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Wed 12 April
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Thu 13 April
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Fri 14 April
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Wednesday 12 April 2023 14.00 - 16.00
R-3 HEA03a From the Workplace to the Death Bed: Conceptualising and Assessing Morbidity and Mortality in 19th and 20th Century Europe I
E45
Network: Health and Environment Chairs: -
Organizers: David Green, David Green Discussants: -
Moderators: -
Ciara Breathnach : ‘Information Received’: Dublin City Coroner’s Court and Civil Registration of Death
The statutory instrument introducing civil registration of death to Ireland in 1863 had specific instructions with respect to information received from the coroner’s court, it was to occur within five days and the verdict was to be recorded verbatim as cause of death. The nosology supplied to registrars in 1864, ... (Show more)
The statutory instrument introducing civil registration of death to Ireland in 1863 had specific instructions with respect to information received from the coroner’s court, it was to occur within five days and the verdict was to be recorded verbatim as cause of death. The nosology supplied to registrars in 1864, when the system was established, contained a substantial section on coronial court data and provided very clear instruction on cause and duration of illness for sudden death but placed particular emphasis on how to record accidental and violent deaths. This paper provides an overview of cause of death from a dataset derived from the Dublin City Coroner’s Court from 1900 to 1902. It shows that in the process of death registration, even in cases of ‘information received’, registrars could and did operate levels of discretion, sometimes in deference to the wishes of surviving family members but mainly to conform to the ontological limitations of the guiding nosology. It also shows that despite advances in the medical sciences, several verdicts and causes of death lacked specificity. Convulsions in children and ill-defined respiratory diseases were used as catch-all terms, even in the highly medicalised coronial court setting. (Show less)

Nadeche Diepgrond : From Sick Bed to Death Bed: Morbidity and Mortality in the Amsterdam Hospital, 1886-1896
Hospitals played a central role in the nineteenth century as these institutions were so-called gateways to death or places of healing. In this paper, we will make use of an unique combination of sources to investigate morbidity and cause-specific mortality of the patients in one of the largest public urban ... (Show more)
Hospitals played a central role in the nineteenth century as these institutions were so-called gateways to death or places of healing. In this paper, we will make use of an unique combination of sources to investigate morbidity and cause-specific mortality of the patients in one of the largest public urban hospitals in Europe. Our study is based on the patient registers of the Binnengasthuis in Amsterdam, which record the demographic profile of the patients, the duration of their stay, information about their diseases, and whether or not they died in the hospital. In total we are able to analyze around 12.000 patients who were admitted to the hospital in the year 1886 and 1896. By using these patient registers we can ask whether certain conditions were more frequently, and successfully, treated in hospitals, and whether the social, demographic and religious profile of those being admitted to the hospital differs. In addition, we are able to link the majority of patients who died to their specific cause of death by using the Amsterdam cause of death database. This enables us to ask questions about similarities and differences in morbidity and mortality patterns of patients admitted to the hospital. Answering these questions is crucial to gain more understanding into the history of European hospitals, and their patients in particular, as their lives and identities have often remained understudied. (Show less)

Louise Ludvigsen : ‘The Vital Age”: Death of Young Adults in Copenhagen 1861-1911
Death among adults in the vital ages (roughly ages 15-45) was dreaded in the second half of the 19th century, because of the often grave social and economic repercussions for those left behind. The societal implications made the causes of death within this age group a priority research field for ... (Show more)
Death among adults in the vital ages (roughly ages 15-45) was dreaded in the second half of the 19th century, because of the often grave social and economic repercussions for those left behind. The societal implications made the causes of death within this age group a priority research field for contemporary physicians and statisticians, despite the mortality rates among adults being markedly lower than among children and older people.
I will explore which cause of death patterns the Danish cause of death classification system of the time made visible for this age group and whether other patterns are to be found by using individual-level data. I will also explore what made the health authorities keep or change the classification system, and how this affected the understanding of the mortality and cause of death patterns. I will do this by coding the individual causes of death in the Copenhagen Burial Registers from 1861-1911 to ICD10, ICD10h, and DK1875 (the Danish system 1876-1931) and comparing the patterns in each system with the aggregated cause of death statistics for Copenhagen. (Show less)

Mathias Mølbak Ingholt : From a Traditional to a Modern Rationale: the Meaning of Intermittent Fever in Denmark, 1826-1886
With roots in Antiquity, “intermittent fever” has a long and contested historiography. Some have considered it and its sub-categories, tertian fever, quartan fever and quotidian fever, as a synonym for malaria. Likewise, diagnoses like “marsh fever” have also been associated with malaria. Others have however argued that intermittent fever merely ... (Show more)
With roots in Antiquity, “intermittent fever” has a long and contested historiography. Some have considered it and its sub-categories, tertian fever, quartan fever and quotidian fever, as a synonym for malaria. Likewise, diagnoses like “marsh fever” have also been associated with malaria. Others have however argued that intermittent fever merely denominated acute fevers in a broad sense. This disagreement has become a cornerstone in the historiography of malaria in northern Europe. Through examining articles in Danish medical journals and reports, this paper traces the etiological development of intermittent fever in Denmark during 1826-1886. It aims to elucidate how intermittent fever came to be associated with modern malaria. The paper shows that intermittent fever was used broadly in the 1820s and 1830s, during both very lethal and very benign epidemics with different seasonality and symptoms. What defined an intermittent fever in this period was hence simply an intermittent symptom exhibition. This reflected a traditional rationale of fevers as broader categories of ailments. From the late 1840s and onwards, however, intermittent fever became a more precise condition with a strict set of symptoms that resembled modern malaria. The paper argues that this was due to the modernization of medical science and a call for more precise disease definitions. This paper concludes that the confusion over intermittent fever was a question of timing rather than meaning, and that the development of the diagnosis reflected the modernization of medical science in this period. (Show less)

Harry Smith : Codifying Morbidity: Links between Sickness and Death in the British Post Office 1861-1901
In most studies of historic cause of death data the analysis is restricted to the event of an individual’s death with little or no reference to the individual’s sickness history prior to their death. This paper uses a new dataset that contains information on both individual’s cause of death and ... (Show more)
In most studies of historic cause of death data the analysis is restricted to the event of an individual’s death with little or no reference to the individual’s sickness history prior to their death. This paper uses a new dataset that contains information on both individual’s cause of death and their health prior to death. The data are derived from three sources. First, the death certificates of every United Kingdom postal worker who retired in 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891 and 1901. Second, a sample of 6000 pensioners whose year of death is known. Thirdly, the pension application form for these workers. This form gives the cause of their retirement (giving precise conditions where retirement was caused by ill health) and information on the number of days off for sickness taken in each of the ten years prior to their retirement, as well as information on their occupation, place of work, age, gender and length of service. This paper uses these data to examine the relationship between cause of retirement and cause of death, between sickness profile and cause of death, and between cause of retirement and longevity. It initially discusses the descriptive statistics derived from these data before modelling the relationship between earlier ill health and cause of death. The paper concludes with comments on how understanding a person’s lifetime history of ill health can affect interpretation of the causes of death provided by civil registration. (Show less)



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