Pox America Book Review

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Elizabeth A. Fenn, Pox Americana: the great smallpox epidemic of 1775-82, (New York: Hill and Wang, 2001). Pages, ix, 384, index, bibliography. Review by Samantha Pilcher. Elizabeth A. Fenn is the author of Pox Americana. She received her Ph.D. from Yale and is a current Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Colorado Boulder according to their website. Fenn is the author of three books relating to early America but Pox Americana was her first solo authored book. In the forward of the book, Fenn relates that her interest in the topic sparked from an undergraduate essay on the Native Americans of the Hudson Bay fur trade. The resulting book Pox Americana not only covers the changes to the Indian culture across the country but the small pox effect on the American…show more content…
Vague data in this case means missing values for sample size. To accurately portray the trends of small pox in various ethnicity’s such as Caucasian, Hispanic and Indian Fenn would need sources that include sample size. While discussing the effects of small pox on the Spanish Fenn does refer to the burial records kept by the Catholic churches which had numbers of death and dates but often lacked the reason for death. Fenn assumed small pox spread based on swells in the death toll from church to church that match patterns of small pox. Again the accuracy is lacking. Least accurate I think of her primary sources are Indian winter counts essentially the big event of the year that Indians chose and recorded by picture. The pictures that indicate small pox only dictate that it affected that Indian population but does not list numbers. The majority of Fenn’s research took place in the archives of library’s looking at the above mentioned primary source. Fenn only cited three or four secondary source books on the
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