The Social History of Medical Self-Help in 20th-Century England: a Microhistory of a Rural Community
This thesis focuses on the health experiences of an Oxfordshire village 1900-1947 and the aim of the study is to obtain a holistic view of the health status and health strategies of one agricultural community. The period under review covers the years of therapeutic nihilism, the start of the therapeutic revolution, the third and fourth stages of germ theory and the start of the epidemiological transition. From a range of archival sources, the thesis examines the effects of climate, environment, housing, diet and the extant medical provision on the health and wellbeing of the residents. These effects in turn informed the residents’ health beliefs and self-help strategies set against the existing medical and nursing provision during periods of depression and war until the establishment of the National Health Service in 1948. Medical and health information from a range of sources, which were available to residents was explored. It shows that the residents were not passive in the face of illness and misfortune but worked together as a community. The importance of this study is its contribution to the historiography of rural health during the interwar years and offers a portrait of rural resilience and stoicism in the face of medical adversity.
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