Medicine during the 1750’s through the 1850’s, although still very primal and newly being discovered, accumulated some growth. More people in colonial society could be seen as doctors, addressing and contemplating on sicknesses. Doctors, slowly but surely began introducing themselves and assimilating in a primitive society. Even with the aid of these self-titled doctors, medicine was still a mystery in the colonial era. An era susceptible to disease never slowed down and soon led the pathway of innovation and opportunities for eras to come.

Doctors, being newly introduced had to assimilate quickly to colonial society. Many of these doctors, were not educated in the human anatomy, and therefore could not correctly identify the most common illnesses. Some even believed that illnesses were contracted because of a ‘miasma,’ which was a poisonous cloud containing germs. Many people believed this was a true fact, especially during The Great Plague. Others, believed that illness was God’s punishment to people he detested. Ignorance was a common trait during the 1750’s up until the 1850’s. When doctors were unable to identify a cause, a myth would often be the result. Since doctors were not well-aware of the human body, there was an extremely high chance that a single operation would lead to death, whether during the surgery, or as a result of an infection. Additionally, with appalling sanitation habits, doctors rarely to never disinfected their surgical instruments, because of their lack of knowledge. Soon, by the early 1800’s hospitals were dirty, overcrowded, and desperately in need of sanitation. Diseases like diphtheria, typhoid, and typhus were three of the deadliest diseases, and caused a great panic among people. Since there was no proper training and education about these diseases, doctors and colonists were unable to connect their hygiene to their health. However, in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, Otto Muller, a Danish biologist, made an astonishing discovery of several types of bacteria. His breakthrough let Edward Jenner, a country doctor in his native England, create a vaccine for smallpox in 1796. His successful innovation created an immense impact on lives, specifically those of infants and young children. As miracle breakthroughs ended the dreadful 18th century, people became more hopeful to future successes.

Furthermore, the well-known doctor, Edward Jenner soon became a common household name when he established the first vaccination for smallpox, a deadly killer for young children and infants. As a student attending Berkeley, Jenner created his own practice as a doctor, due to his immense curiosity about the field. His desire and will to practice such an unknown field at the time, gave him the title of a “pioneer” in virology, and immunology, on top of the practitioner of vaccination. Soon by the early 1800’s, approximately 100,000 people had been vaccinated worldwide, and from then on the demand for this miracle cure heavily increased.

Ultimately, the 1750’s up until the 1850’s were years of un-sophistication and ignorance regarding proper healthcare as well as hygiene. Unbeknown to all living in the colonial period, many of the widespread were simple results of poorly sanitized and dirty living conditions and hospital tools. With the help of a leading biologist and doctor, Muller and Jenner, progress towards proper healthcare was slowly making its mark in history.

Edward Jenner created the first vaccine for smallpox.


~~Ruhi Sharma~~