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HIST170 (Duggan) Class Guide: Epidemics, Pandemics, Plagues

Plagues and Peoples in Human History

Class Assignment on the Family

Death Information: Useful for the Class Assignment on the Family

Vital statistics records consist of births, marriages, and deaths (BMD). These records are not centralized; they are created by local authorities.

To protect the privacy of the persons involved, vital records are kept closed for a number of years after which they become public. Before the records are public, they are only available to family members.

To start your research you will need to find out names and death dates of your family. Place of death, and birth dates and places may be useful. Due to privacy concerns, you will probably have the best luck in searching for records from your grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generations.

February 21

Before the library session on February 21, contact your family members and gather any information about your grandparents and great-grandparents (and great great-grandparents, if possible).

 Ask your family about how so-and-so died. Were other family members and neighbors afflicted? They may not know exactly what Uncle Jack had but they probably can tell you if he had terrible headaches or stomach pains, or  if he had a lingering illness or died suddenly.


To help you keep organized, I am sending copies of a family tree that you can use as a worksheet (5 Generation Family Tree with Vital Statistics Template; from Family Tree Templates). But use whatever works for you.

[distributed in class, Fri, Feb 9, 2018]



Outbreak of disease that attacks many people at about the same time and spreads through several communities



An epidemic that spreads throughout the world

Common Diseases and Epidemics

Old Names for Diseases and Condition

Diseases have been known by many names. Tuberculosis is also known as:

  • Consumption
  • Phthisis
  • White Plague
  • Scrofula

You will need sources for interpreting old names for diseases, causes of death, etc.

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