An Interactive Annotated World Bibliography of Printed and Digital Works in the History of Medicine and the Life Sciences from Circa 2000 BCE to Circa 2020 by Fielding H. Garrison (1870-1935), Leslie T. Morton (1907-2004), and Jeremy M. Norman (1945- ) Traditionally Known as “Garrison-Morton”

15524 entries, 13375 authors and 1905 subjects. Updated: January 26, 2022

BOYLSTON, Zabdiel

2 entries
  • 5410.1

Some account of what is said of inoculating or transplanting the small pox by the learned Dr. Emmanuel Timonius, and Jacobus Pylarinus. With some remarks theron. To which are added, a few queries in answer to the scruples of many about the lawfulness of this method.

Boston, MA: S. Gerrish, 1721.

An abridgement of Nos. 5409 & 5410 together with Boylston’s remarks. From internal evidence this 24-page pamphlet would appear to be the first North American publication on inoculation. See No. 5415. Digital facsimile of the incomplete U.S. NLM copy from the Internet Archive at this link.



Subjects: COUNTRIES, CONTINENTS AND REGIONS › United States , COUNTRIES, CONTINENTS AND REGIONS › United States › American Northeast, INFECTIOUS DISEASE › Smallpox › Variolation or Inoculation, U.S.: CONTENT OF PUBLICATIONS BY STATE & TERRITORY › Massachusetts
  • 5415

An historical account of the small-pox inoculated in New-England, upon all sorts of persons, whites, blacks, and of all ages and constitutions: With some account of the nature of the infection in the natural and inoculated way, and their different effects on human bodies; with some short directions to the unexperienced in this method of practice .

London: S. Chandler, 1726.

Boylston was the first in America to inoculate for smallpox, at Boston on 26 June 1721. 

"During a smallpox outbreak in 1721 in Boston, he inoculated about 248 people[5] by applying pus from a smallpox sore to a small wound on the subjects, a method said to have been previously used in Africa. Initially, he used the method on two slaves and his own son, who was 13 at the time. This was the first introduction of inoculations to the United States. An African slave named Onesimus taught the idea to Cotton Mather, the influential New England Puritan minister.

"His method was initially met by hostility and outright violence from other physicians, and many threats were made on his life, with some even threatening to hang him on the nearest tree. He was forced to hide in a private place of his house for 14 days, a secret known only by his wife. During this hostility, his family was also in a dangerous situation. His wife and children were sitting in their home and a lighted hand-grenade was thrown into the room, but the fuse fell off before an explosion could take place. Even after the violence had subsided, he visited his patients only at midnight and while disguised.[6] After his initial inoculations of his son and two slaves, he was arrested for a short period of time for it (he was later released with the promise not to inoculate without government permission). In 1724, with a letter of introduction to Dr. James Jurin by Cotton Mather[7] , Boylston traveled to London, where he published his results as Historical Account of the Small-Pox Inoculated in New England, and became a fellow of the Royal Society two years later. Afterward, he returned to Boston" (Wikipedia article on Zabdiel Boylston, accessed 03-2018).

The second edition was published in Boston in 1730. Digital facsimile of the second edition preserved in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, from the Internet Archive at this link.



Subjects: ANTHROPOLOGY › Ethnology, INFECTIOUS DISEASE › Smallpox › Variolation or Inoculation, U.S.: CONTENT OF PUBLICATIONS BY STATE & TERRITORY › Massachusetts