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Relaciones. Estudios de historia y sociedad

versión On-line ISSN 2448-7554versión impresa ISSN 0185-3929


MOLINA DEL VILLAR, América. The Scope of Inoculation Efforts and the Impact of Smallpox on the Parish of San Agustín Jonacatepec in 1797. Relac. Estud. hist. soc. [online]. 2019, vol.40, n.157, pp.178-214. ISSN 2448-7554.

This paper examines the impact of the smallpox epidemic of 1797 in Jonacatepec, a rural parish in Central New Spain, a severe outbreak that took the lives of many children below the age of 9. The study of this particular epidemic is important not only because the disease spread through broad areas of New Spain and the Spanish Empire, but also because efforts were made to inoculate the population. The procedure applied can be seen as an antecedent of current vaccination campaigns for it consisted in injecting pus from smallpox patients into healthy individuals who would thus contract only a mild form of this otherwise deadly disease. Inoculation was widely-diffused and, in the case of the outbreak of 1797, achieved notable success because a smaller number of people died. This essay examines the situation in Jonacatepec, where the owner of two haciendas hired a doctor to inoculate his workers. The documental sources consulted show clearly that fewer people became sick or died on the haciendas than in the headtown and outlying villages, where people refused to be inoculated. Sources include archival documents, records and a valuable registry of patients and the dead, compiled during the epidemic.

Palabras llave : Smallpox; inoculation; the ill; towns; haciendas.

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