FOCUS on History 2019 – 14/05/19


It’s that time again and we are excited to be back in schools working pupils and encouraging them to engage with history at a university level.

This year is a little different as we have teamed up with FOCUS West.

FOCUS West  is an organisation based in the west of Scotland that works with secondary schools that are deemed to have the greatest need; the criterion for inclusion in the programme being that the school has an average progression rate to higher education that is considerably below the national average (less than 25% average progression to higher education). 

Their work is funded by the Scottish Funding Council as part of a national programme known as the Schools for Higher Education Programme. FOCUS West works with educational partners to help all pupils with the potential to succeed to have more choices and opportunities in their higher studies and careers.

Luckily enough one of our co-ordinators Dr Simon Walker works for FOCUS West (and us here at the history department) and so it has created the perfect opportunity to encourage pupils from S3 and S4 to consider history as an option for higher and HE.

Our first session at Port Glasgow was a resounding success.


Not actual footage of us teaching! cc: creative commons


As both Dr Newlands and I are military historians, for the first time in a new school we went with what we know and talked about our favourite subject: Military medicine.   This is always a great excuse to talk about bombs, blood, and bandages and it suitably gory to hold fascination while still having the opportunity to share knowledge to the pupils (and sometimes staff – who possibly love it even more!)

bombs-and-bandages-2019 FW

Simon and Emma had a ball as always, and the pupils seemed to enjoy it.  The engagement was fantastic and there were many responses to question and answers.  After the session, we received some glowing feedback from the school.

Activities were very well resourced and enjoyable for the pupils, particularly the triage task which they engaged with really well. Both Simon and Emma (Dr Newlands) were incredibly enthusiastic and this motivated pupils to participate.

Undoubtedly we are excited to return.

As well as a new partner, we also had new worksheets and material for our source analysis section including a look at prosthetic eyes!


Spot the Difference image


and the role of women in war!


WAAF Image


Next week we are off to another school to start off with the Disease and Society lesson which is always exciting with a new member of the team.  So more news to come!

Getting Carried Away – Body Snatching Lesson


The theme for today’s lesson is body snatching.  This is always a fun and interesting lesson because the pupils tend to enjoy the more gory and macabre topics, yet they come away with knowledge of the role of the body in the evolution of medical practice in the 18 and 19th century, insight into the role of the Anatomy Acts, and an understanding of disposal of the body from a sanitation and moral standpoint in history.

Body Snatchers

Grave Robbers
Grave Robbers stealing child’s body


This lesson also has one of the most fun exercises for the pupils as they get to decide how they will defend a grave from the ‘nasty’ grave robbers.

Body Snatchers and Grave Robbers

This teaches the pupils about how graveyards became sites of commercial opportunity, as well as conflict as private security, members of the militia and traps, were employed to catch the resurrectionists in the act of stealing the dead to be sold for medical exploration and experimentation.


Grave Cage
Grave Cage – 1810


This lesson also considers the history of medicine as well as then moving on to describe the murders committed by Burke and Hare in 1831.

Burke and Hare

The below video is also useful as an excellent teaching resource for preparation for this lesson.

The Body Snatchers: Corpse and Effect – Teaching Video by Cambridge University

After the lesson, this post will be edited to include an account of the lesson progressed.

Back to School 2018 – First Lesson

Last week the project returned to a Glasgow school to again teach a series of lessons focused on engaging with Health History.  As always the first lesson was somewhat uncertain as the abilities of the pupils need to be assessed in line with the resources and the topics. But the students responded excellently to the lesson and became keenly involved with many of the exercises.  Pox, Pus and Plague- 2018

Pox Pus and Plague

This year two smaller classes have been combined to fill the classroom which means this is highest number of students that have been taught at one time during the beginning of the programme.  The majority of the lesson was led by Simon Walker and supported by Dr. Emma Newlands.

SW Teaching lesson 1 - 2018
Simon Walker in Teaching mode for the Pox Pus and Plague Lesson

Simon began the lesson by covering what the following lessons would include and then opening the discussion for the class to find out what they knew about diseases.  Hands shot up around the room as the pupils named diseases such as flu, cholera, malaria and even smallpox.

