Manuscripts and Special Collections

Public Health and Housing - lesson plans and activities for teachers

Grandma, what was your life like when you were a little girl? Has life always been this good in Nottingham? 

This series of activities aims to look at Nottingham throughout the late 19th century and early 20th century.  It is aimed at KS3 pupils looking at the Industrial Revolution and GCSE pupils looking at Medicine Through Time.

The evidence has been chosen from a larger selection of documents available on the Public Health and Housing website created by Manuscripts and Special Collections at The University of Nottingham. The activity plans were created by Gary Mills of the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, with the support of PGCE students, in 2007, and were published in January 2008. Your feedback on these activity plans would be appreciated and will help to inform future developments.

The focus is to concentrate on a personal level on two characters: a grandmother and granddaughter.

Learning outcomes

There will be a key focus on chronology and making links between evidenceas pupils are asked to look back to the grandmother's past and then forward to the future of the granddaughter.

  • Pupils will be asked to compare present living conditions with those of the early 1900's and of the mid 19th century by looking at a variety of different original source material.
  • Pupils will be asked to identify links between living conditions, health, disease and the public health improvements which were introduced.

Using the resources

These activities are only suggested outlines and each teacher will still need to fully plan their lessons accordingly.

There are many resources which can be found on the website and look more specifically at the three themes of death and disease, living conditions and water supply. They can be added to the suggested activities at the individual teacher's discretion.

A significant challenge of these lessons is to get pupils to engage with the different documents: the teacher will need to facilitate the learning to ensure this occurs. The activities also jump chronologically between the early 20th century and the mid 19th century, therefore teachers will need to ensure they make clear the different time scales and are aware of the difficulties which pupils might experience in the chronology of the exercises.



Target age: 11-14 (KS3); 14-16 (GCSE)

Number of lessons: 5

Period: 19th-20th Centuries

Keywords: Industrial Revolution, health, housing, disease, Medicine Through Time, 19th century medicine, cholera










Next: Activity 1: Sun Street in the early 20th century


Manuscripts and Special Collections

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