Today's Grateful List/31 December 2015

  • Going to get answers no matter what

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Sad Tale of Typhoid Mary

We've probably all heard someone use the term "Typhoid Mary", but many of us likely don't know the truth behind the words. Typhoid Mary was a real person, a cook in the early 1900s, who was accused of spreading typhoid to many through her skills as a cook; she was tracked down, harassed, and imprisoned until the end of her life, though others with similar issues were allowed to remain free. Susan Campbell Bartoletti brings the story of Mary Mallon to life in her children's book on the subject.

I've read a bit about Mary Mallon in the past, and I have to say that Bartoletti's story is well researched and well written; the author doesn't shy away from the more upsetting facts (Mary was demanded to give all sorts of bodily samples, even being locked away in a room until she could no longer wait) and she gives us as much background on the situation as is known. It's very clear that Mary was oppressed by those who should have been in the business of helping her, including the New York Department of Health, and it's also clear that Mary wasn't going down without a fight. Bartoletti provides a balanced view of a horrible situation, with an objective hindsight that gives the reader a sense of the times and a feeling for Mary's personality and circumstances. Well done.


No comments: