A Deadly Contagion
WHEN HOWELL EDMUNDS JACKSON, A U.S. SUPREME COURT ASSOCIATE JUSTICE, DIED IN 1895, HIS DEATH DREW NATIONAL ATTENTION, IN PART BECAUSE OF THE RECENCY OF HIS IMPASSIONED DEFENSE OF THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF INCOME TAX.
For a team of researchers, though, the cause of Jackson’s death was more notable than his judicial legacy: It was yet another example of the significance of tuberculosis in American history.
The team members—students and recent graduates from Virginia Tech, George Mason University, and the University of Virginia—are applying research techniques from the humanities, social sciences, and data analytics to understand the significance of tuberculosis, the greatest single cause of death in the United States between 1870 and 1920. They presented their findings at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, in July 2016, and then again in Bethesda, Maryland, at the invitation of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases.