From Sail to Steam

The British Empire depended on its navy to survive and grow. For its operational success, the Royal Navy in turn depended on the health of its sailors, who were frequently exposed to ‘exotic’ and dangerous new infections. At the University of Oxford, a team of researchers are exploring naval health in the 19th century and the contribution of naval officers to Victorian medicine.

Professor Mark Harrison, Director of the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine at the University of Oxford and his colleagues at the Unit have been awarded a Wellcome Trust programme grant to study naval health and medicine in the Victorian period.

The research is likely to provide a unique and visceral perspective on life (and sickness and death) in the Victorian navy, as well as on some of the tensions and complexities underlying the Victorian reforming movement.