Disease and Discrimination in Colonial Atlantic America

Reviewed by Michelle Ziegler Dale Hutchinson. Disease and Discrimination: Poverty and Pestilence in Colonial Atlantic America. University of Florida Press, 2016. $85 Dale Hutchinson's latest book fits into a recent trend of a more critical analysis of the role disease played in the demographic collapse of Native Americans in the Colonial period. After spending most of... Continue Reading →

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Private SNAFU learns about Malaria

Malaria was a major risk for American troops during World War II. The US Army enlisted the help of Theodor Geisil, Dr Seuss, to produce educational booklets and pamphlets (discussed here). They also turned to moving pictures to educate the troops.  Private Snafu was featured in a catalog of 26 SNAFU training films based on... Continue Reading →

Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America

Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America. Edited by Catherine Cameron, Paul Kelton and Alan Swedlund. University of Arizona Press, 2015. With the number of emerging infectious diseases climbing and new revelations about plague's past, this book is a timely caution to the rhetoric surrounding so-called virgin soil epidemics. This book is the publication of... Continue Reading →

Autumn Reading

While autumn is not officially over yet, December always seems like winter to me so here is my reading review from autumn. This season I'm introducing a book review rating system. On my scale, an average book would get three scopes; a good book, four; and only the extraordinary book gets five scopes. I probably... Continue Reading →

Challenging Virgin Soil Epidemic Assumptions 

The depopulation of Native Americans during the 16th to 18th centuries, one result of the 'Columbian Exchange', has been held up as the ultimate example of virgin soil epidemics. The emphasis put on the 'virginity' of the native population, bordering on biological determinism, has absolved the colonial powers of a multitude of sins. Some archaeologists... Continue Reading →

Capturing Mid-Twentieth Century Medicine in Art

I've been reading some history of medicine and anthropology on re-emerging infectious disease lately. The label, 're-emerging' infectious disease, is a response to the mid-20th century attitudes when eradication was the goal for many, if not most, pathogens.  The eradication of smallpox will stand out all the more awesome because we now know it will... Continue Reading →

Personal ties to Cholera, 1833

What a strange feeling looking at this map of the 1832 cholera pandemic.  It looks like a blotchy bruise on the country. A little surprise at how restricted the pandemic was in America. As it turns out this map is incomplete, ending in October 1832;  cholera eventually traveled down the Mississippi to reach New Orleans... Continue Reading →

Dr Seuss Does Malaria

This Malaria map was illustrated by Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, during World War II to educate young GIs. According to the Naval Department Library, this map was printed on the back of a Newsmap (two sided poster) that showed the five war fronts in 1943: Russia, Italy, "air offensive", southwest Pacific... Continue Reading →

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