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June 1965

Inoculation in the Boston Smallpox Epidemic of 1721

Author Affiliations


From the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (Third-year student: (R. Rudolph), and First (Columbia) Medical Division, Bellevue Hospital (Assistant Resident: Dr. Musher).

Arch Intern Med. 1965;115(6):692-696. doi:10.1001/archinte.1960.03860180064011

A REMARKABLE aspect of medicine in recent years is that so many of the issues involved, including such diverse subjects as carcinogens and krebiozen, or fluoridation, have been reported in the newspapers and discussed at length by the public as well as by members of the medical profession. In addition, committees appointed to investigate specific medical issues more and more frequently include laymen, not because they are more "objective" or more competent than physicians, but simply because on these issues they are assumed to be as knowledgeable.

It would be easy, but erroneous, to assume that this association between professional and nonprofessional personnel has always been a feature of American medicine. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, medicine surrounded itself with a cloak of inscrutability, removing itself entirely from the public domain.1 Before this, however, especially in the colonial era, the discussion of medical issues had been a