HISTORY This Week

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The Deadly Puzzle of Yellow Fever

Season 3

August 27, 1900. Dr. Jesse Lazear, a U.S. Army surgeon, walks into Las Animas Hospital Yellow Fever ward in Havana Cuba, toting a brood of mosquitos. He has the system down: remove the cotton stopper that keeps the mosquito penned in its glass vial, turn the vial over, and seal it against a consenting infected patient’s skin. Chasing the source of Yellow Fever, scientists try to understand this deadly plague by running a high-stakes medical experiment on human subjects. But today, those subjects will include themselves. Why did ordinary people—and the doctors running the experiment—willingly and knowingly consent to take part in this study? And when we look back, should we be horrified... or impressed?


Special thanks to our guests: Dr. Kathryn Olivarius of Stanford University and author of, Necropolis: Disease, Power, and Capitalism in the Cotton Kingdom, as well as Molly Crosby author of, The American Plague: The Untold Story of Yellow Fever the Epidemic That Shaped Our History.

More Episodes

11/28/2022

A Meteorite Hits Ann Hodges

Season 4
November 30, 1954. At about 12:45 in the afternoon, a space rock comes plummeting through the roof of a house in Sylacauga, Alabama. It bounces off a standup radio, ricochets around the living room, and collides with the thigh of Mrs. Ann Hodges, who’s been napping on the couch. Newspapers declare: “experts agreed unanimously that Mrs. Hodges was the first person known to have been struck by a meteorite.” What happened to this space rock after it crashed to Earth and thrust itself into volatile human affairs? And what happened to the human beings whose lives were upended by this rarest of rare events?Thanks to our guests: Dr. Julia Cartwright, planetary scientist at the University of Alabama; Billy Field, professor at the University of Alabama and screenwriter; and Julie Love Templeton, attorney in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.Dr. Cartwright is involved in a number of art/science collaborations to engage and educate the public about meteorites and planetary science. You can find out more on her website, JACartwright.people.ua.edu. Keep an eye out for Billy Field’s latest project, TheStoryAcorn.com, which launches in January 2023. The website will feature history from the Civil Rights movement, told by those who lived it. The website teaches students to gather stories from their own communities and share them with the world. Thanks also to Mary Beth Prondzinski, former collections manager at the Alabama Museum of Natural History, and to the Alabama Museum of Natural History.