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Title: The health of the labouring poor, surgical and post-mortem procedures at the Bristol Royal Infirmary, 1757-1854 : a biohistorical approach
Author: Witkin, Annsofie Victoria
ISNI:       0000 0004 2725 6049
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2011
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The Bristol Royal Infirmary burial ground was in use between 1757 and 1854 and the skeletal assemblage comprised 106 articulated skeletons and disarticulated remains from 544 individuals. The biohistorical approach tied together documentary evidence with that seen on the human skeletal remains. The first theme explored the demography, mortality, geographical location and origins, occupation, ethnicity and health through the human remains, the inpatient logbooks and the history of Bristol. The second theme combined the evidence of surgery and post-mortem methods present on the human remains with surgical and dissection manuals and the inpatient logbook records. The demographic profile from the osteological data reflected the inpatient logbook records. The catchment area of the Infirmary diminished over time and Bristol became increasingly depopulated in the centre with an increase primarily to the north-east. Individuals of African descent were discovered with a link between members of the Society of Merchant Venturers. Oral health was poor, but no worse than other social classes. Nutritional deficiencies were comparatively high as indicated by the prevalence of rickets, scurvy and the non- specific stress indicator enamel hypoplasia. The high prevalence of maxillary sinusitis may be an indication of the poor air quality as well as being associated with the high prevalence of respiratory disease. Fractures were more prevalent amongst males, consistent with comparative data. The high frequency of cribra orbitalia reflects the role of the Infirmary and the frequency of infectious disease. The amputations present found evidence of both methods used, the levels elected concurred with the written sources. One trephination was preset on a cranium with no associated pathology. Craniotomies were carried out according to the written contemporary evidence and a link between lesions and the procedure were established. The method for the thoracotomy did not reflect that described. This thesis achieved the aims of providing an integrated study through a holistic approach that provided new evidence on not only the inpatients at the BR! but also on various aspects related to the labouring poor in Bristol.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available