Covid-19: The Importance of History in a Global Pandemic
- Sean Martin, Liverpool Medical Institution
- Admission: Free
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What is the role of a historian in a health crisis? As Covid-19 became a full-blown pandemic in the spring of 2020, historians across the world produced rapid and imaginative responses, bringing historical perspectives to bear on how people and societies in the past responded to cholera, Spanish Flu, and more recently ebola. They paid much less attention to capturing and preserving the unfolding of Covid-19. This lecture draws on Snow’s experience of leading a national oral history project on the UK’s National Health Service that metamorphosed into the creation of a national collection of Covid-19 testimonies in partnership with the British Library between March 2020 and December 2022. It discusses how the material has already been used and argues that historians need to be as concerned with preserving the present as they are about exploring the past.
Stephanie Snow is Professor of Health, History and Policy and Academic Lead for Community Engagement and Involvement at the University of Manchester. The early part of her career was spent working on the introduction of anaesthesia to medicine in the 1840s which produced Operations Without Pain (Palgrave Macmillan) and Blessed Days of Anaesthesia (Oxford University Press). More recently she has focused on contemporary health and medicine including studies of the global reconfiguration of stroke in the 1990s, the history of black and minority ethnic clinicians in the NHS. She currently holds a Wellcome Trust University Award for a project on the history of quality in healthcare which is exploring how this international movement has transformed health, policy and practice at every level. Since 2017 she has led a national project to create Voices of Our National Health Service, the first oral history collection of experiences and reflections of patients, staff and communities across the 70+ year history of the NHS, including the recent Covid-19 pandemic – nhs70.org.uk.
17:30 - drinks reception
18:00 - lecture