Category Archives: Theme Week

Series @ 2014-2015

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As part of our summer hiatus, is featuring summaries of the papers and series we’ve run over the past year. Today, we provide a list of the series we’ve published since September 2014: The Home Archivist (by Jess Dunkin) – Ongoing Introduction (September) The Grand Seduction (October) Getting my Hands Dirty (November) Dust, Mold and Adhesives – Part I… Read more »

Vaccinations and the Decline of Diphtheria

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[Editors note: This is a second follow up post from our Infectious Disease, Contagion and the History of Vaccines theme week] By Deborah Neill In 1883, Bedford Brown read a paper before the Virginia State Medical Society, which was published two years later as Reminiscences of Personal Experience in the History of Diphtheria. It opened with a heart-breaking account of a… Read more »

Ten books to contextualize the history of infectious diseases and vaccinations

By Kate Barker [Editors Note: This is the first in a number of follow up posts from the Infectious Disease, Contagion and the History of Vaccines theme week edited by Ian Mosby, Erika Dyck and Jim Clifford. We would like to thank Sean Kheraj for putting us in contact with Kate Barker for this post.] As a journalist, I am sometimes accused of… Read more »

Vaccines and the Environmental History of Medicine

By Liza Piper Editor’s note: This post was originally published by The Otter and is the second in a series of posts edited by Tina Adcock considering the intersection between environmental history and the histories of science, technology, and medicine. In recent weeks, stories with pro-vaccination and anti-vaccination sentiments have appeared prominently in the news. They address the measles cases that originated in Disneyland… Read more »

A Brief History of Vaccines in Colonial Africa

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By Jessica Pearson-Patel As Ebola to ravage communities in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, and as international health organizations fight to develop a vaccine that will conquer the epidemic, the history of vaccinations in Africa seems now to be more relevant than ever. The World Health Organization has recently come under fire for a discovery that WHO representatives deliberately held… Read more »

Animal Matter: The Making of ‘Pure’ Bovine Vaccine at the Connaught Laboratories and Farm at the Turn of the Century

By Joanna Dean Many of humanity’s most virulent diseases emerged from the fertile intersections of human and other animal bodies. Cures also crossed species barriers, and in the crossing carried a taint of their animal origins. The University of Toronto’s Connaught Laboratories and Farm produced bovine smallpox vaccine from calves infected with cowpox, as well as a variety of products… Read more »

An Epidemic in Madness?

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By Mat Savelli & Erika Dyck Contagious diseases are usually understood as physical illnesses, but the rather less orthodox idea of infectious mental diseases is worth considering. Historically, public health officials, immigration officers and well-meaning social reformers harnessed the language of madness, mental deficiency and mental illness to galvanize a popular response against the threats posed by such afflicted individuals to… Read more »

Personifying Pestilence: How Political Cartoons Shape Our Views of Disease

By Jacob Steere-Williams These are heady times for those who study mediated communication and social discourse. The January 2015 attack at the Paris office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the death of twelve people, ushered in a wave of reflections on the social shaping power of political cartoons in both form and content. Stoked by controversial… Read more »

The Vaccination Experience: Historical Insights from Children and Families

By Mona Gleason The recent outbreak of measles in North America has again raised questions about why small numbers of parents refuse to have their children vaccinated, despite clear and commanding evidence of its safety and efficacy in preventing disease.[1]  Despite these outliers, the vast majority of Canadian families take advantage of publically funded immunization programs to protect their children… Read more »

Quarantined but Not Forgotten: Combatting Vaccination Resistance with Historical Education

By Sara Wilmshurst I was lucky; no one asked me to glue lentils to my face, so I got to stand by and watch while a medical student was transformed into a smallpox sufferer before my very eyes. The makeup artist found that lentils and Rice Krispies made the most convincing pustules, when coated in makeup and vividly shaded. We weren’t… Read more »