Selected Texts

The texts used in the quantitative analysis were largely influenced by the availability of “clean” OCR. However, the seven chosen each represent an important perspective in the inoculation debate.DouglasAbuses

  1. A dissertation concerning inoculation of the small-pox. Giving some account of the rise, progress, success, advantages and disadvantages of receiving the small pox by incisions illustrated by sundry cases of the inoculated. – By Dr. William Douglass, 1730 (Labeled on the graphs as “Douglass (Dissertation)”) View the text here

A factual account of the history of smallpox inoculation. William Douglass was a Scottish physician trained in the medical schools of Europe. He is less critical of the practice itself, but more of the way in which it was carried out during the epidemic. He criticizes Cotton Mather and Dr. Boylston and analyzes the benefits and dangers of inoculation, especially arguing that inoculation could be a danger to your neighbor because of the risk of infection.

  1. The abuses and scandals of some late pamphlets in favour of inoculation of the small pox, modestly obviated, and inoculation further consider’d in a letter to A- S- M.D. & F.R.S. in London – By William Douglass, 1722 (Labeled on the graphs as “Douglass (Abuses)”) View the document here

An anti-inoculation piece published shortly after the end of the epidemic. William Douglass focuses his arguments on criticisms of the authority of those promoting inoculation. The intended audience was the citizens of Boston, but Douglass wrote it as a letter to an imaginary individual who was an elite doctor and member of the royal society of London, implying that discussion of inoculation is only suitable for qualified practitioners.

  1. Several arguments, proving, that inoculating the small pox is not contained in the law of physick, either natural or divine, and therefore unlawful :  together with a reply to two short pieces, one by the Rev. Dr. Increase Mather, and another by an anonymous author, intituled, Sentiments on the small pox inoculated : and also a short answer to a late letter in the New-England Courant – By John Williams, 1721  (View the document here)

This document was an anti-inoculation piece published in the heat of the debate. John Williams was a tobacconist and apothecary known for his relative illiteracy and poor spelling. He argues against inoculation for religious reasons, quoting several scripture texts but also criticizes inoculation from a medical perspective.

  1. A sermon against the dangerous and sinful practice of inoculation. Preach’d at St. Andrew’s Holborn, on Sunday, July the 8th, 1722 – By Edmund Massey, 1722 (View the text here)

The text of a sermon preached against inoculation after the epidemic had ended. Edmund Massey was a conservative Puritan minister. His main argument against inoculation was that God sends smallpox to judge man and inoculation replaces Gods’ will with man’s will. He also questions the effectiveness of the practice.

  1. “A reply to the objections made against taking the small pox in the way of inoculation from principles of conscience :  in a letter to a friend in the country”  – By William Cooper, 1730 (View the document here)

A promotion of inoculation refuting several religious arguments against inoculation. William Cooper was a Puritan minister. This document was first published anonymously in 1721 and later reprinted along with a historical account of inoculation written by another minister.

  1. An historical account of the small-pox inoculated in New England, upon all sorts of persons, whites, blacks, and of all ages and constitutions :  with some account of the nature of the infection in the natural and inoculated way, and their different effects on human bodies : with some short directions to the unexperienced in this method of practice” – By Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, 1726 (View the document here)

This document was written is a factual account of inoculation during the epidemic by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston. Boylston was an apothecary, doctor, and surgeon trained by apprenticeship. He wrote this account after a visit to London where he was encouraged to write a testimony of his practice by those seeking to promote inoculation in London. Boylston carefully records the names, date, and circumstances of each inoculation that he performed, including honest reports of six deaths and tables of data.

  1. “Some account of what is said of inoculating or transplanting the small pox /  by the learned Dr. Emanuel Timonius, and Jacobus Pylarinus ; with some remarks thereon ; to which are added, a few quaeries in answer to the scruples of many about the lawfulness of this method ; published by Dr. Zabdiel Boylstone” – By Cotton Mather 1721 (View the document here)

This document was published by Dr. Zabdiel Boylston, the doctor who performed the inoculations in Boston, but the text is attributed to Cotton Mather. It contains three sections. The first in an abridged account of the reports from the two men concerning inoculation in the East that was published by the Royal Society of London in Philosophical Transactions. Next Mather makes some remarks on the issue and finally asks a series of rhetorical questions in response to objections that have been raise on inoculation

This is a list of the texts included in the quantitative analysis. For the full list of primary sources used in this research project click here

Click the links below to learn more about the methodology of this project

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