Masks and "social distancing" are nothing new. Over the centuries, Americans have suffered terribly from smallpox, yellow fever, cholera, typhoid, pellagra, influenza, polio, and other pandemics.
As Covid-19 threatens to push millions of Americans into poverty, we can look to the past for lessons on how to deal with a pandemic.
During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.
Toward the end of World War I, American doctors fought an invisible enemy on the home front — a pandemic that would kill more people than any other outbreak of disease in human history.
As much as nine-tenths of the indigenous population of the Americas died in less than a generation from European pathogens.
A murderous disease was ravaging the south in 1914. Then one brave and determined doctor discovered the cure — and nobody believed him.
Polio’s legacy to those who survived it includes uncommon stamina and courage—and one grim new joke
The emergence of AIDS has added new urgency to the work of an organization that turns eighty this year
Mary Mallon could do one thing very well, and all she wanted was to be left to it
In the past seventy years, while several major diseases have been eradicated, one has risen from obscurity to take its place among the nation’s leading killers.
A disease that no one understood laid waste a major American city. Five thousand died in two months, and Memphis was never the same again.
American medicine in a crucial era was at once surprisingly similar and shockingly different from what we know today. You could get aspirin at the drugstore, and anesthesia during surgery. But you could also buy opium over the counter, and the surgery would be more likely to be performed in your kitchen than in a hospital.
The mysterious diseases that nearly wiped out the Indians of New England were the work of the Christian God — or so both Pilgrims and Indians believed.
It became apparent that this influenza was a first-rate killer.
Why did people fall mortally ill wherever she worked? Typhoid Mary was not about to help the inspector find out
Underschooled and ill-equipped, the men who attended the pioneers practiced a rugged brand of medicine—but they made some major advances all the same
The causes of the cholera epidemic of 1832 were wholly incomprehensible to the people of the time.
In Boston, where one in six was dying of the plague, the great preacher battled for a new and radical idea.
Yellow fever killed 4,000 in Philadelphia in 1793, and puzzled doctors ignored the real clue to blame “miasmata” in the air.