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Biology 467 - Epidemics and Plagues

Materials related to epidemics and the treatment of illnesses can be found in the holdings of Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library. Epidemics of local (and national) significance, such as cholera in the 19th century and tuberculosis in the 20th century are well represented. The prevalence of illness and death as a concern of daily life is often addressed in correspondence. Both doctors and average individuals often kept journals of useful remedies of either chemical or herbal composition.

Books and Manuscript Collections


Poets for life : seventy-six poets respond to AIDS / edited with an introduction by Michael Klein ; essays by Paul Moore, Jr., Joseph Papp, and Carol Muske. New York : Crown Publishers, c1989.

LOCATION: Special Collections  PS595 .A36 P64 1989


Bailey, Joseph.

Proclamation: whereas the burgesses and assistants of the borough of Wilmington, have received information of the existence and prevalence of an infectious and contagious disease in the city and suburbs of Philadelphia... Wilmington, DE: Health-Office 1803

LOCATION: Special Collections Delaware   In Process 

[Cholera or Yellow Fever?]

MSS 98 F149 John C. Hull Letters to John Thomson

[1832 cholera epidemic in Wheeling, (West) Virginia]

MSS 133 George Handy papers

[Epidemics of smallpox, yellow fever, and cholera were specifically reported in the correspondence, as such episodes threatened quarantines and other risks for commercial shipping. Cholera swept the country in 1848/1849, as described in news from New Orleans, Kentucky, Tennessee, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati.]

MSS 161 Lukens Family papers

[Box 6, F51]
[cholera outbreak in Philadelphia (1832)]

MSS 253 Dr. Charles Sajous papers

[Box 1, F5]
[1893 cholera outbreak]

MSS 303 Wilson Family papers

[Box 1, F11]
[cholera outbreak in Philadelphia]


MSS 449 Littell family papers

T. Gardiner Littell (II) Diaries: Volume I.A. “For the Winter and Spring terms, 1919” [Box 4, F117]
[Red cloth covered “Memorandum” notebook describes how Gardiner, at age sixteen, coped with the death of his mother, Gertrude Wilson Littell, during the influenza epidemic of 1919.]


[Bertrand, Jean Baptiste] 1670-1752.

An historical account of the plague at Marseilles ... publish'd by authority at Paris, and faithfully translated from the original French, by a physician; to which is added, a letter from Monsieur Pons ... discovering the nature and cause of the pestilence, its symptoms, and the methods and medicine used for the recovery of the infected. London, Billingsley, 1721.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC178 .F9 M2313 1721

An historical narrative of the great plague at London, 1665: with an abstract of the most common opinions concerning the causes, symptoms, and cure of that fatal disorder. And some account of other remarkable plagues, ancient and modern, interspersed with many observable passages of history, &c.  London: Printed for W. Nicoll, 1769.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC172 .H57 1769

Hodges, Nathaniel, 1629-1688.

Loimologia, or, An historical account of the plague in London in 1605 : with precautionary directions against the like contagion / by Nath. Hodges ... ; to which is added, an essay on the different causes of pestilential diseases, and how they become contagious ; with remarks on the infection now in France, and the most probable means to prevent its spreading here, by John Quincy. London : Printed for E. Bell ... , 1720.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC178 .G7 L74

Howard, John, 1726-1790.

An account of the principal lazarettos in Europe; with various papers relative to the plague: together with further observations on some foreign prisons and hospitals; and additional remarks on the present state of those in Great Britain and Ireland. By John Howard ... London, Printed for J. Johnson, C. Dilly, and T. Cadell, 1791.

LOCATION: Special Collections  Folio HV8980 .H6 1791

Patrick, Simon, 1626-1707.

The hearts ease, or, A remedy against all troubles : with a consolatory discourse particularly directed to those who have lost their friends and dear relations : to which is now added, two papers printed in the time of the late plague / by Symon Patrick. London : Printed by J.M. for F. Tyton ..., 1682.

LOCATION: Special Collections  BJ1551 .P37 1682

Webster, Noah, 1758-1843.

