A vast collection of data documenting the health of people who lived in London between 1848 and 1973 can now be explored online following the launch of a new website.
The London’s Pulse site, available at wellcomelibrary.org/londons-pulse, features more than 5,000 reports drawn up by the medical officers of health in boroughs around the city. These qualified medical practitioners were tasked with overseeing the work of public health and sanitary officers and reporting on the overall wellbeing of a borough.
The resulting records, which often chart an area at street level, include details of birth, date and illness rates, levels of infant mortality and infectious diseases, and attendance at services including maternity and child welfare clinics.
Image courtesy Wellcome Library
The launch of the fully searchable, free-to-access site follows the completion of a lengthy digitisation project by medical history archive the Wellcome Library, where the original documents are stored, and educational body Jisc. Project organisers hope that more of the 70,000 records held by the library, which detail a wide range of aspects the UK’s social history, will be made available online in the future.
Simon Chaplin, head of the Wellcome Library, said: “The medical officers of health reports provide a fascinating portrait of London life and the lives of Londoners. The London’s Pulse site opens up a wealth of information about Londoners’ homes and workplaces, food and drink and, of course, health and illness.
“This resource enables researchers and curious readers to search and cross-reference the reports with ease, and helps fulfil the Wellcome Library’s ambition to make our collections freely available and accessible to all.”