Smallpox Eraducation Programme Archive

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The archives listed below contain primary source documents about WHO's Smallpox Eradication Program and/or the history of smallpox and its control. The links below redirect to

World Health Organization (WHO), Geneva, Switzerland

The Institutional Repository for Information Sharing (IRIS) is the digital library of WHO's published material and technical information in full text produced since 1948. Its content is freely accessible and searchable in the six official languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish).

The tab Communities and Catalogs is useful for locating Executive Board and World Health Assembly documents.

Search guides in English: Basic Search | Advanced Search | IRIS Browsing

For IRIS easy guides in Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish, click here.

The Weekly Epidemiological Record (WER) serves as an essential instrument for the rapid and accurate dissemination of epidemiological information on cases and outbreaks of diseases under the International Health Regulations and on other communicable diseases of public health importance, including emerging or re-emerging infections.

The first issue of the WER appeared on 1 April 1926 as a publication of the Health Section of the League of Nations. The Weekly Record as it was called at that time, provided information port health authorities and others concerning the occurrence of plague, cholera, yellow fever, louse-borne typhus and smallpox. One of the information sources, the International Office of Public Hygiene in Paris, was established in 1908 following a series of international conferences that began in 1851. The WER has been produced continuously for almost 90 years.

An electronic bilingual English/French version of the WER is accessible every Friday and can be downloaded free of charge.

The WER issues for 1926 through 2008 have been scanned to provide a permanent electronic archive.

The Bulletin of the World Health Organization, one of the world's leading public health journals, is a peer-reviewed monthly with a special focus on developing countries. The Bulletin is essential reading for all public health decision-makers and researchers who require its special blend of research, well-informed opinion and news.

The Bulletin was founded in 1947. In 1999, it incorporated the World Health Forum and the World Health Statistics Quarterly. The World Health Forum, established in 1980, echoed the 1978 Declaration of Alma-Ata in its intention “to give substance to the revolutionary idea of ‘health for all’ by the year 2000.” It published accounts of field work and was oriented towards primary health care. Bulletin articles have been archived as individual PDF files, dating back to Volume 1, 1947.

The WHO Photo Library, maintained by the WHO Departments of Communications and of Records and Archives, is a historical reference and a current representation of public health at a global level. It provides thousands of critical images to illustrate overall health topics and diseases, wider issues related to public health, and the history of public health since 1948.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Atlanta GA

The Global Health Chronicles is a collaboration of the David J. Sencer CDC Museum with Emory University's Libraries, Global Health Institute, and Rollins School of Public Health. The web site is a series of "Chronicles," dealing with smallpox, guinea, and malaria eradication and control efforts. Casual readers and serious researchers may access new and rarely-seen materials through this searchable database of documents, oral histories, photographs and media. The vital contributions made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are highlighted. Official government correspondence, meeting transcripts, policy statements, surveillance reports and mortality statistics tell a part of that story. Adding depth to these traditional archives are the personal stories of the public health pioneers who worked tirelessly on the front lines of the smallpox eradication campaign.

CDC Stacks is a free, digital archive of scientific research and literature produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This online archive is composed of curated collections tailored for public health research needs. CDC Stacks provides access to current CDC research and literature. In addition, CDC Stacks offers a historical perspective that was previously not available, such as the first 30 volumes of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Additional collections and ongoing additions to existing collections are planned for the future.

The Public Health Image Library (PHIL) offers an organized, universal electronic gateway to CDC's pictures. The content is organized into hierarchical categories of people, places, and science, and is presented as single images, image sets, and multimedia files. It is indexed according to the National Library of Medicine's Medical Subject Headings (MeSH).

DA Henderson MD MPH

Curriculum vitae

The Institute of the History of Medicine, Welch Medical Library, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore MD

Blossom's hair
©The Institute

The Institute of the History of Medicine houses the Jacobs Collection, an extensive body of resources documenting the history of smallpox. Dr. Henry Barton Jacobs was the personal physician to railroad heir Robert Garrett at the end of the 19th century. Six years after Garrett’s death, Jacobs married Garrett’s widow and retired from practice. She collected paintings and he collected rare books. When the Institute was founded in 1929 as part of the new Welch Medical Library, Dr. William Welch persuaded Jacobs to donate his Jenner collection. The Collection includes over 100 letters written by Edward Jenner and other manuscripts; numerous editions and translations of Jenner’s publications; of the two known oil portraits of Jenner done from life; French and English caricatures on the topic of vaccination; and hundreds of books and pamphlets recording the promotion of and campaigns against vaccination for over a century throughout Europe and America. The Collection contains a unique object: clippings of the hair of the cow "Blossom" (right) from whom Jenner first removed cowpox lymph.

The Institute will also house the Henderson Collection, which includes the documents on this website, as well as personal papers related to Dr Henderson's life and career prior to the SEP. In addition to documents, the collection includes medals, awards, memorabilia, and artifacts. The Institute mounted a joint exhibit from these collections that was featured on NPR's All Things Considered.

Women Peace Corps Volunteers in Afghanistan's Smallpox Eradication Program, Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, Cambridge MA

During 1969-70, an all-female team of Peace Corps volunteers served with the SEP in Afghanistan. Letters, diaries, and photos are archived in the he Radcliffe Schlesinger Library. Read the Library's illustrated article about the program and the collection. The all-female team joined teams of male Afghani vaccinators in the Hindu Kush mountains north of Kabul and in the southern desert. Many Afghani women and girls were forbidden to be seen, much less vaccinated, by men outside their families. In 2002, Jill Vickers (team member) and Jody Bergedick documented the story in Once in Afghanistan (see Dirt Road Documentaries for a DVD of the film).

The Brilliant Collection, University of Michigan Library, Ann Arbor MI

The University of Michigan Library's Brilliant Collection, donated by Larry Brilliant, includes the original documents of the SEARO smallpox program and other primary SEP source documents (surveillance materials on outbreaks in other countries, detailed search and containment data for Indian states, training materials and briefing documents, international reports on program success and failures, epidemiological data, and outreach materials). The Library has mounted a must-see online exhibit, Smallpox Eradication in India, 1972-1977, and anticipates making the Brilliant Collection available to the public some time this year.

Dr. Jenner's House: The Birthplace of Vaccination, Berkeley, Gloucestershire, England

Jenner's Temple of Vaccinia
Jenner's Temple of vaccinia, where he performed vaccinations; LA Henderson 2012

Dr. Jenner's House: The Birthplace of Vaccination (formerly the Jenner Museum at The Chantry (Jenner's home) opened to the public in 1985. Originally taking a traditional approach, looking back at the achievements of Edward Jenner himself and protecting the home in which he had worked, the organization and its mission. It now actively promotes a public understanding of immunology, creating a context for Jenner's work. Displays and interpretation combine science and history for all learning levels to inspire all generations.

In addition, the organization has teamed with CDC's Global Health Chronicles (above), in recording the memories and personal experiences of those who worked on the smallpox eradication campaign. They are now looking for more campaign veterans who might be interested in recording their stories for preservation in their archives and to be used in future publications and exhibitions. If you have not already recorded or documented your memories, please email project lead Gemma Geldart at, letting her know your role and interest