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Cholera Epidemics in the 19th Century

The Great Plague of London, 1665

The Boston Smallpox Epidemic, 1721

“Pestilence” and the Printed Books of the Late 15th Century

Spanish Influenza in North America, 1918–1919

Syphilis, 1494–1923

Tropical Diseases and the Construction of the Panama Canal, 1904–1914

Tuberculosis in Europe and North America, 1800–1922

The Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, 1793

General Materials

Notable People

Related Links

 

Significant Dates: 1494–1948

Specific disease episodes covered in the Contagion collection are highlighted in italics.

  1494 “Syphilis, 1494–1923”  
  1514 Pierre Brissot revives the teaching of Hippocratic medicine.  
  1543 Andreas Vesalius publishes De Fabrica Corporis Humani, which revolutionizes medicine.  
  1546 Girolamo Fracastoro proposes that epidemic diseases are caused by transferable, seed-like entities.  
  1563 Garcia de Orta founds the field of tropical medicine with his treatise on Indian diseases and treatments.  
  1596 Li Shizhen publishes Běncǎo Gāngmù or Compendium of Materia Medica, containing 1,892 distinct herbs and other materia medica.  
  1609 Santorio Santorio introduces the clinical thermometer in Sanctorii Sanctorii Commentaria in primam fen primi libri Canonis Avicennae.  
  1628 William Harvey explains that the heart pumps blood into arteries and that veins carry blood back to the heart.  
  1630–1640 Jesuit missionaries learn of the anti-malarial properties of the bark of the Cinchona tree, which native people had used for hundreds of years to treat fevers.  
  1665 “The Great Plague of London, 1665”  
  1696 Morton presents the first detailed clinical description of malaria and its treatment with cinchona.  
  1701 Giacomo Pylarini gives the first smallpox inoculations in Europe. They were widely practiced in the east before then.  
  1717 Giovanni Maria Lancisi links malaria with poisonous vapors from swamps and names the disease malaria for bad air.  
  1721 “The Boston Smallpox Epidemic, 1721”  
  1790s Samuel Hahnemann rages against the prevalent practice of bloodletting as a universal cure and founds homeopathy.  
  1793 “The Yellow Fever Epidemic in Philadelphia, 1793”  
  1796 Edward Jenner develops a smallpox vaccination method.  
  1800 “Tuberculosis in Europe and US, 1800–1922”  
  1831 “Cholera Epidemics in the 19th Century”
  1847 Ignaz Semmelweis discovers how to prevent puerperal fever, a blood infection passed to women by their doctor or midwife during childbirth. It killed one third of mothers in some hospitals.  
  1849 Elizabeth Blackwell is the first woman to graduate from medical school.
John Snow publishes On the Mode of Communication of Cholera and proposes that cholera is a waterborne disease.
 
  1851 First International Sanitary Conference takes place in Paris.  
  1852–1860 Third cholera epidemic affects mainly Russia, with over one million deaths.  
  1854 John Snow demonstrates a dramatic decrease in cholera after the handle to the community water pump is removed in London’s Soho district.  
  1859 Second International Sanitary Conference takes place in Paris.
  1863–1875 Fourth cholera epidemic spreads, mostly in Europe and Africa.
  1866 Third International Sanitary Conference takes place in Constantinople.
  1874 Fourth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Vienna.
  1890 Microscopical observations by Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran show malaria parasites in a slide of fresh blood.
  1891 Fifth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Washington, D.C.
  1885 Sixth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Rome.
  1888 Charles Louis Alphonse Laveran identifies the malaria parasite.
  1889–1890 Nikolai A. Sakharov in 1889 and Ettore Marchiafava and Angelo Celli in 1890 identify Plasmodium falciparum.
  1890 Emil von Behring discovers antitoxins and uses them to develop tetanus and diphtheria vaccines.
  1892 Seventh International Sanitary Conference takes place in Venice.
  1892 Eighth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Dresden.
  1894 Ninth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Paris.
  1895 Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen discovers medical use of X-rays (Röntgen rays) for medical imaging.
  1896 Anna Wessels Williams and William Park improve methodology for large-scale production of diphtheria antitoxin.
  1897 Tenth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Venice.
  1898 Giovanni Batista Grassi proves that the Anopheles mosquito transmits malaria to people.
  1903 Eleventh International Sanitary Conference takes place in Paris.
  1904 “Tropical Deases and the Construction of the Panama Canal, 1904–1914”
  1911–1912 Twelfth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Paris.
  1914 US completes construction of the Panama Canal.
  1918 “Spanish Influenza in North America, 1918–1919”
  1923 First vaccine developed against diphtheria.
  1926 Thirteenth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Paris.
  1927 First vaccine developed against tuberculosis.
J. Wagner von Jauregg treats syphilis by inoculating patients with the malaria pathogen to induce fever and destroy the temperature-sensitive syphilis bacteria (Treponema pallidum).
  1928 Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin.
  1938 Fourteenth International Sanitary Conference takes place in Paris.
  1943 Chloroquine synthesized to treat malaria.
  1948 The World Health Organization is founded.

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