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Sarah Rafferty BA(Hons) MSc

Sarah Rafferty BA(Hons) MSc

PhD student, Department of Geography and Corpus Christi College

Historical Demographer and Health Geographer interested in the historical infant mortality decline, notably its patterns and determinants across space and time.

Biography

Career

  • 2018 – Present: PhD Geography, University of Cambridge
  • 2017 – 2018: MSc Demography and Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • 2016 – 2017: Learning Support Assistant, The Holt School and 7 months volunteering and travelling through Latin America
  • 2013 - 2016: BA(Hons) Geography, University of Nottingham

Qualifications

  • MSc Demography and Health (Distinction), London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • BA(Hons) Geography (First Class), University of Nottingham

Awards and grants

  • AHRC Student Development Funding for attending the Barcelona Summer School of Demography (2019)
  • Corpus Christi College Research Grant for attending the 10th Demographic Conference of Young Demographers (2019) and the Population Association of America Annual Conference (2021)
  • Cambridge AHRC DTP Studentship for PhD Geography (2018 – 2022)
  • Selwyn-Clarke Prize for the Best MSc Demography and Health Dissertation (2018)
  • ESRC/PIC Masters Scholarship for Population Studies (2017 – 2018)
  • Royal Geographical Society's Historical Geography Research Group's 'Highly Commended' Undergraduate Dissertation Prize (2016)

Research

My research broadly lies in the field of historical demography, with my PhD focusing on London's infant mortality decline. I am employing an explanatory sequential mixed methods approach to spatially and temporally analyse this decline from 1870 to 1929. Quantitative analysis will utilise data from censuses and other official statistics sources to develop spatio-temporal regression models; with the aim being to account for variation experienced in London's infant mortality decline. Informed by the quantitative results, an iterative text-mining analysis of the digitised Medical Officer of Health Reports and traditional documentary research in the London Metropolitan Archives will be conducted. The results will be finally triangulated to determine whether the aggregate quantitative results are reflected in the archives and vice versa.

Moreover, I am interested in the development of digital humanities methodologies. This is reflected not only through my use of text-mining in my PhD, but also through additional work I am undertaking on the historical demography of the Bukumbi Parish, Tanzania. Currently, we are working towards using machine learning to transcribe handwritten missionary diaries from this parish, in the late nineteenth century.

Publications

Peer-reviewed publications

  • Rafferty, S., (2021, in press) 'Can indirect estimation methods and the Medical Officer of Health Reports 'correct' distorted infant mortality rates reported by the Registrar-General? The case of London, 1896-1911', Local Population Studies, 106, https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/314936.
  • Rafferty, S., Smallman-Raynor, M.R. and Cliff, A.D. (2018) 'Variola minor in England and Wales: the geographical course of a smallpox epidemic and the impediments to effective disease control, 1920-35', Journal of Historical Geography, 59: 2-14.
  • Smallman-Raynor, M.R., Rafferty, S. and Cliff, A.D. (2017) 'Variola minor in coalfield areas of England and Wales, 1921-34: Geographical determinants of a national smallpox epidemic that spread out of effective control', Social Science and Medicine, 180: 160-169.

Invited talks

  • 'Class or place? A quantitative analysis of child mortality in early twentieth century London'. European Society of Historical Demography Seminar Series, Virtual (May 2021)

Conference presentations

  • 'Class or Place? An Analysis of Under-5 Mortality in London at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century'. Oral presentation at the Population Association of America Annual Conference, Virtual (May 2021)
  • 'Comparing three sources to address institutional distortions on London's infant mortality rates, 1896-1911'. Oral presentation at the Local Population Studies Society Spring Conference, Virtual (April 2021)
  • 'Turbo Talks'. Chairing the session at the Royal Society of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Annual Meeting 2020, Virtual (October 2020)
  • 'Multi-level modelling using the 1911 'Fertility Census': analysing historical under-five mortality inequalities in London'. Oral presentation at the British Society for Population Studies Annual Conference, Virtual (September 2020)
  • 'Infant mortality decline in London, 1870-1929: an exploratory spatial analysis of patterns and determinants.' Oral presentation at the third European Society of Historical Demography Conference, University of Pécs, Hungary (June 2019)
  • 'Digital mission: using machine learning to transcribe missionary records for population history in Africa.' Oral presentation with Dr Sarah Walters at the third European Society of Historical Demography Conference, University of Pécs, Hungary (June 2019)
  • 'Infant mortality decline in London, 1891-1911: an exploratory spatial analysis of patterns and determinants.' Oral presentation at the 10th Demographic Conference of Young Demographers, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic (February 2019)
  • 'Infant mortality decline in London, 1891-1911: an exploratory spatial analysis of patterns and determinants.' Oral presentation at the 'Locating Health' Workshop, University of Nottingham, UK (January 2019)

Teaching

  • Part IA (Geography), Statistical Methods
  • Part IA (Geography), Geographies of Health
  • Part IB (Geography), Quantitative Research Methods
  • Part IB (Geography), Risks: Disease
  • Part IA (Medicine), The Social and Ethical Context of Health and Illness
  • Part IA (Medicine), Foundations of Evidence Based Practice

External activities

  • Research Assistant on the Historical Demography of Tanzania, Dr Sarah Walters, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • PR Officer/Board Member, Association of Young Historical Demographers
  • Early Careers Trustee, Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
  • Geographies of Health Reading Group, Department of Geography, Co-convenor
  • 'Machine Reading the Archive' Mentoring Scheme, Cambridge Digital Humanities, 2019
  • Communications Secretary, Cambridge University Mixed Lacrosse Club, 2019/20
  • Social Secretary, Corpus Christi College MCR, 2019
  • Member, British Society of Population Studies
  • Member, European Society of Historical Demography