The Elements of Vital Statistics by A. Newsholme: Historical Collection

First published in 1889, this book provides a guide to vital statistics applied to the life-history of communities and nations in relation to medical problems. Chapters cover a wide variety of categories including population, births and deaths, sickness, occupation and mortality, and mortality from special diseases.

Newsholme lived through a time wherein England, and many other countries in the western world, saw a demographic transition characterized by an exponential growth of the population since halfway the nineteenth century, which he explained both by a rise in fertility and mortality since the early nineteenth century, followed by a decline of mortality since halfway the nineteenth century followed by a decline in fertility after 1875.

Amongst some of the most surprising statistics is that the earthenware and china manufacture “was noted by Dr Farr in 1871 as one of the unhealthiest trades in this country” (p.160) Plumbers also had a high mortality mainly determined by “lead poisoning, alcoholism and accident”. (P.161)

Here are a selection of images from the book discussing infant mortality and back to back housing.


Library users are welcome to consult any of these books on Library premises. To reserve a book for consultation, just go to their catalogue entry on Discover while you are logged into your LSHTM account and follow the instructions underneath the heading “Get It.” You’ll receive an email when it’s available. However, please note that these books will need to be read within the Library and cannot be borrowed like most other resources.