Amy W. Farnbach Pearson
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Restoration to usefulness
Victorian middle-class attitudes towards the healthcare of the working poor
in Disability and the Victorians
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Focusing on Glasgow Royal Infirmary (GRI) and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (RIE), this chapter shows how voluntary hospitals were influential locations in developing and disseminating the medical advances of the Victorian era. At the same time, middle-class ideals to restore the able-bodied from temporary illness or impairment to productive industry led voluntary hospitals in Scotland to reject those who were perceived as incurable or disabled from working and therefore unable to support themselves and their families. This perspective of worthiness enacted at GRI and RIE reflected hardening societal attitudes towards the working classes that emerged during the nineteenth century among the middle classes of both England and Scotland. Ultimately, the disillusionment of early and mid-Victorian reformers with their failed efforts to restore individuals with impairments ultimately saw the reclassification of many working-class invalids as refractory, unfit for the charity of voluntary hospitals, and incapable of restoration to industry and usefulness, constructing impairment as discrediting for generations to come.

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Disability and the Victorians

Attitudes, interventions, legacies


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