Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

‘X-rays don't tell lies’: the Medical Research Council and the measurement of respiratory disability, 1936–1945

McGuire, Coreen

‘X-rays don't tell lies’: the Medical Research Council and the measurement of respiratory disability, 1936–1945 Thumbnail


Authors



Abstract

During the first half of the twentieth century, the mining industry in Britain was subject to recurrent disputes about the risk to miners’ lungs from coal dust, moderated by governmental, industrial, medical and mining bodies. In this environment, precise measurements offered a way to present uncontested objective knowledge. By accessing primary source material from the National Archives, the South Wales Miners Library and the University of Bristol's Special Collections, I demonstrate the importance that the British Medical Research Council (MRC) attached to standardized instrumental measures as proof of objectivity, and explore the conflict between objective and subjective measures of health. Examination of the MRC's use of spirometry in their investigation of pneumoconiosis (miner's lung) from 1936 to 1945 will shed light on this conflict and illuminate the politics inherent in attempts to quantify disability and categorize standards of health.

Citation

McGuire, C. (2019). ‘X-rays don't tell lies’: the Medical Research Council and the measurement of respiratory disability, 1936–1945. British Journal for the History of Science, 52(3), 447-465. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007087419000232

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Jul 22, 2019
Publication Date 2019-09
Deposit Date Sep 21, 2020
Publicly Available Date Oct 28, 2022
Journal The British Journal for the History of Science
Print ISSN 0007-0874
Electronic ISSN 1474-001X
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 52
Issue 3
Pages 447-465
DOI https://doi.org/10.1017/s0007087419000232

Files






You might also like



Downloadable Citations