Exmouth training ship, growth patterns of children 1876-1923


The dataset was collected to analyse changes in the growth pattern of children across the late nineteenth and twentieth century. Importantly for studying child growth, the ship recorded the heights and weights of the boys at admission to and discharge from the ship providing longitudinal measures of growth for a very large number of boys (c. 9,000 records). Longitudinal measures allow us to directly observe children’s growth rather than inferring growth by comparing the differences in height between different children at different ages. This project will explore how improvements in nutrition, sanitation, and medical knowledge during Britain's long-run health transition from 1850 onwards influenced children's growth pattern in terms of height, weight and BMI. Studying children's growth pattern (velocity of growth and shape of the growth curve) rather than their height at a specific age is a significant methodological innovation. Adaptive theories of human development and growth stress how exposure to poor nutrition or disease, especially in utero, does not merely affect the child's current height but also the timing of the pubertal growth spurt, their velocity of growth and the length of the growing period: in other words, their growth pattern. This project will extend existing knowledge of children's growth in Britain in three ways: first, by reconstructing boys' longitudinal growth measurements from training ship records spanning the century and a half from 1865 onwards; second, by producing and analysing new growth profiles from historical sources; and third, by placing the change in Britain's growth pattern in international context using growth profiles (the average height and weight of children across a number of ages) collected from 1850 to the present from around the world. Four new datasets will be produced and deposited in the UK Data Archive as a part of the project: three individual-level datasets with the heights and weights of children and a dataset with growth profiles for a wide range of countries around the world from 1850 to the present. The data produced will supply a longer-run perspective on the immediate and intergenerational factors influencing children's growth patterns in Britain and internationally and indicate how the shift from an unhealthy to healthy growth pattern took place. The data will also assemble new evidence on historical BMI growth curves and child obesity rates, providing historical context for the current child obesity crisis. The project's findings are particularly relevant to the current discussion about a post-2015 development framework to replace the Millennium Development Goals and to understanding the childhood obesity crisis and will inform health interventions and development policy goals for improving the health of children in both the developing and developed worlds.

The data were transcribed from the register books kept by the training ship Exmouth about the boys that they trained. There are two files: one contains long-run anthropometric data and the other includes some personal characteristics of a subset of children. Detailed description of the transcription methods and process is provided in the documentation.

DOI https://doi.org/10.5255/UKDA-SN-853292
Metadata Access https://datacatalogue.cessda.eu/oai-pmh/v0/oai?verb=GetRecord&metadataPrefix=oai_ddi25&identifier=dcb2d68ee0ebde854b065293c50255cd1613c10491fb18dd90c52363da5cdb4f
Creator Schneider, E, London School of Economics and Political Science; Gao, P, NYU Shanghai
Publisher UK Data Service
Publication Year 2019
Funding Reference Economic and Social Research Council
Rights Eric Schneider, London School of Economics and Political Science; The UK Data Archive has granted a dissemination embargo. The embargo will end in August 2019 and the data will then be available in accordance with the access level selected.
OpenAccess true
Resource Type Numeric
Discipline Economics; History; Humanities; Life Sciences; Medicine; Medicine and Health; Physiology; Social and Behavioural Sciences
Spatial Coverage United Kingdom though vast majority of boys from London; United Kingdom