Lantern Slides on Flickr

Cow used for smallpox vaccine production. The Historical Medical Library of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia.Please visit the set of historical photographs on smallpox vaccination on The College of Physicians of Philadelphia’s Flickr page. The College’s Exhibits Manager took these photographs from a set of lantern slides in our Historical Medical Library.

It seems likely that these lantern slides were used in a presentation about smallpox vaccination and the anti-vaccination movement that was active in the early 1900s. Many of the College’s Fellows, including William H. Welch, actively countered anti-vaccination arguments with publications, letters, and public talks. In fact, College Fellow Sir William Osler, MD, often called the “father of modern medicine,” wrote this:

“Here I would like to say a word or two upon one of the most terrible of all acute infections, the one of which we first learned the control through the work of Jenner. A great deal of literature has been distributed casting discredit upon the value of vaccination in the prevention of smallpox. I do not see how anyone who has gone through epidemics as I have, or who is familiar with the history of the subject, and who has any capacity left for clear judgment, can doubt its value. Some months ago I was twitted by the editor of the Journal of the Anti-vaccination League for “a curious silence” on this subject.  I would like to issue a Mount Carmel-like challenge to any ten unvaccinated priests of Baal. I will go into the next severe epidemic with ten selected vaccinated persons and ten selected unvaccinated persons. I should prefer to choose the latter—three members of parliament, three anti-vaccination doctors, if they could be found, and four anti-vaccination propagandists.  And I will make this promise—neither to jeer nor to jibe when they catch the disease, but to look after them as brothers, and for the four or five who are certain to die I will try to arrange the funerals with all the pomp and ceremony of an anti-vaccination demonstration.” —Sir William Osler, Man’s Redemption of Man, 1910