An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793

Author/Illustrator: Jim Murphy
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: 2004
Genre: Nonfiction, United States History
Awards: Newberry Honor Award, National Book Award Finalist, The Robert F. Sibert Medal
Audience: Gr. 4+

Overview: In the late summer months of 1792 a horrifying, deadly disease broke out in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: yellow fever. In a time when yellow fever had not even been definitively defined, let alone thoroughly researched, methods used by doctors to “cure” their patients were as varied as the victims themselves. Students will gasp at the various methods used by such famous characters as Doctors Benjamin Rush and Jean Deveze, and will enjoy the tales of the often lesser-known but heroic contributions of the Free African Society, including Absalom Jones and Richard Allen.

Activity: Have students research the history of yellow fever and create a timeline of discoveries related to its cause and treatment.

Reviewer’s Name: Katie Coursey