Ethel Cromwell In Hosptial 1896
Child suffering from Smallpox in 1896

Some of the pupils could describe in detail how smallpox was now eradicated and the effects it could have on the body.  Their knowledge of the topic began more apparent as they also explained knowledge of Malaria, Cholera and Typhoid with one pupil being able to explain what a protozoa was and how it related to Malaria.

Match the Disease
Match The Disease Exercise – Lesson 1

This short teaching section was followed by the Match the Disease exercise above which the students responded to excellently as most of them managed to match the disease to the symptoms.  During this time Dr Newlands and Simon talked to the students in groups and answered individual questions that they had about diseases and epidemiology.

Simon Teaching Lesson 1 - 2018
Simon Teaching Lesson 1 – 2018

Next Simon took the students on a whistle-stop tour of the history of Smallpox, Cholera, Plague and Malaria as the students contributed to the information and raised their hands for questions.  As always the story of the Soldier who drowned in Smallpox Pus received the equal measures of groans and fascination and the focus on Glasgow being at the centre of a Cholera epidemic in 1832 was something the pupils found very interesting.

The Cow Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation
The Cow Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation

Instead of the Plague Source Analysis which we used last year, this year we returned to the more varied historical sources which included a poster for malaria, a cartoon for smallpox, a map for cholera and a picture for the plague.  This was designed to give the students more variety as last year they had been specifically focusing on plague so the lesson was rewritten to tie in with the curriculum.  The students found this a little more challenging but through group work and 1-2-1 discussion, many of them were very enthusiastic about the work.

Nineteenth-century caricature revealing the microscopic impurities found in London’s drinking water.
Nineteenth-century caricature revealing the microscopic impurities found in London’s drinking water.

Overall, this was a successful first lesson, although due to difficulties at the start it was late starting and there was not enough to time to complete the group work at the end.  The pupils engaged well with the complex new topics and quickly adapted to higher level source analysis skills and historical reasoning.  Many also expressed excitement about the next lesson which is focused on military medicine and we are very much looking forward to returning.

All of the resources for this lesson can be found here – Disease and Society

26/02/18 – Article written by S. Walker.


Journeys Through Health History

Logo for  the Journeys Through Health History School Engagement Project

Welcome to the new Journeys Through Health History Website – the new site for all the resources, links, videos and audio sources, activities, events and images related to the University of Strathclyde History Department and the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare school engagement project with local Glasgow Schools.

This project has run for several years beginning originally as part of a MUSE scheme with a single school which culminated in the creation of a travelling exhibition designed and presented by school pupils.   Over the last three years, this project has evolved into a bespoke secondary educational engagement programme complete with bespoke pedagogical resources and lesson plans designed to combine lessons created and given by specialists in key areas of history with the current high school curriculum.   This has allowed pupils to learn and debate about topics such as military medicine, diseases in society, diet and food health as well as body snatching, oral history and memory, and drugs and alcohol.

WWI: drawing of Royal Army Medical Corps, by F. Matania
WWI: drawing of Royal Army Medical Corps, by F. Matania

Each lesson has been tailored to the ability of the pupils however care has also been taken to encourage students to express themselves and learn in more detail about lesser covered topics within a standard history lesson.  Each session consists of a mix of presentation teaching, group and class exercises, individual source analysis and the incorporation of audio / visual sources.

Source Analysis Worksheet

As this site develops more resources will continue to be added to be used for teaching and non-profit engagement purposes.  Each topic has an overview page located on the menu bar which includes additional resources such as articles, links, videos, sound files, images and exercise activities.  There is also a detailed breakdown of each lesson, an example and resources.

Food and Health

We hope that you find the information useful and can incorporate it into your own teaching.  We will also be regularly sharing on twitter and you can follow our feed @JTHealthHistory. Please also hit follow to subscribe to the website to be kept updated and click here to contact us directly. 

Thank you for joining us on our Journeys Through Health History.

The Cow Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation
The Cow Pock or the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation



Welcome to the new Journeys Through Health History Website

The Journeys Through Health History project is a joint venture between historians working in the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare at Strathclyde and Glasgow Caledonian Universities and local school teachers and archivists. Together we aim to impact upon the teaching and engaging with History, Geography and Modern Studies at S1 and S2 levels.

Keep an eye on this website as new resources will be added soon.