London Bills of Mortality, and Newspapers

On Wednesday at the Canadian Historical Association Annual Conference I was able to catch some of three presentations in a session on Epidemics, Pandemics, and Public Health Responses. Interrupted several times, one of the disadvantages of being online at home meant I didn’t get the full benefit.

A presentation by Caroline Michaud : “Plague in the Public Eye: English Reactions to the Marseille Plague of 1720-1723” leant heavily on her August 2020 Master’s thesis Public Health and Public Discourse: Contesting the London Bills of Mortality, c. 1603-1836 at Dalhousie University.  I need to find more time to read the thesis. Bills of Mortality I’ve wanted to investigate more. They were widely read. I’d also like to know why we don’t routinely get this type of current statistics today. It can be done as we’ve seen for COVID reporting.

Another presentation, “Households Large and Small: The Prominence of
Women’s Work in Edmonton’s Conceptualisation of the 1918 Influenza
Pandemic” by Suzanna Wagner drew heavily on newspaper reports in the Edmonton Bulletin.

During the question period, I asked about the value of digitized newspapers for the research. Both of those presenters said they couldn’t have done the studies they did without them. The third presenter, Adama Aly Pam spoke in French about yellow fever experience in Senegal. That limited my ability to understand. He agreed that digitized newspapers are vital. LAC please note.


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