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 (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.
Jump to: Sample Articles
- 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:
- "Dr. Wolfe's Common Sense,"
Daily Cairo Bulletin (Cairo, IL),
April 27, 1882, page 1, image 1, column 4.
- "The New Discovery of the Cause of Consumption,"
Evening Bulletin (Marysville, KY),
May 12, 1882, page 1, image 1, column 3.
- "Consumption, The Greatest Scourge,"
The Herald (Los Angeles, CA),
March 27, 1898, page 16, image 18, column 5.
- "Beauty and Consumption,"
The Sun (New York, NY),
August 5, 1906, image 15, column 1.
- "How to Keep Well,"
The Broad Ax (Salt Lake City, UT), February 8, 1908, page 1, image 1, column 3.
- "Red Cross in Crusade,"
New York Tribune (New York, NY) April 29, 1908, page 5, image 5, column 3.
- "Heavy Toll Among Redman,"
Bismark Daily Tribune (Bismark, ND),
March 25, 1909, page 2, image 2, column 5.
- "One Third of America Dies Before Its Day,"
Los Angeles Herald (Los Angeles, CA), November 6, 1910, image 35, column 1.
- "They Bury the Children- Ignorance and Poverty,"
The Times Dispatch (Richmond, VA), March 6, 1913, image 56, column 1.
- "The Battles in the White Plagues Lair,"
Ogden Standard (Ogden City, UT), December 27, 1913, 4 o'clock PM City Edition, image 16, column1.
- "Health News,"
Hopkinsville Kentuckian (Hopskinsville, KY), June 3, 1916, page 8, image 8, column 4.
- "Baptists Plan Vigorous War Upon Tuberculosis in the South,"
The Camden Chronicle (Camden, TN) November 28, 1919, image 4, column 1.
- "The Enemy Within the Lines,"
The Dearborn Independent (Dearborn, MI) January 17, 1920, page 10, image 10, column 1 .
- "Fighting Tuberculosis in the Wolverine State,"
The Owosso Times (Owosse, MI) December 2, 1921, Christmas Seal Supplement, image 13.
- "Tuberculosis Death Rate is Reduced Half,"
The Washington Times (Washington, DC) May 4, 1922, page 2, image 2, column 8.