About this site

Photo: ITV Wales

THIS WEBSITE tells the story of the outbreaks of Smallpox in Britain in 1962, with particular emphasis on the impact of the disease in Wales, where 19 people died and 900,000 were vaccinated.

The outbreak began in January 1962. To mark the 50th anniversary content was added to this site beginning in January and ending in May 2012, 50 years after the ‘all clear’ was given.

The site is the work of James Stewart, who made a documentary about the outbreak for ITV in 2002.  While he was teaching at the University of South Wales, a small group of students joined the project to record the memories of people affected by the outbreak in 1962.

CLICK on the tabs in the menu to follow the story in different locations.

If you have memories (or pictures) from the 1962 outbreaks, please get in touch by adding a comment. Your contributions will be added to the site.

Click HERE to see people’s comments and add your own.

(See also: ‘What do you remember?‘)

Contact the project by e-mail: info@smallpox1962.org.uk


Recent Posts

‘Buying the pox’ in 18th century

A doctor vaccinating a woman in the valleys in 1962

Before vaccination became widely available, people – especially the poor – had to resort to other ways of protecting themselves against smallpox. Maisie May of Leeds University (later at the Wellcome Unit for the History of Medicine in Oxford) explored these options in a paper published in 1997: Inoculating the urban poor in the late 18th Century.

She described the practice of ‘buying the pox’. She quotes a Dr Perrot Williams of Pembrokeshire who wrote to the Royal Society in 1723 about the case of a young woman he had interviewed.

Source: The British Journal for the History of Science , Sep., 1997, Vol. 30, No. 3, Student Papers (Sep., 1997), pp. 291-305

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