Let's Stamp it Out!
Release Date: 26 May 2017
This is an excerpt from an article published in Issue 41 of Broadsheet, which is available to download.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Wellcome Trust, a project is ongoing to catalogue the records of the Glasgow Public Health Department and its predecessor authorities. Work is finished on the departmental records themselves and an item-level list of this important collection is available for the first time.
The Commissioners were responsible for public health issues before the Department was established. These records date from 1800 and cover such subjects as hospitals, street cleansing, and water supply.
As can be expected various social issues are addressed in the collection. Just one of these is the fight against tuberculosis. In 1895 James Burn Russell, the Medical Officer of Health, was asked by the Committee on Health to write a comprehensive report on the subject. His suggestions included the need for public education on treatment, the disinfection of patients’ homes and improvements in all aspects of living conditions from housing to the creation of desirable parks and open spaces.
Despite an improvement in the number of cases in the inter-war period, the figures for notifications of the disease crept back up after the Second World War. By 1956 the figure was 160 cases per 100,000, the worst figures in Britain. Glasgow was therefore singled out for a dedicated drive against the disease to take place from March 11th to April 12th 1957. Mobile units from all over the country were gathered there, with the main unit positioned in George Square for maximum publicity.
This is just one of the many stories to be found amongst the Public Health records. As the project continues, hopefully more people will be able to access them.
Alison Scott, Project Archivist, Glasgow City Archives
Picture: Queuing in George Square, Glasgow City Archives