Process Paper

          The topic of inoculation and how it led to the popularization of the vaccine came out of a brainstorm of our interests that could have generated great controversy and led to great developments (reaction and reform). We finally chose Smallpox as a subsection of medical developments. We then glazed over the history, particularly noticing the Boston epidemic of 1721 which was one of the worst in American history. On top of that it, happened in Boston, so it is a local event. We reasoned that there could be many primary resources close to us. Its surrounding controversy also drew us in, and we found it interesting that so many people participated in the sharing of their opinions.
          Our group spent time together to look for our sources so we could be sure of the accuracy of our research and prevent accidental use of the same source. We tried to look at things through different people's views. One main breakthrough resulted from when we found a collection of letters to Benjamin Waterhouse, one of the main supporters of the vaccine, from Thomas Jefferson. These letters help explain what happened behind closed doors to make Jefferson such a strong supporter. While doing preliminary research in the library, we came across our first big resource in a compilation of papers assembled in a Harvard book. The book also provided key names that we used to find other books related to the topic. Through this source we found most of our pamphlets and letters pertaining to inoculation and Smallpox. After draining the library of hard copy sources we found an online catalog run by Harvard that has scans of many original documents. It was from here that we drew many of our primary sources. Because most of their catalog focuses on the most prominent members of the movement and its opposition, it was hard to find the opinion of a regular citizen. That was when we discovered a website with many issues of the New England Courant, one of the three newspapers at the time. This newspaper gave us a look at both major and minor characters and their views.
           We did not have any choice on how to present our research, however we chose our formatting and color scheme. Since most of the pictures relating to our topic are either sketches or paintings or highly graphic images, we decided to focus our website on quotes.  
           The Boston smallpox epidemic of 1721 ties into the theme “revolution, reaction, and reform” through inoculation; if you start with inoculation in America as the revolution, the epidemic was the first instance where there was a major change in ideals. The reaction is the opposition advocates and how they spread their opinions on the dangers and immorality of inoculation. People did this for many reasons, as stated on our "Reaction" page. Finally, the reform was the popularization of the smallpox vaccine around 1800-1810. We thoroughly enjoyed researching our topic and were enlightened by the many different points of view and reasons to resist this particular revolution.

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