A stained glass window depicting Hildegard von Bingen at Église Sainte-Foy, Alsace

Abortion Remedies from a Medieval Catholic Nun(!)

Hildegard von Bingen wrote medical texts describing how to prepare abortifacients.

Libraries and Pandemics: Past and Present

The 1918 influenza pandemic had a profound impact on how librarians do their work, transforming libraries into centers of community care.
Judi Iranyi

Community Care in the AIDS Crisis

The Shanti Project’s work in caring for people with AIDS provides valuable lessons in the efficacy of mutual aid in fighting disease.
Actress Dorothy Tutin having an anti-flu injection, 1969

How Scientists Tried to Find a Universal Flu Vaccine

The quest to “conquer” influenza with a shot that could be used every year started out with high hopes, and ended up a hot mess.
Care homes group managing director Mary Anson receives the Covid-19 vaccine as the Royal Cornwall Hospital begin their vaccination programme on December 9, 2020 in Truro, United Kingdom

The COVID-19 Vaccines Arrived at Warp Speed

Are they safe if they were developed so quickly? Research-backed answers to your virus questions.
Richard P. Strong

The Deadly Bilibid Prison Vaccine Trials

In 1906, physician Richard Strong's already-unethical vaccine experiment went horribly wrong. Then it was swept under the rug.
An illustration of four people standing and wearing masks

Choosing Love over Eugenics

Some writers see contagion as a metaphor for community—proof that we exist within an interdependent network and not as autonomous disconnected islands.
A man wearing a surgical mask and gloves threading his needle with suture before an operation.

The Surgeons Who Said No to Gloves

In the late 1800s, doctors in German-speaking countries were having trouble agreeing on one simple thing: whether to wear gloves during surgery.
The ship María Pita departing from Coruña in 1803, engraved by Francisco Pérez

How Children Took the Smallpox Vaccine around the World

In 1803, nearly two dozen orphan boys endured long voyages and physical discomfort to transport the smallpox vaccine to Spain's colonies.
Plague column in Vienna, Austria

How to Memorialize a Plague

Vienna's baroque Plague Column, completed in 1693, gave thanks for the survival of a city.