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Other titles in the Harvard Historical Studies series:

Public Health in the Town of Boston, 1630-1822 (Harvard Historical Studies)


Public Health in the Town of Boston, 1630-1822 (Harvard Historical Studies) Cover


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Publisher Comments:

In this book, based almost exclusively on original source material, Dr. Blake takes a detailed look at the public health history of the town of Boston. Historically, the author tells us, public health may be viewed as the science and art of preventing disease and promoting health through organized community activity. A significant part of this study is the insight it offers into the early attitudes toward disease and death as well as other basic political, social, and economic questions.

Dr. Blake outlines the development of public health practice from occasional emergency measures to a continuing program for the prevention and control of certain epidemic diseases. The introduction and increasing use of smallpox inoculation and later of vaccination are described and their importance evaluated. The book also discusses the further developments in the 1790's and the following two decades that resulted from a series of yellow-fever epidemics in northern seaports, including the establishment of a board of health and its efforts to prevent recurrence of this disease. The prevention of other endemic infectious diseases, though far more important in their effect on the community's health, was largely neglected. Nevertheless, the principles of notification, isolation, and quarantine had been established and the need for governmental activity to protect the public health, for special public health officials, and for expenditure of tax money for public health purposes had been recognized.

This study, restricted in time to the period before Boston became a city (1630 1822), deals with the early years of the public health movement, a period that ha$ been largely neglected. In comparing Boston's experience with that of other cobnies and England, Dr. Blake presents the European background in both the theory and practice of epidemiology and public health. The colonies themselves, whose differences caused many contemporaries to despair of their ever becoming a single nation, were yet bound by an essential homogeneity. "By and large they had the same language, the same religion, the same inheritance of British social and political ideals. And by and large they had the same diseases. Thus the history of public health in Boston becomes significant for the whole American experience."

Table of Contents

1. The Seventeenth Century

2. Founding a Basic Policy,1691-1720

3. The Medical Profession and Public Health,1720-1775

4. The Inoculation Controversy, 1721-1722

5. The Smallpox Era, 1722-1775

6. Endemic Disease and Public Health,1720-1775

7. The Revolutionary Era, 1775-1792

8. The Impact of Yellow Fever, 1793-1800

9. The Conquest of Smallpox,1798-1822

10. Quarantine and Yellow Fever,1800-1822

11. Sanitation and Endemic Disease,1800-1822

12. Public Health and Politics,1800-1824

Appendix 1: The Statistics of Smallpox Inoculation

Appendix 2: Population, Deaths, and Death Rates, Boston,1701-1774

Appendix 3: Mortality Statistics of Boston, 1812-1821

A Note on the Sources


Product Details

Blake, John B.
Harvard University Press
Public Health
United States - State & Local
United States - State & Local - General
General Medical
HISTORY / United States / State & Local / New England (CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT)
Edition Description:
Harvard Historical Studies (Hardcover)
Series Volume:
Publication Date:
December 1959
Grade Level:
1 halftone, 7 tables
9 x 6 in 16 oz

Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Medical Specialties
History and Social Science » Americana » General

Public Health in the Town of Boston, 1630-1822 (Harvard Historical Studies) New Hardcover
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Product details 278 pages Harvard University Press - English 9780674722507 Reviews:
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