Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

John Flach (Committee Member), Edward Haas (Committee Member), Noeleen Mcilvenna (Committee Member), Jonathan Winkler (Committee Chair)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Yellow fever was a constant and deadly visitor to the southern United States since the middle of the seventeenth century. Dying of yellow fever was gruesome and terrifying. Black vomit was the prominent symptom as the patient bled to death internally and externally. Yellow fever, or 'yellow jack' to the locals, would bring Savannah, Georgia to its knees on three different occasions. In 1876, however, the city would lose a full 6% of its population, or 1,066 souls. This thesis argues that this tragic outbreak was preventable, and that the physical conditions that were well known to contribute to yellow fever spread were present in Savannah and ignored by city officials who succumbed to economic hardship and a desire for increased commerce. If this epidemic was preventable, then it has potential to inform modern community decision-makers by applying lessons of the past to present policy and practice. To defend this argument, this thesis will discuss the physical, social, and politico-economic conditions in Savannah that contributed to the outbreak and the decisions that marginalized the yellow fever threat. Also, the thesis will discuss applied historical analysis in theoretical terms and identify a model for the systematic analysis of past disaster events for contemporary emergency management decision-makers.

Page Count


Department or Program

Department of History

Year Degree Awarded


Included in

History Commons