To Slay the Devouring Monster

Conceiving the Pill

Smallpox—it is an ancient, terrifying, and deadly disease which has afflicted humanity for at least 2000 years. But today, smallpox is the only naturally occurring disease which is considered to be eradicated.

The long road to the eradication of smallpox in the United States begins two hundred years ago, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Benjamin Waterhouse studied the researches of English physician Edward Jenner and followed with his own experiments. Dr. Waterhouse then fostered an aggressive campaign to inoculate Americans against smallpox—the disease he called the "devouring monster." In the bicentennial year of Benjamin Waterhouse's vaccination experiments, the Countway Library of Medicine drew on its extraordinary collection of rare books, pamphlets, broadsides, manuscripts, letters, and artifacts—many gifts from members of the Waterhouse family—to commemorate the first efforts to slay that devouring monster.


To Slay the Devouring Monster is an exhibit curated by Jack Eckert for the Center for the History of Medicine. The online exhibit was created in OnView by Andra Langoussis in August 2013.