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Fever 1793- Laurie Halse Anderson
Transcript of Fever 1793- Laurie Halse Anderson
Primary Source Documents
Anderson, L. (2000).
. New York City: Scholastic.
is about the yellow fever epidemic of 1793. The book is set in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Matilda Cook is the main character, and she lives with her mother and grandfather. They own a coffee house in town. One day, their serving girl is late to work. After a conversation with the girl's mother, they find out she has suddenly died. A few days later, there is talk of yellow fever in the town. Soon, people begin dying by the hundreds and Matilda's mother falls ill. She insists that Mattie and her grandfather leave for some friends' house in the country. They leave, but on the way, get thrown out of the carriage they were traveling on and left without their food and supplies. Grandfather gets sick and while taking care of him, so does Mattie. Eventually, she wakes up and is in Bush Hill, an estate converted into a hospital for fever patients. She finds that her grandfather has recovered decently and she herself recovers well enough to leave. They return to their coffeehouse to find that it has been ransacked. They scrounge food to eat for a couple days, but one night, some thieves come. The thieves try and kill Mattie and her grandfather, but leave when they are threatened with grandfather's gun. In the process of defending Mattie, grandfather dies. Mattie is forced to deal with his burial and afterwards, comes across an orphaned little girl who she rescues. She somehow manages to find Eliza, the coffeehouse's old cook. Eliza takes her in and Mattie helps with her family and with other fever victims that Eliza is taking care of as a member of the Free African Society. When Eliza's nephews and the orphaned little girl catch the fever, Eliza, Mattie, and the children return to the coffeehouse where the air is fresher and cooler. They take care of the children, and finally, the first frost comes and kills off the disease. The children recover well and Mattie and Eliza decide to reopen the coffeehouse, since people are returning to town now that the fever has passed. They are handling the business very well, but Mattie's mother is still missing and has been since Mattie left for the country. They fear that she is dead. President George Washington returns to the city once the fever is really and truly gone, and behind him came many others who took his return as a sign that it was safe to come back. Mattie's mother is among them, and there is a very happy reunion. However, she is very weak and must take things easy. Mattie is finally able to realize her dream of running the coffeehouse in the way that she sees fit.
In the Oklahoma C3 standards, the 8th grade content standard 2 talks about the Revolutionary War ending in an independent nation. While the yellow fever epidemic is not specifically mentioned, I would tie it in while discussing the nation's capital, Philadelphia, after the war. The book would be appropriate for this grade level because the book mentions many historical figures relating to the Revolutionary War and the new nation, and that is what the students are studying. The thematic strands of social studies that are addressed by this book are culture; time, continuity, and change; people, places, and environments; individual development and identity; production, distribution and consumption; and science, technology, and society. With this book, I could do several activities and lessons. Timelines would be useful to learn with this book because of the way it is laid out with dates on each chapter. I could also do a lesson about medical care in the late 1700s and have the students do a research project about it. English could easily be tied in through the writing involved in a research project over any number of topics relating to the book (how it affected historical figures, medical care, daily life at the time, etc...). Math could be tied in when discussing the number of deaths in proportion to the total population of Philadelphia. Science would be integrated through discussions of the science aspects of the disease.
Fever 1793- Laurie Halse Anderson
Map of Travels and Setting
Timeline of Significant Events
Cross-Cultural and Global Connections
Historical Figures, Events, and Vocabulary
This is an image of Stephen Girard taking a victim to Bush Hill, the makeshift hospital, in his own carriage. Stephen Girard was a wealthy merchant-shipper who had a profound impact on the care of victims of the Yellow Fever.
This is a drawing of Bush Hill. Bush Hill was the estate of William Hamilton and was turned into a makeshift hospital during the epidemic while Hamilton was out of the country.
A painting of the Arch Street Ferry in Philadelphia. The first cases of Yellow Fever were discovered in this area.
An illustration of the Dock St. Market in Philadelphia. In the story, Maddie's family lived in a similar area.
This is an image of some buildings in Philadelphia at the time of the epidemic.
A journal entry accounting the yellow fever epidemic, dated October 11-14, 1793.
This is an excerpt of an article ran in a Massachusetts newspaper about a later yellow fever epidemic in New Orleans.
This is a weather record kept by Benjamin Rittenhouse in August of 1793. The weather played an important role in the spread and ending of the epidemic.
This is the cover of a book written by Benjamin Rush about yellow fever and its treatment and prevention. Dr. Rush was an important figure during the time of the epidemic, and was viewed as the expert on the disease.
This is a record of deaths in Philadelphia during the September of the epidemic.
