Dorothea Dix II

Lead: A chance encounter in the East Cambridge Jail in 1841 gave Dorothea Dix a cause to pursue, a focus for her intellect and considerable energy, and a passion which would consume her for the rest of her life.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Dorothea Dix, daughter of an alcoholic itinerant minister, but granddaughter of a prominent and wealthy Boston physician, in her early years was a devout Christian. She believed her affluent, cultured upbringing and her faith placed powerful requirements on her life. She felt compelled into a life of service to those in society less fortunate, less wealthy, less healthy, less indulged than she.

Read more →

Dorothea Dix I

Lead: She came from a life of wealth and social prominence, but Dorothea Dix devoted her life to good causes, especially helping to improve the treatment of the mentally ill.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Dorothea Dix’s early years were not happy. Her father was the estranged son of a prominent Boston family. An alcoholic who suffered religious delusions, Joseph Dix barely kept his family out of starvation. Dorothy refused to live in such conditions and eventually, at the age of twelve, fled to Boston where she lived with relatives for the next several years.

Read more →

Louis Pasteur II

Lead: One of the greatest scientists of this era was one of the pioneers of the science of microbiology. His discovery that germs cause most familiar diseases is one of the fundamentals of modern science.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.               

Content: In 1865, the ever-practical Pasteur began work on diseases that were threatening the silk industry. Production was flagging and Pasteur was being called on to save domestic silk production. He discovered a microscopic parasite, which along with faulty nutrition, were the culprits. It took three years to come to these conclusions, but soon the industry was on the rebound.

Louis Pasteur I

Lead: French chemist Louis Pasteur had little scientific inclination in his early years. Despite a lackluster academic record his goal was to become a professor of fine arts.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Born in eastern France, the son of a tanner, Pasteur showed an early aptitude for painting. His interest in matters scientific grew as he studied at the Royal College at Besançon and then the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. Successive teaching posts followed in Dijon, Strasbourg, back to the Ecole, Lille and the Sorbonne in Paris.  From the beginning Pasteur’s approach to his work wedded the theoretical to the practical, always with a view to innovation and never permitting conventional wisdom to suppress his creativity. In 1863 as the dean of the new science faculty at Lille University he instituted night classes so industrial and service workers might engage in continued education.

The End of Smallpox

Lead: The last known case of naturally occurring smallpox in the world was reported in Somalia in 1977. Edward Jenner would have been pleased.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Smallpox, or variola, has been one of the most feared diseases in history. This viral infection with its weeping, scarring pustules, by the 1700s was claiming one out of three urban children during epidemics. It was transmitted through the air so it was not necessarily a disease of poverty or poor sanitation and its victims included the great as well as the humble. From the poorest farm child to Peter the Great of Russia, from the town crier to Queen Elizabeth I.

Read more →

Flu Epidemic of 1918 II

Lead: Contracted from pigs, in 1918 influenza began to spread through U.S. troops called up for service in World War I. Soon the disease had become an epidemic that spread through a world population already weakened by four years of war.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Many experts believe the flu virus exists naturally in birds and is then transmitted to pigs where it mutates into a virulent form that in an infected human body causes fever, chills, weakness of the muscles and nausea. The virus makes its way through the air to its victim’s respiratory apparatus. It is a swift, clever, and sometimes deadly agent, a survivor of great tenacity. Influenza requires little more than a population weakened by hunger, other diseases, or war, to transform itself from a localized irritant to an epidemic of global proportions. In 1918 the world was ripe for the picking. 

Read more →

Flu Epidemic of 1918 I

Lead: A case of the flu is considered by most people a minor irritant, the subject of humor, the excuse to take off a day or two from work, one of those occasional hardships of life that must be endured. In the winter of 1918, however, the flu was no joke.

Tag: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Influenza is a virus, a clever survivor, ever vigilant for opportunities to mutate and spread. Many experts believe that the flu virus lives harmlessly in birds. On occasion flu viruses from birds infect pigs, whose immune system then attacks the virus, causing it to mutate. The new virus created in this process is then passed to humans and, depending on the conditions, an outbreak may not be far behind.

Read more →

History’s Turning Points: The Black Death II

Lead: Historical study often helps reveal twists in the human journey. Among history’s turning points: Consider the results of the Black Death.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After the arrival of the bubonic plague in the 1340s, the people of Europe did not know what was consuming them. This ignorance spawned great acts of courage and compassion, particularly among the clergy, but also near barbaric brutality. Many people blamed the Jews, specifically for poisoning the drinking water. Christian civility went out the window and thousands of Jews were murdered. According to one source, 16,000 were killed in 1349 in Strasbourg alone. Many fled to Poland where in the 20th Century their descendants would be consumed in another Holocaust of human origin.