"Walk With Me": David Barnes/Cholera, Color, and Public Health in Historic Philadelphia


In 1793, Philadelphia was the nation’s capital, largest city, and busiest seaport. At this same time that year—late summer and early fall—an invisible invader struck the city with deadly force. In about two months, roughly 5,000 Philadelphians (out of a total population of 50,000) lay dead of yellow fever, an acutely painful disease sometimes known as “the black vomit.” The epidemic devastated the city and shocked the entire country; nothing like it had happened before in the North American colonies or in the United States.


Join David Barnes, Associate Professor of the History and Sociology of Science, and Director of Penn’s Health and Societies Program, as we visit a variety of sites in the Old City and Society Hill neighborhoods in which reminders of 1793 can be found. We will reflect on how Philadelphians responded to fear and loss, how members of the city’s free black population became heroic caregivers, and how disaster gave birth to a new regime of American public health policy. SEPTA tokens will be provided.

Meet at the front of New College House at 5.00 for a 5.15. departure.


Friday September 29th, 2017
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM