Current Institutional Affiliation
Dickinson College

Award Information

Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Family Matters: Managing Illness in Late Tokugawa Japan

This project explores how people living in the city of Edo (present-day Tokyo) in the latter half of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868) dealt with illness. Doctor-based care has most often captured the attention of historians, but the proportion of time doctors physically spent with patients was dwarfed by that provided by domestic caregivers. To elucidate the medical landscape of Edo and describe how urban residents cared for sick family members, I draw on more than a dozen diaries and over fifty family records written between 1750 and 1868, composed by men and women of diverse social status and occupation such as samurai, commoners, popular authors, and doctors. Shifting our focus from practitioners to sufferers and their domestic spaces is key to understanding early modern therapeutic practices as well as the ways in which illness bound families together.