Thomas Thacher

Thomas Thacher (1620-1678)
A Brief Rule to Guide the Common People of New-England How to Order Themselves & Theirs in the Small-pocks, or Measels
(Boston : reprinted for Benjamin Eliot, 1702)

This is the second edition of the first medical document to be published in the American colonies. Only two specimens of the first edition—printed as a broadside in 1677/8—are known. The second edition is also extremely rare. Only three copies are extant, and this is the only one still with its title-page.

Thomas Thacher was a minister at Boston’s Old South Church. He devised these guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of smallpox after an epidemic of the disease in the city in 1676-1677. Another epidemic threatened Boston in 1702, prompting this reprinting of Thacher’s work in pamphlet form.