Smallpox Eraducation  Archives

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Target Zero: Smallpox Eradication Archives, version 6.0

Target Zero references over 2000 documents — some 1000 programme documents, 400 journal articles, and 600 papers and speeches in the DA Henderson Archive. Some 500 images — photographs, posters, smallpox recognition cards, and so on — are displayed.


We have expanded the scope of Target Zero to include documents on smallpox eradication that supplement documentation from the WHO programme itself.

The CDC Western and Central Africa program has a separate tab. This section includes documents on the origins of the program as well as program reports and memos. Reports and papers on individual countries are listed under those countries.

Because research was so critical to success, links to papers published in scientific journals from 1965-1981 have been added:

Between 1965 and 1981, some 1700 articles were published in 25 languages in 450 scientific journals.

Smallpox eradication research has been conducted for centuries, but the disease was successfully eradicated in 1980 thanks to a comprehensive global vaccination program. The World Health Organization (WHO) led the initiative and is credited with the success of this campaign. Vaccines developed by Jonas Salk, who write my paper on the topic in 1955, played an important role in helping to protect people from smallpox. As a result of these efforts, there are currently no cases of smallpox reported anywhere in the world. This is an incredible feat that should be celebrated as one of history’s greatest public health achievements.
Smallpox has had a devastating impact on health care, particularly in developing countries. The disease was so deadly and contagious that it wiped out entire villages and caused significant mortality rates in some regions of the world. It killed an estimated 300 million people around the globe during the 20th century, especially in overcrowded cities with poor hygiene and inadequate medical care. Vaccination was successful at controlling smallpox, but it also highlighted how fragile public health systems can be when faced with a major pandemic. As vaccination efforts were scaled up, smallpox gradually became eradicated worldwide - no small feat for healthcare workers and researchers alike! Today, essay writer service providers are still able to help students gain more insight into the history and devastating effects of smallpox.

We selected some 400 for inclusion. Subject matter includes programme operations; smallpox epidemiology, diagnosis, and laboratory research;, vaccine and vaccination development, complications, and methods; orthopoxviruses; variolation; and more.

Priority was given to authors who took part in the program; to the Moscow Research Institute for Viral Preparations (a WHO Collaborating Laboratory); and to the many Indian research laboratories and institutes. Institutes in Bangladesh, Japan, the Netherlands, Pakistan, the UK, the USA, and others are represented as well.

Online accessibility was another consideration for inclusion. We have included links to most of the 400 articles.

The organization of the site has been slightly changed to accomodate the new material.


The site has been redesigned from a fixed-page format to a more “responsive” format that should make it more usable on smaller-screen devices. Content display has been changed to a uniform tabular format. A “TOP” button enables return to the top of a page without scrolling.


The objective for Target Zero — Smallpox Eradication Archives is to establish a comprehensive online research archive. Target Zero seeks to bring together, in a single location, references to programme documents, publications, and archives associated with smallpox eradication.


Target Zero began in 2014 as a collaboration between Dr DA Henderson, former chief of WHO's Smallpox Eradication Programme, and his daughter Leigh Henderson PhD, an epidemiologist and project manager experienced in web-based documentation sites. As Dean of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Henderson promoted worldwide education in public and international health.

Our vision was to provide a unique research archive. It would be a resource for the practical management of national and international public health programs. Target Zero illustrates the day-to-day application of management theory in real situations.

In a traditional archive, documents are accessible only for well-defined research projects. We believe that the documentation and lessons of the smallpox eradication programme should be open to the world community.

Note: The original smallpox eradication programme documents and DA Henderson’s personal papers will be archived at the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. The Chesney Archives will preserve the documents. Target Zero is intended only to expand their accessibility.

Target audience

Target Zero is intended for the worldwide community. It is a resource for students, researchers, educators, programme designers and managers, and historians. It is intended for all those who have an interest in the development, management, and administration of national and international public health programs.


Target Zero currently includes or provides links to more than 2000 documents—about 1000 program documents and 400 journal articles. The DA Henderson Archive provides links to some 600 of his papers and speeches. Almost 500 images of personnel, field activities, educational, and historical materials are displayed. All documents and images are catalogued.

Primary content concerns the principles, management, and operations of the program.

