Update: New Project, Same Concept


Since returning to school my project has undergone significant changes. My initial topic was focusing on treponemal disease like syphilis, yaws and pinta which were extremely prevalent in the enslaved population. These illnesses are associated with the conditions of enslavement and have been traditionally been seen in this population. My early iteration of my project was to track three sample populations of African Americans from slavery through the 20th century. But after meeting with my new advisor and explain some of the issues I encountered with my research over the summer and into the first semester I had to completely change the direction and scope of my project.

While the topic of my project has changed significantly, the core foundation – the Cobb collection – is still central to my thesis. I am now examining tuberculosis in the African American population in Washington D.C. during the 20th century. I am specially examining how the built environment and race influence the spread of the disease as well as social perceptions of the disease.

As a part of this I am using the Cobb Collections post mortem records to identify the general periodization of some of the cases of tuberculosis.  I am also using the collection to indicate the geographic spread of the illness because with the mortuary records are the places of death – the hospitals where the bodies were recovered/donated from. This will give me a window into treatments, admittance rates and is segregation existed on the tubercular wards.