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The Epidemic

Facts and Figures

Population of Ithaca in 1900 U.S. census: 13,136

Enrollment at Cornell University at start of 1902-1903 academic year: more than 3,000

Amount Cornell University loaned to William T. Morris in 1901 so he could close the deal to purchase Ithaca Water Works from the Treman family: $100,000

No. of Treman family members or in-laws on Cornell University Board of Trustees Executive Committee: 3

No. of physicians in Ithaca: 40

Physicians in Ithaca per 10,000 population: 20.5, highest in New York state

Physicians in New York City per 10,000 population: 18.3

Dates of epidemic: from January to May of 1903. The first known patient sought treatment on Jan. 11, 1903.

No. of typhoid cases: The generally accepted number is about 1,300, meaning that almost one in ten residents of Ithaca became ill during the epidemic.

No. of typhoid deaths: At least 85, of whom 29 were Cornell University students. Three of the deaths were fathers who contracted the disease while nursing their sons at home. There may well have been more collateral deaths that did not come to public attention.

Typical cost of a typhoid case to the patient: around $500, apart from funeral expenses if they died.

Average annual salary for a workingman in 1903: $543

Amount of typhoid care or funeral expenses reimbursed by Andrew Carnegie for 381 Cornell students: $86,000. Not all expenses associated with a case were reimbursed by Carnegie, and not all eligible students sought help.

Amount paid by Carnegie to Ithaca residents who were not students: $0

Amount of damages paid by William T. Morris: $0

Ithaca typhoid victims, 1903, by address

This was my working list, which I compiled mainly from patient lists and victim stories in the Ithaca Daily News and Ithaca Daily Journal. It is almost certainly incomplete, and probably contains a few errors, but it is the most comprehensive such list you will find. I have donated a copy to The History Center of Tompkins County, a fine local historical museum and archive in Ithaca.

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