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January 13, 1989

A History of Neglect: Health Care for Blacks and Mill Workers in the Twentieth Century South

JAMA. 1989;261(2):297-298. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420020153051

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


This is a dichotomous book with many comparisons and contrasts. The author, Edward H. Beardsley, a history professor at the University of South Carolina, set for himself the rather interesting and unprecedented task of performing a side-by-side analysis of two very disparate groups, blacks and the so-called poor white trash who worked in the textile mills of the South. In doing so, he attempted to show that blacks and white Southern mill workers were in a sense connected by a common bond, ie, poor health, and it was his purpose to "join the health histories of the two populations in a single narrative."

Professor Beardsley begins his analysis in the preface by making the provocative statement, "Mill workers confronted health problems equal in magnitude to those borne by blacks." Many have long believed that blacks have always been the worst cared-for population group in the country, and it induces such