Sources and Resources'The NHS … Should not be Condemned to the History Books': Public Engagement as a Method in Social Histories of Medicine

Jennifer Crane
2020 Social history of medicine  
This article explores the public engagement work of the Cultural History of the National Health Service (NHS) project, conducted at the University of Warwick between 2016 and 2019 and aiming to explore the meanings attached to Britain's NHS over its 70-year history. The article situates public engagement as a critical methodology for social historians of medicine, exploring how events deepened this project's understandings of post-war welfare, childhood treatments and activist cultures. Through
more » ... t cultures. Through reflection on these themes, the article emphasises that public engagement can generate rich new forms of qualitative testimony, complementing archival documents; point us towards 'hidden archives'; and challenge cultural visions of historical research as 'condemning' or 'celebrating' its subjects. Finally, the article provides critical reflection on the challenges of such work and argues that engagement around health makes visible the broader research challenges of emotional intensity, personal and professional boundaries, and the hierarchies ingrained in academic research.
doi:10.1093/shm/hkaa041 fatcat:7ojmejvfxnff7f2xoyv574eiim