Insanitary City

Henry Littlejohn and the Condition of Edinburgh

Paul Laxton, Richard Rodger

‘Insanitary City will be an invaluable addition to historical knowledge in this area and seems destined to become the standard reference work … I believe it will be a classic of its genre.'
Date Published :
December 2013
Publisher :
Carnegie Publishing
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781859362204

In stock


Sir Henry Littlejohn was Police Surgeon and Medical Officer of Health for Edinburgh. He researched, wrote and published the seminal Report on the Sanitary Condition of Edinburgh in 1865. Dr. Littlejohn’s report was a landmark in urban management and public health administration. The Lancet described it as ‘monumental’. The Report had significance far beyond the boundaries of Edinburgh and his meticulous research produced penetrating insights into the links between poverty, employment and public health in Victorian cities. Insanitary City reproduces the full Report and sets it in this wider context. For over half a century, Littlejohn’s career as Police Surgeon, Crown witness in murder cases, and medical advisor to the Scottish Poor Law authorities, gave him an unrivalled overview of the problems confronting Victorian society. In 1895 he was knighted ‘for services to sanitary science’.

About The Author

RICHARD RODGER is Professor of Economic and Social History at Edinburgh University.


"There are a few landmark works and authors in the history of urban management and public health administration, from John Snow and his account of the Broad Street cholera epidemic onward. One of the landmark studies of the field was Dr Littlejohn's Report on the Sanitary Condition of Edinburgh, originally published in 1865. This handsome volume delves into the person himself, and the context of his life and work, emphasizing the groundbreaking discoveries made in the original report, such as the links between poverty and disease, employment and public health and the proposal to alleviate such problems presented therein. Chapters include an overview of public health management before the Report, a general overview of contemporary Edinburgh, a look at the state of urban management at the time, and the effects of the Report on public policy. A facsimile of the original Report is included, together with black-and-white and color illustrations and several color maps of Edinburgh in the middle of 19th Century. The authors are scholars at the University of Edinburgh, specializing in historical geography and economic and social history."

- ProtoView

‘This book will be required reading for historians and historical geographers with interests in public health and medicine, urban administration, and the history of Edinburgh.’

- Professor Graham Mooney, Johns Hopkins University

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