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November 14: No Smallpox at UND

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It was a cool, clear, crisp autumn day on this date at the University of North Dakota. The high temperature reached 44 degrees. It was a normal autumn day, but there were warning signs of possible trouble head.

Most of the news was routine. The Board of Control of Student Publications at UND would make seventy-two appointments to the Dakota Student newspaper. That evening, Dean Vernon P. Squires of the College of Liberal Arts would give his annual freshman lecture, “The History of the University,” cataloging the previous four decades at the school. Also that evening, the University Faculty Club would welcome “new members of the university faculty and their wives” as “guests of special favor” at the club’s first gathering of the new school year.

Yet, the day was also noteworthy for what wasn't happening. The day before, the Dakota Student had reported the following:

“To date there have been no cases of smallpox reported in Grand Forks or at the university, according to Dr. J. Grassick, university physician, but this does not mean that one should be careless and disregard the advice of doctors and health officials … for contagious diseases are, as a rule, more prevalent in the fall than at other times of the year.

“Students who have not already been vaccinated against smallpox have nothing to lose by having it done now. They are warned to not be too sure that they are immune. To be reasonably safe a person should be vaccinated every five years…

“Thirty-five students have been vaccinated at the dispensary so far. The dispensary will be open for vaccination on Tuesdays and Fridays at four p. m. If an emergency should arise, other periods will be announced.”

Dr. Grassick had good reason to be concerned. Hundreds of people were dying of smallpox in Minneapolis. It was considered the worst outbreak of smallpox in the history of the State, and Minneapolis was only a train ride away.

Dakota Datebook by Andrew Alexis Varvel

“FAIR WEATHER IS PREDICTED TODAY”, Grand Forks Herald, 13 November 1924, page 5, column 4.
“FAIR AND WARMER WEATHER EXPECTED”, Grand Forks Herald, 14 November 1924, page 5, column 4.
“FAIR WEATHER IS PREDICTED TODAY”, Grand Forks Herald, 15 November 1924, page 5, column 7.
“72 APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED FOR DAKOTA STUDENT”; Dakota Student; 14 November 1924; page 1, column 1; page 2, column 4.
“SQUIRES TELLS OF 'U' HISTORY AND PROMINENT GRADS”; Dakota Student; 15 November 1924; page 1, column 2; page 2, columns 4-5.
“SQUIRES TRACES U.N.D. HISTORY”, Grand Forks Herald, 15 November 1924, page 5, column 6.
“FACULTY CLUB TO HOLD FIRST SESSION”, Grand Forks Herald, 14 November 1924, page 2, column 3.
“NO SMALLPOX IN GRAND FORKS NOW”, Dakota Student, 13 November 1924, page 4, column 3.
[The misspelling of the word “emergency” is from the original text.]

Dakota Datebook is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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