AAS Regional Seminar: "The Introduction of Vampire Belief to New England," Dec. 3, Clark University

Paul Erickson's picture

Announcing a Regional Academic Seminar, sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the history departments of Brown University, Clark University, and the University of Connecticut.


The Introduction of Vampire Belief to New England


by Brian Carroll


Assistant Professor of History and American Indian Studies,
Central Washington University
American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Fellow, AAS


Thursday, December 3, 4:00 PM

Rare Book Room, Goddard Library

Clark University

Worcester, MA



Dr. Carroll has provided the following précis of his paper:


Between 1782 and 1820, New Englanders suspected severe outbreaks of tuberculosis were caused by the spirits of the dead siphoning life from their relatives.  In order to stop the spread of the disease, they exhumed the corpses they thought responsible, burned their hearts, and made a medicine from the ashes.  Originally a European belief, the practice was brought to the region during the American Revolution by Germany military physicians serving in Hessian regiments. Many became itinerant doctors in the aftermath of the war and taught Americans to believe in the undead. But vampire belief in America was medicalized—turned from a folk belief into a cutting edge medical procedure.  The exhumations were conducted like autopsies and doctors used 'science' to identify and destroy supposed vampires.  American doctors quickly caught on and began using it as a cure for the deadly wasting disease.


There will be refreshments provided before the paper. If you plan to attend, please notify Paul Erickson at AAS (perickson@mwa.org) no later than Monday, November 30. For further details, please visit the Society’s website at www.americanantiquarian.org.

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