Timeline: CCU FA 20 ENGL 231

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Date Event Created by Associated Places
31 Aug 1848

Public Health Act of 1848

 Urbanization in 19th century Britain was caused by the job opportunities within the city due to industrialization. One of the effects of urbanization was higher death rates. Due to overpopulation, overcrowding, and unsanitary living conditions people were dying of diseases like smallpox, diphtheria, typhus, cholera, and tuberculosis. Big cities like London were described as having heavy pollution that left smog and the scent of soot in the air. Edwin Chadwick believed that there was a connection between poverty. This resulted in the Public Health Act of 1848 which was created in order to improve sanitary conditions of cities in Britain. At the time of the acts passing there was an outbreak of cholera which was pressuring the government to act. The Public Health Act of 1848 was to help improve sewers, provide clean drinking water, and give every town a medical officer. It established the general board of health as well as local boards of health. The responsibility of general board of health was to give advisories and instructions to local boards on how to deal with epidemics and help remove causes for the spread of some communicable diseases.

 “The 1848 Public Health Act.” UK Parliament, www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/towncountry/....

 “Public Health Act 1848 and the General Board of Health.” Policy Navigator, navigator.health.org.uk/theme/public-health-act-1848-and-general-board-health. 

 “The Rise of Cities in the 18th Century.” The British Library, The British Library, 22 Apr. 2015, www.bl.uk/georgian-britain/articles/the-rise-of-cities-in-the-18th-century.

 Robinson, Bruce. History - British History in Depth: Victorian Medicine - From Fluke to Theory. 17 Feb. 2011, www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/victorians/victorian_medicine_01.shtml. 

Kayla Chambers
circa. Jun 1858

Victorian Hospitals

Wards in Victorian hospitals

During the Victorian Era, hospitals were claimed to be "the house of death" because people who would walk in could smell rotting flesh and vomit and can hear people screaming as doctors would be working on them without an anesthesia. Before 1850's, there was a high chance in spreading communicable disease within the hospital. It was believed that the gross smell from the air caused infection. But, then it wasn't until the middle of the century that doctors and nurses thought spreading diseases was challenged blaming the spreading of the disease on germs. Hospitals were designed with small rooms because it was thought that smaller rooms would help prevent the spread of germs and diseases from people to people. Small rooms didnt do anything though, it made spreading germs faster and easier because these small wards would overflow. Surgeries would also be super painful since anesthesia was not available then and so they started to reduce surgeries because the success rate would be so low. There were many victorian hospitals that were made for patients. First, there was a victorian voluntary hospital that was started as an instautional charity for the poor community at no charge. Then, starting around 1850-1860's there were hospitals called specialist/cottage hospitals. Specialist hospitals were there to serve the need for caring people with certain medical conditions which were excluded by the voluntary hospitals. The cottage hospitals were built in rural parts of an are for communites to drive a small distance vs long distance to get to a hospital. Finally, during the victorian era, there were infectious disease hospitals where it would only carry patients that had infectious diseases. These hospitals were sometimes run under the local medical officer of health. In some instincaes at the infectious diseases hospital, charges to patients were no charge which would encourage patients to protect themsleves and not infect other people.

While watching the Middlemarch series, there was a scene in episode 3 where Dr. Lydgate and Mr. Crabstone went to a patients house to do surgery to take out a tumor in the abdomen which ended up to be a cramp according to Dr. Lydgate. Details spotted during this scene was that the place to do surgery was in a very small room with beds right next to eachother and neither Dr. Lydgate and Mr. Crabstone were not dressed to well. 

Works Cited

Victorian Hospitals - 1876 Victorian England Revisited, logicmgmt.com/1876/overview/medicine/hospitals.htm.

“Medical Act 1858.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 2 Oct. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medical_Act_1858.

“An Appointment at the House of Death: the Horror of the Early Victorian Hospital.” HistoryExtra, 26 June 2019, www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/an-appointment-at-the-house-of-dea....

NHS Choices, NHS, www.leicestershospitals.nhs.uk/easysiteweb/virtual-museum/Wards/index.html.

