Health & hygiene in Victorian Britain

Lesson rationale

Through the use of primary source material, this activity explores 19th century ideas about the cause of disease. The lesson invites students to consider why, given the knowledge that germs cause disease, ‘cure all remedies’ from quacks continued to be popular.

Key questions in this lesson:

  • What can the sources reveal about mid-19th century beliefs about the causes of disease?
  • Why did ‘cure all’ remedies persist despite the discovery of germs?