Smallpox eradication programme documents are directly accessible as PDF files. They include scientific, operational, and administrative documents.

Research reported in scientific journals. Laboratories and field researchers around the world contributed critical research before and during the smallpox eradication programme. Significant papers in scientific journals are referenced. Links to papers available online are included, and ‘open access’ papers are flagged.

Institutional archives housing significant smallpox-related collections are described and links provided.

Secondary content provides insight into the personal experience and historical events that made smallpox eradication possible.

Personal experience. The ‘front line’ field staff were most directly responsible for the programme’s success. They displayed extraordinary dedication and ingenuity in overcoming innumerable hurdles, and developed a lasting camaraderie. Many have since achieved prominence in the public or international fields. Their writings provide invaluable insight into field operations and the characteristics of the programme that inspired them. Target Zero includes narratives of personal experiences, correspondence, books, and images.

Historical events. The initiation of the global eradication effort could take place only after development of the tools, techniques, and personal and political will. Significant research papers and reports are supplemented by historical documents and images illustrate the long history of smallpox eradication.

DA Henderson Archive

The DA Henderson Archive is part of Target Zero. Henderson (1927-2016) was chief of the SEP from 1967-1976. He had an extensive collection of documents, books, artifacts, medals and awards, and other memorabilia related to smallpox eradication. Many documents are handwritten and/or unpublished.

Target Zero includes Henderson’s complete curriculum vitae. Links are provided for some 600 of Henderson’s 200-odd scientific papers and more than 900 speeches, many hand-written and/or unpublished. Target Zero stands as a unique online repository dedicated to preserving the legacy of the Smallpox Eradication Programme. This archive, initiated in 2014, transcends traditional boundaries by offering global access to over 2000 documents, including program records, scientific journals, and personal narratives. As Target Zero evolves, it provides a valuable resource for students, researchers, educators, and historians interested in the intricacies of managing international public health programs. Just as Target Zero documents the triumph over smallpox, consider exploring kitesurfing camp for an exhilarating triumph over waves in your personal history.

Future Plans

Continued addition of documents and images. There is additional material at WHO’s Headquarters and Regional Offices and in personal document collections. Bound reports, significant historical documents, and images will be digitized.

Website enhancement includes consultation with professionals to improve appearance, performance, and reliability across a broad range of devices and internet connection types. Addition of a search capability is desirable but complex and costly.

An Advisory Board including content experts, educators, and students will be established. It will advise on enhancement of the utility of the site as an educational resource.

DA Henderson has written insightful commentary on the programme’s origins; principles and procedures; and management approaches to specific difficult and crisis situations. The Board will advise on the integration of these and other commentaries, and on the organization and presentation of material.

The Board will consider the development of a university course in practical public or international health program management. The Smallpox Eradication Programme would be a “case study” and this archive a primary resource.



Documents have been categorized by country, subject matter, and/or source, and may appear under multiple categories. For example, a WHO/SE report of a study conducted in India concerning smallpox transmission patterns will be listed under India as the source and Smallpox: Clinical Features as the subject. If it was presented at a meeting, it will be listed under that meeting as the source.


Web site design and text are © 2018 Leigh Henderson and Donald A Henderson.

We provide links to most of articles on Target Zero. Our budget is insufficient to purchase copyright licenses for reproduction on this website. Unless otherwise noted, links are to the article on the journal's website, where it can be purchased or accessed through subscription. [Note: Links to external websites may be slow to load.]

We annotate document listings with the level of access:

  • OPEN: Articles can be accessed at no charge for individual personal use, provided by some individual journals or entities such as Pub Med Central (PMC). Distribution on another website is generally forbidden, thus we can't provide PDFs of these articles.
  • PDF: Articles in the public domain, WHO/SE articles, and DA Henderson's unpublished manuscripts

Some articles are not available online—either the journal itself is not online or its online archives don't include older issues. Please contact the journal directly, or the Target Zero archivist.


We'd like to acknowledge the many contributions from the "smallpox warriors" that bring the program to life. Only the "warriors" have experienced the multitude of challenges in actually making the program work. Only they can convey their dedication and determination.