Anne Ettare
circa. 1862 to circa. 1862

Germ Theory & Pasteurization

Germ theory, proposed by Luis Pasteur, is the idea that disease and infection is caused by microorganisms. Although germ theory had been proposed before it was never believed or accepted. It wasn't until Luis Pasteur developed pasteurization that it was more widely accepted. In 1859, Pasteur disproved spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation is the idea that organisms develop from nonliving matter. In order to do this he conducted an experiment by boiling broth to sterilize it then leaving one flask of broth exposed to the open air, the other plugged with cotton, and the other flask had a long neck which prevented bacteria from reaching the broth. Over time the flask that was exposed to open air became contaminated while the other two remained sterile. Pasteur proved that spoiled milk and the production of wine from grape juice was caused by microorganisms. This proved the existence of germs. 

Richardson, Robert G., and Douglas James Guthrie. Verification of the Germ Theory. 27 Aug. 2020, www.britannica.com/science/history-of-medicine/Verification-of-the-germ-....

Kayla Chambers

Married Women’s Property Act of 1870

The Married Women's Property Act of 1870 gave married women liimited separate protection to own property and the money they earned up to f200. While the law did not even begin to give women the equality they deserved, the Married Women's Property Act of 1870 laid the groundwork for women's future rights. 

Before 1870 married women had no claim to their personal or real property nor did they have the rights to the income they earned. The husband was in complete control and could do as he pleased with his wife's property and income. This however only concerned married women's property as the laws were different for single women. Single women could own their property and income by once a woman married, she lost the rights to her income and property. There were two exceptions to a married woman's ownership of her property and income. The first exception being the dowry provided by the bride's father or by the groom's father for support of the bride and her children. The other exception was that it was only available to the extremely wealthy women who were able to put their property in to a trust for herself and her children. This did not happend often due to the extreme costs involved to create a trust. 

Mrs. Garth would have gladly given her savings and anything necessary to help Alfed get his apprenticeship. During this time period it would not have mattered if Mrs. Garth had not wanted to give up her wages, savings, and anythign necessary to help her son, Alfred. Her husband, Caleb Garth, had every legal right to take what was his and society would expect nothing less. Mary Garth may not have been legally required to give her wages over to her father as she was a single woman. Mary being the sensible, considerate, family oriented woman she was, she gladly gave all of her savings to her father to help.

It is clear George Eliot wrote Middlemarch with women's rights on her mind. Eliot's imagination brings fictional character to life while blending real historical events with fiction to portray life in Middlemarch.

"Married Women's Property Act 1870." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 July 2020, en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women's Property_Act_1870.

"History:  British History Timeline." BBC, BBC

Arlette Sherrill
1871 to 1872

George Eliot Published Middlemarch

Cover Image for Eliot's MiddlemarchImage: Cover to Book 1 of Middlemarch published 1871. This image is in the public domain in the United States because its copyright is expired. Courtesy of the British Library Collections

George Eliot's Middlemarch: A Study in Provincial Life published in 8 installments, 1871-72.



Jules Law, “Victorian Virtual Reality”

David Rettenmaier
1871 to 1872

Doctors and there tools

In Middlemarch, Lydgate is the doctor and I have fallen very interested in what the doctors of that time used for there surgeries and other operations day-to-day. How safe was it and what practices did they use that just didn't help or work? In this artical a lot of the information it gives you is very intresting and tells you a lot about the doctors in that time. 

19th-century doctors in the U.S.


Brian Casali
circa. 1878 to circa. 1899


Although many of us may have hated Lydgate in the last half of Middlemarch, some truly did love him till the end. To know he died is very upsetting but at least now we have technology to look into the disease that killed him. Diphtheria was not like the common cold; it was a disease that killed. The Oxford English Dictionary describes diphtheria as a disease that caused severe inflammation in the mucous membranes in the throat, nose, larynx, trachea, and bronchi. It goes on to tell us that with this disease an enormous amount of buildup of exudate (a mass of cells and fluid that leaks out of blood vessels when inflamed) that would block off a person’s breathing. This blockage was caused by a bacterium called Corynebacterium diphtheriae. When studying this disease, you can see that the illness by itself is not deadly, but this bacteria creates a deadly toxin that can lead to heart damage, nerve damage, paralysis, and a lung infection. No one knew of a cure or medication that could help this disease that was killing people, until Pierre Bretonneau. Pierre Bretonneau was a French physician called the disease diphtérite and distinguished this disease from scarlet fever. Bretonneau was the first to successfully use tracheotomy with a case of diphtheria. He tried the procedure on many patients, but they ended up dying. Later, another French physician, known by the name Armand Trousseau came around and showed a survival rate of 25% in his tracheotomies he performed on patients with diphtheria. 

