Recent Posts

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Yellow Fever in New Orleans

So what does a jaundice-producing, tropical viral illness have to do with California genealogy? Nothing, unless you happen to be an industrious Bay Area genealogist who just published her first article in the The Louisiana Genealogical Register.

CGS member Jennifer J. Regan got interested in yellow fever while researching her husband's Louisiana roots. As Regan put it, "I realized I knew little to nothing about the disease, and knowing something about it, and how it affected society, seemed interesting to me."

"Yellow Fever in New Orleans," is a thorough analysis of the social implications of the dreaded "Yellow Jack." Regan doesn't spare her readers any of the gruesome details of "life under yellow fever" and she doesn't shy away from a discussion of the role that racism and classism played in nineteenth century perceptions of the disease.

Jennifer Jones Regan, who admits to being "hooked on the Internet and the vastness of its potential," is the owner of Rainy Day Research, "a family history and genealogy service located in the San Francisco Bay Area" and the accompanying blog, Rainy Day Genealogy Readings. She is married and the mother of a toddler.

The Summer 2008 issue of the Louisiana Genealogical Register, published by the Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Society, is currently on display in the reading room at the California Genealogical Society Library. I hope you will stop by and have a good read.

Abstract:

Any genealogist researching in the delta area of Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans and its outlying communities, will benefit from a greater understanding of yellow fever. Summertime outbreaks of the pernicious "Yellow Jack" were a fact of life for early Louisiana inhabitants, and spates of the disease, when they occurred, often had monumental consequences for our ancestors. Consideration of the disease also brings to light particular social and economic realities of urban life in the South before and after the Civil War, further illuminating our understanding of the past. This article outlines a brief history of the disease, explores what an outbreak of yellow fever was really like for those who experienced it, then goes on to discuss some social dimensions of this disease, noting some specific implications for genealogical researchers.

Jennifer J. Regan, "Yellow Fever in New Orleans," Louisiana Genealogical Register, volume LV, number 1, Summer 2008, pages 87-93.

4 comments: