Image of the week 24 - 30 August

24 August 2020

Hygiene and Public Health

Promoting basic hygiene measures has been a significant element of New Zealand’s Covid response. Evolving hygiene practices have played a major role in the history of medicine, dramatically improving public health and helping to fight epidemics.

These images from the Macmillan Brown Library’s Charles Chilton photographs collection, taken in the early 20th century, show Christchurch Hospital largely as it appeared in the 1870s and 80s. Although the grounds look picturesque, from the hospital’s beginnings in the 1860s the creek in the foreground acted as a drain for all of the hospital’s waste fluids, including blood, pus, and sewage. The waste then flowed into the Avon, which some city residents used as a drinking water supply. It wasn’t until the late 1870s that officials began to suspect that the hospital’s waste disposal system was influencing the outbreaks of typhoid that often filled its wards. After much bureaucratic wrangling, the hospital was finally connected to the city’s sewer system in 1884. For more on this history, see F. O. Bennett’s, Hospital on the Avon: The History of Christchurch Hospital, 1862-1962. For early images of Christchurch Hospital search Kā Kohika, UC Library’s art and archives catalogue.

Images in this week's Image of the Week Gallery:

  1. Charles Chilton, n.d. Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, n.d., Charles Chilton photographs (MB1051, Ref 16608). Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    View this photograph in Kā Kohika
  2. Charles Chilton, n.d. Christchurch Hospital, Christchurch, n.d., Charles Chilton photographs (MB1051, Ref 16610). Macmillan Brown Library, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    View this photograph in Kā Kohika

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