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Women, health and hospitals in Birmingham : the Birmingham and Midland Hospital for Women, 1871-1948

By Judith Lockhart


This study considers the social history of the Birmingham and Midland\ud Hospitals for Women Incorporated between 1871 and 1948. The hospitals\ud were an integral part of the voluntary hospital system in Birmingham, where\ud two general infirmaries and a range of smaller specialist institutions had been\ud set up to deal with the health care needs of a growing population during the\ud period of industrialization. Two underlying historiographical themes are\ud discussed throughout the thesis; the motivation of those that founded and\ud supported such institutions and the feminist critique of the developments in\ud the practice of gynaecology. Much of the current literature on women's health\ud in this period concentrates on the underlying ideology rather than health care.\ud Here the emphasis is reversed; it is to the medical care and treatment of\ud diseases associated with women's sexual and reproductive organs that this\ud thesis is directed. I have adopted a broadly chronological approach, with\ud Chapters 1 to 4 exploring the founding of the hospital in 1871 and the\ud important early years during which it became established. Chapters 5 to 7\ud consider developments during the Edwardian period and the inter-war years.\ud In the organization of the individual chapters I have adopted a thematic\ud approach considering the association that different group of people had with\ud the hospital; the governors, medical staff and patients, both within the context\ud of their health care and the lives and circumstances of working-class women\ud in the wider sense. To provide an analytical framework for this study, the\ud dominant historiographical paradigms in the field of women's health are\ud discussed in the introduction to this thesis

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