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Epidemics in the United States 1628-1918

"In case you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, this might help. Epidemics have always had a great influence on people - and thus influencing, as well, the genealogists trying to trace them. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area. Some of the major epidemics in the United States are listed below:


Years Area Epidemic
1628-1631 New England Small Pox
1638 New England Small Pox & Spotted Fever
1648-1649 Massachusetts Bay Colony Small Pox
1657-1658 Boston Measles
1659 Massachusetts Bay Colony Throat Distemper
1677-1678 Charlestown & Boston Small Pox
1679-1680 Virginia Small Pox
1687 Boston Measles
1689-1690 New England Small Pox
1690 New York Yellow Fever
1693 Boston, MA Yellow Fever
1696 Jamestown, VA Small Pox
1699 Charleston & Philadelphia Yellow Fever
Mar 1699 South Carolina Small Pox
1702 New York Yellow Fever
1702-1703 Boston, MA Small Pox
1706 Charleston Yellow Fever
1711-1712 South Carolina Small Pox
1713 Boston Measles
1715-1725 Most of the Colonies Small Pox
1721 Boston, MA Small Pox
1723-1730 Boston, New York, Philadelphia Small Pox
1729 Boston Measles
1732 Charleston & New York Yellow Fever
1732-3 Worldwide Influenza
1735-1740 New England Small Pox, Scarlet Fever & Diphtheria
1734 Virginia Yellow Fever
1738 South Carolina Smallpox
1739-40 Boston Measles
1741 Virginia Yellow Fever
1747 CT,NY,PA,SC Measles
1752 Boston, MA Small Pox
1759 N. Amer [areas inhabited by white people] Measles
1760-1761 Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachussetts, Charleston Small Pox
1761 N. Amer and West Indies Influenza
1762 Philadelphia Yellow Fever
1763 Philadelphia Throat Distemper
1764 Boston, MA Small Pox
1769 New York Throat Distemper
1772 N. America Measles
1772-1774 New England Small Pox
1775 N. Amer [especially hard in NE] epidemic Unknown
1775-6 Worldwide [one of the worst epidemics] Influenza
1776 Boston, MA Small Pox
1778 Boston, MA Small Pox
1783 Dover, DE ["extremely fatal"] Bilious Disorder
1788 Philadelphia and New York Measles
1792 Boston, MA Small Pox
1793 Vermont [a "putrid" fever] and Influenza
1793 VA [killed 500 in 5 counties in 4 weeks] Influenza
1793 Philadelphia [one of the worst epidemics] Yellow Fever
1793 Harrisburg, PA [many unexplained deaths] Unknown
1793 Middletown, PA [many mysterious deaths] Unknown
1794 Philadelphia, PA Yellow Fever
1796-7 Philadelphia, PA Yellow Fever
1798 Philadelphia, PA [one of the worst] Yellow Fever
1803 New York Yellow Fever
1820-3 Nationwide [starts-Schuylkill River and spreads] "Fever"
1831-2 Nationwide [brought by English emigrants] Asiatic Cholera
1832 NY City and other major cities Cholera
1833 Columbus, OH Cholera
1834 New York City Cholera
1837 Philadelphia Typhus
1841 Nationwide [especially severe in the south] Yellow Fever
1847 New Orleans Yellow Fever
1847-8 Worldwide Influenza
1848-9 North America Cholera
1849 New York Cholera
1850 Nationwide Yellow Fever
1850-1 North America Influenza
1851 Coles Co., IL, The Great Plains, and Missouri Cholera
1852 Nationwide [New Orleans-8,000 die in summer] Yellow Fever
1855 Nationwide [many parts] Yellow Fever
1857-9 Worldwide [one of the greatest epidemics] Influenza
1860-1 Pennsylvania Smallpox
1865-73 Philadelphia, NY, Boston, New Orleans Smallpox
  Baltimore, Memphis, Washington DC Cholera
  A series of recurring epidemics of: Typhus, Typhoid, Scarlet Fever, Yellow Fever
1873-5 N. America and Europe Influenza
1878 New Orleans [last great epidemic] Yellow Fever
1885 Plymouth, PA Typhoid
1886 Jacksonville, FL Yellow Fever
1918 Worldwide[high point yr] more people were hospitalized in WWI from this epidemic than wounds. US Army training camps became death camps, with 80% death rate in some camps Influenza

Sept-Oct, 1997, Newsletter - Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County "Source: Ancestors West, SSBCGS, Vol 20, No l, Fall 1993, South Bend (IN) Area Genealogical Society via Julie Burnett, Sue in Arizona and Judy Nordgren SMCAGS

Epidemics in Colonial America by John Duffy. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1953. From the first 4 chapters.


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