Trove Tuesday: When the Plague Hit Australia

Everyone has heard of the bubonic plague, right? I’m sure you have. Anyway this was also commonly known as the “Black Death“, and for good reason. When it spread across Europe in the 14th century it killed at least 25 million people. That my friends, is more than the current-day entire population of Australia, which by the way is just over 23 million.

Anyway for someone who was infected and didn’t get any treatment, your chances weren’t great as the bubonic plague was said to kill about two thirds of humans within four days. So “HORRIFYING” is the word that comes to my mind.

So when it hit Australian shores in 1900 there was panic, which I would say is totally understandable. And I would say would be much like today’s reaction, though obviously with less social media, and far less news hype. As it was back in the day they reported things as they were.

Anyway my reason to this topic, is that while browsing around on Trove I found the following article in the Sydney newspaper ‘The Chronicle’, from 1900. And I must say the word Plague and Excitement aren’t two words I’d ever expect to be in the same sentence, there they are. But honestly I think they shouldn’t be, but that’s just me!

The Chronicle, p.14, 24 March 1900

The Chronicle, p.14, 24 March 1900

The above image shows about half of the article, so if you’d like to read the full article, click on the link in the caption.

And after finding this particular article, of course I went searching further. So on the Trove search screen I typed in bubonic plague, then narrowed it down to the year 1900,  and it gave me 14,057 results. And while I didn’t read every single entry I can see that a number of them make mention of people from various districts being struck down by the plague. Now obviously I’m not going to list ALL of them here, but here is a link to them. But just a word of warning, they do make for interesting (but very sad) reading.

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