Industry and Labour, Part I Britain and America, 1920s

  • Roger Cooter
Part of the Science, Technology and Medicine in Modern History book series (STMMH)


It was widely believed when the war was over that the experience of orthopaedic surgeons with the war-wounded would be transferred to the wounded ‘soldiers of industry’. Contemporaries agreed that ‘the problem of the workman disabled by industrial accident was similar in many respects to the problem of the disabled soldier’.1 It was common knowledge that ‘disabled soldiers ... as a result of systematized orthopaedic treatment [had] been able to return to their work’. ‘[E]vidences of the efficiency of such treatment are broadcast, and ... the Local War Pensions Committees and the Ministry [of Munitions] have unassailable information of the wonders that have been achieved.’2 According to another source,

the workmen of this country are sharply alive to the fact that during the war nothing, from the moment they were wounded, was spared in the endeavour to re-establish their fitness for service. They know what hospitals mean, and their appreciation of what orthopaedic surgery has done for them and their comrades is ever present.3


Injured Worker Orthopaedic Clinic Private Insurance Company Industrial Accident Orthopaedic Hospital 
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  1. 5.
    Largely as a result, it seems, of William Colin MacKenzie’s The Action of Muscles, including muscle rest and reeducation (1918; 3rd edn, 1940). MacKenzie, an Australian, visited Jones before the war and worked with him during the war at Shepherd’s Bush where he set up a department of muscle retraining.Google Scholar
  2. 20.
    See David Rosner and Gerald Markowitz, ‘The Early Movement for Occupational Safety and Health, 1900–1917’ in Judith W. Leavitt and Ronald L. Numbers (eds), Sickness and Health in America (Madison, 1985), pp. 507–21.Google Scholar
  3. 21.
    See Albert G. Love and Charles B. Davenport, Defects Found in Drafted Men (US War Department, Washington, 1920), andGoogle Scholar
  4. Roy N. Anderson, The Disabled Man and His Vocational Adjustment: a study of the types of jobs held by 4,404 orthopedic cases in relation to the specific disability (New York, 1932), pp. 12–13 which revealed from case histories at the Employment Center for the Handicapped in New York City, between 1917–30, that the most frequent cause of crippling was infantile paralysis (polio); 30 per cent were the result of public accidents, and only 20 per cent the result of industrial accidents. According to another source atGoogle Scholar
  5. 26.
    A. Nugent, ‘Fit for Work: the introduction of physical examinations in industry’, Bull. Hist. Med., 57 (1983), pp. 578–95.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. 28.
    Glen Gritzer and Arnold Arluke, The Making of Rehabilitation (Berkeley, 1985), p. 40. In 1926 the industrial medicine specialism became the Board on Industrial Medicine and Traumatic Surgery, to which many orthopaedic surgeons were attached. See Mock, ‘Industrial Medicine and Surgery’, pp. 5ff., andGoogle Scholar
  7. F. Martin, Fifty Years of Medicine and Surgery: an autobiographical sketch (Chicago, 1934), pp. 350–2.Google Scholar
  8. 35.
    Rosemary Stevens, American Medicine and the Public Interest (New Haven, 1971), p. 162. The exact figure was 326. By 1929 numbers had risen to 504, by 1934 to 722 and by 1940 to 1078.Google Scholar
  9. 36.
    Albee visited both Alder Hey and Shepherd’s Bush in 1916: Autobiography, pp. 83–5, 127, 158. In April 1918 he opened a four-bed rehabilitation clinic for industrial injury downstairs from a New Jersey State workers’ compensation office. See Edward D. Berkowitz, ‘The Federal Government and the Emergence of Rehabilitation Medicine’, The Historian, 43 (1981), pp. 530–45 at pp. 531–2.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 37.
    On the struggles for the control of physiotherapy and vocational rehabilitation, see Gritzer and Arluke, Rehabilitation, pp. 38–60. For an example of orthopaedic control over physiotherapy at a base hospital, see E. B. Mumford, ‘Application of Curative Therapy in the Workshop’, JOS, 1 (1919), pp. 676–81. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  11. J.L. Porter, ‘The Reconstruction Problem for the Disabled Soldier’, J. Iowa Med. Soc, 9 (1919), pp. 365–70;Google Scholar
  12. G. Harris, The Redemption of the Disabled (New York, 1919); andGoogle Scholar
  13. Douglas McMurtrie, The Disabled Soldier (New York, 1919).Google Scholar
  14. 38.
    Joel E. Goldthwait, ‘Organization of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery in the U.S. Army with the Expeditionary Force’, AJOS, 16 (1918), p. 288, quoted in Gritzer and Arluke, Rehabilitation, p. 43. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  15. E. G. Brackett, ‘Productive Occupational Therapy in the Treatment of the Disabilities of the Extremities’, JOS, 1 (1919), pp. 40–5.Google Scholar
  16. 43.
    Lever Stewart, ‘The Industrial Surgeon’s Treatment of Fractures’, J. Indust. Hygiene, 8 (1926), pp. 283–7, at p. 285. Cf.Google Scholar
  17. Dr Henry Kessler, The Knife is Not Enough (New York, 1968). Kessler began his career as assistant to Albee at the latter’s rehabilitation clinic. By the Second World War he was one of the leading Americans in the field of rehabilitation.Google Scholar
  18. 46.
    See Jane Lewis, What Price Community Medicine? (Brighton, 1986). For a specific example of the economic rationale for running down an industrial medical service, see Ch. 10 below on the LMS Railway Hospital at Crewe.Google Scholar
  19. 50.
    See Rodney Lowe, ‘The Erosion of State Intervention in Britain, 1917–1924’, Econ. Hist. Rev., 31 (1978), pp. 270–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 53.
    Titmuss, ‘War and Social Policy’, in his Essays on the Welfare State (2nd edn, 1963), pp. 75–87. Idem, Problems of Social Policy (1950), esp. p. 474. For elaboration of the view that the Great War spawned little social reform, see Arthur Marwick, ‘The Impact of the First World War on British Society’, J. Contemp. Hist., 3 (1968), pp. 51–63, and the discussion inGoogle Scholar
  21. P.W.J. Bartrip, Workmen’s Compensation in Twentieth Century Britain: law, history and social policy (Aldershot, 1987), pp. 92ff. and p. 238.Google Scholar
  22. 57.
    Arnold Wilson and Hermann Levy, Workmen’s Compensation, vol. 2 (Oxford, 1941), p. 222. Similarly defeated was the proposal in 1923 to keep open Sir Bernard Oppenheim’s diamond-cutting factory in Brighton, which, from its commencement in 1918, had employed mainly disabled men.Google Scholar
  23. 71.
    R. F. Herndon, ‘Back Injuries in Industrial Employees’, JBJS, 9 (1927), p. 234. In America, the insurance companies began to act as a third parry in medicine in 1911 after Massachusetts introduced workmen’s compensation. SeeGoogle Scholar
  24. Morris Vogel, The Invention of the Modern Hospital: Boston, 1870–1930 (Chicago, 1985), pp. 121ff;Google Scholar
  25. David Rosner, A Once Charitable Enterprise (New York, 1982), p. 94; and (Cave) Voluntary Hospitals’ Committee, 1921, p. 28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 78.
    E. W. Ryerson, ‘Treatment of Fractures from an Industrial Standpoint’, JBJS, 6 (1924), pp. 188–91, and the AOA discussion on this paper, pp. 191–3.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Roger Cooter 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger Cooter
    • 1
  1. 1.Wellcome Unit for the History of MedicineUniversity of ManchesterUK

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