The Biological Standard of Living in Europe and America, 1700–1900

Studies in Anthropometric History

By John Komlos

© 1995 – Routledge

298 pages

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Hardback: 9780860784579
pub: 1995-12-28
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About the Book

One can think of the average height reached at a particular age by individuals as the historical record of their nutritional experience. Medical research has confirmed that nutritional status - and thus physical stature - is related to food consumption and therefore to family income, and therefore to wages and to prices and therefore to the standard of living. Thus, height can be used as a proxy for these economic variables, even if it is also affected by the population's degree of urbanization and disease experience. Why should we be interested in this line of research? For example, anthropometric research can illuminate the well-being of some members of a society: women, children, aristocrats, subsistence farmers, and slaves, for whom market wages are seldom available. In addition, it has been shown that the biological standard of living can diverge from conventional indicators of well-being during the early stages of industrialization. The essays in this volume explore the well-being of diverse populations in Europe and America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Trends and cycles in height are explored among slaves, indentured servants, students in the West Point Military Academy, in the École Polytechnique (Paris), in The Citadel (Charleston, South Carolina), Carlschule (Stuttgart) as well as in the British and in the Austrian Army.

Table of Contents

Contents: Anthropometric history: what is it?; On the significance of anthropometric history; Estimating trends in historical heights; The nutritional status of French students; A Malthusian episode revisited: the height of British and Irish servants in colonial America; The secular trend in the biological standard of living in the United Kingdom, 1730-1860; Further thoughts on the nutritional status of the British population; The growth of boys in the Stuttgart Carlschuhe, 1771-93; The standard of living of Jews in Austria-Hungary: the anthropometric evidence, 1860-1920; The age at menarche in Vienna: the relationship between nutrition and fertility; Patterns of children’s growth in East-Central Europe in the 18th century; Stature and nutrition in the Habsburg monarchy: the standard of living and economic development in the 18th century; The height and weight of West Point cadets: dietary change in antebellum America; Nutrition and economic development in post-reconstruction South Carolina; Toward an anthropometric history of African-Americans: the case of the free blacks in antebellum Maryland; The height of runaway slaves in colonial America, 1720-1770; Index.

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies Series

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies Series was published in 1970. Since then well over 700 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. The well-established coverage of Islamic studies is joined by a growing list in Asian history and in areas relating to the 'European expansion'. Another major strand is the history of science, technology and medicine. In addition the list includes many titles dealing with the histories of philosophy, law, and art and architecture, while most recently the series has expanded with great success into the history of music.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies Series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, festschrifts, conference proceedings, and the like. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. All volumes are printed on acid-free paper.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HIS000000
HISTORY / General