How Our Ancestors Died: A Guide for Family Historians

How Our Ancestors Died: A Guide for Family Historians

Paperback

By (author) Simon Wills

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  • Publisher: Pen & Sword Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 240 pages
  • Dimensions: 154mm x 234mm x 18mm | 500g
  • Publication date: 19 July 2013
  • Publication City/Country: Barnsley
  • ISBN 10: 1781590389
  • ISBN 13: 9781781590386
  • Sales rank: 298,637

Product description

What were the principal causes of death in the past? Could your ancestor have been affected? How was disease investigated and treated, and what did our ancestors think about the illnesses and the accidents that might befall them? Simon Wills's fascinating survey of the diseases that had an impact on their lives seeks to answer these questions. His graphic, detailed account offers an unusual and informative view of the threats that our ancestors lived with and died of. He describes the common causes of death - cancer, cholera, dysentery, influenza, malaria, scurvy, smallpox, stroke, tuberculosis, typhus, yellow fever, venereal disease and the afflictions of old age. Alcoholism is included, as are childbirth and childhood infections, heart disease, mental illness and dementia. Accidents feature prominently - road and rail accidents, accidents at work - and death through addiction and abuse is covered as well as death through violence and war. Simon Wills's work gives a vivid picture of the hazards our ancestors faced and their understanding of them. It also reveals how life and death have changed over the centuries, how medical science has advanced so that some once-mortal illnesses are now curable while others are just as deadly now as they were then. In addition to describing causes of death and setting them in the context of the times, his book shows readers how to find and interpret patient records, death certificates and other documents in order to gain an accurate impression of how their ancestors died.

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Author information

Dr Simon Wills is a genealogist and journalist and a regular contributor to Family Tree, Your Family History, Family History Monthly and others. He writes mainly about history and maritime genealogy and he has a special interest in health and disease in the past. He also works as an information specialist, writer and advisor to the National Health Service and other healthcare organizations.

Review quote

In this fascinating book, well-known genealogy writer and NHS advisor Simon Wills brings his two interests together to explore the most common causes of death and how we can learn about them to illuminate our ancestors' lives. Inevitably, the focus is on the last 200 years, thanks to civil registration providing death certificates with details of the cause of death, but Wills looks back through time at the history of diseases such as the plagues of the past centuries and other issues such as famine. He also shows how parish records, newspapers, legal records and monumental inscriptions can sometimes tell us more. Your Family Tree This is a fascinating guide to a bygone way of death. The Guide