Book your place at the 12th Internnational INHH conference in Barcelona – 24th to 26th April 2019

Details of the Barcelona conference in April 2019 including how to book your place at our conference along with your accommodation are here on the INHH website

Previous Conferences:

Beauty and the Hospital CFP Final_Page_1

Beauty and the Hospital CFP Final_01


  • The tenth INHH conference will consider the themes of segregation and integration in the history of the hospital
  • Segregation and integration have shaped hospitals throughout their histories from a variety of perspectives: political, economic, social, religious, cultural, architectural and environmental.  This conference will foreground the concepts of segregation and integration in health care institutions from Ancient times to the modern day and in an international context.Ideas about segregation and integration in relation to hospitals could influence decisions regarding location, design, specialisation, the patient body, representations and publicity, funding and civic purpose.  In so doing, they affected the internal and external function of the hospital.  Within the hospital site itself patients might be segregated on the basis of their behaviour, gender, race or even class as well as their physical condition.  The integration of medical teams changed, often as new technologies and specialisms were adopted.  Once healed, patients could require assistance in order to reintegrate with their former communities and resume their ordinary lives.  The conference will also consider the factors which affected the degree of integration and segregation which was deemed to be desirable between urban and rural sites, as well as hospitals across communities, countries and continents.Although segregation and integration have been a prominent feature of many studies of individual institutions, this conference will be the first to examine them from a comparative perspective.  In so doing, the conference will not only tell us more about hospital history but will illustrate yet again how the study of hospitals can shed light upon the history of their wider contexts.

    The tenth INHH conference will consider the impact of segregation and integration on the history of the hospital through an examination of three key themes: (1) hospital sites and spaces; (2) hospital images and representations; and (3) hospital policies.  Further details on each of these themes can be found below.


While contemporary grumblings about hospital food have become the quintessential hospital complaint, it is undeniable that a clean, warm bed, rest and the provision of food and drink, rather than medicines and therapies have always greatly increased hospital patients’ chances of recovery. Indeed diet has from the time of Galen been a central part of medical therapy. However, even if central to the day-to-day routine of hospitals, workhouses and asylums, food and drink continue to be overlooked in historical accounts of hospitalisation. This conference aims to foreground the role of food and drink in health care institutions in the past.

  • Daily Life in the Hospital: Theory and Practice. Hosted by the  School of Public Health. Lisbon and University of Evora  8-10 April 2011.

The INHH held in 2011 its sixth international conference in Lisbon and Evora, Portugal, on the theme of Daily Life in the Hospital: Theory and Practice.  It  followed the success of the previous INHH international conferences, the last of which took place in Barcelona in 2009.  It  included as wide a chronological and geographical remit as possible, embracing the history of hospitals from the Ancient world to the present century across the globe. It helped to encourage scholars new to the subject (though, of course, not precluding established scholars) and to cultivate an interdisciplinary approach.

  • Hospitals and Communities. Hosted by the Department of History of Science, CSIC, INSTITUCIÓN MILÀ I FONTANALS, Barcelona, SPAIN April 2009.

The fifth international conference of the International Network for the History of Hospitals was inspired by the success of our meetings in Norwich, Verona, Montreal and London. As in the past, the aim was to address new issues and themes in the history of hospitals within a wider social context. Indeed, all the sessions examined the impact of hospitals upon the nature and role of different communities and the ways in which hospitals were affected by the various communities they served. Given the location of the conference, one of the underlying themes was hospitals in the Mediterranean.

Recent research into the social history of medicine has turned attention from the familiar providers of medical care (physicians, surgeons, nurses, institutional administrators) to the recipients, the patients themselves. Numerous new studies of patient experiences are currently underway. Responding to a wider trend to write history ‘from below’, scholars initially focused upon the role of the sick individual within the ‘medical marketplace’, in an effort to understand patients’ experiences of health and sickness.

