From Manson’s Tropical Diseases, 13th edition

Save the Colonial Subjects! (But leave the Women and Fat Guys at Home.)

For years, Manson’s was the textbook on tropical disease. The 13th edition had some notions that we would now call, at best, quaint. It was, after all, 1951.

Chapter 1

Preparations for Residence in the Tropics

General Observations

In examining personnel with reference to their fitness for residence in the tropics, the age of the candidate is obviously important. He or she should have attained maximum development before going out. Those under 21—and this is especially true of women—withstand extreme heat and humidity badly, and appear, moreover to be more susceptible to tropical diseases. Women should be fully matured in mind as well as body and, as a rule, their age to be somewhat higher than that for men, which is from 23 to 25. It is a matter of observation that men over 40 find it difficult to accustom themselves to a intense heat, though exceptions will readily occur to the mind, such as Robert Koch, a pioneer in medical find, and Abel Chapman in zoology. Both had already passed 40 ere they set foot in central Africa, and both found themselves equal to its exacting demands.

While there can be no absolute standard of height and weight, the deviation from the generally accepted averages should not be great. As a rule, spareness  is more desirable than plumpness. Certainly the tropics is no place for the fat man. The “lanky,” spare type is best suited to tropical conditions, and the dark-hair, brown-eyed and dark- complexioned is generally considered more fitted than the blue-eyed, fair-haired, tender skin “Nordic” or “Aryan” type.


3 responses to “From Manson’s Tropical Diseases, 13th edition

  1. Wow! Discrimation against us blue-eyed blondes. Hmmm. What’s Mason’s issue?

  2. Should the lanky under-40white male fall ill anyway, it will comfort him to know that any nurse (I mean “nursing girl”)he encounters is required to have the following specs:
    ” She must be not only well-formed, but must have certain powers of resistance. A girl, for example, who is subject to sick headaches, or who readily “knocks up” will never make a good nurse. The best type of nursing girl is one who is tall and strong, and who has a certain suppleness of movement….If she can dance, especially if she is an enthusiastic dancer, it is a great advantage, for graceful carriage is a thing to be cultivated, and nothing is more distasteful in a sick-room than a suspicion of clumsiness.
    A nurse who aspires to rise in her profession should have a soft and evenly modulated voice, for harsh notes jar on the ears of sensitive patients….If she has strong views and prejudices she will soon find that her life is not an easy one, for people when they are ill are not tolerant of opinions which are not in accordance with their own.” (from A Handbook On First Aid to the Injured With a Section on Nursing, 1895).

  3. ..”the deviation from the generally accepted averages should not be great.” The 1950’s in a nutshell.

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