Free African Society
"My city, Philadelphia, was wide awake. My heart beat faster and my head cleared. Below the window, High Street teemed with horsemen, carriages, and carts."
"Like most blacks in Philadelphia, Eliza was free. She said Philadelphia was the best city for freed slaves or freeborn Africans. The Quakers here didn't hold with slavery and tried hard to convince others that slavery was against God's will. Black people were treated differently, that was plain to see..."
"Maybe she's ill,' Eliza said. 'There's talk of sickness by the river."
"A woman dies of some illness and you talk of yellow fever?' The lawyer asked. 'We haven't seen yellow fever in Philadelphia for thirty years."
"It was night in the middle of the day. Heat from the brick houses filled the street like a bake oven. Clouds shielded the sun, colors were overshot with gray. No one was about; businesses were closed and houses shuddered. I could hear a woman weeping. Some houses were barred against intruders. Yellow rags fluttered from railings and door knockers- pus yellow, fear yellow- to mark the homes of the sick and the dying. I caught sight of a few men walking, but they fled down the alley at the sign of the wagon.
"In the beginning of August, this was the largest city in the United States. Forty thousand people lived here. Near as I can tell,' he pointed to the jumble of notes and letters on the desk before him, 'more than half the city has fled, twenty thousand people' 'How many dead, sir?' 'More than three thousand, enough to fill house after house, street after street."
"Looking down the peaceful street, it seemed no one could imagine the terror we had all endured. There were many tables with empty places or invalids who had once been strong as horses, but the sun continued to rise. People filled the street each day. On Sunday, the church bells rang. Philadelphia had moved on.
Matilda's dad dies
64 people dead
Matilda's mother falls ill
Matilda and her grandfather
leave for the countryside
Matilda falls ill
Matilda recovers enough
to leave Bush Hill
Matilda and her grandfather
return to the ransacked coffeehouse
Robbers come to the coffeehouse
and grandfather dies
Matilda finds Eliza
The first frost comes
George Washington returns to the city and Mother returns alive
Time, Continuity, and Change
People, Places, and Environments
Individual Development and Identity
Production, Distribution, and Consumption
Science, Technology, and Society
This book is amazingly historically accurate. A yellow fever epidemic really did strike Philadelphia in the late summer of 1793. George Washington was the president at the time, and the book talks about how he left for the countryside like many others while the plague raged on. The book discusses that between four and five thousand people died from the disease, which is correct according to the records kept at the time that were preserved and still exist today. The symptoms described in the book are realistic, and the treatment methods were actually used. The book includes quotes from primary source documents at the beginning of every chapter and these quotes help give the reader a sense of the events as they actually happened. Additionally, an appendix at the back of the book gives more information about several of the events and topics mentioned throughout the book.
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Fever, 1793. Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.shmoop.com/fever-1793/
A Historian's View of Anderson's Fever 1793. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://bobarnebeck.com/children.html
Yellow Fever Attacks Philadelphia, 1793. (n.d.). Retrieved November 12, 2014, from http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/yellowfever.htm
This book is only written from the perspective of a 14 year old white girl from a middle class family. No other perspectives are really included. However, the book does give some detail on how people from other social classes fared during the epidemic and how the care was different for those who could afford expensive doctors and treatments, and those who couldn't. The book also brings to light the issue of slavery. It is discussed in the book that African-Americans were treated better in Philadelphia during this time, but were not treated equally. The members of the Freed African Society played a large part in helping to care for fever victims and their families, and were recognized for their help after the epidemic ended.
The theme of this book could be tied to other epidemics throughout the world. The bubonic plague or "black death" is one such epidemic that would parallel this story well. Additionally, it would be logical to discuss medical care and how it differs around the world and across cultures. It would have been interesting to read a similar story from the perspective of an African-American at the time, since this story only brought in that perspective through the character Eliza.
While I don't know anyone who has contracted yellow fever, I still connected with this book in several ways. I owned this book when I was in upper-elementary/middle school and I used to read it all the time. It was the first book that came to mind when I learned about this project. While reading it again as a college student, I found myself noticing things that I hadn't before and making new connections. I grew up in a rural Oklahoma town and my dad is a farmer. The main character in the book, Matilda, hates getting up in the morning to do her chores. I felt the same way as a preteen. Matilda's mother is very protective of her and tries to send her away to keep her from getting sick. My parents too are very protective of me, and would do anything it takes to keep me safe and healthy.
Matilda has to be strong throughout multiple tragedies, and I think many of my students will be able to relate to her strength and courage to do what she feels is right.