A 1965 tour report preceding the approval of CDC's Smallpox Eradication/Measles Control Program, insisted that:

... our people in the field must be hard working, adaptable, ingenious, technically competent, self-effacing diplomats. It is probably more important that they be ingenious, adaptable, and tactful than that they be professionally brilliant. It is essential that they be patient and relatively resistant to frustration. Youth may be a handicap, but it may be overcome by the demonstration of the characteristics mentioned above.

Heat tolerance was a bonus, and professional brilliance came later to these young men.


Gene Bartley; Joel Breman; Larry Brilliant; Peter Carrasco; Pierre Claquin; Jay Friedman; Harald Heijbel; Steve Jones; Lev Khodakevich; Mike Levine; Jean Lythcott; Stan Music; Dennis Olsen; Pat Imperato; Scott Porterfield; Vince Radke; Mike Schwartz; Jim Skelton; Marc Strassburg; Gassan Suleimanov; Bruce Weniger; John Wickett; Henderson family


Christopher d'Amanda; Jay Friedman; Nana Henderson; Tim Miner; Mike Schwartz (video). Lev Khodakevich and Gassan Suleimanov translated their chapters in the Russian language book How It Was: The Global Smallpox Eradication Programme in Reminiscences of its Participants Svetlana Marennikova, ed.) Novosibirsk, TSERIS, 2011.

Thanks to:

Joel Breman, veteran of both CDC and WHO programs, a strong and steadfast Target Zero supporter, introduced us to dedicated historian Mary Hilpertshauser, curator at the David J. Sencer CDC Museum. We have exchanged documents and photos about CDC's Central and Western Smallpox Africa Eradication/Measles Control Program.

Stan Foster, veteran of both CDC and WHO programs, for organizing and inviting me to attend the Bangladesh veterans' reunion at his family camp in September 2018. Thanks also to the warriors who shared their experiences and their remarkable post-smallpox careers, and to wives and children who shared theirs. Special tanks to Dottie Foster and those Who worked so hard to provide us with succulent meals and to keep the machinery rolling.

John Andrews for a collection including reward fliers, diagnostic brochures, and much-used smallpox recognition cards for both variola major and variola minor.

Veronica Garcia digitized Larry Brilliant's smallpox library, now the University of Michigan Library's Brilliant Collection. She writes, "Every piece of paper, every negative and every slide is now in a form that can be easily shared and distributed to whoever would want them. That is how much I value and appreciate the work that you all did!"

Kristina Engstrom, who brought to our attention the collection on Women Peace Corps Volunteers in Afghanistan's Smallpox Eradication Program, housed at the Radcliffe Schlesinger Library.

Alan Morinis for a remarkable 1976 Bengali wall calendar featuring reward information and a large picture of a very unpleasant case of smallpox.

Mike Schwartz for one of the hand-painted cloth banners that advertised the 500-taka reward for reporting a case of smallpox. These were placed on every boat landing in Patakhuali, Bangladesh. He has also donated one to the CDC Museum.

Jill Vickers and Jody Bergedick, who have made available for research purposes their 2002 documentary Once in Afghanistan.

Bruce Weniger for his excerpt of the WHO film Point of No Return featuring Ciro de Quadros.

John Wickett (former SEP technical officer, administrative officer, WHO consultant, and lamb roaster extraordinaire) was critical in archiving SEP documents at WHO. He is turning up some fascinating older documents, as well as documents related to the origins of the Expanded Program on Immunization.

Don Francis — Thanks in advance for the boxes in his basement in San Francisco; we haven't yet figured out the best approach, but we will

Victor Okunrintemi, Bloomberg School of Public Health, then student and President of the Anna Baetjer Society for Public Health Practice, donated time for the much-needed task of ensuring that links went to the right places.

Alasdair Wylie for a collection of working documents from the Bangladesh programme.

Translation from Amharic

Tsegereda Kifle

If you have slides, photos, narratives, or other material you'd like to contribute, please contact us at Target Zero


Contact Us

Smallpox Eradication Archives

Leigh Ainslie Henderson PhD
Project Director

Mail: 3001 Guilford Ave.
Baltimore MD 21218-3926

Phone: 410.292.5623

Email: SEP Archive

Please contact us at SEP Archive:

  • Feedback: What do you think of the site, what you would like to see, and how can it can be made easier to use?
  • Mailing list: To receive an email when the site is updated
  • Contributions: If you have documents, slides, photos, or other artifacts you'd like to include