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The Miasma—Yellow Fever in Natchez  

Jan/14/2014 - Jan/14/2014
Location: Historic Jefferson College

Life in territorial Mississippi (and during its early statehood days) was certainly frontier living, but the city of Natchez was a shining star in the wilderness, offering modern luxuries and opportunities for better living amongst “civilization.” However, living in town offered a little something extra that was not welcome—the plague called yellow fever. On Tuesday, January 14, Historic Jefferson College, in Washington, MS, will offer a Lunchtime Lecture, entitled The Miasma—Yellow Fever in Natchez, at 12:00. Historian H. Clark Burkett will present the program, which is free of charge.

Why would yellow fever be such a scourge in the city, but relatively infrequent in the countryside? The answer lies in the voracious appetite for construction of any new booming town, construction that would leave big earth pits, which would fill with standing water, the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Throughout the 1800s, yellow fever would come and go every few years, killing indiscriminately, and the graveyards slowly filled with men, women, children who succumbed to the jaundice (which gave the patients a yellow color) and vomiting of black blood.

What could these early Natchez pioneers do to combat the disease, and why did it ebb and flow throughout the years? Mr. Burkett will dive into these questions, and many more, during his lecture.


Historic Jefferson College is located off Hwy. 61, 4 miles northeast of Natchez, in the town of Washington. It is administered by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

Contact: Historic Jefferson College
Phone: 601-442-2901

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