A brief history of epidemic and pestilential diseases: with the principal phenomena of the physical world, which precede and accompany them, and observations deduced from the facts stated ... by Noah Webster. Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1799.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RA649 .W3 1799


MSS 97 Item 139 Notebooks of Samuel Proctor Kerns containing notes on lectures given by Jacob M. Da Costa from 1889 to 1891 on diseases of the nervous, circulatory, and respiratory systems.

[Includes polio and other illnesses]


Smith, Elias, 1769-1846.

Atlas of colored plates illustrating features of anatomy, surgery, deformities, displacements, strictures, fistulas, cancer, syphilis, glanders, etc. etc. / designed for ready reference by Elias Smith. Peoria, Ill. : American manikin company, c1889.

LOCATION: Special Collections  Folio RD41 .S63 1889

Tuberculosis (and "Consumption")

Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce.

Winning health in the Pikes Peak region; Colorado Springs--Manitou, Colorado ... issued by the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce. Colorado Springs, Col. [c1923]

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC 313 .C6 C5

Delaware Anti-Tuberculosis Society.

Annual report of the Delaware Anti-Tuberculosis Society. Wilmington, Del. : The Society,

LOCATION: Special Collections Delaware   RC306 .D45

Duncan, Andrew, 1744-1828.

Observations on the distinguishing symptoms of three different species of pulmonary consumption: the catarrhal, the apostematous, and the tuberculous ... To which is added, an appendix, on the preparation and use of lactucarium, or lettuce-opium, by Andrew Duncan.  Philadelphia: Published by Collins & Croft, No. 73, Market Street. W. Brown, Printer, Prune Street. 1819.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC311 .D92 1819

H. E. Bucklen & Company.

Dr. King's: new discovery for consumption, coughs and colds : Souvenir of the World's Columbian Exposition, Chicago, 1893. Chicago : H. E. Bucklen, [1893?]

Special Collections  T500.L1 B83

Laws, rules, regulations relating to tuberculosis. Delaware : arranged by topic / compiled by Mary Graham Mack. New York, N.Y. : Published by National Tuberculosis Association, 1947.

LOCATION: Special Collections  Delaware   RC313 .D3 N37

McClintock, David A.

Final report on community organization, operations, finances, results, November 1952-March 1954 / Delaware Statewide Chest X-ray Survey, Inc.  [Wilmington, Del. : The Survey, 1954].

LOCATION: Special Collections Delaware   RC313 .D3 D46

Rafinesque, C. S. (Constantine Samuel), 1783-1840.

The pulmist, or, Introduction to the art of curing and preventing the consumption or chronic phthisis. Philadelphia, printed for the author, 1829.

LOCATION: Special Collections Horticulture   SB91 .A2 R344 1829

Shew, Joel, 1816-1855.

Consumption, its prevention and cure by the water treatment : with advice concerning hæmorrhage from the lungs, coughs, colds, asthma, bronchitis, and sore throat / by Joel Shew. New York : Fowler and Wells, 1854.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC311.3 .W38 S54x 1854

Spread of tuberculosis is alarming ; Snakes in Delaware.  [1904?]

LOCATION: Special Collections Delaware   RC312.3 .B56

Tinsman, George H.

History of the Delaware Anti-Tuberculosis Society, 1904-1954 / [prepared by George H. Tinsman ; condensed and edited by David A. McClintock]. Wilmington, Del. : [The Society?, 1955?]

LOCATION: Special Collections Delaware   RC306 .D46 T54

United States. Army. General Hospital (Fort Bayard, N.M.)

The U. S. Army General Hospital, Fort Bayard, New Mexico. [Washington, D.C. : G.P.O.], 1908.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC309 .N48 A65x 1908

MSS 97 Item 104 Emily Shore Diaries

Vol. 12, 1838-1839. 2 vols. Final volume of a multi-volume diary kept by a young nineteenth century English woman.
[Her health deteriorates considerably in the last passages, perhaps from consumption?]

Remedies & General Health Information

Buchan, William, 1729-1805.

