Willrich Discusses The History of Smallpox
Jul 08, 2011

Sometimes it’s in the context of forced vaccinations.  Sometimes it’s in the context of disease eradication.  However, in various debates regarding the morality, ethics, safety and effectiveness of vaccines, the conversation often explores the public health initiatives and private medical decisions that occurred during America’s battle with smallpox.
A few months ago, one of our favorite resources, The History Of Vaccines, sponsored a book talk at the The College of Physicians of Philadelphia with the author of POX: An American History (The Penguin Press).  Michael Willrich, PhD, discussed how the nation’s continent-wide fight against smallpox in the early 1900s launched one of the most important civil liberties struggles of the twentieth century.   The measures enacted to contain the disease – quarantines, pesthouses, and “virus squads” – sparked a wave of popular resistance among Americans who perceived them as a threat to their health and to their rights.
Fortunately, Willrich’s book-talk was filmed for C-SPAN’s BookTV, and is schedule to air on Saturday, July 9 at 3:30pm ET. If you can’t view or record the program, you can always view this hour-long segment from the C-SPAN Video Library here.  The video includes the full length of Willrich’s talk, as well as the question and answer session.
We want to thank History of Vaccines for their efforts in making this possible and for alerting us to the broadcast.  Feel free to post your comments and reviews of the video and book here.


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