Jenner House Museum

Pilgrimage to the Temple of Vaccinia

In recent years, we have posted a blog about survivals of early smallpox scabs in archival collections today, and in a follow-up blog, “A Scab Story Bites Back,” we described the discovery of several 19th century smallpox vaccination kits in our museum collection. These kits showed visible residue on glass slides from lymph taken from pustules on infected human bodies and desiccated scab material. Since the last report, we have begun to correspond with other European and American collections with early vaccination tools that could be assayed for residue. Our own kits were examined first by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and then via the World Health Organization to Canada’s McMaster University. At this writing, the analysis of the kits continues: exciting results will be reported in “Revenge of the Scab Story,” forthcoming.