Typhoid Fever!

As part of the Valentine Richmond History Center’s continuing initiative to digitize its photograph collection, a group of 50 lantern slides is now available through the museum’s online database.   The slides, donated by the Richmond Health Department in 1981, appear to be associated with the effort to eradicate typhoid fever in the city in 1907. Typhoid fever, a disease spread from human to human through poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions, was very much on the minds of the nation during the early 20th century.  Indeed, the notorious “Typhoid Mary” came to national attention in 1907, as the carrier of the disease in New York.

The Richmond Health Department was started in 1906, and typhoid fever seems to have been an immediate concern.  The first slide in the Health Department collection shows a map entitled  “Map of the City of Richmond-Va. Showing Typhoid Fever Cases, July 1 – Sept. 30, 1907,” with reported cases indicated as small circles.  Several other slides show alleyways strewn with trash, or vacant lots with standing water.  A number of the images show what appears to be a tent city or quarantine camp.

We are looking for more clues about these images, especially the camp. Please contact us if you have any information about the scenes depicted in these fascinating slides!














Laura Carr
Museum Technician
Valentine Richmond History Center