Medicine and society in Wakefield and Huddersfield, 1780-1870
The thesis examines the formation and evolution of medical provisions in Wakefield and Huddersfield between circa 1780 and 1870. The survey covers 'institutional' facilities, namely hospital and dispensary provisions and Poor Law medical services, friendly society facilities for the sick and the development of 'fringe' or 'peripheral' medical practices. The thesis also discusses the structural, professional and social development of medical communities in the two towns. A wide range of source material was utilised, to include Poor Law material (pre- and post-1834), the records of friendly societies and medical charities census returns, newspapers, trade and medical directories and parliamentary reports and returns. The use of such a combination of material gives a better indication of the range of facilities available and their relative importance. It will be suggested that the emphasis medical historians have put on institutional provisions has been misplaced. The importance of previously neglected options, the friendly society and 'peripheral' forms of treatment, will be stressed. Leading on from this, it is possible to suggest that self-help forms of medical relief (compared with those 'provided' by the wealthy classes for the poor) were of greater significance-than has previously been assumed. An attempt has been made to place the development of medical services against the backdrop of the communities that they evolved in. The growth of institutional provisions and the progress of self-help forms are linked to the organisation of the two communities, their class structure and social, civic and economic developments. The leading role of laymen in creating a demand for, and in the setting up and evolution of, medical provisions has also been stressed. It is hoped an analysis of these factors will lead to a clearer understanding of how and why medical facilities developed-as they did, and to a greater insight into the relationships between medicine and society.