Saturday, August 31, 2019

The spread of fear …

… When the Public Feared That Library Books Could Spread Deadly Diseases | History | Smithsonian. (Ha tip, Rus Bowden.)

Illness was rife in this period in both Britain and the United States. Epidemics including “tuberculosis, smallpox and scarlet fever” were taking “a fearful toll in urban areas,” according to scholar Gerald S. Greenberg’s 1988 article “Books as Disease Carriers, 1880-1920.” For a populace that was already on edge about fatal diseases, the idea of contaminated library books passing from hand to hand became a significant source of anxiety.

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