Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Oxford Brookes Historian offers a new take on the making of modern public health

Friday, 08 July 2016


This month sees the launch of a new book by an Oxford Brookes historian on the development of public health in the nineteenth century.

In Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830-1910, Tom Crook explores the world of Victorian Britain, and revisits a basic question: ‘when and how did public health become modern?’

"For me, the Victorian period marks a critical threshold in British history. It’s during this period when you see Britain’s entrance into the modern world; but you also see Britain’s role in making that world modern - for me, that’s why it’s such an exciting period." DR TOM CROOK, SENIOR LECTURER IN MODERN BRITISH HISTORY


Tom said: “It’s not just about Victorian public health; it’s also about trying to understand what made modern public health modern, and I wanted to offer a fresh perspective on that.”

“I felt that the whole history of Victorian public health had been very well studied from multiple perspectives. For example, there is an enormous amount of literature on sewerage systems, small pox vaccination, the management of food, sanitary inspection, and so on; but I thought that there was still this important new story that could be told about Victorian public health.”

“It’s a book that I hope will encourage debate, and not just about public health, but also how we might think again about other fields of governance, such as education, the poor law, penal reform and policing.”

Governing Systems: Modernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830-1910 is published by University of California Press.

Tom Crook is the Postgraduate Research Tutor for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oxford Brookes University.