Skip to main content
Back to Results
Cover image of Childhood's Deadly Scourge
Cover image of Childhood's Deadly Scourge
Share this Title:

Childhood's Deadly Scourge

The Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880-1930

Evelynn Maxine Hammonds

Publication Date
Binding Type
Request Exam CopyRequest Review Copy

Known as the "deadly scourge of childhood," diphtheria was a highly feared disease in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States. In New York City alone, thousands of cases were reported each year, with large numbers of deaths. Physicians and public health experts viewed diphtheria as one of the most difficult to treat and control of all childhood diseases. In Childhood's Deadly Scourge, Evelynn M. Hammonds describes how New York City became the first city in the United States to apply laboratory-based advances in bacteriology and immunology to the treatment and\u2026

Known as the "deadly scourge of childhood," diphtheria was a highly feared disease in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States. In New York City alone, thousands of cases were reported each year, with large numbers of deaths. Physicians and public health experts viewed diphtheria as one of the most difficult to treat and control of all childhood diseases. In Childhood's Deadly Scourge, Evelynn M. Hammonds describes how New York City became the first city in the United States to apply laboratory-based advances in bacteriology and immunology to the treatment and prevention of this deadly disease–the first such use of scientific medicine in a public health crisis in this country. Critical to the successful control of diphtheria, she argues, were unprecedented efforts to remove the stigma associated with the disease and provide access to treatment and preventive vaccines for the entire population at risk.

By 1930, the successful immunization of thousands of preschool- and school-aged children made evident for the first time the promise and force of the laboratory in infectious disease control. Today, as the threat of AIDS and other new diseases reopens the conflict between the protection of public health and the protection of civil liberties, Childhood's Deadly Scourge reminds us that technical solutions for disease control have complex social implications.

Reviews

Reviews

Evelynn Hammonds has produced a work very sensitive to both the suffering caused by diphtheria and the successes brought on by scientific advance, while demonstrating that those successes were contingent on factors at work in the society at large.

This book is a lucid account of the first successful battle of the laboratory versus disease. Thoroughly researched, logically organized, and well written, it is a good story well told.

Hammond's careful analysis... is a fine example of the insights which historical study can offer modern efforts at limiting the miseries of disease in diverse social situations.

A tightly focused study... set apart from the recent round of histories of infectious disease.

About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
312
ISBN
9780801870972
Illustration Description
1 b&w illus
Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Evelynn Maxine Hammonds

Evelynn Maxine Hammonds is an associate professor of the history of science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.