Sir Henry Duncan Littlejohn: His legacy
What then of Littlejohn’s legacy? Though he must surely be seen as part and parcel of the great, if slow, wave of British public health reform of the 19th century, Henry Duncan Littlejohn as surely stands apart from it, not only as a Medical Officer of Health pioneer in Scotland but also by virtue of his clear-sighted and scientific method of approach to the study and resolution of urban deprivation, disease and mortality.
Although he is acknowledged within today’s academic community for the trail-blazing work within the world of Scottish public health he is perhaps less well-known beyond those ivory towers. If his beneficial influence upon the general health and well-being of Edinburgh’s Old Town population of the later 19th and early 20th centuries still lacks common recognition, the impact of his ideas and work upon the urban framework of the Capital is clearly and unjustly overlooked. Provost Chambers is deservedly recognised and remembered by the street bearing his name, constructed as part of the 1867 Improvement Act; surely it is well past the time for Littlejohn to be given his rightful place within the pantheon of Edinburgh’s great benefactors.