Learning Hygiene: Mortality Patterns by Religion in the Don Army Territory (Southern Russia), 1867-1916

The Don Army Territory in southern Russia over the period 1867-1916 offers a unique opportunity to follow mortality variations across religious denominations (Orthodox, Old Believers and Coreligionists, Catholics, Lutherans, Jews, Armenian-Gregorians, Buddhists, and Muslims), in a context of severe climatic conditions, urbanisation, and improvements in hygiene and medicine. Denominational groups were differentiated by ways of life, residential segmentation, hygiene practices, and medical knowledge. The most educated and urban denominations had the lowest mortality. Religions characterized mortality patterns, doing duty for non-existent or scarce physicians among the Orthodox, laying down rules of hygiene, and promoting doctrine on fertility and child care.