Infectious Disease in American History
Infectious disease, and our response to it, has shaped American history. The museum’s collections document the technologies and techniques employed to prevent, diagnose, and treat infectious disease over the past 200+ years. They shed light on the impact of infectious disease on individuals and communities, the work of medical professionals and scientists, and the role of government in public health.
To learn more, explore our collections, exhibitions, archives, and blogs below.
Find resources and collections by Disease Topic
Learn about the earliest vaccination campaign, and how people around the world worked together to eradicate the dreaded pox.
Learn how citizens across the United States pitched in to help develop and test a vaccine for polio.
Discover why influenza-- once known as “la grippe”—requires a reformulated vaccine every year.
Measles, Mumps, and Rubella
Learn why scientists in the 1960s developed vaccines for common “childhood diseases.”
Examine why public health officials urged tuberculosis patients to safely collect and dispose of their sputum.
Whooping Cough (Pertussis)
Investigate some of the challenges scientists faced when developing a pertussis vaccine.
Infectious Disease and Animals
Consider why the relationships among humans, animals, and microbes are fundamental to understanding infectious disease.
New York City Public Health Collections
Learn about the NYC Health Department and its pioneering work in disease research and prevention.
Immune System Animations and Explanations
Explore how bodies fight infectious disease and how vaccines and other antibody-based technologies work.
Forty Years of American Medicine Abroad
Culture Media Set - for Growing Bacterial Cultures - Parke, Davis & Co.
The pharmaceutical firm, Parke, Davis & Company of Detroit, Michigan, began selling culture media for bacteriological work beginning about 1897. This box of fifty glass culture media tubes was intended for use by universities, medical colleges, boards of health, and hospitals. [MG.142336.01]
Sulph. Quinine, Keasbey and Mattison, Philadelphia
The indications or uses for this product as provided by the manufacturer, or as found in contemporary medical literature, are: For malarial diseases, preventing and curing periodic fevers, remittent fever, yellow fever, inflammatory affections, whooping cough, sunstroke, acute articular rheumatism, typhus, typhoid fever, puerperal fever, scarlet fever, smallpox, erysipelas, diphhtheria, septicemia, asthenic pneumonia, profuse sweating, pneumonia, ulcers, abscesses, eye inflammations, mucous fluxes, whooping cough, hay fever, auditory vertigo, catarrh, gonorrhea, growths, and ulcers [The National Dispensatory, 4th Edition, 1880] [MG.M-01635]
Small Pox / Typhus Fever - This Notice is Posted in Compliance with Law
A doublesided quarantine sign - one side indicates the presence of typhus fever, while the other side indicates the presence of small pox. [2005.3080.03]