The Home Office and the Dangerous Trades

Regulating Occupational Disease in Victorian and Edwardian Britain


Author: P.W.J. Bartrip
This book is the first in-depth study of occupational health in nineteenth and early-twentieth century Britain. As such it is an important contribution to the burgeoning literature on the history of health in the workplace. It focuses on the first four diseases to receive bureaucratic and legislative recognition: lead, arsenic and phosphorus poisoning and anthrax. As such it traces the emergence of medical knowledge and growth in public concern about the impact of these diseases in several major industries including pottery manufacture, matchmaking, wool-sorting and the multifarious trades in which arsenic was used as a raw material. It considers the process of state intervention taking due account of the influence of government inspectors, ‘moral entrepreneurs’ and various interest groups.

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Peter Bartrip is Reader in History at University College Northampton and Research Associate at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, Wolfson College, Oxford. Previous books include Mirror of Medicine: A History of the BMJ (1990) and The Way from Dusty Death: Turner & Newall and the Regulation of the British Asbestos Industry, 1890s-1970 (2001).
”…well-researched […] a fine contribution to the history of occupational disease. I strongly recommend it.”
– James Hanley, University of Winnipeg, in: The Canadian Bulletin of Medical History, Vol. 23, No. 1, 2006

“…an eminently readable and useful work that will be an essential text for all teachers and students of the history of occupational health and medicine…”
– in: Wellcome History, Issue 30, Autumn 2005

“…a rich addition to this series… fine balance struck between narrative and analysis… For those of us who teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses on occupational health history, this book will go straight on to the reading lists. However, The Home Office and the Dangerous Trades will be of interest to a broader range of readers…”
– in: The Social History of Medicine, Vol. 17, 2004

“…the volume is meticulously researched, clearly written, and makes a fine contribution to a relatively under-examined field.”
– M.A. Stein, in: Cambridge Law Journal, Vol. 63/3, November 2004, pp.778-80
List of Tables
1. Introduction
2. Lead: The Road to Regulation
3. The White Lead Trade
4. Pottery and Earthenware
5. A Kind of Dread: Arsenic and Occupational Health
6. ‘The Poorest of the Poor and the Lowest of the Low’: Lucifer Matches and ‘Phossy Jaw’
7. A Huge Bacterial Bubble: Anthrax in Industry
8. Conclusion
Works Cited