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The John Rylands Research Institute

Mapping spaces of medical exchange across Manchester, 1793 – 1893

Alice Marples, Early Career Researcher

19th century map of Manchester created by William Swire (1824)
19th century map of Manchester created by William Swire (1824)

Alice’s project looks at the intersecting forms of human thought, feeling and action that make and are made by historical spaces, and explores how changing urban space and industrial development influenced medical culture within a key context for the political, intellectual and social history of Britain.

Unlike other studies of urban medical cultures, which tend to focus on hospitals and medical schools in isolation, this study unites archival research and socio-cultural geography with locative mapping approaches from the digital humanities in order to account for the full range of spaces used by contemporaries to gather, exchange and deploy medical information. It aims to digitally map networks of physicians, surgeons, patrons and naturalists in zoological gardens, chapels, natural history societies, private collections, libraries, factories and estates. Doing so will highlight the links between institutional and non-institutional spaces, as well as how their distribution changed as the city and its medical requirements developed. This project reveals and articulates the diverse and often hidden intellectual, social and material interactions within the history of medicine, providing the basis for broader examinations of the changing relationships between environment, medicine and urban identity within those spaces.

This project is funded by a JRRI Digital Humanities grant and runs from May – July 2019.