Life has been hard the last couple years for me. I had to sit back and watch my husband die as the devil tortured him as if he were a MarionetteIt was like my hands were tied behind my back and I could not move, just watch. Watch as he slowly died from a disease that was unknown to us. Not even a year after my husband’s death my poor little Bradley fell ill with the same symptoms as my husband had. I felt like there was no way for me to help my own son. I was in the same position yet again and I did not know what to do. A little less than a week after my child fell ill, I heard rumors in the town about a French physician who had been preforming procedures of people with a disease called diphtheria. I talked to as many people as I could about this disease, smart people, people who knew what they were talking about. I knew I had to find a way to help my boy. Once finding out that the symptoms of diphtheria were the same as what my boy had I knew I needed to get him to a physician that could try and help him. Yes, I know the surgery could kill him, but if he dies, I rather know I tried rather than sitting back and letting the devil take the only family I had left.

Works Cited:

“Diphtheria Epidemic.” Geneva Historical Society, 27 Apr. 2020, genevahistoricalsociety.com/medicine/diphtheria-epidemic/.

“All Timelines Overview.” Timeline | History of Vaccines, www.historyofvaccines.org/timeline.

“Discover the Story of EnglishMore than 600,000 Words, over a Thousand Years.” Home : Oxford English Dictionary, www.oed.com/view/Entry/53159?redirectedFrom=diphtheria.

Destiny Poston
circa. 1882

Married Women's Property Act 1882

The Married Women's Property Act 1882 was a significant piece of legislation for women in 19th century England. Previous to this act, marriage was seen as the man and woman becoming one. As this was a time where men were seen as dominant, the property of a woman was automatically transferred to her husband after marriage. This held true for all forms of property: wealth, land, even legal documents. EVERYTHING went to the husband. However, women were able to inherit "necessary" property for personal use, such as clothing or jewelry. This is what is known as feme covert, meaning a woman's legal identity was annihilated when she married. Thankfully, with the Married Women's Property Act 1882, the entirety of marriage was flipped upside down. Courts were forced to see a marriage as a man and a woman, not just a man. This gave women in this time period some of the freedoms men had. Women were now able to purchase and sell, not just inherit, their own property. The legal identity of women returned, and they gained the right to sue and be sued. Women were even allowed to keep their own surnames. All of these privileges are what is known as feme sole, but with a twist. Typically, feme sole refers to unmarried women who had the rights that married women now aquired. 

Can it be? Is this a reality? Women of a married status have the ability now to keep their privileges? What a blessing. For so long, the pressures of marriage have been for naught except for chasing me away from such a vile fate. Why shall I allow a man to absorb what is rightfully mine? Why should I submit myself completely to a man when I am able to submit myself to my work? That is what I never understood about Dorothea. To submit herself to an cruel, cranky old man simply because of his knowledge? And what became of Dorothea? She went through emotional and spiritual pain that would've been avoided had she stayed true to her cottages! Life has taken a different path for us modern women, gratefully. Now that I am able to retain my identity, not just legally but mentally, perhaps I shall marry a man of great position. It wouldn't be all too bad to use him as a means for increasing my reputation throughout England. Secondary income wouldn't be a negative addition to my life, neither. And a family. I wonder if these are thoughts Dorothea kept, but we never saw this deep, emotional side of her. Am I becoming a Dorothea?

“Married Women's Property Act 1882.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 14 July 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Married_Women's_Property_Act_1882.

