Hygiene in 19th Century Melbourne

By Michael Lever, Date 03 Sep 2012

In August this year, Andrew Long and Associates Project Archaeologist, Michael Lever delivered a lecture on health, hygiene, and material culture in nineteenth century Melbourne

Death and disease wrought tragedy in Melbourne throughout most of the 19th century, particularly among children the working-class poor. During this time, the medical profession and government were certain they had the means to prevent fatal epidemics. They believed disease was caused by miasma, but appear to have taken few, if any steps towards controlling this.

Against a backdrop of British and Australian notions on disease, and practices of public hygiene (or the lack thereof) Michael examines what the archaeological record can tell us about household hygiene practices in Melbourne at the time. Michael considers how this fits or conflicts with medical and popular ideas on disease, and what we can learn about the drastic changes in Melburnian attitudes to medicine and one's body, over the last 150 years.

The lecture is availble for online listening at the following link:

Hygene in 19th Century Melbourne