Tag Archives: Edward McSweegan

Jack London’s cloudy crystal ball

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   The Scarlet Plague, by Jack London. Open Library, an initiative of the Internet Archive. The COVID-19 pandemic has given quarantined readers new opportunities to discover the literature of plagues and epidemics. Many people—in order to give context to the present pandemic—have turned to books like Albert Camus’ […]

Mary Niles and the Canton rats

Edward McSweegan Kinston, Rhode Island, United States   Doctor Mary West Niles, Wikipedia  Bubonic plague arrived in Honolulu in December 1899. A month later it had spread to San Francisco, where the infection caused a series of deadly outbreaks until 1907.1 But for decades before plague reached the American west coast, it had burned through […]

African American contract doctors in the military

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   African American Soldiers in Cuba, 1898, Wikipedia In the spring of 1898, the United States rushed into a war with Spain but lacked adequate troops, training, weapons, transport, supplies, food, landing craft, and medical personnel. One deficit that could be corrected before the shooting started was the […]

The Schoolhouse Lab

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Howard T. Ricketts in Mexico City laboratory. National Library of Medicine “Black measles” was a common name for spotted fever, which regularly killed people in the western United States. Symptoms included a spotty rash on the extremities, fever, chills, headache, and photophobia. No one knew what caused […]

Dr. Avery, Medicine Woman

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode, Island, United States   Doctor Alida C. Avery, Photo courtesy of Archives and Specials Collections/Vassar College Library. Source In July 1878, astronomers headed into the American West to observe a total eclipse of the sun. Among them was America’s only woman astronomer, Maria Mitchell of Vassar College, and four of her […]

How conflict and bureaucracy delayed the elimination of yellow fever

Edward McSweegan Kingston, Rhode Island, United States   Army Surgeon General George Miller Sternberg, Wikimedia The Golden Age of Bacteriology (1876-1906) saw the emergence of techniques to cultivate bacterial pathogens and develop vaccines and anti-toxin therapies against them. The new bacteriologists rapidly identified the agents causing anthrax, gonorrhea, typhoid, tuberculosis, cholera, tetanus, diphtheria, plague, and […]