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Topics in Chronicling America - Tuberculosis/ Consumption/ White Plague

The mass urbanization and industrialization of the mid nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States brought with it economic prosperity and modernity, but the cost was steep. Poverty, poor sanitation, and environmental pollution all helped to let loose the highly contagious disease of consumption, or tuberculosis. The White Plague, as it was called, was so prevalent that it engulfed many newspapers with articles ranging from stories of "consumptive beauty" to desperate entreaties for resources to fight the disease. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection ( Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.

Picture of hospital staff

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • 1882. Dr. Koch in Germany asserts that tuberculosis is caused by a parasite.
  • April 1908. Red Cross joins "crusade" against tuberculosis.
  • December 1913. It is reported that 200,000 Americans die of tuberculosis each year and that 1,000,000 are living with the disease.
  • May 1922. Tuberculosis death rate reduced by half over the previous 10 years.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] tuberculosis, consumption, consumptive beauty, white plague.
  • It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results.

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  July 8, 2016
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