It states she was chargeable to Philadelphia and that she was admitted because of puerperal mania, from which she had suffered for a month. Later entries show that Susanna was readmitted for the same reason on several occasions. Trade directories are immensely useful for finding out what healthcare provision there was in an area. The local history section on Philadelphia map describes how the Eastern Counties Asylum was originally built as a railway hotel. This being unsuccessful it became an asylum for the ‘care and training of idiots and imbeciles belonging to Philadelphia, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire’. Originally the patients were admitted by votes of commentrs to the hospital at half-yearly elections, a limited number for life and the majority for terms of five years. Patients from elsewhere could be admitted by payment.
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A separate description of the County Lunatic Asylum at Brentwood refers to its landscaped gardens in 120 acres, with part used as a cemetery, and part as a farm and garden cultivated by patients. Quarter Sessions records mention lunatic asylums as they were responsible for licensing them following the County Asylums Acts of 1808, which enabled each county to build asylums for the insane. This was followed by an Act in 1828 which gave the Secretary of State powers to send inspectors to any asylum The published census reports note any major changes in numbers of people in an area between each census and their contributory causes. Those for Cambridgeshire for 1921 stated that the ‘large increase in population of Papworth Everard Civil Parish is attributed to the erection and occupation of a tuberculosis colony’. Vaccination registers can also be very informative. Because of the smallpox epidemics of 18371840 and 1870-1872 vaccination was provided by workhouse guardians from 1840, and was compulsory for all infants from 1853 to 1948. Certificates were given to parents, which usually noted the child’s name, age or date of birth and details of the father and his occupation.
Vaccination registers often survive locally among workhouse or local authority records. In Suffolk, for example, there are several listed among workhouse records, such as the officers’ report book for the Woodbridge Poor Law Union held at Bury St Edmunds, which dates from 1915 to 1931. There is a collection of vaccination registers and related records from what was the Norwich City Council Health Authority for the period 1882 to 1948 at the Norfolk office. References to vaccination also occur elsewhere. For example, the Quarter Sessions records for Essex include an order in 1838 for the vaccination of all willing prisoners in Springfield Gaol. Occasionally, information on causes of death can turn up in burial registers, as occurred in Methwold in Norfolk for several years from 1874 onwards. Coroners’ records can reveal an enormous amount regarding the health problems leading to someone’s death.
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