The skepticism that appeared, even among the most enlightened of medical men when my sentiments on the important subject of cow-pox were first promulgated, was highly laudable. To have admitted the truth of the doctrine, at once so novel and so unlike any thing that ever appeared in the annals of medicine, without the test of the most rigid scrutiny, would have bordered upon temerity. -- Edward Jenner (1749-1823), A Continuation of Facts and Observations Relative to the Variolae Vaccinae, or Cow-Pox, from Familiar Medical Quotations
On May 14th, 1798, an English country doctor by the name of Edward Jenner tried an innovative technique. Inspired by the curious blisters on a cow's udders and resistance to disease by local milkmaids, Dr. Jenner took fluid from the blister and rubbed it into a scratch on a young boy to test his immunity. Though a blister quickly appeared, the boy recovered, only to be injected weeks later with a small amount of the fluid -- proving no further spread of disease. While cowpox was not smallpox -- the latter being a disfiguring and often deadly disease that began roughly 10,000 BC and killed millions worldwide, Jenner's work set the stage for vaccination, or administration of small amounts or weakened forms of virus, to prevent infectious disease.
In the following centuries, vaccines were developed for polio, measles, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitus B, yellow fever, and in recent months, COVID-19.
The following articles are drawn from Proquest Historical Newspapers, which informs and inspires classroom teaching and learning.
- Genius Of Jenner: Stamping Out Small-Pox. (1923, Feb 23). The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Kaempffert, W. (1947, Apr 20). New Yorkers Benefit By Jenner's Discovery: Vaccination Of All Is the Simple Way To Obliterate Smallpox Completely. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- 1796--Triumph Of Vaccine--1955. (1955, Apr 20). Atlanta Daily World (1932-2003)
- Bengelsdorf, I. S. (1961, Dec 28). Of Atoms and Men: Cow Showed Way To Halt Smallpox. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995)
- Madaan, M. (1962, Dec 02). Smallpox Vaccine Pioneer Was Persecuted. The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Kilian, M. (1967, Mar 02). Jenner School Namesake Found Cure For Smallpox. Chicago Tribune (1963-1996)
- Universal Vaccine. (1967, May 06). The Times of India (1861-Current)
- Silk, A. D. (1976, Feb 26). The 'Spectacular' Triumph Over Smallpox. Los Angeles Times (1923-1995)
- Tell Me Why: Men Of Medicine ...Edward Jenner. (1976, Mar 20). The Austin American Statesman (1973-1980)
- Gross, J. (1988, Jan 31). Plague Years In the Imagery Of Those Who Endured Them. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Groopman, J. G. (1999, Apr 18). Pox Britannica: How a Case Of Smallpox Led To the Most Modern Of Medicines. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- Altman, L. K. (2016, Oct 04). Comrades In the Smallpox Fight: Remembering the Man Who Turned a Failure Into the First Eradication Of a Disease. New York Times (1923-Current File)
- See our recent Everett Cafe book display, Understanding Vaccines, for interesting e-books on the history and politics of vaccines, with handbooks that address types of and schedules for inoculations.
- Edward Jenner, Freedom Of the City Of London, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
- Special News Slide, Courtesy of the Gottesman Libraries (forthcoming)
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