Germs at Bay: Politics, Public Health, and American Quarantine


March 11, 2021
5:30 PM


The Portsmouth Athenaeum and the Membership Libraries Group present a discussion with Charles Vidich, the author of Germs at Bay: Politics, Public Health, and American Quarantine (Praeger, January 2021), facilitated by Proprietor Elizabeth Howard.

Few know that one of the greatest 19th-century proponents of quarantine was none other than Paul Revere, whose influence on public health strategies has been less emphasized. Join us for an evening with Charles Vidich, author of Germs at Bay: Politics, Public Health and American Quarantine, and a fresh look at the region’s role in an area of study that feels straight from the headlines today. When American history is viewed through the lens of quarantine, we find remarkable keys to why the American Revolution first took place in Boston and why vaccination became an accepted public health measure in colonial New England, but not elsewhere in the colonies. Vidich discusses these and other fascinating tales from decades of research, in conversation with Elizabeth Howard.

“The most valuable contribution this book makes is giving a historical context for why our nation has failed to properly address the COVID-19 pandemic and what practical measures are needed to get it under control. The lessons of history are invaluable for those who wish to avoid the errors of the past. The book also is important for those who wish to understand how quarantine practice influenced major events of American history including the outcome of the American Revolution, the Post-Reconstruction era economic battles between the northern and southern states, and the immigration policies of this nation. Perhaps, more importantly, the story-line of this book is told through the people who managed quarantine, and for this reason, there is a compelling connection with the key Americans who have shaped our nation’s quarantine policy.” –– Vidich, January 2021 interview, Writer’s Digest.

Elizabeth Howard is an author, a journalist and a creative director. Her proprietorship in the Portsmouth Athenaeum came through James Southwell Millar, her beloved “Uncle Jim”. He became a member in 1979 and held Share #62, first issued in 1823. The last previous owner had been Ogden Nash, the American author and humorist.

To attend the free talk, contact info@portsmouthathenaeum.org for the Zoom link.