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Week 15: Medicine

[ View the related 'Weekly Post': Week 15: Medicine ]

This week we learn that a number of the passengers experienced illnesses onboard, including physical sickness onboard the Rapid and emotional issues onboard the John Pirie. Almost all migrant ships had a surgeon, a person with some medical experience or training, but these surgeons did not have the medical understandings that surgeons have today. Most had little knowledge and understanding of disease and remedies. Some of the common ailments onboard included dysentery, typhus, measles and lice

.An image of the surgeon's kit used by Dr Everard on board the Africaine, 1836.

Dr Everard’s medical kit used on board the Africaine, 1836. Courtesy Royal Geographical Society of South Australia 

The 19th century was a time of great change for surgeons and doctors in England. At the beginning of the century they were able to do very little for their patients and their main role was to provide comfort and reassurance. However, by the end of the century doctors had a greater understanding of disease, how to prevent it, and how to help patients through it. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that doctors and surgeons became highly respected citizens.

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