Kristin Heitman, PhD, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), Bethesda, MD
Counting the Dead in Reformation London: An Early Quantitative Effort to Optimize Community Health
Thursday, February 20, at the New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue (at 103rd Street), New York NY, Room 20 (2nd Floor).
Lecture at 6 p.m.; light refreshments from 5:30 p.m.
The London Bills of Mortality are generally discussed in the context of the Scientific Revolution, especially as championed by the Royal Society of London. In particular, the Bills provided the data for John Graunt’s seminal work in demography and epidemiology (1662 et seq.), which the early Royal Society immediately claimed as one of its crowning achievements.
However, the City of London had begun collecting parish-by-parish mortality data some 100 years earlier, during the politically rocky period between the death of Henry VIII and the accession of Elizabeth I. As part of requiring a weekly report of every death from every parish across the city, London’s aldermen established a mechanism to determine the cause of each death, generating mortality counts for not just infectious diseases but chronic conditions, accidents, and suicides. The city then used those data to establish an ongoing effort to optimize community health across a broad range of conditions. London had statistics, in short, some 250 years before the Swiss. This talk will trace the emergence of London’s methods from its unusually strong city charter and the close ties among its guild system, City officials, and the established church.
Kristin Heitman, PhD, teaches the history of medicine and public health, critical thinking, and philosophy of science at The Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland. Trained in the history and philosophy of science at the Johns Hopkins University, she has held fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Johns Hopkins University.
We look forward to seeing you at this and other events in the 2013–2014 series. For more information about many other upcoming history of medicine events in the New York area, see the calendar page of our blog, Books, Health, and History: http://nyamcenterforhistory.org/calendar/
Paul Theerman, PhD
Center for the History of Medicine and Public Health
New York Academy of Medicine
1216 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY, 10029
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