Thesis ID: CBB001561758

Morbidity and the 19th-Century Decline of Mortality: An Analysis of the Military Population of Gibraltar, 1818 to 1899 (2004)


Padiak, Janet (Author)

University of Toronto
Sawchuk, L. A.

Publication Date: 2004
Edition Details: Advisor: Sawchuk, L. A.
Physical Details: 252 pp.
Language: English

The decline of mortality and the transformation of human health, characterized by low mortality rates, increased longevity and higher global population, has been called one of the great themes of history, second only to the origin of life, and its patterns and causes have been a subject of controversy for over sixty years. Scholars have debated the causes of mortality decline, suggesting better nutrition, better sanitation, better medical care or more spacious dwellings as responsible. Researchers have depended almost exclusively upon mortality figures to set out the logic of their conclusions. This thesis uses evidence from the garrison of Gibraltar to investigate the role of morbidity in the 19{super}th{/super} century decline of mortality. Based upon British army data, the study looks at the morbidity and mortality relationships of four groups, troops, officers, women and children, but focuses on the data for ordinary soldiers. Ratios of morbidity to mortality indicate that, throughout the 82 years of the study period, mortality decreased at a much greater rate than morbidity. Furthermore, categories of diseases did not fall in concert and, in some categories, morbidity rose as mortality dropped. Regression analysis highlights the categories of diseases that were most influential in the decline of morbidity and mortality. The data, coupled with analyses of reports by regimental medical officers, suggest that, in addition to sanitary improvements, changes in medical practice, broadly interpreted, were effective in reducing mortality of the men of the garrison of Gibraltar. Analysis of the large volume of 19{super}th{/super} century army data required the development of a system within a relational database program that nested causes of death in linked tables. This allowed highly specific and sensitive disease data to be integrated with data that were less specific or used outdated terminology, permitting the use of mixed data for diachronic analyses. The thesis also includes a demographic study of the garrison population from a census taken in 1878 and a reconstruction of military medical care in the garrison of Gibraltar from 1818 to the advent of the germ theory in the 1880s.


Description Cited in Diss. Abstr. Int. A 65 (2005): 3890. UMI pub. no. NQ94238.

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Authors & Contributors
Rose, Edward P. F.
Poppel, F. van
Beekink, E.
Sanz Gimeno, Alberto
Fariñas, Diego Ramiro
Hanley, James G.
Social History of Medicine
Earth Sciences History: Journal of the History of the Earth Sciences Society
Continuity and Change
Medical History
Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences
Princeton University
Disease and diseases
Public health
Vital statistics
Chadwick, Edwin
Adams, Abigail
Adams, John
Smith, James
James, Thomas
Imrie, Ninian
Time Periods
19th century
20th century, early
20th century
18th century
Great Britain
United States
New England (U.S.)
Great Britain. Royal Engineers
Great Britain. Geological Survey

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