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BOOK - Tracing Your Medical Ancestors, A Guide For Family Historians
By Michelle Higgs
Published by Pen and Sword Books, S. Yorkshire, UK (2011)
The medical profession had as much influence on the lives of our ancestors as it does on our lives today. It occupied an extraordinary range of individuals - surgeons, doctors, nurses and specialists of all kinds. Yet, despite burgeoning interest in all aspects of history and ancestry, medicine has rarely been considered from the point of view of a family historian. This is the main purpose of Michelle Higgs’s accessible and authoritative introduction to the subject.
Assuming the reader has little prior knowledge of how or where to look for such information, she traces the development of medical practice and patient care. She describes how attitudes to illnesses and disease have changed over time. In particular, she looks at the parts played in the system by doctors and nurses - at their role, training and places of work and she also looks at the patients and their experience of medicine in their day. Each section identifies the archives and records that the family historian can turn to, and discusses other potential sources including the Internet.
The book is an invaluable guide to all the information that can give an insight into the experience of an ancestor who worked in medicine or had a medical history.
The following reviews shed much light on the exceptional content and quality of this fine book:
- Tracing your Medical Ancestors takes the reader through four sections: the Medical and Nursing Professions, Patients and Sources. It includes a contextual discussion on the training, qualifications and role of professions, and the Acts of Parliament that enables the professional development of physicians, surgeons and nurses. Sources described include printed directories and registers. - British Association for Local History
- When people trace their ancestors the may look for family members involved in war or the armed services however medicine has been cruelly overlooked. Tracing Your Medical Ancestors describes the development of medical practice and patient care and gives specific focus to illnesses and diseases that have changes over time. Other sections include analysing the roles of Doctors and nurses, their training and the patient's experience of medicine in their day which is followed by archives and records that the family historian can use in conjunction with the internet or on its own. The book flows through interesting chapters comprised of fluent and educational prose which is reinforced by amazing images such as a girl in callipers learning to walk in the 1930's. Being the previous author of three books aimed at family historians, Michelle Higgs uses her experience in history and heritage to create book that is interesting and informative until the very last word. - John (reader review)
- It starts with a brief history of London, and continues with an account of lists of Londoners that are easy to access, such as the census, directories and electoral registers. It continues thematically through subjects such as crime, business, education and house history. This wide-ranging book will be of most use to the family historian who as completed most of his or her family history and wants to fill in details about the lives of specific individuals. - British Association for Local History
- This new book from Discover My Past contributer Michelle Higgs is a through research guide for all things medical, whether you wish to look for a doctor ancestor, someone in the nursing profession or even the medical histories of your ancestors.
The book is split into four main sections, plus appendices. The first explored the background to and evolution of the profession, including details on how those worked in the area actually trained, and the qualifications they needed, before examining the sheer range of places where a medical ancestor may have worked, from the British Army to the former colonies. The second section then concentrates specifically on the nursing profession and its development, whilst the third section looks briefly at patient care from the patient's point of view. The final area of the book looks at those all important sources including directories, the Royal Colleges, military records and more. The handy appendices include guides to nursing terminology, useful contacts and medical qualifications.
A truly impressive guide, and an essential for your genealogical library is you have practitioners in the tree. - Discover My Past Scotland
- A newly published book should prove an invaluable guide to genealogists studying the various medical and medical-related professions...and the BOA Museum has been pleased to help the author with regard to the section on optical professions. Michelle Higgs' handy little volume 'Tracing Your Medical Ancestors - A Guide for Family Historians' covers the medical profession, nursing profession, patients (an often neglected area of study) and advises on the sources for all of these including 'Other Medical Professions' which for the purposes of this book includes optometrists and opticians. It is in the nature of these books that they can become out of date almost as soon as they are written. For example the BOA Museum has recently acquired some more membership registers that had been lying undiscovered in the College basement and we remain hopeful that more such discoveries may yet await us. Nevertheless, as an introductory guide we can recommend this book and we hope that the exposure given within it to our archival records will encourage more such researchers to get in touch. - The College of Optometrists
- In recent years, family historians have welcomed many books on sources for tracing a variety of trades and professions: occupations as diverse as agricultural labourers, lawyers, soldiers, textile workers, clergymen, and servants, have all been considered. Until now, however, the only guidance to the Records of the medical professions has been a small pamphlet of that title by Susan Bourne and Andrew Chicken, published in 1994.
This obvious gap in the literature has now been competently filled by Michelle Higgs. She begins by tracing the history of medics, and showing how a variety of different specialisms have developed. Nursing history is also outlined, together with brief notes on patients. The author disclaims any intention of producing the definitive history, but she does provide the basic information that the family historian needs to know.
For the researcher, however, the most useful feature of the book is the detailed guide to sources. And what a range of sources there are! All the well-known sources, such as the Medical register and Munk's Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London are discussed. But so are such obscure sources as the national roll of the Queen's Nursing Institute, and the records of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain. There is a wealth of information here that offers many potential leads to the researcher.
The author is to be congratulated on producing a workmanlike text which ought to be consulted by everyone tracing medical ancestors. - Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS)
5.75 X 8.25"
Table of Contents
Photos and Illustrations
Published by Pen and Sword Books, S. Yorkshire, UK (2011)
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