Delaware Public Media

Delaware Public Archives examines smallpox and the American Revolution Saturday

Aug 2, 2018

The Delaware Public Archives hosts a program about the impact smallpox had during the American Revolution this weekend.


While the colonies fought the War for Independence, a smallpox epidemic was a major issue for both soldiers and civilians throughout America.

And this Saturday at the Archives, Wesley College associate professor of History Dr. Stephanie Holyfield will discuss how the disease affected both sides during the conflict.

“I am giving a presentation that will look at the symptoms of smallpox and some of the ways that the 18th Century people dealt with the disease and the power that the disease had to potentially change the outcome of the Revolution,” Holyfield said.

Dr. Holyfield says smallpox was quite widespread during the American Revolution with several outbreaks in the Boston-area in 1774 and 1775 and Yorktown in 1781.

She’ll also talk about the wisdom of George Washington’s decision to inoculate the army - a decision driven in part by the fact Washington himself had smallpox as a child.

Saturday’s presentation starts at 10:30 a.m.  at Archives in Dover and will last about one hour. It is free and open to the public.