Epidemics in US 1628-1918

"In case you ever wondered why a large number of your ancestors disappeared during a certain period in history, this might help. Epidemics have always had a great influence on people - and thus influencing, as well, the genealogists trying to trace them. Many cases of people disappearing from records can be traced to dying during an epidemic or moving away from the affected area. Some of the major epidemics in the United States are listed below:

1628-1631New EnglandSmall Pox
1638New EnglandSmall Pox & Spotted Fever
1648-1649Massachusetts Bay ColonySmall Pox
1659Massachusetts Bay ColonyThroat Distemper
1677-1678Charlestown & BostonSmall Pox
1679-1680VirginiaSmall Pox
1689-1690New EnglandSmall Pox
1690New YorkYellow Fever
1693Boston, MAYellow Fever
1696Jamestown, VASmall Pox
1699Charleston & PhiladelphiaYellow Fever
Mar 1699South CarolinaSmall Pox
1702New YorkYellow Fever
1702-1703Boston, MASmall Pox
1706CharlestonYellow Fever
1711-1712South CarolinaSmall Pox
1715-1725Most of the ColoniesSmall Pox
1721Boston, MASmall Pox
1723-1730Boston, New York, PhiladelphiaSmall Pox
1732Charleston & New YorkYellow Fever
1735-1740New EnglandSmall Pox, Scarlet Fever & Diphtheria
1734VirginiaYellow Fever
1738South CarolinaSmallpox
1741VirginiaYellow Fever
1752Boston, MASmall Pox
1759N. Amer [areas inhabited by white people]Measles
1760-1761Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachussetts, CharlestonSmall Pox
1761N. Amer and West IndiesInfluenza
1762PhiladelphiaYellow Fever
1763PhiladelphiaThroat Distemper
1764Boston, MASmall Pox
1769New YorkThroat Distemper
1772N. AmericaMeasles
1772-1774New EnglandSmall Pox
1775N. Amer [especially hard in NE] epidemic Unknown
1775-6Worldwide [one of the worst epidemics] Influenza
1776Boston, MASmall Pox
1778Boston, MASmall Pox
1783Dover, DE ["extremely fatal"]Bilious Disorder
1788Philadelphia and New YorkMeasles
1792Boston, MASmall Pox
1793Vermont [a "putrid" fever] and Influenza
1793VA [killed 500 in 5 counties in 4 weeks]Influenza
1793Philadelphia [one of the worst epidemics]Yellow Fever
1793Harrisburg, PA [many unexplained deaths]Unknown
1793Middletown, PA [many mysterious deaths] Unknown
1794Philadelphia, PAYellow Fever
1796-7Philadelphia, PAYellow Fever
1798Philadelphia, PA [one of the worst]Yellow Fever
1803New YorkYellow Fever
1820-3Nationwide [starts-Schuylkill River and spreads]"Fever"
1831-2Nationwide [brought by English emigrants]Asiatic Cholera
1832NY City and other major citiesCholera
1833Columbus, OHCholera
1834New York CityCholera
1841Nationwide [especially severe in the south]Yellow Fever
1847New OrleansYellow Fever
1848-9North AmericaCholera
1849New YorkCholera
1850NationwideYellow Fever
1850-1North AmericaInfluenza
1851Coles Co., IL, The Great Plains, and MissouriCholera
1852Nationwide [New Orleans-8,000 die in summer]Yellow Fever
1855Nationwide [many parts]Yellow Fever
1857-9Worldwide [one of the greatest epidemics]Influenza
1865-73Philadelphia, NY, Boston, New OrleansSmallpox
Baltimore, Memphis, Washington DCCholera
A series of recurring epidemics of:Typhus, Typhoid, Scarlet Fever, Yellow Fever
1873-5N. America and EuropeInfluenza
1878New Orleans [last great epidemic]Yellow Fever
1885Plymouth, PATyphoid
1886Jacksonville, FLYellow Fever
1918Worldwide[high point yr] more people were hospitalized in WWI from this epidemic than wounds. US Army training camps became death camps, with 80% death rate in some campsInfluenza

Sept-Oct, 1997, Newsletter - Genealogical Society of Santa Cruz County "Source: Ancestors West, SSBCGS, Vol 20, No l, Fall 1993, South Bend (IN) Area Genealogical Society via Julie Burnett, Sue in Arizona and Judy Nordgren SMCAGS

Submitted to this page by:
Alison Franks
Archivist, Rawson FAmily Association

Epidemics in Colonial America by John Duffy. baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1953. From the first 4 chapters.


© 2006 by:
Belinda Melton Hughes