The U.K. 's National Archives have created a number of special research projects that give a fascinating glimpse into topics that you don't normally hear a lot about.
The most recent project is called Royal Navy Medical Officers Journals with online exhibits dating back to the 1790s.
A recent write-up in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says of the collection:
"Some of the medical treatments offered on naval ships during these years were highly unusual, even for that era. One surgeon, for example, thought that the health of a man who barely escaped drowning would benefit from exposure to tobacco smoke. Bites from tarantulas and scorpions were doused in rum. Blood letting was also common, with one pneumonia patient being relieved of 3.5 pints of blood in three hours, which resulted in him “rapidly proceeding to a fatal termination.”
Fascinating stuff !
Other special collections include:
Living the Poor Life - A digitization of the Poor Law Union 'correspondence' volumes held at The National Archives.
"Here we may find allegations of cruelty to individual paupers, instances of workhouse disturbances, accounts of political and Chartist activities, letters referring to children sent to the northern mills, reports on medical matters, accounts of those suffering breakdowns and other mental health problems, and so much more".
Out There - A portal to identify archive resources for the study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) history in the U.K..