Pandemics, Public Health, and Disease

Members, St. Louis Red Cross Motor Corps on duty on 5 ambulances. Influenza Epidemic. Missouri St. Louis. United States missouri st. louis, 1918. Photograph.

America’s “New Normal” isn’t actually all that new. These U. S. historians cover topics that include epidemics, public health emergencies, disease, vaccination, pharmaceutical issues, the politics of health, and xenophobia and can provide perspective on the novel coronavirus of 2020.

SPEAKERS ON THIS TOPIC

Michael Willrich

Pox Populi: The Epidemic That Changed American Law

Should the government have the power to compel the people to get vaccinated against a deadly disease, even if the vaccine itself carries real health risks to individuals? As epidemic smallpox raged across the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, ordinary Americans put this question...(Read More)

Leslie J. Reagan

Dangerous Pregnancies: How an Epidemic Pushed Forward Women's Reproductive Rights

Reagan chronicles for the first time the discoveries and dilemmas of the German Measles epidemic of the early 1960s and how it created national anxiety about dying, disabled, and “dangerous” babies. This epidemic would ultimately transform abortion politics, produce new science, and help build...(Read More)

Sharla M. Fett

Community, Calling, and Consciousness: Southern Black Midwifery and the Politics of Health

Between the 1850s and the 1950s, the changing political economy of Black birth shaped the way that African American midwives did their work. Enslaved midwives worked to deliver and preserve Black babies and mothers in the midst of the violence and commodification of chattel slavery. By the early...(Read More)

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