Friday, 6 June 2008

Medical History of British India Project

Have you heard of a bowel gang? Or why a woman was living in a rum-barrel in 1878? Do you wonder how vaccines are made? What was it like to be in the army in India in the last quarter of the 19th century? What did medical students study in Nagpur and how many passed their exams?

The answers to all these questions are contained in the Medical History of British India collection of the India Papers. The project involves microfilming the books and then digitising the film to produce images which can be viewed online. Each page of the 126 volumes will be available free of charge. The project is funded by the Wellcome Trust and forms Phase 2 of the web feature Disease prevention and Public Health Medical History of British India.
The items are rare, dating from ca1850 to ca1950 and are of interest to medical historians and genealogists as well as to the casual reader. The content is legible and makes for fascinating reading, not only from a medical perspective, but also from a social and geographical one. There are many tables of detailed information, plus drawings, photographs and maps. Although most volumes are in a report format, they offer an absorbing glimpse into a world long gone, and yet many of the issues resonate today. Click on the images to see a cholera map of India and patients suffering from kala azar.

As project manager and metadata creator I shall be sharing some of my finds each week in this blog. From hemp to hospitals, from monkeys to malaria, from research to rabies and from cholera to quinine, there is much to explore in this compelling collection.

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