund, will bring together academics from half a dozen countries to examine a range of themes in the structure and delivery of healthcare, mainly before the 1950s. Nations examined will include the four nations of the UK, Germany, Spain and Hungary along with comparative and transnational contributions.

At the centre of the day will be an opening session showcasing the research undertaken by the project RAs in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, the first detailed study of the hospital systems of these nations. The papers will touch on current historiography in Central European healthcare, a survey of national and local archives and contemporary printed sources and some preliminary findings, with a particular focus on the scale and scope of institutional services.

This event will be followed by a second workshop in Prague in late Spring and the publication of a collection of papers. We are also going to use the opportunity to launch a research network on the theme of Healthcare before Welfare States to exchange ideas, work collaboratively on publications and funding applications and establish regular meetings.

We are very grateful to the University of Huddersfield URF for their generous support for this project.


Heritage Quay, University of Huddersfield

Friday 17 February 2017

9.30 Arrival and Coffee


9.45 Professor Barry Michael Doyle, University of Huddersfield ‘Comparing Apples and Oranges? Examining Hospital Provision in Three Central European Nations’
10.15 Frank Grombir, University of Huddersfield ‘Catching up, Patching up, Thinking Big: Institutional Health Care in Interwar Czechoslovakia’
10.45 Dr Balázs Szelinger, University of Huddersfield ‘Hungarian Hospitals 1920-1941 – Financial Aspects’
11.15 Melissa Hibbard, University of Huddersfield ‘Hospitals in Interwar Poland’

11.45              Lunch


12.30 Dr Steve Thompson, Aberystwyth University ‘Voluntary Hospitals and the State in South Wales in the 1930s and 1940s’
1.00 Dr Axel Hüntelmann, The Charité, Universitätsmedizin Berlin ‘Accounting, Bookkeeping and Calculative Practices at the Charité Hospital in Berlin, c. 1750-1920’
1.30 Dr Nick Hayes/Eddie Cheetham, Nottingham Trent University Voluntary Action: Community Activity in the East Midlands before 1939

2.30                Tea Break


2.45 Dr Martin Gorsky and Dr Chris Sirrs, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine ‘The Rise and Fall of ‘Universal Health Coverage’ as a Goal of International Health Politics, 1925-52’
3.15 Dr George Campbell Gosling, University of Wolverhampton (formerly Warwick) ‘Patient Payments in Britain and Beyond’
3.45 Dr David Brydan, Birbeck, University of London ‘From Prague to La Paz: The Global Entanglements of Francoist Healthcare’ (7-minute intervention)

3.55                Tea


4.10 Dr Alice Brumby, University of Huddersfield A “great landmark in the history of legislation”? Reassessing the Mental Treatment Act 1930-1938
4.30 Assistant Professor Emese Lafferton, Central European University ‘Mental Health Services in 19th Century Hungary’
5.00 Dr Eszter Varsa, Universität Regensburg „Gypsies as objects of health education“: Discourses on Roma in Hungarian medical journals, 1960s-1980s
5.30 Dr Iain Hutchison, University of Glasgow ‘Glasgow’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children 1914-1948’

6.00                Reception

If you would like to attend, please email

Gender, Work and the Mid-twentieth century Hospital


At a recent event I attended on the history of wound care I, possibly rashly, asserted that mid-twentieth century hospitals were run on a daily basis by women with doctors playing only a small part in the quotidian life of the institution. My bravado owed something to my work on inter war hospitals where most of the medical staff were voluntary appointments who possibly visited their patients on a daily round before returning to their private practice. The management of patients was normally in the hands of a small coterie of trainee house staff whose number depended on the size and purpose of the institution and the proximity of a medical school. In the municipal and ex-poor law hospitals doctors were even less common. Normally the institution would have a Medical Superintendent who might be assisted by a deputy and a Medical Officer in charge of obstetrics – though this post was likely to be held by a woman. Even in huge municipal hospitals like St James’ in Leeds resident or even regularly attending medical staff might number five or less.

But I was still concerned I may have gone over the top. However, while looking for some information on hospital beds in Sheffield I unearthed a copy of the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board’s report on their first five years of operation following the founding of the NHS. The data wasn’t much use for my purposes but my attention was caught by the photograph section. The images are reproduced here in full as they confirm, vividly, the extensive role of women workers in the region’s institutions and the absence of men in medical, patient management or caring roles.


The first feature to stand out is the variety of technical roles undertaken by nursing and female scientific and technical staff. In the image above they are working with children to correct squints, a department introduced into Sheffield’s hospitals in the mid-1930s. Immediately below we see a female radiographer while in the next picture two nurses are overseeing a patient in a modern ‘iron lung’. Admittedly in this case the role of one of the nurses is less impressive – she is holding a newspaper for the male patient to read!


The women in the next two shots are engaged in the kind of work one might expect of female staff in this period – one feeding an infant the other teaching young patients in the hospital school (probably in a TB sanatorium). But the second pair are more challenging. The first shows two you women scientists in the pathology laboratory. Evidence from across the country, and internationally, shows that routine scientific testing was undertaken almost entirely by women at this time. They rarely received credit as the chief pathologist but they were the back-bone of the scientific revolution in the mid twentieth century hospital. Moreover, they also dominated the staffing of radiography, X-Ray and probably radiology departments, the staff member shown here working one of the most up to date pieces of equipment that required considerable judgement to use effectively.


Certainly men could be found in and around the wards – for example as porters and orderlies or in traditional non-medical trades like decorators, electricians and engineers – but their therapeutic interventions were limited. The available illustrations show them limited to occupational therapy and rehabilitation – supervising in the gym or the workshop. Yet even then there is evidence that nurses supervised much of the early physiotherapy and undertook muscle manipulation and massage.



Indeed the only senior medical role occupied by a man in the collection of images as tutor in a class for nurses. Interesting, although the caption refers to Student Nurses there are a large number of men in white coats who one can assume are medical students.


The final two images of staff once again confirm the dominance of women, that above showing nurses, probably at the King Edward VII Orthopaedic Hospital for Children, delivering water therapy for children who spent much of their time bed-bound. The woman below occupied a role which had been identified with female workers from its introduction in the late nineteenth century – the almoner. Initially employed to ensure those who could pay for treatment did so and those who couldn’t or didn’t have to were exempt, by the 1930s they were already engaged in extensive social work activities. By the time the NHS was fully operational they job had become entirely social, managing discharge arrangements, ensuring patients had suitable accommodation and support, possibly arranging convalescence and maybe even charitable support. In the case of this patient it is likely he will not have worked for some time – either because of TB or an accident – and his needs or discharge could be quite extensive.


Thus, by the time these two characters headed home on their adapted motor trikes it is likely they will have spent almost all of their time in hospital under the ministration of female staff who not only undertook the expected caring roles of the traditional hospital but were also are the heart of the new scientific, technological and therapeutic regimes introduced in the second quarter of the twentieth century. Women may have made beds, fed babies and turned the pages of patients’ newspapers but they also worked the most up-to-date machines, conducted the laboratory experiments and tests fixed squints and ensured the safe discharge of patients. Indeed in the kind of long stay institutions depicted here the doctor was still marginal to the patients recovery but not because these were not curative institutions. As these images suggest women were central to the curative high tech regimes of the mid-twentieth century in a way that is rarely, if ever, revealed.

All the images in this post are taken from: Sheffield Regional Hospital Board, Quinquennial Report upon the work of the Sheffield Regional Hospital Board from 1947-1952 (Sheffield, 1953). The images appear between pages 64-65. There are no explicit acknowledgements but this appears at the end of the book.