From Sail to Steam: Health, Medicine and the Victorian Navy

Slave ships on the ocean
Credit: Wellcome Library, London

Supported by a Wellcome Trust Programme Grant in Medical History and Humanities – February 2011-March 2018

PI – Mark Harrison
Co-applicant – Laurence Brockliss


  • Richard Biddle
  • John Cardwell
  • Vaughan Dutton
  • Timothy McEvoy
  • Michael Moss
  • Elise Smith


The British Empire depended on its navy to survive and grow. For its operational success, the Royal Navy in turn depended on the health of its sailors, who were frequently exposed to ‘exotic’ and dangerous new infections.  At the University of Oxford, a team of researchers are exploring naval health in the 19th century and the contribution of naval officers to Victorian medicine.

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