The Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1855

  • Wednesday, Jun 21, 2017 12pm

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Hampton History Museum - 120 Old Hampton Ln.


Join author Benjamin H. Trask as he explores “The Norfolk and Portsmouth Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1855: The Hampton Perspective” at this free lunchtime presentation.

In the summer of 1855, yellow fever struck the populations of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia. The SS Benjamin Franklin imported the pathogen from the Danish West Indies. As thousands of residents fled, hundreds of volunteers from across the country arrived to fight the fever. Physicians advanced various theories as to the origins, causes, and cures involving the disease. However, nothing stopped the fever from consuming more than 3,000 lives; more than ten percent of the populations of both cities. 

During the crisis the village of Hampton and its environs became a point of refuge. Learn what role Fort Monroe, Hampton and Old Point Comfort may have played in the pestilential tragedy and what other dramatic events unfolded.

It would not be until the close of the nineteenth century, that a U.S. Army medical team in Cuba led by Virginia-born Major Walter Reed, MD determined that the blood-seeking Aedes aeygypti mosquito vectored the virus from person to person. So by curbing the mosquito population, public health officials could keep the disease in check.

Trask is a history teacher and the author of "Fearful Ravages: Yellow Fever and New Orleans, 1796-1905" (2005). He has also written a half dozen articles related to the disease. Trask holds graduate degrees from Virginia Tech and North Carolina.

Bring a bag lunch--we'll have free dessert for you!


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