Infant Mortality in England, 1538-2000

Chris Galley

We are pleased to be able to make Chris Galley’s book, Infant Mortality in England, 1538-2000 available to LPSS members and non-members for free, open access. Chris explains the origins of the book:

My interest in infant mortality dates back to the 1980s when, as I first examined an original parish register, I noticed that many of the burials related to infants and often very young ones at that. Indeed infant mortality was the subject of my first published article: ‘“One face, one voice, one habit, and two persons!” The survival of twins in early modern society’, Local Population Studies 51 (1993), pp. 73-6. It was fitting therefore that Local Population Studies (LPS) published my latest thoughts on this topic in a series of four papers (in LPS 102 (2019), pp. 21-52; LPS 103 (2019), pp. 103-204; LPS 106 (2021), pp. 98-209; and LPS 107 (2021), pp. 122-96). When I started to write the first of these papers my intention was to produce a monograph; however, assuming I could find a publisher that was willing to undertake this enterprise, the price of such a book would likely to have been in excess of £75 which would have priced it well beyond the means of most of its intended audience. Hence, I sought an alternative means of publication. The four papers have now been slightly modified to form a book and it is with pleasure that I can announce that an open access copy can now be downloaded from the Local Population Studies Society (LPSS) website and for those wishing to have a hard copy a print on demand version will shortly be available at cost price.

When this project was envisioned, its aims were twofold: (1) to present in as simple a way as possible trends and variations in infant mortality for the period from 1538 (the earliest date that infant mortality rates can be calculated in England) until the end of the twentieth century; (2) to explore the extent to which local studies of infant mortality could inform, illustrate and illuminate these broader trends. These two aims are complementary and weaving together the small with the large is probably the best way of understanding why levels of infant mortality changed over the course of four and a half centuries. Indeed, such an approach to understanding past demographic trends remains at the heart of LPSS and when I wrote the book I tried to pitch it at a ‘typical’ LPS reader, even though I knew that no such person existed, and that is why at the end of each chapter suggestions for future research that could readily be undertaken by an individual working on local sources were given. It is hoped that the fruits of such research will appear in future issues of LPS.