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Epidemic Belfast: A Forgotten History of Disease, ‘Madness’ and Urban Life

Old gas mask with coal filter hung on the brick wall. Black and white. Concept - epidemic, coronavirus, covid-19, pandemic.

What’s on offer?

Researchers at this in-person event, at the Sunflower Public House Belfast, will count down their ten most intriguing, surprising, and sometimes gruesome findings of how adverse public health and environmental conditions affected Belfast's health, particularly in the nineteenth century, a period when the public, doctors and public health officials first grappled with the challenges of sustaining health and stemming the spread of epidemic diseases in Ireland's central urban city.

The talk will be followed by Belfast's new medical history walking tour.

This event is led by Dr Ian Miller, Eugenie Scott, Rebecca Watterson from Ulster University and Tom Thorpe, Independent.

The School of History is part of Ulster University’s Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences and has a lively cohort of medical history researchers. The School also has expertise in Russian, modern Irish, American and European history.

What’s it about?

In 2021, a group of Ulster University medical historians decided to discover how Belfast’s residents experienced infection, illness and sickness in the past. They unearthed a forgotten history of sickly mill workers, tea addicted housewives, Victorian anti-vaxxers, shell-shocked soldiers, lobotomised asylum patients and traumatised Troubles victims, alongside happier stories of health improvement and key workers working courageously through conflict and pandemic.

Who’s leading the event?

Dr Ian Miller, Lecturer in History, School of Arts & Humanities, Ulster University

Open to

This short engaging history talks aimed at a wide range of audiences.

Of particular interest to

This event will be of particular interest to anyone with an interest in history or medicine.