James Downs is an associate professor of history at Connecticut College and the author of Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction (2012), which examines the unexpected medical consequences of emancipation. His research uncovered a smallpox epidemic which raged from 1862 to 1870 as well as the history of the Freedmen's Hospitals, the first system of federal health care. His research interests include Civil War and Reconstruction; slavery and emancipation; medicine and public health; and gender and sexuality. Downs blogs for the Huffington Post and his articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and The Lancet, among other publications. He is currently working on two book projects. The first is a history of epidemiology with a focus on the nineteenth-century international cholera epidemics. The second is a study of the 1970s, which tells the story of an arson fire in New Orleans in 1973, the largest massacre of gay men in U.S. history; an early version of this research appeared in Time in July 2003.
Image credit: Jaci Downs Photography
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- Dying to Be Free: The Smallpox Epidemic during the Civil War and Reconstruction
- Not without My Daughter: The Postwar Underground World of Harriet and Louisa Jacobs
- The Horror Upstairs: The Largest Massacre of Gay Men in the United States
- Without a Trace: Same-Sex Sexual Violence on Slave Plantations in the United States, 1607-1861