Kenny Doerrbecker
circa. 1896

Typhoid Fever Vaccine

Typhoid fever has swept across the country since the early 1600's. However, the first affective vaccine for this fever was not discovered until the 1890's by a man named Almroth Edward Wright. With no vaccine in the 1830's, this was not only a conagious sickness but also a deadly disease during the years in which Middle March takes place. When Fred is wrongly diagnosed and then later diagnosed with typhoid fever, you can only imagine the anger/fear his mother feels and why she quickly chooses to name Lydgate as their new family doctor over Mr. Wrench. There was no information yet on how this sickness was spreading so fast, nor on how to prevent it. In the 1830's an English Doctor by the name of William Budd treated an outbreak of typhoid where he noted that the bacteria causing this fever could be transmitted to healthy people through the consumption of contaminated water. He also reccomended a strict isolation or quarentine method to prevent outbreaks, much like the reccomendations with covid today. This discovery was the first major breakthrough in uncovering a treatment for typhoid fever which was wiping so many individuals out and gaining cases every day.  

In the 1830's having a reletive or close friend come down with typhoid fever has to be  one of the most frightening things to experience. With not much information on how this fever travels you have no idea what to expect or how to help a person you care about who has been diagnosed with typhoid. Along with the fear of being exposed to it yourself, there has not yet been a vaccine discovered so the outcome is unknown. 

Sign warning International Harvester factory workers about about typhoid fever. The sign reads, "Typhoid Fever is Here; Here are a few facts about it: 1.Typhoid comes in early spring.  Big rains wash waste matter into wells or sewers.  Many sewers empty into the lake.  We drink the lake water. 2.Typhoid is caused by a germ which lives in water or milk and on damp vegetables.  The germ never flies in the air. 3.Boiling water and cooking food kills this germ.  How to avoid Typhoid: 1.If water reports are bad, boil all drinking water. 2.Heat milk nearly to the boiling point.  Keep it there for five minutes. 3.Cook all vegetables before using. 4. Keep your fingers out of your mouth. 5.Wash your hands before eating. 6.Never eat food that has come out of a sick room. 7.Boil all dishes used by a sick person. 8.If you don't know what to do ask your Works Doctor.


Smith, Yolanda. “Typhoid Fever History.” News, 23 Aug. 2018, www.news-medical.net/health/Typhoid-Fever-History.aspx.

“Typhoid Fever.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Sept. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Typhoid_fever.

“Industrial Health Poster: Typhoid Fever: Poster.” Wisconsin Historical Society, 1 Dec. 2003, www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Image/IM49022.

Grace Traver
The start of the month Summer 1918

Representation of the people act 1918

Representation of the people act of 1918

While reading Middlemarch there are many references made to the election so I was curious what age you were able to vote and who exactly could vote. With the representation of the people act of 1918 it enabled any male over the age of 21 and only females that were over the age of 30 and owned land that was worth at least 5 pounds at the time. with this act being validated men no longer needed any property requirements to vote so now all men of lesser wealth were able to participate in the voting process which was an extremely positive addition to parliament. Not all women could vote with this act but at the time it was a step in the right direction that at least some women would be able to let their voices be heard and participate in the general election. This bill was a huge step in the direction for Parliament and was widely appreciated.

Ryan Berard
circa. The middle of the month Winter 1969

The Piano

According to Middle March the piano marks a key significance. it was purchased on the 22nd of November 1869 for the50th birthday of the novelist George Elliot in which the Broadwood piano was delivered to a grieving household. the piano was purchased then and represents a deep significance. Not surprisingly, no flurry of references to the new piano fills Eliot’s correspondence at this date. However, the piano has an implied presence as a source of solace a decade later when, on the first anniversary of Lewes’s own death, a line in Eliot’s diary reads  Darwin. Schubert’ (Journals, 180). ‘Darwin’ may denote a visitor, or his books; Schubert she must have been playing at the piano. Eliot’s journal further records that she had ‘Touched the piano for the first time’ after Lewes’ death on 27th May (Journals, 175). The piano is, however, representative not just of the personal importance for George Eliot of Romantic music but of its significance for numerous areas of Victorian culture in Britain. the Purchase of the piano was possibly because of Elliot’s success as a novelist. Surprisingly, this was not the first piano she had owed. the first purchase was back in 1861, and was marked as an important early milestone in her successful career. The arrival of Eliot’s first Broadwood was celebrated, on 5th October 1861, with a "Beethoven night" which was the first of many musical evenings in which music of the Romantic period predominated. It seems that Eliot owned numerous Beethoven scores and when she acquired her first Broadwood, she had been playing Beethoven duets ‘with increasing appetite every evening. 

Brandon Jamal Smalls