Only within the last few years has this new approach begun to be applied to the history of the hospital so as to incorporate new types of written and visual evidence and explore a much wider range of patient experiences than that embraced by earlier studies. This conference brought together for the first time this new historiography into an integrated exploration of the hospital as a healing environment in which therapy may come from a variety of sources, material as well as personal, natural as well as man-made.

The International Network for the History of Hospitals held its third international conference and the first in North America at McGill University in Montreal in June 2003. The conference sought to examine the relationships between the form and function of health care institutions as it has developed over time, place, and from the medieval to the modern period in different local and national contexts. How have medical ideas and functions shaped design? How did different patient populations experience the hospital and contribute to its formal development? How is the hospital imagined and portrayed? How has the hospital formed a medical and social space? To explore these issues, “Form + Function” will be divided into four inter related sessions.

These  addressed:

  • the iconography of the hospital
  • the hospital’s social and religious form
  • Utopian hospitals: theory, image, and reality
  • the hospital’s medical form and functions

In the first session, which examined the finances and patronage of hospitals, papers by Matthew Sneider and Marina Garbellotti outlined the strategies used by institutions to accumulate and to control valuable assets. The relative success (or failure) of such management, and the resulting inequalities in health care provision, formed the focus of a subsequent presentation by John Welshman. Gunnar Stollberg pointed out that internal differentiation in nineteenth-century hospitals in Munich and Leipzig was caused in part by a need to distinguish between patients of differing financial status.

The urban and rural topography of hospitals was tackled in four papers by Max Satchell, Christine Stevenson, Sergio Onger, and Annmarie Adams. The necessity of adopting a truly interdisciplinary approach, and the richness of source material, were stressed in this session. Delegates’ attention was drawn, for example, to variations in landscape as a factor in the choice of location of medieval hospitals, while the next paper (Stevenson) examined topographical representations of eighteenth-century British hospitals through maps and prints.

In what the presiede, John Henderson, referred to as perhaps “the most original session”, Louise Gray, Eric E. Gruber von Arni and Flurin Condrau considered the patients’ experience in early modern Germany, seventeenth-century England and twentieth-century Britain and Germany. Louise Gray drew upon petitions made by the rural poor for entry into the hospital at Hesse to give a fascinating insight into prospective patients’ own perceptions of their disability and their requirements. The regime of care and rehabilitation offered in the Savoy, London, and at Ely House to sick and wounded soldiers during the English Civil War and the Interregnum was discussed by Eric E. Gruber von Arni, who noted that care did not necessarily cease once the soldier no longer required institutional support. The patient’s transition from hospital to home was also examined by Flurin Condrau. His case study of a German worker who disregarded medical advice and returned to his old job upon dismissal from a TB hospital highlighted the economic and social impact as well as the personal cost of illness.

On the final day of the conference, attention turned to the economic and demographic impact of hospitals on the wider community. In two contrasting papers, Alysa Levene considered how care in eighteenth-century Florentine and London foundling hospitals influenced nursing practice in the parish, while Andrea Turner gave a detailed account of the methodological difficulties of charting the impact of hospitals on mortality levels in London. Diego Ramiro-Farinas and Marco Geddes da Filicaia expanded upon the themes of mortality rates and “patient throughput” in Spanish and Italian hospitals.

The Herculean task of adding up the balance sheet fell to John Henderson and Alessandro Pastore, who commented upon the wealth of available sources for the study of the history of hospitals. The recurring themes emerging from the papers were summarised as diversity, the growth of specialised institutions (and specialisms within establishments), and the centralisation of resources. The “adaptation and mutation” of hospitals was also noted, as was the way in which they influenced each other (as with the Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and the Savoy in London). Potential problems in comparative studies of hospitals in different countries and centuries were considered the Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and but the need for such comparisons was reiterated. The INHH’s second conference was highly successful and continued the excellent standards set in the previous one: the third, to be held in 2003, is eagerly anticipated.

  • From Liturgy to Therapy. Hosted in Norwich, 1999.