Skip to main content

History of Diseases

Explore library resources related to the history of various diseases.


A highly communicable, viral disease. Symptoms are headache, vomiting and high fever preceding the eruption of a rash or pox which disfigures the skin. High mortality rate, one of the major epidemic killers before the discovery of a vaccine. Considered eradicated from the human population in 1977.

Other terms

  • variola

Other Search Terms

  • vaccination
  • inoculation
  • cowpox
  • rubella

followed by "early works" for primary material or "history" for secondary material.

Famous names

  • Edward Jenner, (1749-1823), English physician
  • Mary Montague, (1689-1762), English aristocrat

Famous patients

  • Elizabeth I, (1533-1603), Queen of England (she didn't die)
  • Mary II, (1662-1694), Queen of England

In Film

  • National Film Board of Canada & Jefferson Lewis. Outbreak: anatomy of a plague. 2010. 90 mins.

In 1885 Montreal was the site of the last urban epidemic of smallpox in the modern world. This film asks the question what have we learned from that tragedy? Interviews feature front-line doctors, epidemiologists, journalists and senior emergency planners speculating on the lessons of history and how a contemporary pandemic could become reality. Smallpox alone has killed more people throughout history than all wars combined. Pandemics are a fact of life in our global village.

  • Youtube has some interesting footage and photographs.