Yellow Fever Reading List

From Arthur Sudler: additional resources for learning about Bl. Absalom Jones, the Episcopal church, and Yellow Fever in Philadelphia. View his Adult Education Forum talk here.

Primary Sources


Carey, Matthew. A Short Account of the Malignant Fever, Lately Prevalent in Philadelphia. 1794, reprint New York: Arno Press, 1970.


Deveze, Jean. An enquiry into, and observations upon the causes and effects of the epidemic disease, which raged in Philadelphia from the month of August till towards the middle of December, 1793. Philadelphia: Parent, 1794.


J[ones] A[Absalom] and A[llen] R[ichard], A Narrative of the Proceedings of the Black People, During the Late Awful Calamity in Philadelphia, in the year 1793. Philadelphia: William W. Woodward, 1794.


Rush, Benjamin. An Account of the Bilious Remitting Yellow Fever, as It Appeared in the City of Philadelphia, in the Year 1793. Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1794.


Secondary Sources


Barcia, Manuel. The Yellow Demon of Fever: Fighting Disease in the Nineteenth-Century Transatlantic Slave Trade. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020.


Espinosa, Mariola. “The Question of Racial Immunity to Yellow Fever in History and Historiography.” Social Science History. 38, pp 437-453 doi: 10. 1017/ssh.2015.20


Estes, J. Worth and Billy G. Smith (eds). ‘A Melancholy Scene of Devastation’: The Public Response to the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic. Canton: Science History Publications, 1997


Fried, Stephen. Rush: Revolution, Madness, and the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father. New York: Crown Publishing Group, 2018.


Hogarth, Rana A. Medicalizing Blackness: Making Racial Difference in the Atlantic World, 1780-1840. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2017. (Best explanation of the science debunking the Black immunity theory)


Jordan, Winthrop D. White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1968.


McNeill, J.R. Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620–1914. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010.


Murphy, Jim. An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. New York: Clarion Books, 2003.*


Nash, Gary B. Forging Freedom: The Formation of Philadelphia’s Black Community 1720-1840. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1988. (One of the two best overall treatments of early Black Philadelphia)


Newman, Richard S. Freedom’s Prophet: Bishop Richard Allen, the AME Church, and the Black Founding Fathers. New York: New York University Press, 2008.


Powell, John H. Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1949. (Best narrative treatment of the epidemic)


Smith, Billy G. Ship of Death: A Voyage that Changed the World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. (Demonstrates origin of 1793 yellow fever epidemic and shows how global public health is local public health and local public health is global public health)


Winch, Julie. A Man of Color: The Life of James Forten. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.


Winch, Julie. James Forten: Liberty’s Champion. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.*


Winch, Julie. Philadelphia’s Black Elite: Activism, Accommodation, and the Struggle for Autonomy, 1787-1848. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1988. (One of the two best overall treatments of early Black Philadelphia)


*Good for Adolescents


Prepared by:


Arthur K. Sudler
William Carl Bolivar Director
Historical Society & Archives
African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas