in Disability in the Industrial Revolution

Disability was essential to the Industrial Revolution, but historical experiences of disability are far more complex than previously argued. Disablement may also have provided an opportunity for some to escape a dangerous and physically demanding workplace. The development of industrial society is important to the history of medical and welfare responses to disablement. The physical toll of coalmining affected how miners were viewed by others and how they saw themselves. The dangers of mine work meant that British coalminers were among the first occupational groups to receive dedicated medical care, first via surgeons funded through colliery 'sick clubs' and later on through specialist institutions aimed at supporting recuperation. During this period, mining communities were increasingly viewed as profitable medical markets, for both orthodox and irregular practitioners. Medical experts played an increasingly important role as the gatekeepers to welfare services, but their authority was sometimes challenged.

Disability in the Industrial Revolution

Physical impairment in British coalmining, 1780–1880


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