Article ID: CBB903630360

The Child Surgical Patient in the Early Twentieth Century (2023)


In the second half of the nineteenth century, scientific and technological developments in surgery permitted safer procedures to be carried out. Theoretically, therefore, children whose lives would otherwise have been blighted by disease could be saved by timely operative interference. The reality was more complicated, however, as this article shows. Through an exploration of British and American surgical textbooks and an in-depth analysis of the child surgical patient base at one London general hospital, the tensions between the possibilities and the actualities of surgery on children can be examined for the first time. Hearing the child’s voice through case notes allows both a restoration of these complex patients to the history of medicine and a questioning of the wider application of science and technology to working-class bodies, situations, and environments which resist such treatment.

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Authors & Contributors
Barnes, Emm
Benedict, Susan
Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel
Borghi, Luca
Brock, Claire
Doroshow, Deborah Blythe
Bulletin of the History of Medicine
History of Psychiatry
History of the Human Sciences
Journal of Medical Biography
Journal of Social History
Medical History
Yale University
Inanna Publications
Reaktion Books
Physicians; doctors
Hospitals and clinics
Freud, Sigmund
Gilbreth, Frank Bunker
Horsley, Victor, Sir
Lister, Joseph, Baron
West, Charles
Freyer, Peter Johnstone
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
20th century, late
17th century
18th century
London (England)
Great Britain
Ontario (Canada)
United States
Maudsley Hospital (England)

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