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Tuberculosis: Topics in Chronicling America

After the Industrial Revolution, poor socioeconomic conditions led to the highly contagious consumption. This guide provides access to materials related to "Tuberculosis” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


"Two views of a nurse hunting for victims of the white plague to stop the spreading contagion to others." December 27, 1913. The Ogden Standard (Ogden City, UT), Image 16. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

The mass urbanization and industrialization of the mid nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in the United States brought with it economic prosperity and modernity, but the cost was steep. Poverty, poor sanitation, and environmental pollution all helped to let loose the highly contagious disease of consumption, or tuberculosis. The White Plague, as it was called, was so prevalent that it engulfed many newspapers with articles ranging from stories of "consumptive beauty" to desperate entreaties for resources to fight the disease. Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


1882Dr. Koch in Germany asserts that tuberculosis is caused by a parasite.
April 1908Red Cross joins "crusade" against tuberculosis.
December 1913It is reported that 200,000 Americans die of tuberculosis each year and that 1,000,000 are living with the disease.
May 1922 Tuberculosis death rate reduced by half over the previous 10 years.