Domestic medicine: or, A treatise on the prevention and cure of diseases by regimen and simple medicines. With an appendix, containing a dispensatory for the use of private practitioners. By William Buchan ... Hartford, Printed by Nathaniel Pattern, 1789.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC81 .B9 1789

Child, Lydia Maria Francis, 1802-1880.

The family nurse, or, Companion of the frugal housewife, rev. by a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society. Boston, Hendee, 1837.

LOCATION: Special Collections  RC81 .C53 1837

Day, L. Meeker.

The botanic family physician, or, The secret of curing all diseases on improved hygeian principles :  fully disclosed : containing also, formulas, or recipes, for the cure of every disease incidental to human nature : together with a valuable digest on midwifery ... / by L. Meeker Day. New-York : [s.n.], 1833.

LOCATION: Special Collections  Horticulture   RV 3 .D27x 1833

Merlin, Lewis.

The treasure of health, or, A wonderful collection of the most valuable secrets in medicine: for the cure of all diseases, wounds, and other accidents to which the human body is subject, with the method of preparing, and instructions for using, the necessary remedies, carefully collected by a benevolent society in Europe; faithfully translated from the French and other foreign languages, and published for the benefit of humanity. Philadelphia: Printed for the society. 1819.

LOCATION: Special Collections Horticulture   SB91 .A2 M463 1819

Thompson, John C.

A medical reform and laborers release from quackery, imposition and expense : containing the nature and cause of disease and remedies, from the best botanical authors yet published ... / by John C. Thompson, John Gregory, &c. [S.l.] : Printed for James Cadez & A. Bennet, Agents, 1834.

LOCATION: Special Collections Horticulture   SB91 .A2 T44 1834

Thomson, Samuel, 1769-1843.

New guide to health, or, Botanic family physician: Containing a complete system of practice on a plan entirely new: with a description of the vegetables made use of, and directions for preparing and administering them, to cure disease. To which is prefixed, a narrative of the life and medical discoveries of the author, by Samuel Thomson. Boston, Printed for the author, J. Q. Adams, printer, 1835.

LOCATION: Special Collections Horticulture   SB91 .A2 T444 1835

MSS 97 Item 90 Manuscript Recipe Book, circa 1721–1766

[This mid-eighteenth century physician’s notebook, apparently English in origin, is filled with medicinal receipts and several food receipts.]

MSS 97 Item 100 Manuscript Recipes, circa 1800–1850

[This undated, handwritten manuscript includes approximately forty-five cookery and medical recipes.]

MSS 97 Item 107 Sarah K. Fotterall Manuscript Recipe Book, circa 1800–1864

[This early to mid-nineteenth century manuscript book records recipes for food and medicinal cures. It belonged to Sarah K. Fotterall who may have lived in the Mid-Atlantic region, possibly Philadelphia.]

MSS 97 Item 108 John L. Davis Medicinal Formulae and Household Recipes

[Philadelphia chemist John Davis’s manuscript book is filled with medicinal formulae and numerous laid-in receipts and household hints. There are over 135 items as varied as medicinal receipts, graduation announcements, poetry, sketches, and a silhouette.]

MSS 97 Item 129 W. O. George Manuscript Medicinal Recipe Book, 1836–1869

[W. O. George’s nineteenth century manuscript volume comprising approximately fifty pages of handwritten medicinal recipes of a chemical nature.]

Related Items of Interest

Chester, Frederick D.

Bacteriological and pathological laboratory : of the Delaware State Board of Health / Fred'k D. Chester, Albert Robin. Newark, Del. : [Delaware State Board of Health], 1899.

LOCATION: Special Collections Delaware   RA424.8 .C44x 1899 Non-Circulating 

MSS 97 Item 56 Journal of Dr. Stanley Hart Osborn describing his work with the Red Cross in Serbia and Montenegro in 1915.

MSS 97 Item 116 Athaliah Voorhies Journal, 1838-1844

[Early nineteenth century American journal of religious meditation and daily hardship. Reflects on many deaths]

Trade Catalogs [Ma]
Malt-nutrine, the greatest of tonics, 1896

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